Global Realities Shared On The Ship!

The transformational trip of a lifetime is starting to set in as a “reality” after being at sea for 6 days on the round the world voyage with Semester At Sea.  Global “realities” are being shared on the ship that have already started to stimulate the consciousness of individuals in our local ship community.

Dominica, was the first port of call and there were some special lessons in the rainforest from a guide who loves and listens to the land.  His bonding with the land made him keenly aware of what “was possible” to those looking on the outside in.

Organic farming and herbology were two other aspects of sustainability we investigated in this emerging Island.  My “take away” from Dominica was to implement a composting plan in my back yard to do my part in making a difference and to ALWAYS remember the lesson of the guide in believing that something is possible when it appears to be impossible. Follow us for daily insight as we learn together how to navigate different situations and “connect the dots around the world. “

Traveling around the world with a group of 605 college students, 66 lifelong learners and 70 TOP EDUCATORS has built up HIGH expectations of a “transformational” voyage. Speaking with new people every day at meal time creates opportunities to learn and share with one another like none other we have ever experienced.  Taking classes, observing in the Field  Programs, listening to speakers who are on the ship to share how they are making a difference in the world one  person at at time and explaining how they accomplished it leaves little time to post on my blog and process all that is going on. Today we had a message that moved me to tears at least three times.

JEFFREY A. KOTTLER, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology was our speaker in Global Studies class today.

Dr. Jeffrey A. Kottler

He  has written over 80 books including a recent New York Times best seller  “The Last Victim: Inside the Minds of Serial Killers”  which is now a movie produced by Clark Peterson who also produced the film, Monster. The film “Dear Mr. Gacy” earned an Academy Award for best actress.

The thought provoking question of the day for me was:

“Would you sell your daughter to avoid starving?”

Most people reading this post will never have to answer that question but there are millions around the world that have to make the decision on a daily basis.

  • The average family in Nepal makes only $210 per year.
  • The cost to buy uniforms and eat at school is $50.00 per year.
  • A family with 4 or 5 children has to decide who can go to school and survive and who will have to be “taken by an employer” to survive on their own.
  • The parent does not know what will become of the girls “taken by an employer” they are simply hoping they can eat.
  • The life span of a girl taken into “sex slavery” by an “employer”  is about 3 years before they die from aids.
  • Many of the girls are raped 10 to 12 times on their first day in service.
  • Men with aids in the culture think that having sex with a virgin could possibly cure them of aids.

Dr. Kottler spoke on “Promoting Social Justice.” His accounts of helping save the lives of two specific girls are an inspiration to all.  Now through his program he is helping over 150 Nepali girls and keeping them from disappearing into sex slavery.  $50.00 initially saved Inu Pavivar from being sold into sex slavery and allowed her to attend school in her village. Her story stimulated a movement called “Empower Nepali Girls Foundation.”  Dr. Kottler ultimately had to go back each year to check on her to make sure the $50.00 was being spent on her education and NOT lining the pockets of some other entity.  This is a true success story and now….

Inu Pariyar, our first student to receive a university scholarship, working in the media and radio studio at Rangsit University in Thailand. She is studying communication and media, fields that are especially impoverished in her own country of Nepal.”

The life of another young girl with a deadly infection on her face was saved for $14.00. Dr. Kottler’s message helped us see how important small donations can be when they are given to the right organizations.   Read more details at Empower Nepali Girls Foundation.

More important facts:

* Facebook group is open to join: Empower Nepali Girls Foundation

* Empower Nepali Girls Foundation is a grassroots in that we have no paid staff and no office.  Everyone pays           their own expenses; that means that 90% of money donated goes DIRECTLY to keep a lower caste girl in               school and prevents her being sold into sex slavery.

* There are 12,000 Nepali girls each year sold into slavery.

*  The foundation visits every girl’s home, every year to make sure she’s okay, has enough to eat, and that her        family supports the education.

*  The group is currently supporting over 150 girls

*  $125 keeps a girl in primary or secondary school for a year!

