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April 7, 2013

Except, not really.  I just started a new blog. Come check it out, if you’re so inclined.  It’s called Just Bust Being.

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How can I GET on the Peace Boat?

January 8, 2013

1. How can I get on the Peace Boat?
READ ME!! Do you meet the qualifications?  Are you in favor of peace?  Do you maintain a peaceful existence?

2. Hey Chance,

Thanks a ton for offering to answer some of my questions about the application process. I heard about Peace Boat about a year ago and have become practically obsessed with the possibility of volunteering on it. I’m in my second year teaching in South Korea and have loads of experience back home as a social worker in the field of Children’s Mental Health. But these are unimportant details. I scoured over your blog and everything you mentioned about your time volunteering. So amazing. You mentioned the application process was pretty competitive. Were you in Japan for the interview or did you do it internationally? (I’ll be in Korea when I apply.) Do you have any additional tips on specifics of what they are looking for when it comes to candidates? What were your work hours like? Were you given some time to explore each destination, as well? Anyways, I really appreciate your feedback and any additional thoughts/ comments/ tips you might have as I attempt to get my mittens involved in this incredibly opportunity.

Hey,
Sounds like we have very similar backgrounds. I too was teaching in Korea and interviewed from there. Another teacher on the boat also taught in Korea but decided to travel to Japan for the interview. I also have a background serving the mentally ill and used that to my advantage in the application. The Peace Boat was very important to me so I spent a lot of time making sure my application was as good as I could make it. I had my Korean co-teachers review my lesson plans.  I outlined my experience with mental illness and disabilities for my jishukikaku. The GET coordinators are looking for people who will enhance the trip. People with backgrounds or experience that relates to the ports.   As a GET teacher, you get to explore most of the ports on your own with the exception of 1 or 2.  The job itself was a lot of fun and you will absolutely fall in  love with your students. I too was obsessed when I learned about it so maybe direct that energy into the application.  The fact that it is split into 3 parts will allow you to emphasize your greatest contribution, whether it be extraordinary English teaching prowess (which would be emphasized in your résumé or sample teaching), being a creative force on the ship (creative video submission) or just fun to be around (as demonstrated in your interview).  The application was a lot of work but absolutely worth it. Good luck!

Hey Chance

 
Thanks again for the response and the tips. They were definitely helpful! So helpful in fact that I landed an interview for next week! I’ll be doing the interview on Skype and have prepared like crazy. Are there any tips you can give about the actual interview? I have pretty limited Japanese and am wondering if that is going to put me at a disadvantage? What other questions can I expect besides the usual interview questions? Thanks again for all of your help!
Congratulations! I would be ready to answer questions regarding your teaching philosophy.  I literally googled interview questions and studied 100’s of those quite thoroughly. The area I struggled with most was what I knew about Japan. I had never been and really did not know much about the country. Really embarrassing. Don’t worry about the language thing unless that is one of your selling points. I didn’t know a single word of Japanese. I was also asked to share a joke. Good Luck!

3. Hi Chance!

 Thank you so much. So yes, I am thinking of applying for the 79th voyage which leaves on April 1st. Right now I am teaching kindergarten in Tokyo and my contract is due to end on March 20th. So the timing would be perfect. I’m also from Belfast in Northern Ireland which is one of the stops on the voyage – might be a selling point. I did the JET Programme when I was 22 in Fukuoka for 1 year and did a 9-month world trip in 2007/08. In between that I was the senior writer for the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, writing TV/radio etc to entice people to visit the country. So as you can see my qualifications aren’t rooted in teaching. I know the voyage isn’t so much about the destinations but the experiences you have on board. You seem to have thoroughly enjoyed it, so would you recommend it? Specifically how did you find 1) seasickness and 2) having to share a cabin for 3 months (I’m a very light sleeper, it may drive me mad!) 3) what did you dislike about the journey? I know it’s a negative question, but better to know about the negatives than the positives! I realise I may not have a very good shot of getting on it, but I think I will apply. The only downside would be not knowing what to do once I get off the boat! I’d be risking my life living here in Tokyo by going on the voyage. Anyway, keep blogging!
Hello-
It was just so wonderful.  I’ve been off the boat for a little under 2 months now and cannot seem to find anything to do with myself. l just hope the PB didn’t ruin all future experiences, as they feel pretty lackluster.  I guess that is the biggest drawback.  All other experiences pale in comparison. And the food really sucked! After 3 months, that boat food became nearly intolerable. Everything else about the boat was extraordinary and I’d definitely recommend throwing your hat in the ring. To answer your questions:
1) Seasickness was an issue for some. There are things you can do to manage it via medicine, which causes extreme exhaustion. Some people relied on pressure points but I’m not sure if it was successful.  I think you get used to it though.  Parts of the journey are full of rocking and pitching, other parts are smooth.

