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Tag: sailing

365Outside Sets Sail

The boys relax on the foredeck during our first day of sailing.

The boys relax on the foredeck during our first day of sailing.

It has taken me a lot longer to write about our sailing trip than I anticipated. When we first set out, even in the first 24-hours, I was thinking about how much material there was already. I was so eager to write all about it! Then as the trip went on and on, it got overwhelming. It was amazing. And it was more than just a vacation. It was a lifestyle. It was simplicity. It represented a broader vision for how we want our kids to grow up. And as my mental list of all the details I wanted to write about stretched longer and longer, I realized that I would never be able to touch on everything I wanted to.

There’s no way to describe the freedom of waking up in the cozy security of your floating home with endless possibility for the day ahead. There are no words for the first time your preschoolers spot a seal right beside the boat who mirrors their same wide eyed wonder. For pods of porpoises playing in our wake. For distant whales and distant shores. For days spent collecting seaside treasures.

All summer we were weekend warriors on the sailboat. We got onboard Friday night when possible or Saturday morning otherwise and stayed there until Sunday afternoon. We did small, local trips or just stayed on our mooring after long days at the beach beside it. It was almost a tease.

But after a summer of waiting we had the opportunity to cast our sights a bit further. The last week in August we packed up and headed out, exiting through the river mouth with plans to return in 10 days. It was our first longer cruise with the kids onboard and our first longer trip onboard our new boat. We spent all summer anticipating this week and when it finally came, it didn’t disappoint.

One of the most exciting parts of a sailing vacation is the freedom to decide where you’re going to go whenever you want. We left our options open to account for the unpredictable winds this time of year. We had hoped to head north to Maine, but when the forecast changed to northerly winds we considered heading south to the Cape and Islands instead. It’s good to have options. As luck would have it, with the departure day nearing the forecast wavered and so did our decision. We did not finally decide until less than 12 hours before departure, and even then we left it up to a final weather check the following morning.

But head north we did.

Without any experience on longer sails or offshore, the boys were our limiting factor for this trip. We planned to sail for no longer than 4-5 hours at a time, though we sometimes sailed 4 hours in the morning and did the same again in the afternoon after a picnic lunch ashore. We covered about 350 nautical miles over the course of seven days (returning home 2 days earlier than scheduled due to a hurricane making its way up the coast). As it turns out, the boys did wonderfully. They put up with everything from no wind and big rolling glassy seas, to 35 knots of fresh breeze and choppy waves breaking over the rails. Though Junior felt seasick a few times, each time he was able to eat some crackers, fall asleep on deck in the cockpit, and wake feeling much better. The boys of course had some of their usual tussles along the way but we were actually surprised that not once was there a meltdown about being bored or not wanting to sail or wanting to get off the boat. So in the most basic sense, it was a major victory.

The boys’ tears upon hearing that we were heading home just echoed our own emotions. We can’t wait to do it again.

And because words are not enough and because I’ve put it off long enough for fear of not doing justice to the experience, please enjoy it through our eyes below.

How Do You Find Awe?

A moment of awe onboard Little Wing

A moment of awe onboard Little Wing

I read an article recently about the importance of awe in our lives. The term “awesome” has taken on a totally new meaning over just a few generations but when you whittle it back to its original essence, it’s a pretty important experience. Essential, even. And what I found most interesting about this article was the working definition of awe. Who thinks to define such a deep concept and how could they possibly capture its essence?

Turns out that awe is, simply put, equal parts vastness and new understanding. Pretty simple, but pretty dead accurate if you ask me.

I had never thought of it that way. In fact, despite experiencing awe on what I would describe as an above average frequency, I had never once stopped to consider why these experiences created such an overwhelming feeling of reverence in me. This weekend was the first time that I experienced true awe since reading the article, and it opened in me a new understanding of why we react the way we do to the beauty around us.

Perfect way to spend a heatwave.

Perfect way to spend a heatwave.

Since we bought Little Wing, we have been very lucky to experience a series of amazing weekends. We have slept on the boat every Saturday night for two months, (except for the weekend we went camping) leaving us all day Saturday and Sunday to be surrounded by nature and soaking up sunshine.