*  As the girls get older and begin university and technical and medical school, the cost jumps to about $3,000  per girl per year.

*  The group operates in 9 different villages in the most remote, neglected parts of the country of Nepal.

Jeffery Kottler Ph.D. asks introspective questions that when answered might help change the world:

“What is it that leads people to help others, even when they do so at great personal sacrifice?

What is it that motivates you to reach out to others in need?

How are those involved in social justice and altruistic projects transformed by their experiences?”

PLEASE, access all the links in this post and discover how rewarding it is to serve others. and think about how you can make a difference in your own community or around the world.

  • When you give your time and energy you are sharing an integral part of yourself.
  • You are helping people not part of a tribe.
  • It is hard work and a selfless act taking your time and energy to give to others.

Thank you, JEFFREY A. KOTTLER, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Spring 2011Semester at Sea for showing us the way that one person can make a huge difference.

Dominica On Domingo!

Dominica On Domingo!

We are in the Caribbean at an island called Dominica at the port of Rouseau. Frankly speaking, I had never heard of the island of Dominica prior to this trip around the world on Semester At Sea so everything we learned was new to us!

Dominica named a, “Best Trip of 2011″

20 Best Trips of 2011 — National Geographic.

Looking for an out-of-the oridinary destination for your next vacation? Check out these 20 top trips, hand-picked by National Geographic Traveler editors as the best of 2011.

The name Dominica came from Christopher Columbus when he re-discovered this Island on Domingo. It was Sunday so the name stayed with a minor twist from the original Spanish word for Sunday.  We are here on Domingo or Sunday and absolutely everything is closed except the ship tour programs. The guide explained that the town center shuts down on all Holidays and every Sunday.
This is an untouched island with tin roof homes of Caribbean colors and people who love their community and island. The smile of the island inhabitants is contagious as they are just happy inside and out. I took some video which I will upload on Monday when the cyber café opens and I can have enough bandwidth. The ship has limited Internet access so uploading videos is strictly prohibited.
Facts about Dominica:
• The island is 29 miles long and 16 miles wide.
• The major business is agriculture with 11 varieties of bananas.
• There are no monkeys on the island. There are 4 types of snakes none of which are poisonous
• Population 72,000.
• They have the worlds 2nd largest boiling lake.
• There are 11 dormant volcanoes with the likelihood of an eruption as very possible.
• Sperm whales live in the area year round
• China is assisting with funding the construction of roads to the rain forest and built a new soccer field.
• One of the oldest inhabitants of Dominica was 128 before she passed in 2007 and is in the Guinness Book of world    records. There are five octogenarians in Dominica so the life is good on the island.
• The currency exchange is the Eastern Caribbean dollar with the current rate at US $1 = ED $2.67. I paid $7.00 for   4 cookies at a coffee house. Cookies were my only purchase. My photos will be my memory of this quaint island.
• The average temperature is 81
• The water is a deep turquoise blue which is crystal clear!


The rainforest is recovering from hurricane David which devastated the island in 1979.
Today we took an Aerial Tram over a 47 acre rainforest in the Trafalgar Valley to Laudat, a village nestled more than 3,000 feet in the mountains.  Most of the flora was destroyed so the guide called it a “secondary rainforest “ as the vegetation was not old. We entered an aerial tram to go up and over the forest floor. At one point we were 300 feet above the riverbed and falls below.
The most amazing story of the day was that of our tour guide. He knew the scientific name of all the flora and fauna along with describing all of the animals that inhabit the island. He had the history of the economy and information on the direction of his island in easy to follow stories. One of the women on the tour dropped something when we were about 100 feet above the rainforest floor.

rainforest floor

She didn’t know what it was that she dropped but we all heard it hit the floor of the gondola then out the side of the car. The guide immediately assured her he would have someone find whatever it was that she dropped. I looked over the edge, saw the dense rainforest below and only had a “mustard seed of faith” that anyone could find the object which was not even identified at that point. Another passenger said she thought she saw something black and round fall to the ground. My question was: how in the world could he send someone to look for something which was yet to be identified? The guide called to the base operator and told a co-worker to go look for “something” black on the ground between pole 8 and 9. In my wildest dreams I questioned how some unknown object could be found on the floor of the rainforest. The guide was so confident they would find it, the feeling was electrifying. It seemed like he had a connection and KNEW where the object was, even though we had not identified what had actually fallen.