2)Sharing a cabin was not a problem.  Those in charge took great effort to match us up with roommates that were compatible.  Mine was a saint. She slept right under me and I barely knew she was in the room.  Honestly, this was a big concern for me as well, as I am a bit of a loner and  prefer massive quantities of space, but it just didn’t matter. She was quiet and respectful, as was I. 

3)  Dislikes: see above.

Good Luck!
4. Hi Chance, 
 I’m so happy I stumbled onto your blog!  I am an English teacher in Korea (been here 2.5 years now) and hoping to teach on the Peace Boat once my contract is up here in March.  I am starting to compile stuff for the application and I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions about the process.  I’m not sure of what level students to prepare a lesson for and what they’re looking for in terms of the lessons/interview etc (if I’m so lucky to get one).  If you have a moment, could you email me with a bit of info or tips for how to prepare for all of this?  Thank you very much!!  Enjoy the rest of your trip!

Hi- Good to hear from you. We just got off Peace Boat 2 days ago and I haven’t even left Yokohama yet. Today I prepare to hand over this amazing position as GET teacher to a new team.  VERY VERY SAD! The application process was long and difficult for me.  I applied from Korea.  It was very frustrating having to submit a part of the application and then wait to see if you made it through to the next round.  It required some endurance, which was probably intentional, but the effort was well worth it. The GET students were all adults and the lesson plans need to be task-based, versus PPP.  Your OPEN Class Lesson Plan submission leaves more room for flexibility. Be creative!!  Korea has such wickedly bright teachers, I would ask someone for help if you are confused about all that.  I don’t have a lot of suggestions for the application because I don’t know what other people submitted but I definitely recommend reading over the application requirements VERY carefully. (see above) I studied and outlined everything, as though it were a scientific journal. Good luck to you and please feel free to ask if you have any further, more specific questions.  To tell you the truth, I don’t know how I ended up on the boat. My interview sucked!  However, I guess they must look for certain character traits to create a well-rounded group.  Just be yourself!

5. Hello there Chance,

I’m determined to volunteer on the Peace Boat at the end this year and was wondering if I could please pick your brain about the application process? Was your application accepted the first time, or did you have to apply a few times before being accepted? Are there hidden costs involved? I know it would be hard work and I wouldn’t be getting paid, but it still seems like its too good to be true. I tick most of the criteria – I taught ESL in Japan for 18 months and volunteer for NGOs – is there a particular criteria they value over others? Anything else I should know?? Thank you so much for any help you can provide 🙂

Hello-

I was fortunate that my application was accepted the first time but was also completely prepared to apply again.  There are different coordinators for each voyage and one could never really be sure what specifically each coordinator is seeking in a GET.  As a volunteer, the cost of your room and board are covered.  We were also given some coupons for food and beverage on the ship and money for a tour at one of the ports. The only unexpected costs that arose was for getting extra pages put into my passport at the last-minute. You need to have 5 available and I only had 4. Expediting that cost a fortune. Other costs that are clearly laid out for you during the application include transportation to and from Japan and lodging after orientation before the ship leaves Yokohama.   I would never call the Peace Boat ‘hard’ work.  We stayed busy but the work was fun.  It was such a great teaching experience having self-directed, genuinely motived students.  I always looked forward to my classes.  Other responsibilities that arise were also generally fun and enriched the experience on board the ship. Sounds like this might be a good fit for you.  Good luck! If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen.

 

I’ve also included my sample lesson plan submission featured above. In reflecting back, I could have been more student centered but task-based lesson plans are a challenge with very low level students due to limited vocabulary. On the boat, I ended up teaching one of the higher level classes. Having never taught at that level, I discovered my own learning curve. My first few lessons were all over the place, but as the voyage progressed I began to understand that my students really just wanted an opportunity to speak in English. That was certainly easy enough to provide. Filling out post cards, ordering food from restaurants, asking for directions, and opinions about issues related to the voyage were all fun topics and suitable to accomodate a level-differenciated classroom.