This weekend was no different. We took the powerboat to the beach on Saturday and spent the afternoon with good friends, swimming with the kids, digging in the sand and paddling boogie boards around. When the day began to slow down and people began to trickle home, we headed for the sailboat instead. There were storms forecast and the clouds were turning dark. We didn’t want to sail anywhere due to the forecast. But just to be there out in the middle of it, even if on our mooring, was plenty good enough for us.

Last romp on the tidal flats before the storm rolled in.

Last romp on the tidal flats before the storm.

As the sun sank lower and the clouds grew darker, we ate some dinner and brought the boys and their energetic pooch for one last romp on the sandbar. These fringe times, early morning and late evening, are my favorites at the beach. It is quiet and peaceful and we have the place to ourselves.

Back on the boat, I rinsed the kids off and got them cozy in their pajamas. The temperature was dropping steadily and the cloud cover was building. Down below on the boat, the boys played and read books until the thunder started. We closed the hatches tightly and cuddled the boys beneath a blanket. They were a little scared.

The storm brews on the horizon.

The storm brews on the horizon.

On deck, The Captain and I were keeping an eye on the mooring line and the other boats swinging around us when I spotted a dinghy across the channel. Someone in a small inflatable dinghy, with outboard tilted up, was trying to row against the ferocious winds but instead was being beaten back, making negative progress and blowing quickly towards the dry banks of the exposed marsh. The Captain jumped into the skiff and sped over to assist him as the wind whipped ferociously and the violent rain began to pelt down. Alone on the boat with the kids, I went into risk management mode and mentally ran through what-if scenarios and my response plans. Then I put the kids in their lifejackets, just in case. Even though they were safe down below and our boat was safe on the mooring and the storm was more than likely just a passing one, the last thing I wanted was to have to choose in the middle of an emergency between operating the boat and getting my kids in their lifejackets.

Our reward for waiting out the storm.

Our reward for waiting out the storm.

The storm was over even more quickly than it came upon us. By the time The Captain got back to the boat, the rain had stopped and the boys were peaking their heads out from the hatch, asking if it was over yet.

The boys watch the lightning on the opposite horizon.

The boys watch the lightning on the opposite horizon.

The clouds were parting and a spectacular sunset was our reward after the chaos. On one horizon, the sun lit up the sky, radiating streams of fiery orange and red. On the opposite horizon, lightning glimmered and a rainbow struggled out. The boys were amazed. They exclaimed gleefully each time they saw the lightning. It was the first time they’d been able to watch lightning outside from afar.

The sunset proved more and more spectacular as it progressed and the boys did not get bored of the amazement around us. We were all well and truly in awe.

The last drops of a delicious sunset.

The last drops of a delicious sunset.

It was a simple moment. It was just a half an hour of watching the sunset after a vicious summer thunderstorm. But we were together and we were grateful and we were amazed at the stark contrasts that nature can provide in just an hour.

It’s moments like those that affirm for me why we have made the plans that we’ve made. Moments like those will be our rewards for the hard work that we’ll put in to making our dreams reality. Moments like those are why we do it.

It is a beautiful thing to feel little in the face of nature.

Little Bear makes his way across the tidal flats and back to the boat before the storm.

Little Bear makes his way across the tidal flats and back to the boat before the storm.

Getting Our Sea Legs

Saying goodbye to Little Wing until next weekend

Saying goodbye to Little Wing until next weekend

Last weekend I found myself standing balanced on the bow of our inflatable dinghy, rain clouds building overhead and two little boys perched on a wooden bench below me, shivering against the cool morning breeze.

“Let’s GO, mama,” Junior urged, impatiently sloshing his feet in the bilge. Little Bear tottered unsteadily, dipping his fingers into the harbor and rolling his head back. We had woken early and happily had breakfast on the boat in the comfort of our cozy cabin, but now we were anxious to beat the weather and get going. The temperature had plunged and storm clouds were rolling in quickly.

Little Bear goes to work on the dinghy line.

Little Bear goes to work on the dinghy line.

Unfortunately, I had to deal with another mess courtesy of the boys before we could leave.

The dinghy line was wrapped in a huge knot around our deck cleat. It was tucked and looped and over-under-ed in such an elaborate tangle that I had no choice but to start at the end and undo each and every turn that little hands had worked so hard to secure. This was just another reminder of what we’ll do differently next time.