After five minutes of looking the woman who dropped the object saw in her back pack that it was her flip video cam. The guide called the ground operator and let him know what he was looking for. The group continued to climb to the top of the Tram area, took a walk over a hanging bridge and got back on the Tram. When we came to pole 8 the guide yelled down to the person on the ground and told him to look closer to the pole. In less than 15 seconds from telling the man where to look the co-worked yelled he found the video camera.

What was the message to me today or in other words…. What did I learn today?

Beauty on the rainforest floor!

The power of conviction in KNOWING and believing in what you are doing. The guide never doubted that the lost object would be found and he was right. The video camera was right where the guide thought it dropped. He directed his co-worker to find it from 100 feet above the rainforest floor. The woman who dropped the flip cam had two daughters, age 7 and 9 with her today. She was fearful of heights and was doing this just to give the kids an experience of a lifetime. What a great sense of community we all felt going through this lesson together.

The guide shared a very important gift with us today: The lesson from Dominica with one who loves his land.

Be sure to sign up to play “Where in the world is Carra Riley?” Lot’s of fun just posting and following the journey around the world!

Let The Game begin! Where In The World is Carra Riley?

Today, January 12, 2011 is the official launch day of the game, Where in the world is Carra Riley?

The contest is an opportunity to win a $500 travel certificate to one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This is combined with 6 other connected prizes from Williams, Arizona the Gateway to the Grand Canyon: 2 meals from Grand Canyon Coffee & Cafe,  3 nights at The Grand Country Inn, train ride for 2 on the Grand Canyon Railway to the Grand Canyon, bull whip lesson with Buck Williams , two rounds of golf at Elephant Rocks Golf Course, 4 car load passes to Bearizona and more to make winning the trip extra special.  See all the rules here.

Join in the fun.. all you have to do is engage by commenting and come to the party!  You will be sharing the journey with me, Carra Riley as I travel with world with my husband Tom on the  Spring 2011 Semester at Sea voyage.  I will be doing research as I write “Cosmic Cow Pie…Connecting The Dots Around The World.”

Today was a full day of checking out of the hotel, getting to the dock, going through customs, unpacking and participating in a “meet and greet” with the parents of the students on the voyage!

I set up the computer with the ships wireless system but we cannot upload video.  I will have to save the video till I can get to Cyber Cafes in port and stick to small file pictures to share!  You can also go to my flickr account and see the photos of the day all along the voyage!

A picture speaks a thousand words.. so this is what we did today!

Tom Riley in Nassau Semester At Sea

Carra Riley Nassau Semester At Sea

Our Ship MV Explorer

More pictures on flickr in the Semester At Sea MV Explorer set.

So let’s get this party started! Comment on the blog posts, the facebook fan page, the flickr account or youtube videos!  Get a point for each comment up to 5 comments a day!  In the event of a tie, additional engagement or posting on any of the sites will determine the tie breaker!  Go to the forum at Cosmic Cow Pie and register so we know your screen name and can keep track of your points.  If you don’ t register we will not know you are playing the game!

This should be fun and you might just connect with some very interesting people from across the world!

Connecting More Dots In Nassau!

“Connecting The Dots Around The World” will be a huge learning curve each day in  finding a gracious way to “step over the bar of expectations” from our American point of view and will be a skill that needs to be practiced. Trying to be understanding and be considerate of different cultures and their values will be of utmost importance. Kindness and peaceful communication about all kinds of situations will be the order of the day to maintain peace within ourselves and thereby create peace among people and nations.