Peace Boat- Dancing Around the World

September 17, 2012

I have returned from this voyage with very few souvenirs.  Just this…

Thank you Johnny Ahren for you brilliance!

Goodbye Peace Boat :(

August 20, 2012

On August 17th the Peace Boat’s 76th Global Peace Voyage docked in Yokohama, Japan 1 last time.   It was such a relief after 2 days of semi-voluntary labor in which we GET’s along with the paid crew carted (what seemed like) 25,000 pieces of boxes and luggage to various locations around the ship in preparation for disembarkation.  As it turns out, I hate doing heavy labor almost as much as I resent accommodating other people’s consumerism.  It was a nice opportunity to say good-bye to the crew though.  After 102 days together, you develop some unlikely friendships.

Here I bid farewell to the captains of the ship, Captain Soto and Captain Gabriel.

After all the heavy labor, I though it would be a cinch saying goodbye and moving on.   At 6pm on August 19th, we all met 1 last time outside the GET office  in Tokyo, Japan.  It was hot and I was angry and irritable.  Suddenly, like a painful slap to the face, it hit me HARD!

It’s really over?

This experience was indescribably beautiful and The Peace Boat was the opportunity of a lifetime.  But, the places I saw and experiences I had were nothing compared to the LOVE I felt.  The quality of the people on this voyage and intensity of the relationships I developed along this journey is what I will treasure most of all.

I LOVE you guys and will miss you all SO VERY MUCH!

North Atlantic Ocean

August 20, 2012

July 8, 2012

Today marked the 2 month anniversary of this voyage-The 76th Global Peace Voyage.  In many ways it feels like we have been living on the boat for years and I can hardly recall a time before it.  On the other hand, I frequently remember how terribly bad I wanted this position and how hard I fought to get it.  When I consider the time and effort involved in the Peace Boat application, it feels like this trip is going WAY too fast.

Yesterday we coasted along the Canadian Island of Newfoundland and were told to expect many icebergs. Unfortunately, the day was too foggy with visibility nonexistent.  I imagined it was quite spectacular though.

Nonetheless, a day or two prior to Newfoundland we were cruising along the coast of Greenland and dodged many impressive icebergs along the way.   I am one of the lucky GET’s that has a room with a view on the side of the boat so I could very clearly hear the boat scraping alongside some ice chunks.  We even had an ice pilot on board the ship to aid in the tricky maneuvering.  Once again, we emerged through the harrowing iceberg ordeal alive and well. One cannot help but recall the unfortunate Titanic incident during these occasions.

Occasionally on board the boat we have formal events to break up the monotony of several days trapped at sea.  They are hilarious and I grabbed a few photos to commemorate the occasion.

I also have a few photos from Iceland.  I think Iceland might have been my favorite port to date.  It included an overnight stay and nearly 2 full days to view the sights.  Reykjavik was such a great little town located near many impressive natural resources including explosive geysers, large geothermal pools and some impressive waterfalls that I did not see.  I devoted my day to The Blue Lagoon, an enormous geothermal pool.

Feeling pretty free!

July 11, 2012

We are presently cruising through the Atlantic Ocean near the eastern coast of the US enroute to Venezuela.  After the blustery cold of the Arctic Circle we were all anxious for the return of sunshine. The remainder of our voyage should be HOT and STICKY.  But, soon the pools will be filled and I will once again spend my afternoons floating in the dense salt water.

During these long stretches at sea, the Peace Boat plans many events to occupy the participants.  Today is the highly anticipated “Sports Day”.  Participants are divided up into groups based on their birthdays and assigned a colored bandana accordingly.  For weeks people have been asking me if my blue headband is for sports day.  It’s not. It’s just the bandana I wear to bed after I wash my face but I don’t correct them.  I am spending the day in bed reading anyway.  Tug-o-war just doesn’t hold that much appeal to me.  For the record, if I were participating, I would be red.

Also, I am recovering from a traumatic lunchroom choking incident yesterday.  While sharing a late lunch with my class of “Beautiful Charming Sisters” I haphazardly swallowed a piece of low quality pork, which subsequently got lodged in my throat attached to a tendon that was still in my mouth.  It was a little terrifying but mostly just really embarrassing. I am once again considering vegetarianism.