In a previous life, The Captain and I ran youth sailing programs. I taught sailing in Australia, the US and the British Virgin Islands. I ran programs for sailing students ranging in age from 8 to adult. I spent a season captaining boats for a popular Caribbean charter fleet, living aboard with families for a week at a time as I sailed them from one destination to the next. I was frequently assigned to families with young kids because I was the best at kid-on-boat control. I was sold as a novelty – a young, female captain who also wrangles children! Not to brag, but this is kind of my specialty.

The kiddos swab the deck - at least we got that part right!

The kiddos swab the deck – at least we got that part right!

So it will come as a surprise to learn that when it was time to bring our own children for their first sail and overnight on our boat, we were totally unprepared. I mean, the VERY first thing you learn when you’re getting ready to bring people out on a boat is that you always start with a safety briefing. Introduce potential risks, teach people how to move safely, show them how to react to emergencies – that sort of thing. We put our kids on the boat without so much as a word. Our kids love boats. They spend a lot of time on our skiff and have been on big sailing boats before. We took it for granted that they are generally pretty boat savvy when we should have treated them like any other sailing student.

Junior gets a lesson in helmsmanship from the Captain.

Junior gets a lesson in helmsmanship from the Captain.

Because we started so unprepared, we spent the weekend chasing the boys around barking orders that they couldn’t understand. SIT IN THE COCKPIT! DO NOT TOUCH THE WINDLASS! STOP PLAYING WITH THAT WINCH! Everyone who knows kids knows that it’s easiest to start with strict rules and then slowly relax them. Instead, we’re now in the uncomfortable position of backpedaling to enforce more restrictive rules. It won’t be easy but it has to be done since we are planning to spend most weekends on the boat for the rest of the summer, along with a longer cruise in August.

We are looking forward to trying again and getting better and better at having them aboard with every trip. In the meantime, here are some pictures from our adventures thus far.

Our first sunset onboard

Our first sunset onboard

Little Bear and Junior wait for a ride ashore to get ice cream.

Little Bear and Junior wait for a ride ashore to get ice cream.

S/V Little Wing

S/V Little Wing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bucket List

It doesn't take much to get hooked on watching sunsets at sea.

It doesn’t take much to get hooked on watching sunsets at sea.

It’s been awhile since I last wrote and I have been batting around a few writing topics for a long time. Sometimes I think that my greatest writer’s block comes not when there’s nothing to write about, but rather when there’s a lot on my mind and I have trouble sifting through it. To get past the block, I just have to sit down and write about what comes to mind first. And the biggest thing on my mind is our most exciting plan. I can’t write about anything else until I put it on virtual paper. Somehow writing makes it all so much more concrete. And sharing it with you makes it even more so. It’s real. It’s happening. We’re working on our bucket list.

The Background

When the Captain and I met, we were both living full-time on sailboats in the Caribbean. Eventually we landed on the same boat teaching study abroad programs to college students and exploring the world by sea. We still spent tons of time in the Caribbean but also spent a summer sailing the Mediterranean, then down the coast of Africa and across the Atlantic. Later we cruised the east coast of Australia before crossing north to explore Borneo, Bali, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Sometimes I still look back at the photos and can’t believe we were actually there. It was an amazing time in our lives.

The captain and I on our old sailboat - a 32-foot cutter, back when the furry Lady was our only "child."

The captain and me on our old sailboat, a 32-foot cutter, back when the furry Lady was our only “child.”

So when we finally moved back to land, one of the first things that we did was buy a boat. Then we bought a few more. In fact some we didn’t even buy. They just came to us somehow, like a stinky, lovable mutt that shows up at the door of an animal shelter. Before we knew it, we had a fleet of vessels all in various states of disrepair. There was a little Boston Whaler that got us to the beach and back but seemed to be taking on water somewhere. (No big deal, they’re unsinkable!) Then there was the 19-foot Lightning sailboat that I spent months refinishing but never actually finished. And of course we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to adopt a friend’s 32-foot gaff-rigged cutter which, of course, needed a dinghy thereby adding two more leaky boats to our fleet.

Sailing upwind, the Captain at the helm and Mama on the rail, 35 weeks pregnant with Junior.

Sailing upwind, the Captain at the helm and Mama on the rail, 35 weeks pregnant with Junior.

Junior's first boated at 16 days old.

Junior’s first boat ride at 16 days old.

Junior nestled safely in the cockpit while Mama sails.

Junior nestled safely in the cockpit while Mama sails.