I have been reading the book “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson as required reading for the students and Life Long Learners on the voyage for Spring 2011, Semester At Sea.  The book is about how the passion for an idea can change the world with just one person pursuing the vision of their dreams. The message that is coming to me from the book is one of belief in convictions no matter what it is.  Not that Greg’s passion would be my passion but that his example shows how an individual can make a difference with their actions.

The dots that are connecting for me from a global standpoint which I can take back to my local community, the “glocal” lesson is one of raising the bar with the best quality service to attract the consumer. I can see clearly that business in general, the global business community included is fighting for the discretionary consumer’s dollar.  The video of David in front of the Big Ten Restaurant on Bay Street in Nassau included in my post  from the past week, shows how retailers are literally fighting for that same dollar.

My belief is the consumer will spend their discretionary dollar and share with their friends if a business provides the  Nordstrom quality service at an affordable price.  Taking those concepts to a practical place to implement, a business must have clean presentations and superior customer service to get repeat and referral business from past consumers.

The number one reason my husband Tom and I are on this voyage is the fact the program was 2 for 1 package on Semester At Sea and it had been on our life “goddard” list for five years.  The opportunity was right being able to leave home for 4 months and with the value of the package we stepped up to experience this journey. We arranged for a house sitter couple that worked from home and would take care of the cat and off we went!

We are very grateful to the Semester At Sea program for this opportunity and did  not want to shake up any relationships on the first day with the group……. but after considering the message in  the required reading book “Three Cups of Tea”  and knowing that “raising the bar of expectations” is a passion of mine I felt impelled to try and correct a situation with the Hotel we are staying at as it just appeared to me they were taking advantage of a large group of people, probably 300 rooms or more of families seeing their students off on this voyage.

The hotel we made arrangements to stay with at Semester At Sea was actually below average and the room with a channel ocean view seemed extremely overpriced at $188.00 per night. I had to have some self-talk, telling myself that my expectations needed to drop down a little as this experience was about cherishing and respecting different cultures and different value systems. After seeing the unpainted ply wood circle in a window with pen scribbles, the hangers too large for the closet space, no screen on the sliding glass doors in the room combined with the stained carpet in the elevator, stained tile floors, dead palm fronds in the atrium and windows so dirty you can’t see anything but the dirt drops into the garden, I decided that corporate America and/or international resorts really need to raise the bar for service and conditions if they expect to receive top dollar for their products and consumers sharing their experiences to get repeat and referral business.

Pen markings on unpainted plywood used as a sun block in $188 per night room

Dead Palm Fronds in atrium area

Tom Brokaw reviews “ Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin “proof that one ordinary person, with the right combination of Character and Determination, really can change the world.”  This concept encouraged me to stand up to do the right thing and help create change. I think this is what the Semester At Sea experience is supposed to do.. encourage people to take action. My action is a not anything compared to Greg Mortenson but his writing has stimulated me to take a stand and to reach out to corporate International connections to really let them LOOK at what the consumer sees and then try and modify behavior from the bottom up.

This concept has stimulated another aspect of my conscious reasoning: the first contact with the consumer should be one of the VERY best experiences if the consumer is going to continue to spend their discretionary dollars with that company. Now the issues corporate business has is hiring people who have actually experienced the level of service the company is expecting their employees to give to the consumer. Why not train the front line by letting them experience that high end service in some sort of practice exercise. Then they will KNOW what it feels like and can attempt to recreate that feeling for those they are being paid to serve.
I had some guilt feelings about the mini rant however; as I reflect on the day and what I am learning I think that the consumer needs to DEMAND the bar be raised to spend their money where they feel the service provided is worth the price. Talking about International business we spoke with the cab driver about the condition of the hotel and he said it was going to be torn down. Now that gave me some insight as to why they were not maintaining the facility.. It was going to be torn down and they were going to take advantage of all the tourists they could as long as they could. This does not seem right.. and even though we got a discount through the Semester At Sea group the condition was not acceptable for a group of such magnitude.