July 12th. 2012

With every new adventure I embark upon, I try to remain calm and keep my options open.   Thus, my future plans often remain a mystery to me until I stumble upon something that peaks my curiosity.  To be honest, my initial plan was to get married and procreate following the Peace Boat voyage. However, over the course of a few weeks, I released that goal ultimately opening myself up to a million other possibilities.  An enormous weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

Every few weeks we invite new guest speakers on board the ship for a section of the voyage to discuss issues specific to that region of the world.  They are referred to as Mizuan.  Our current Mizuan is Lisa.  Lisa is an America citizen who has been living and working in Latin America for the past few decades.  Much of her attention is directed towards fighting to dismantle a program called School of the Americas.  -If you are an American Citizen and have never heard of it, don’t feel bad. I hadn’t either. -In summation, the School of the Americas is a program funded by the US government which infiltrates villages in Latin America and trains Latin American men to be soldiers.

What struck me about Lisa was not her mission; although I do think it noble.  What struck me about her was her story.  She was very relatable and mentioned bouncing around the world teaching English as a means of supporting herself while waiting for her calling. It eventually came in the form of a letter regarding the School of the Americas that compelled her to take action.

I think I may have received my ‘letter’…

July 13th, 2012

It’s Friday the 13th and we just passed through the Bermuda triangle.  We are still here though.

1/2 way around the world

July 1, 2012

Because we are constantly moving,  the seasons change rapidly!

Yesterday we reached the midway point of our voyage and it was spectacular; sunny and clear.  Today is freezing and I am pretty sure I couldn’t see my hand if it were directly in front of my face.  We are in the middle of the Norwegian Sea, heading north towards Iceland and the ship is shrouded in dense fog, rain and heavy winds.  It feels like winter and the boat is angry, pitching and rocking, doors are slamming and objects are flying off the shelves.  In the middle of the night, our television flew off it’s propped shelf and is now lining the hallway outside of my cabin door with 3 others that met a similar fate. I genuinely fear the boat might actually tip over but I thank god for my considerable supply of Dramamine.

Another interesting development is that we are closing in on the Arctic Circle and the sun no longer sets at night.  Thus, it’s light all the time.  24 hours of sunlight is a peculiar sensation that must be experienced to fully appreciate.    My body doesn’t know what to do with all the time as the days drag on and on. I run out of motivation for activities and I want to sleep but my brain doesn’t comprehend.

Anyway, I want to talk about how spectacular our midway celebration was on board the ship.  We had the day free from teaching, as the boat was crossing through Sognafjord  and Naeroyfjord  Norway.  (GOogle it)We spent the entire day outside on the Lido deck listening to charming melodies, taking pictures, visiting and reading.  The Norwegian Fjords are extraordinary; a must see for ALL Scandinavians or nature loving folks that may have spawned me:0

Here are a few photos from our trip through the Fjords.

This is my fellow GET colleage Will, myself, and my boss Jonathan on the lido deck in the Fjords.

Here is a photo of our entire GET team that I will probably treasure for years to come. I really do love these people<3

 

In my last blog, I failed to mention the pirates.  As it turns out, they do exist! Apparently, certain parts of the ocean near Somalia are very dangerous and cruise ships are highly susceptible to pirate invasions.  According to rumor, in a past voyage, pirates actually shot cannons at the Peace Boat with the intention of disabling or penetrating the vessel.  Thus, we took special precautions to avoid something like that from happening.

Somewhere near Somali, our ship converged with a group of other ships and we maneuvered our way together through the Red Sea for a period of three days.  During this time, all windows on the ship were sealed shut to block out any light from seeping through during the evening hours.  Even the windows on the outdoor decks were covered in large sheets of cardboard and duck tape.  It seems like such a pitiful attempt at protecting oneself from an invasion but we used the resources we had and emerged from it all, alive and well.

In a few days time, we reach Reykjavik, Iceland which most people on board are highly anticipating, myself included.  However, it is our last stop for a long time.  After a long voyage through the Atlantic Ocean we will reach Mexico in approximately 10-12 days.  Please pray these next 2 weeks go by quickly.  I do tend to get a little stir crazy on board the ship and after 2 weeks the veggies are not that fresh. Our food supply definitely suffers the most.

I’ll leave you with some photos to ponder.

In Paris I touched the Eifle Tower  and skipped through the Arc de Triumph.

San Sebastian, Spain was Funicular and I shot a coca cola ad campaign and ate some pinxos.

In Sweden, I was sick and read a book that I highly recommend called The Darling.  It may have helped to shed some light on my future endeavors.

 

In Norway, I did some art.

76th

Global

Voyage

 

 In London, I shopped and just barely managed to finally see some sights.

