Some people dream of sailing around the world; John Girard is actually going to do it.
Girard, professor of management at Minot State University's College of Business, participated in a 26-day voyage in May aboard a cruise ship that has been converted into a traveling campus. Girard and MSU students Courtney Kalamaha and Danielle Bolinske joined about 400 other students, faculty and staff on board the ship for a Semester at Sea. Ports of call for the cruise included locations in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Panama and Belize.
The group will talk about their experiences during a free lecture Monday at 7 p.m. in MSU's Aleshire Theater.
John Girard, professor of management at Minot State University’s College of Business, along with MSU students Courtney Kalamaha and Danielle Bolinske onboard the MV Explorer in May as they transited the Panama Canal. Girard taught a class on board the floating university and Kalamaha and Bolinske were students.
Girard, who taught a global management class on board, enjoyed his experiences so much that he's going back in January for a longer cruise, one that will take him around the world with stops in locations such as San Diego, Hawaii, Japan, China, Singapore, Burma, India, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana and Barcelona, Spain.
Girard, who touts the importance of study abroad opportunities for students, said the floating university is run by the not-for-profit organization Institute for Shipboard Education, with academics managed by the University of Virginia. Students on board receive academic credit through the University of Virginia. About half of the time aboard is spent in class while the other half involves visits to different ports of call. Girard sends his students to supermarkets in different countries and asks them to look for items that might be unique to that country and other differences. For instance, in some countries eggs are kept in a cooler and in others they are not.
Professors on board teach three, three-credit hour classes and lead six faculty-developed practicums.
Girard said this is the first time many of the students have traveled abroad and they can seem timid in the first days on board ship. By the end of the cruise, even the shorter cruises, he notices a difference in students who seem more worldly and aware of what is going on in other countries.
Girard said some of the students aboard the ship may visit schools or orphanages or programs that serve underprivileged children in different countries. The group visited a program in Ecuador that serves breakfast to poor children before school. Each member of the group donated $25, which will provide food for a kid in the program for three months, said Girard.
Students aboard the floating university often come away with a desire to help out underprivileged kids in their own countries or make some sort of difference, said Girard.
"Sometimes they come back and do the most amazing things later on in life," said Girard.
Girard said students from all over the world are aboard the floating university, though most are Americans.
During the lecture, Girard, Kalamaha and Bolinske will talk about their onboard experiences, including what it is like to study at sea, the daily routine, and the extracurricular activities offered.
Girard has traveled to more than 60 countries, all U.S. states and all Canadian provinces. His wife, JoAnn, will join him on the Spring 2013 voyage of the Semester at Sea.