Dr. Ihab Anwar spent the Fall 2014-2015 season on board a cruise ship called the MV Explorer, in a program called Semester at Sea. The Semester at Sea program, his parents were told when they first began looking into it, is an around-the-world voyage lasting about one hundred days. Its purpose is to expose students to the world, and provide them with the understanding of the complexities of international relations they need as the leaders of tomorrow, and global citizens.
The students learn a great deal from the fifteen countries they stop in during their journey. But there is an academic program as well, and students must attend classes. “I still found time to make paper airplanes,” Ihab Anwar wrote in the diary he kept of the experience. “One kid told me I was acting like a child. That was on the second day. Later we became friends.”
One of the most important courses during the Semester at Sea was called Introduction to Public Health. the course exposed students to public health issue with a population-based approach to preventing disease, and using community action as a way of prolonging human health. Ihab Anwar, who received an A for the class, said the instructor emphasized how the public’s knowledge of health issues was important. “He said that all through the semester: what a vital role it plays in our daily lives. ‘Knowledge is power’ – that was one of his favorite expressions.” Topics the students studied, he recalled, included the roles of social and behavioral sciences in public health, the role that culture plays in health, and different kinds of health systems around the world.