University student Emily Block has circumvented the globe, hiked in the Amazon, touched a wild cheetah, and danced through Ghana.
Years earlier, when Emily was first diagnosed with a rare chronic illness, such experiences seemed out of reach. Today, it’s impossible for Emily to imagine a life without international travel.
“Fourteen countries later, I know that being disabled doesn’t mean I have to give up on my dreams.”
As part of Semester At Sea, Emily and her peers spent over one hundred days aboard a ship to learn about global issues, periodically docking in a new country where classroom lessons came to life.
During these excursions, issues of culture, identity, and disability often intersected. On a service project in South Africa, one of the fourteen countries she visited, Emily noticed a unique cultural difference in how her contributions were recognized, writing:
“The people from the township who were overseeing the gardening project acknowledged my potential need for assistance, but, more importantly, focused on my ability to contribute to the project. I believe the full integration I saw and experienced in the township community comes from the idea of Ubuntu: ‘I am what I am because of who we all are.'”
Through her blog, Chronic Adventures, Emily chronicles the day to day life aboard the ship as well as the challenges and opportunities that living abroad can present. One of her own goals for the blog is to show what is possible: “I hope that by sharing my adventures, other people with and without disabilities will be encouraged to pursue travel and study abroad.”