The Kids Arrive

During his first summer, Junior spent many afternoons on that leaky old sailboat with us. We’d nestle his carseat into the cockpit or rig a net across a bunk as a makeshift playpen. On our mooring, he’d splash in an overturned hatch cover. It was a simple, perfect time. We never minded that the boat wasn’t perfect. We were just happy to have it. But wooden boats take a lot of work just to maintain, never mind improve. When Little Bear arrived in May of the following year, coming home briefly only to promptly land himself back in the hospital until his one-month birthday, we started to fall behind. When the boat never touched water that summer, we sadly hung a FOR SALE sign on her bow shortly before passing her on to another young starry-eyed sailing couple. It was the end of an era, but not of our dream.

Since those early sailing days we have long dreamed that someday we’d do it all again, this time with our family and our own agenda. We did it for years on someone else’s terms. Someday we’d get a chance to do it our way. This dream was always a hypothetical distant vision, something we’d talk about often after a few drinks. We had a mental wish-list for the perfect boat and we collected charts and hoarded gear when it came our way. Junior has a fall birthday, so he will start kindergarten late. We always said we’d use that year, the bonus year, to go sailing. But suddenly that year is coming right up. Junior turns five in October. That year is here and we aren’t going.

The Future

Pre-child in the Caribbean, where the dream began.

Pre-child in the Caribbean, where the dream began.

But we refuse to let the dream pass us by. For over a year, we have been casually browsing boat listings. We sent out a few emails, kicking tires mostly. Then more recently, we buckled down and started seriously considering a few options. We spoke with the broker of what looked to be a perfect boat on Cape Cod, but then found out it didn’t have standing room in the galley and, though it hadn’t been on my original wish-list, I declared space to stand while cooking a sudden non-negotiable. Then we kept circling back to a boat in Nova Scotia, a 20-hour drive away. Should the Captain fly up on his own to look at it? Should we both go? We tossed a few ideas around but never settled on a plan. There were a few others too, but nothing seemed just exactly right. If you’re a boat person, you know how they will speak to you. We looked from the Chesapeake up to Cape Breton, and everywhere in between.

Signed, sealed, delivered!

Signed, sealed, delivered!

As fate would have it, we finally found our boat ten minutes down the road. I found the listing, which included a single grainy photo which I sent to The Captain. His reply was one word: YES. We received the survey in December, viewed the boat in January and signed the sales agreement in February, on the 21st anniversary of my Aunt Karin’s death. She would have loved that boat too. Sometimes life has a way of lining things up just so, when you didn’t even think it was possible.

But what about the bonus year? It will still happen, just not on the timeframe we’d originally planned. We’re currently planning (and this is very, very tentative still) to move aboard in fall 2017. This is the year that Junior would be starting kindergarten. He will still start kindergarten with his classmates. I’ll still get to take his cute little picture on the front steps with his new backpack before we walk to his first day at the elementary school. I can still spit-slick his blond cowlick down and thumb-rub the last remnants of breakfast off his chin before he disappears behind the door. I can still cry with the rest of the moms in the parking lot. We can still hit all the milestones that matter to sentimental moms like me.

Sailing is in his blood!

Sailing is in his blood!

But unlike the rest of his class, he won’t be there for long – just for hurricane season probably. Once the rest of the pieces are aligned (and there are many), we’ll clean out that new backpack and replace the folders and books with a snorkel and sunscreen. We’ll pack a bag and cast off.

Of course it’s actually much harder, but that’s the simple version.

In the end all the tedious prep work, stress and micromanagement will be left behind when we slip those docklines and point the bow south. We’re making it happen. The bucket list is turning into a to-do list, slowly but surely. We’re making it happen. We’re going sailing.

The newest member of the 365Outside family!

The newest member of the 365Outside family!

 

8 Years Later: The Personal Lasting Impact of My Encounter With Refugees At Sea

Just another sunset at sea.

Just another sunset at sea.

This is one of those stories that I have thought about sharing so many times. One of those stories that made me stop to think for a long time afterwards. One of those stories that changes the way you think about who you are and what your values are. One of those stories that makes you ask hard questions about yourself.

This is the story of the time we turned our boat away from a boat full of refugees, and how that’s affected how I think about myself and the world.

