A life-changing educational experience in Central America and the Caribbean is scheduled for May 20-June 15, 2011.

There were a few exceptions, but for the most part, I feel like my education–undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate– lacked critical hands-on components that made lessons “real.” While I love theory, my life experience (travel, especially), has taught me that the theoretical remains pretty static and unreal (not to mention limited in its utility) unless we have the chance to apply it, test it, and retool it on the ground.

That’s why I’m fascinated by Semester at Sea’s newest voyage, which embarks May 20-June 15, 2011. In 26 days, participants will get to test what they’ve learned in the classroom at ground level when they visit seven countries, participating in field studies and service learning projects in each port of call.

The curriculum is based on the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. These goals were established by the UN in 2000, with the intention of setting objectives to address “the needs of the 1.5 billion people who have no access to electricity (more than one of every five people on the planet), the almost 1 billion who have no clean drinking water, the more than 2 billion who are without sanitation, and the hundreds of millions of malnourished children who have to survive in conditions that allow 10 million under the age of five to die each year from preventable illness.”

The purpose of the voyage is to provide opportunities for participants to explore the various social, cultural, political and historical contexts in which problems arise and solutions are implemented by actually investigating these dynamics on the ground in Trinidad, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, the Bahamas, and Belize.

Twenty-two professors from universities across the U.S. will offer seminars on topics as diverse as global business, sustainable communities, food security, and the ethics of service.

Undergraduate students will receive transferable college credit for their coursework on the voyage, and a transcript from the University of Virginia, the program’s academic sponsor.

All of this seems pretty solid to me, and I like that the voyage will give you preparation that stands out like nothing else on your resume. What I also like is that the voyage is open to anyone– meaning that the voyage is also open to those not currently enrolled in university.

Semester at Sea has been around for nearly 50 years, but this is the first time they’ve offered a short-term academic voyage. Their signature around-the-world voyages usually take 110 days, but this new voyage offers students a true Semester at Sea experience in just 26 days… and at a significantly lower price point.

Prices start at $3,475, which includes all required field work. Financial aid is also available for applicants who demonstrate financial need.

Interested in applying? Visit Semester at Sea’s website for more information or to start your application.

[Editor’s note: Matador is proud to partner with Semester at Sea, who sponsored this post. Semester at Sea is a company Matador respects for their values and the high quality of their programs. Learn more at semesteratsea.org. ]

Community Connection:

Learn more about Semester at Sea from MatadorU student, Amanda Throckmorton, who shared her first-hand experiences with the program in the article, “Study Abroad: Semester at Sea.”