Honolulu, Hawaii


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We got to Hawaii by 7am, but didn't get off the boat till about 9am. OH MY GOSH! The feeling of solid ground and more than a half a mile radius of freedom felt so good. I didn't really have to much planned for Hawaii but did enough to enjoy it. The first thing I saw once I got onto the Island was traditional hula dancing. Holy cow. If you think you've seen hip shaking at the clubs or what ever, you have not seen hula dancing. Those girls just do it so beautifully. Classy. After hula dancing, David and I went to church. It was a way cool experience to see the Hawaiian culture play a part in church. There was an individual who was leaving the branch to move back to cali, and because of this the entire branch sang to him a traditional Hawaiian farewell song, while one person after another gave him a lei. It was touching to see how strong of a community they had there, along with how personal the culture made this goodbye to be.

Blake Daniel Van Fleteren -- Arizona State University
Phoenix, AZ

Pearl Harbor

Sunday, September 2 was a very historic day for the Explorer to dock at its first of many ports along its voyage. The significance of being in Honolulu, Hawaii was two-fold. Not only was it the birthday of former Hawaiian Queen Liliuokalani, but it was also the anniversary of the Japanese surrender ending World War II.

I had the pleasure of participating on the "Stars and Stripes" tour provided by Semester at Sea. The group of us, a little over ten in all, were to visit the U.S.S. Arizona memorial as well as the U.S.S Missouri. On arrival to the memorial, we had about an hour wait, which gave us time to take pictures, write postcards to our families, or visit the walk through museum and gift shop. After our wait, we were ushered into a theater where we watched a video presentation on Pearl Harbor and the events leading to it.

Following the movie, we boarded a boat that would take us to the floating memorial. The Navy operated the boats, but the park is also managed by the national park service. They asked us to remain quiet and respectful while on the memorial, as the sunken vessel beneath it entombed the soldiers that went down with her on that "day of infamy." There were plaques giving the history of the battleship as well as an entire wall listing the names of the soldiers who died aboard the ship and others who survived the attack, but wished to be placed with their fellow soldiers upon their death.

Looking over the railing into the water, one can glimpse the areas of the battleship near the surface. Also, there was an oil-like substance floating in the water on one side of the memorial. Well, it was just that---oil. After sixty-six years, there was still oil slowly seeping out of the cracks in the battleship.

The U.S.S. Missouri exposed a different angle of the United States during World War II. It was a prime example of military might. We were delighted to have a wonderful tour guide, whose family happened to be from Hiroshima--a testament to how much our societies have changed in the past decades. We were given a splendid tour learning all types of interesting facts and stories. The tour ended at the very spot on deck where the Japanese representatives surrendered sixty-two years ago to the day.

The tour was a memorable experience and is an assurance of the many other fascinating adventures that are yet to come.

Drew Thomas -- St. Louis University
Memphis, TN