Thursday, May 18th
Today is our last day in Cyprus and I cannot believe that it is actually the end of the trip. We started the day at the Bernard Schulte Ship Management Training Center to learn about the education process for upper-level crew in the shipping industry. We were given a tour of the facilities that started with simulators used to give crew practice in real scenarios. It was a bit funny to watch because while we were visiting, the group in the simulation ran aground and was also hit by another ship. Obviously, this situation would be much less funny if we were on a real boat, but being a simulation, it was pretty entertaining. The simulations were really interesting because they can change the scenario to fit anything the crew may encounter including weather conditions and ship malfunctions. We also got a chance to see some of their classrooms where they have spaces for online instruction as well as other simulation and practice stations. When crew come to the training center they typically stay there for a week or more to do nonstop training. The facility has many cabins where the crew can stay that resemble cabins aboard most ships. They are incredibly tight quarters and are usually shared by 2 or three personnel which makes me very appreciative of the size of my dorm room. This was our final ship-related visit and our last company visit so I must say that despite the efforts of the companies here, I definitely do not see myself with a career in the shipping industry.
After we left the training center, we drove up to the mountain village of Omodos. Here we had my favorite mezze of the trip and visited the Timios Stavros Monastery. A mezze is the style of all our group meals on the trip and it is basically a large family style meal with many courses. There is always so much food and we never ate it all, but it was always incredible. This mezze in particular was delicious and was in the cutest little restaurant. After lunch we visited the monastery which was interesting because it did not look like you would expect. During the period of the Ottoman Empire, the monastery was used as a barricade to protect the people from the Ottomans. For this reason, it looks more like a fortress than a monastery on the outside. The inside is still decorated like a traditional monastery and is adorned with paintings and other art to aid in worship. Smaragda explained to us the difference in how women were treated within the religion. She said that women were not allowed to come to religious services if they were on their period because they were considered “dirty”. Also, there was a separate level of seating where women and girls were forced to sit because they were not allowed to be in the same section as the men. It is also said in many religions that women are not expected to pray because it is more important for them to devote their time to the house and their children. It makes me very grateful for the progress society has made for women’s rights and equality. so cannot imagine living in a world where I was solely considered important for my ability to clean and have children. We still have progress to be made, but I am proud of how many steps have been taken.