I took some action.. called the manager.. explained the dead palm fronds.. the scribbling on the plywood in the room. The view over HVA equipment to the ocean and the price of the rooms for the condition of the building. I wanted my bill to be cut in half as that is what I thought the room was worth.  He could not do that but could move me to another room and give me 2 free breakfast buffets with a $40.00 value.  He gave us an ocean view rooms for the next 2 days and the breakfast buffets.

When I asked the manager if he felt dead plants in the atrium, dirty floors, and scribbles on the wall is what the company wanted reflected in their image. He said “no” so he knew it is not acceptable and maybe my discussion can help management change the maintenance policy.  Who knows with tearing down some of the building but I did my best in trying to make them aware the consumer is watching.


The dots are starting to connect around the world
and you dear reader, can help by commenting on any of the posts sharing what is on your mind. Enter the contest: Where In The World is Carra Riley? Go to the right hand side of the home page  to register and participate to win a trip to one of the seven wonders of the world! Contest starts January 12, 2011 as the ship embarks.

Day 1 Where In The World Is Carra Riley?

It’s 4 a.m. in the morning….. la..la…la.. Elton John sings on in my mind.  My husband Tom and I are in the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina in Charlotte Douglas International Airport .

Carra writing first blog post for SAS

The reality of the journey of a lifetime became crystal clear as we took off from Phoenix, Arizona just after midnight, January 9, 2011. We are on our way to Nassau, Bahamas to embark on the MV Explorer with the Spring 2011 Semester At Sea voyage. As we taxied down the runway and the lift of the engines took us high above the desert development in the dark of the night, the vision of our world and our expectations of this life changing adventure began to form in my thoughts.

I could see the engineered design of the city planning with the sparkling red and white lights outlining the checker board  streets of the Scottsdale,  Avondale, Tempe and surrounding Phoenix areas.  I wanted to keep that vision in my mind as we begin to connect with cities around the world.  How different it will be flying into other parts of the world and seeing how the cities and villages come together.

As we rose higher in altitude we emerged into the cloud cover and a gentle fog enveloped the plane.  Was this like my consciousness becoming distorted and waiting for the light to shine through and melt the fog?  I was thinking that was the message I was receiving.  Taking off from my concept of civilization going out into the big wide world and learning from other cultures about life and the importance of all the details we experience in our daily lives.

It was easy to drift off into my thoughts at 1 a.m. just thinking about the messages I would receive if my thoughts were open to learning.  I thought about the day, how things evolved and what I would share.  Back to the beginning ….  deciding to take the trip is where I needed  to start as the sense of relief in all of the preparation was now feeling good.  The preparation has been a marathon since mid September when we decided to implement the plan to take a voyage around the world.  Right here I want to take the time to thank my friend and editor, Karen Connell who introduced us to the Semester At Sea program in 1979 when I met her.  In September Karen sent me an e-mail with the information on this voyage with the 2 for 1 value price which is what pushed us over the edge to undertake this trip on such short notice.  Thank you Karen we know this will be a life changing undertaking!  Our connection and the preparation is another great post in itself and will leave that till later.

The emotional changes I have gone through during the preparation to take off have been varied.   Anxiety, fear, excitement are all things out in the “Cosmic Cow Pie”  I have felt because of the unknown. An adventure of this magnitude is way out of the “comfort zone”  but at the same time exhilarating.   The food, water, culture, weather, confinement  all add to the unknown expectations of the experience.  We are expecting only good and know that we will learn every step of the way.  We shared our thoughts below on the what we THINK we will experience and it will be fun to see what we have to say at the end of the journey.

Fun facts in how to “Managing The Mess” and applying the 10 second rule have already been implemented on our adventure and I will expound on those later.  The time is ticking by and we need to catch the plane to Nassau.  I have uploaded the photos of today to the flickr account and today’s  video so “Cosmic Cow Pie…Connecting The Dots Around The World” is on track and we are so appreciative that you are following along with us!

Remember to register to Play the game:  Where in the world is Carra Riley? in the forum area.  The game to win a trip to one of the Seven Wonders of the World starts January 12, 2011 so get ready to play and share with your comments!