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Storyteller Philip Byrne tells the tale of a Banshee, the Harbinger of Death.

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(From right to left)
(From right to left) Sara Hughes of Frostburg State University, Raul Gonzalez of the Universidad Iberoamericana, Matthew Wong of the University of Oregon, Rose Goodwin of Elon University and Ashley Linz of Elon University await the next tale from Irish storyteller, Philip Byrne.

As mindful travelers on Semester at Sea, students are always looking for alternative experiences to commercial tourism in every port, such as service-learning or engaging with professors on a field lab. The program's approach is to use each port as a teaching moment while being respectful to the communities that allow us to enter their borders. However, students in Professor Tracy Ehler's Anthropology of Tourism class are learning that this is not the case for all travelers.

Sara Hughes, a senior at Frostburg State University, understands that "Being a mindful traveler means that you care about the culture and you care about why you're there, and you don't try to take a lot away from it besides what you can remember."

Students in Tracy Ehler's Anthropology of Tourism class stand inside the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul while listening to storyteller, Phillip Byrne.
Students in Tracy Ehler's Anthropology of Tourism class stand inside the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul while listening to storyteller, Philip Byrne.

"Anthropologists have become critical of the tourism industry over the past 20 years...Tourists very blindly blunder into communities in search of the exotic or authentic and have no idea of the impact they are having on local people," Ehlers commented.

During a recent visit to Glendalough, a 6th century monastic settlement in County Wicklow, Ireland, Ehlers introduced her class to storytelling and listening to stories as a way of enhancing certain destinations. By listening to stories, students take an observational approach to their surroundings and can appreciate a country without leaving a footprint on the local communities.

"I wanted these students to have an alternative experience...I wanted to create some kind of day where they had a different experience from what an ordinary trip would have," Ehlers said.

Nina Pellechio (left) of Emerson College and Kalin Hoiseth (center) of University of Colorado Boulder listen to Philip Byrne (right) tell the story of the Banshee.
Nina Pellechio (left) of Emerson College and Kalin Hoiseth (center) of the University of Colorado Boulder listen to Philip Byrne (right) tell the Irish story of the Banshee, the Harbinger of Death.

Traditionally, Irish storytelling took place in a rambling house around a small fire. A rambling house would typically be a farmer's house in a rural county or a common meeting area where people from all over would share a talent, by singing, dancing, storytelling, etc. Although few rambling houses remain in use today, the Irish still gather together to tell stories that have been passed on for centuries.

"Storytelling is an art and Irish tradition, and storytellers are connected to history and culture in a way that comes from their hearts. They tell stories that have entertainment value, but they also have a social and moral message attached to them," Ehlers said.

While taking in the natural beauty of Glendalough and walking through the carved glacial valley, students had the opportunity to listen to a number of Irish stories from Philip Byrne, an Irish storyteller from Bray, County Wicklow.

"In Ireland it was very special to have a storyteller tell why certain things exist instead of just taking pictures and not knowing why we were there, and to have stories that were based on those places really connected you," Hughes concluded.

Listen to one of these classic Irish stories below, as told by Philip Byrne, and experience Ireland for yourself.

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Following a wildly successful TEDxSemesteratSea in San Diego in January, the next TEDxSemesteratSea takes place on the MV Explorer August 5 while the ship is docked in Helsinki. To gear up for the event, whose theme is "Anchors Away: From Ideas to Action," a smaller TEDx salon gathering in the Union was held just before we reached St. Petersburg, Russia.

This event included the viewing of Sarah Kay's TED Talk, "If I should have a daughter..." Also, two members of the shipboard community shared their personal journeys: student Brittani Brown, whose talk was titled "The Recipe," and Assistant Field Director Julie Engerran, who spoke about "The Bug."

Listen to these gutsy speakers as they tell their stories about overcoming adversity and making things happen.

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Following a wildly successful TEDxSemesteratSea in San Diego in January, the next TEDxSemesteratSea takes place on the MV Explorer August 5 while the ship is docked in Helsinki. To gear up for the event, whose theme is "Anchors Away: From Ideas to Action," a smaller TEDx salon gathering in the Union was held just before we reached St. Petersburg, Russia.

