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Tutu Ubuntu Scholarship Gives African Students the Opportunity to Sail with Semester at Sea

I am, because you are. – Ubuntu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu giving one of many lecturers during a Semester at Sea voyage.

When Nancy Tietge sailed with Semester at Sea on the Fall 2010 voyage, she had no idea what would come out the experiences and connections she made on and off the ship. Coming from a family of public service, Nancy has always wanted to give back. Human rights activist and longtime supporter of Semester at Sea, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, also sailed on the Fall 2010 voyage. The shipboard community was honored to hear him speak about his experience being a powerful force for nonviolence in South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, which led him to receiving a Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. Nancy was able to join Archbishop Tutu during a panel on aging and what they have learned as they’ve gotten older and wiser over the years. She was struck at his calming presence, even during times of complete hardship. “It is very easy to destroy things but so much harder to build things in its place,” says Archbishop Tutu in a lecture to the shipboard community. This impacted Nancy and propelled her in giving back to the Semester at Sea community.

It is very easy to destroy things but so much harder to build things in its place. – Archbishop Desmond Tutu


Nancy became involved with the lifelong learner council, including being co-chair for four years along with other pursuits. When looking around at the student body on the Fall 2010 Voyage Nancy noticed that out of 602 students only 24 of them were international and none where representing the continent of Africa. There she was listening to Archbishop Tutu, who had been such a major part to ending South African apartheid and pursuing human rights specifically within Africa, and there are no students from the whole continent to experience and learn from his wisdom. That is when the Tutu Ubuntu Scholarship was first created – Ubuntu meaning “I am, because you are.” To apply for this scholarship the applicant must be a current undergraduate student that graduated from a high school located in an African Country. The first Tutu Ubuntu Scholar (Levix Aloo) sailed on the Spring 2019 Voyage.


Spring 2020 Tutu Ubuntu Scholar Tracey Osogo (second from the left) and Nancy Tietge (third from the left) grab a quick picture with shipmates.

Tracey Osogo was the Spring 2020 recipient of the Tutu Ubuntu Scholarship. “It was one of the most fulfilling things I have done in my life.” Her uncle introduced Semester at Sea to Tracey and motivated her to apply to any and all scholarships that were available. Since she was in Kenya there was less knowledge of the Semester at Sea program and she took that to her advantage having there be less competition. If there is one piece of advice Tracey would give is that students should not be shy in applying and “just go ahead.” She had heard of a previous recipient also being from Kenya and almost did not apply because she thought a scholarship that is open to all of Africa is not going to choose another recipient from Kenya. Thankfully this did not stop her and she not only applied but received the scholarship! “It was a lot of pressure being the Tutu Scholar but it also came with privileges with contacts for any needs.”



Tracey Osogo traveling in-port during her Spring 2020 Voyage.

Sailing on Semester at Sea was an incredible yet emotionally challenging time for Tracey. Being from Kenya she went from being a part of the majority to being part of the minority and that took time to get accustomed to. However, shipmates around Tracey held space for her, which was needed in this adjustment period. She was able to bond with her roommate who had both similarities and differences in culture with Tracey. Becoming a Tutu Scholar completely changed Tracy’s life. Many opportunities came along such as being featured in one of two major Kenyan newspapers, the Nation Daily. She was able to create lifelong friendships and develop a network that would drive her directly to her next step in life – getting a master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from Colorado State University.



Spring 2020 Tutu Ubuntu Scholar Tracey Osogo

Tracey connected with Susan Opp, a professor on the Spring 2020 voyage who also happens to be the director of the master’s program that Tracey is will be pursuing in the fall of 2022. In addition to this, she was able to meet several other professors and deans on board that will continue to be apart of her education on the CSU campus. What’s after graduate school for Tracey? She hopes to obtain her doctorate in diplomacy while pursuing the field of international policy and management.


Semester at Sea is not an easy program but it is so worth it. I wish whoever gets the scholarship all the best. You are really lucky to have this opportunity and it truly is a once in a lifetime experience. – Tracey Osogo, Spring 2020 Tutu Ubuntu Scholarship Recipient


The Tutu Ubuntu Scholarship is $35,000 and aims to fully cover the cost of the program for the student including room and board. With Nancy Tietge and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both being born in October, a fundraiser is held each year during this month and whatever money is raised, Nancy matches. The proceeds help with pre-voyage expenses that arise such as visa application fees, airfare, immunizations, and any supplies needed that the student may not already have. Nancy’s biggest goal with this scholarship is for there to be enough interest and donors to contribute to this scholarship that will allow funding to host a Tutu Ubuntu Scholar on every voyage. “It’s worth getting involved with programs and charities that are important to you,” notes Nancy. “If you can give $25 a year, and if each of your fellow voyagers did the same, it could open the door for other students to have the opportunity to sail.”



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