And then this happened.

 

Haha

This all happened in no particular order:)

Peace Boat: The First 41 Days

June 17, 2012

According to my Peace Book Daily Planner, I have been traveling on this boat for 41 days. Tonight I will spend the evening in San Sebastian, Spain with several of my follow GET teachers in what will mark our first official full night sleeping off the boat since this voyage began. It’s sure to be a raucous celebration!

At this point, it’s safe to say the Peace Boat has far exceeded my expectations. It really is a very gratifying experience sailing around the world, dropping by a country for a day; just long enough to hit up the sights and take in some local cuisine. As you may or may not recall, I have previously mentioned in my blog the enormous satisfaction I find in the journey itself. Every day I grow and learn new things. For instance, recently I discovered the capacity to learn some Japanese. I scored myself a great intimidating Japanese instructor who refers to herself as My Master. She drills me like a soldier and it seems to be working.

Everything isn’t always rosey though.

Sometimes, I struggle to stay positive. Sometimes, I find it difficult to be kind. Sometimes, I really can’t deal with all the people and have to hide in my cabin or get lost in a book. Sometimes, I hate the food on board and eat too much of it anyway. Sometimes, I feel so full of love and admiration for the people I am sharing this experience with that I cry.

Overall I feel more connected, present and understood than I have in years.

Now for some facts:

Approximately every four days we cross a new time zone which is referred to as Gisan in Japanese. This means that every few days we roll our clocks back at midnight, effectively scoring an extra hour of sleep. My GET colleague Gen refers to these days as Christmas. It’s Christmas on the Peace Boat A LOT! It really does surprise me how quickly my body absorbs that hour though. The sound of the waves crashing along side the boat lulls me into a deep sleep, much like a strong thunder storm every night. It’s kind of romantic.

My days on board the ship are busy; far busier than I anticipated. With the exception of a 3 day quarantine following a mysterious virus that struck the GET staff leaving us retching in our cabin toilets, my time on board is spent teaching, planning, dancing, singing, laughing, reading and swimming. Sometimes, I sit in the hot tub reading, singing, dancing, laughing and planning simultaneously. Honestly, I’d really like to hold regular class time in the hot tub but my students have yet to take the bait.

In addition to several other responsibilities, I teach 2- 80 minute intensive classes on board the ship.

I never realized how fond of each and every one of my students I’d become.

I will share some pictures of my travels so far but detailed descriptions will be limited. When I have more time following this voyage, I intend to expand on my experience. But for now please enjoy a glimpse into my journey around the world. I highly recommend it!

May 12th, 2012 Xiamen, China

Stripes are the national pattern of China:)

May 17th, 2012 Singapore

I spent the day with 4 GET students on a challenge activity. My students were fantastic and allowed me to photograph them each getting fitted with an Indian Sari.

May 19th, 2012 Phuket, Thailand

The majority of the time in Thailand should be spent at the beach and eating curry. That’s what we did!

May 23-24th, 2012 Colombo, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka wasintesnse. Unfortunately, following this port, I became horribly sick for like 10 days. I blame the enormous dosas I consumed with my hands just minutes before getting back on board the ship.

June 4-5th, 2012 Cairo, Egypt

Following a well publicized revolution, Egyptians are just now in the midst of a pseudo-democratic election; pseudo in the sense that neither candidate offers much hope for a country badly in need of unification. Thus, Egypt is still rather unstable and we were ‘advised’ against parting from the group. A few of us dipped out of a museum tour and decided to just ‘take a peak’ at Tahrir Square, the origin of the revolution. (as seen above) There are still active demonstrations.

I mean, of course we still made time for some sightseeing after visiting the revolution. Priorities!

June 7th, 2012 Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos is a gorgeous little island, small enough to traverse on foot for a day. This was the first port I toured on my own. IT WAS FANTASTIC and I ate my weight in hummus, musaka, gyros, and baklava But I swam after.

June 8th, 2012 Athens, Greece

What can I say about Greece? There are a lot of ruins in Greece.

June 10th, 2012 Catania, Italy

I had wanted to visit Italy since I first heard such a place existed. Catania was extraordinary but the real reward was Taoromina. I’d advise everyone to visit Taoromina! And Catania! Just go to Italy!

June 15th, 2012 Lisbon, Portugal

 I am amazed by the beauty. We walk up and down streets, in and out of alleys, each with more character then the last. Every city in Europe seems more impressive than the last.