This event included the viewing of Sarah Kay's TED Talk, "If I should have a daughter..." Also, two members of the shipboard community shared their personal journeys: student Brittani Brown, whose talk was titled "The Recipe," and Assistant Field Director Julie Engerran, who spoke about "The Bug."

Listen to these gutsy speakers as they tell their stories about overcoming adversity and making things happen.

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The Fall 2013 Semester at Sea voyage returned to Havana, Cuba after nine years and was greeted by officials and students from the University of Havana. The dock was lined with reporters, Cuban students and professors eager to meet their American neighbors. In this podcast, SAS voyagers share their experiences while visiting the university along with excitement from the Cuban students and staff.

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Greg Brusseau, a research scientist in the University of Washington’s School of Oceanography, joined the Fall 2013 voyage shipboard community during our trans-Atlantic crossing from Cape Town to Buenos Aires. Brusseau hitched a ride with the MV Explorer to conduct research on climate change and other ocean properties for the Univ. of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He called his temporary home a “vessel of opportunity” because the MV Explorer sails in waters that many research vessels do not. While aboard, Brusseau deployed temperature, salinity, nitrate, and pH-level probes into the ocean. Data from similar probes has been used in 1,100 scientific peer-reviewed papers and is open to the public. Such information is vital to constructing climate models, learning about sea storms and hurricanes, and monitoring the ocean’s recent dip in pH levels. This isn’t the first time the MV Explorer has hosted probe research, having accommodated NOAA in past years. In this podcast, Brusseau talks about his work aboard our vessel of opportunity.

Fellow SAS student, Mia Wetmore, contributed to the editing and production of this podcast.

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Mario Marino, a student at Cabrini College, is passionate about fair trade issues to help improve communities throughout the world. Mario is currently sailing on the Fall 2013 voyage and is a presidential scholar on this 50th anniversary voyage. As part of his project for his scholarship, Mario is investigating fair trade issues and projects in the various ports to which SAS is traveling this semester. In this podcast, Mario explains more about fair trade, his work at his university and what he's learned during his semester exploring the world.

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The San people were the true indigenous people of southern Africa, whose territory had spanned most areas of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and Angola. The San were hunter-gatherers and considered expert trackers. They have been studied by anthropologists for nearly a century because they are thought to be part of the origin of the human species. To better understand the San people and their culture, students from Prof. Wenda Trevathan's Introduction to Anthropology class visited a cultural center that provides a replica of a traditional San village. In this podcast, Prof. Trevathan and several of her students recreate the day through description. All of the photos were provided by the following students in Trevathan's class: Sarah Bond, Daniela Kriegbaum, Keaton Crawford, Jessica Zaksek and Willa Baker.

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Doctoral student Warrick Moses joined the Fall 2013 Semester at Sea voyage as the interport lecturer to South Africa. During his time on the ship, he spoke with several classes about South Africa apartheid and post-apartheid transition, about his life growing up in a middle-class colored family and about various types of music in South Africa during the seven-day transit from Accra, Ghana to Cape Town, South Africa. Moses is completing his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at Harvard University. Interport lecturers are a great resource for the SAS community. They join the ship at different points along the journey to help provide the shipboard community with an overview of the history and culture of the country they will visit. In most cases, interport lecturers are from the countries that the MV Explorer visits.

In this podcast, Moses shares experiences growing up in Cape Town during the 1980s and the sensitivity that travelers should have while visiting townships.

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Cliff Roberts, an agent with the William Morris Endeavor agency in Hollywood and a SAS legacy voyager and alum, took some time out of his schedule (in the middle of two business trips), to travel to the MV Explorer during its transit from Portugal to Spain, to talk with students on the Fall 2013, 50th anniversary voyage about SAS, his career trajectory and to give advice about getting started as an agent in Hollywood (or any career really). Roberts, who sailed in Spring 1993, is a true SAS legacy voyager: Not only did his parents both sail on Semester at Sea, but they met on a voyage as students, returned as staff and then sailed again as lifelong learners. Listen in as Roberts shares his story with SASers in this podcast.

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