There is a lot on the news right now about the Syrian refugees. There are news outlets that profile everyday heroes, people doing selfless things that jeopardize their own wellbeing in order to save someone else. There are stories about horrible things that are happening to those who are less lucky, to those who fall behind or are left behind or just don’t make it. And there is news about Paris, about the worst case scenario that came to be when someone filled with evil snuck in with others who might have died had they not been allowed.

I don’t have any answers. I don’t know that there are any answers, at least not any easy ones. I have read many points of view, many ideas about what we can do from afar and what we should do as neighbors in the world. I don’t think I can offer any new ones.

But what I can offer is some perspective. I can tell you what it feels like when it’s right there in front of you and your decisions are going to forever change the life of someone else. Someone who is going through indescribable pain already, and who is only asking for help. I can tell you the thoughts that went through my head, and that would maybe go through yours too. I can tell you how we reached our decision, and how I feel about it years later. I can tell you what questions I’ll forever wonder and never be able to answer.

The tranquility of the Mediterranean.

The tranquility of the Mediterranean.

It was 2007. The Captain and I were leaving the Canary Islands on a sailing ship filled with students, bound for the Caribbean by way of the Cape Verdes. We had taken our students onboard two months earlier, just south of Barcelona, and had spent autumn cruising around the Mediterranean while the students began their coursework, learned the boat and worked on their diving certifications. By November, we’d left Gibraltar behind and skirted along the west coast of Morocco, making calls at Casablanca and several smaller ports along the way. It had already been an eye opening journey, going from the plush crispness of the French south coast to the poverty of Africa almost immediately after. On the one hand the world was feeling suddenly very small, since we really had not traveled all that far but had seen such broad varieties of life. And on the other hand the world was feeling incredibly vast, such different people and different cultures and different values, all spread before us.

Leaving the Med through the Strait of Gibraltar, bound for Africa.

Leaving the Med through the Strait of Gibraltar, bound for Africa.

We left Las Palmas on the first leg of our Atlantic crossing a few weeks before Thanksgiving. The atmosphere onboard was electric; there was so much excitement and nervous energy about the three weeks ahead of us, leading up to our triumphant landfall in the Caribbean. Students and professional crew alike were ready for the challenge of a long ocean voyage.

Just a day into our passage to the Cape Verdes, we spotted a small boat heading towards us at speed. This was immediate cause for concern. We were 150 miles south of the Canary Islands, about 120 miles west of Western Sahara, in waters with active piracy alerts. What could someone possibly be doing all the way out here in such a small boat?

Just south of the Cape Verdes, pirates from Nigeria had contributed to the 10% increase in pirate attacks for the year 2007. And on the other coast, off Somalia, 4 ships had been captured in just the past two months. The topic was fresh in our minds and we had established standing orders for the event of a pirate attack.

The Captain at the helm on a bumpy passage.

The Captain at the helm on a bumpy passage.

As our first mate squinted through the binoculars, he waved me over.  There. There just beneath the horizon, the tiny dot. It was getting bigger quickly. I went to get The Captain who was down below with the students, teaching a course on navigation. By the time he came on deck, we could see the boat clearly through the binoculars. It was filled with African men. It seemed impossible that it was even floating but there it was, about 50 feet long and open like a canoe. It was low and wet, but moving surprisingly fast directly for us. We could count at least 50 men onboard. We knew that our big schooner would not be able to evade it so we activated our anti-piracy orders which mostly just consisted of charging our fire hose which shot like a geyser into the sky. We couldn’t out-maneuver them, and we couldn’t outnumber them, but we could maybe sink them if we had to.

Mosque in Casablanca.

Mosque in Casablanca.

When they saw what we were doing, they didn’t speed up or alter course to our other side like we thought they might. Instead, they turned so that they were no longer heading right for us, and they shut their engine off. They were parallel to us and they were waving flags, an international sign of distress in the maritime world. It hit us suddenly and all together.

They were not coming to hurt us. They were not the enemy. They were asking for help. They were lost and they were dying.

Fishing boats in Essaouira, Morocco.

Fishing boats in Essaouira, Morocco.

We could have left right then, and there’s no denying that that would have been the absolute 100% safest decision to make for ourselves. If we wanted to guarantee no chance of an interaction gone wrong, we should have left. They outnumbered us and they had nothing left to lose. But how can you look at someone who is dying, who has lost everything, who has put it all on the line for the chance at a better life; how can you look him in the eyes and turn around? Could you do that? Would you do that?

