PLNU Honors Program Sails San Diego

On Saturday Oct. 1, the Point Loma Nazarene University Honors Program set sail on San Diego bay, continuing a tradition that was put on hold during COVID-19.

Professor of history Rick Kennedy appreciated being able to sail again. “Since COVID-19, this is the first time that we have [taken honors students] on the boat,” Kennedy said. 

Honors students were able to sail in the years before the pandemic, and this year’s current first-year students were excited to take part in a tradition integral to the Honors Program

Aliah Fabros, second-year writing major, said that she was glad to be able to come with her friends and peers. “My cohort [the second-year class] is unnaturally small, we’re only nine people, so by now our friendships are really solidified.”

The PLNU honors program is for first and second-years, with students belonging to a cohort upon entering the program and completing required Foundational Exploration [formerly G.E.] classes together.

Ben Cater, associate dean of foundational explorations, director of the honors program and history professor, highlighted the importance of a trip like the sailing expedition. 

“The focus for the honors students is to deepen the learning that has already taken place in the classroom,” Cater said.

Cater, as well as Kennedy, joined 25 first and second-year students aboard the Californian, a 1984 recreation of a 1847 ship that originally patrolled the coast of California during the Gold Rush. Once aboard, students were treated to sweeping views of the bay and the beauty of the historic ship. The crew, mostly composed of volunteers at the Maritime Museum, invited students to help them haul lines, fix the rigging, and hoist and put away sails. As the ship sailed away from the harbor, some students began taking seasickness medicine.

Benjamin Wodarczyk, first-year political science major, was among the students who suffer from seasickness. “I was nervous because I get seasick, so I had motion sickness wristbands and dramamine in hopes that this does not happen because [the trip] was a five hour ordeal,” Wodarczyk said.

No students were sick, and all were able to enjoy time away from the classroom and soak up the sun on deck.

“I am a big believer in learning by doing,” Cater said. “Since the Enlightenment, people have conceived education as basically a mental process taking place in a classroom. While there is so much good about that, I would disagree that it is exclusively a mental process. I think that education needs to be grounded in everyday reality, and by getting out of the classroom and doing things, we have an opportunity to learn about life in a way that is different from… just looking at a PowerPoint.”

Students were not only able to get hands-on experience in hauling lines and folding sails, but also able to interact with a text from their classes. First-year students read the book, “Everyday Glory,” for Cater’s “Introduction to Christian Studies” course. The book highlights how the glory of God can be found anywhere, including the ocean and the deck beneath their feet. 

“In the classroom, they read a book [“Everyday Glory”] that talked about God revealing His goodness in His love and His beauty in all of reality,” Cater said. “When we look at a sunset, and we think of the beauty that we take so much pleasure in looking at, we are forced to question ‘does this mean something?’ and if so, ‘what does it mean?’” 

The real treat of the trip for many was the guest on board: author of “Everyday Glory,” the Rev. Gerald McDermott. About halfway through the trip, students were invited to grab a sparkling water and participate in a discussion with McDermott about the book.

Wodarczyk said he was looking forward to the discussion “because I have some beef with it in certain spots but also really enjoyed other spots.” 

He participated in the guest lecture the evening before and enjoyed the experience of sailing with him.

Kennedy fondly remembered past sailing opportunities through PLNU. 

“Ben Cater and I, in 2003, we were part of a California history class that took us up to Santa Barbara and over ten days we sailed it through the islands and it was a wonderful experience,” said Kennedy.

Cater mostly remembered the drill sergeant-like captain who threatened to throw certain students overboard.

Regardless of who remembered what, the sailing trip was a success according to students, concluding close to sunset as the Californian drifted gently back into the harbor. Kennedy enjoys much about these trips, but particularly how “[t]he wind is an angel. This is what the Bible tells us. Winds are angels. You see that you are destabilized out here, your center of gravity needs to readjust all the time, this is the way that life should be led.”

For more information on the PLNU Honors Program, visit https://www.pointloma.edu/undergraduate/programs/honors-programs

Written By: Emma McCoy and Katie Morris


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