We loaded supplies together. Food, water, compass, fishing line. We tied them all up in bags and attached them to some old lifejackets. We set the supplies adrift and then slowly motored away. They approached them, picked them up and made huge waving gestures of gratitude. Like they were praising us and God all at the same time. Then they waved their fuel tanks, so we filled tanks with gas and floated those over too. Again the waving praise. But then what?

We couldn’t bring them on our boat. There were already 30 of us packed in like sardines. To bring another 50 onboard? And then there was our own safety. We were carrying other people’s children onboard with us. We were responsible for the lives and safety of the college students aboard, and we would be the ones to answer if something went wrong. So we did not bring them onboard. We offered them everything we could spare. We would be at sea for weeks still, but we gave them all we could. And then we called the Rescue Center in the Canary Islands, and we left.

Underway in the Atlantic

Underway in the Atlantic

I cannot believe we left. I still think through that decision every time I see a headline about refugees. I think of it every time I see a picture of the Syrians camped at the closed Hungarian border. I thought of it when I saw the picture of Aylan Kurdi, the three year old who drowned and washed ashore and whose body was photographed on the beach in Turkey. He is the same age as my boys. What would I do if someone turned their boat away from us?

It has been eight years to the month since we turned away from that boat full of African refugees. We will never know what ultimately happened to them. We do know that a ship and a plane from the rescue center responded to our call, and the boat was rescued and towed to the Canaries. But rescuing a boat is not the same as rescuing a person. We know that they reached land, but we don’t know if they were allowed to stay. More likely, they were sent back to wherever it was they came from.

Later I learned that at the time, an estimated 800 refugees were leaving Africa EACH DAY bound for the Canary Islands, their closest entry to the European Union. Most of them spend their entire life’s savings for the chance to sit in one of those boats and pray that they will make landfall on their own. Imagine the horror of spending all your life’s savings and risking everything, only to be sent back to where you started. Imagine a life such that taking to sea in a boat like this seemed like your only escape.

A rough passage.

A rough passage.

The reality is that the men in the boat were probably sent back to Gambia, or Senegal, or Sierra Leone. They were probably held in a detention center for months, only to end up back where they started. Some of them maybe began saving again to take the same perilous journey and pray for a different result. Others maybe resigned themselves to the lives they led before. We couldn’t change the course of their lives, even as they were risking everything they had to make change for themselves.

The system is broken. We wanted to save these people. We wanted to know that the risk they took was worth it. We wanted to know that there was a happy ending, something that these days seems so rare. We wanted to help. And we couldn’t do it ourselves. We needed a system in place that treated strangers the way we would treat our own brothers and sisters. We needed a system in place that was built upon a foundation of love.

When we act in fear, we perpetuate a disconnected world in which only those of the same skin color, country, or faith can support us. We enforce an existence in which we are all up against the same great big evils in the world, but somehow we all have to fight our own battles against them. We ignore everything we have in common, and we focus only on the small things that make us different. In fact, we fear the differences enough to let others die rather than overlook them. We live our lives rooted in fear.

Calm passage.

Calm passage.

Of course there are logistics. Where would everyone go? Who would pay for it? Who will be responsible if something goes wrong? These are questions worth investigating, but these are not excuses. While 34 governors of US states announce that they will not welcome Syrian refugees, France, the country that has just experienced the deepest imaginable loss of trust, continues to accept 30,000 Syrian refugees this year.

Imagine what could happen when we root ourselves in love. We can’t change the system by ourselves in a single day. But when we act out of love, and we treat others, even those who are different, the same way we would treat our own, small changes start to happen. It sounds cliche. It is cliche. But it is true. It is natural to be afraid of something that you don’t understand or something that you’ve never experienced before. But when you step outside of your fear and ask yourself what you would hope and pray for if the roles were reversed, you will find an answer rooted in love.

Like those who came before them, they are not coming to hurt us. They are not the enemy. They are asking for help. They are lost and they are dying.

This photo of the refugees was captured by our student, Rachel French, who is currently a member of the US Coast Guard.

This photo of the African refugees we encountered was captured by our student, Rachel French, who is currently a member of the US Coast Guard.

To read the email I wrote to friends and family after our encounter with the African refugees, click here.

To find contact information for your governor, click here.

To learn more about organizations helping Syrian refugees and how you can support them, click here.

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