As someone who had not traveled much outside of the United States I wanted to experience the diverse cultures and civilizations that encompass the world we live in. In my sophomore year at Western Kentucky University, I pursued a program that equipped me with an opportunity to travel while also going to school. Semester at Sea; a non-profit organization, offers a truly global experience. The Voyage on the MV World Odyssey are 100+ days and allow students to earn 12-15 academic credits from Colorado State University. I was honored to be selected. I studied and sailed across 3 oceans, stepped on 4 continents, visited 16 countries, saw 30+ cities, totaled 22,806 nautical miles, and connected with more people around the world than most will meet in their lifetime.
I was forced to disconnect from the technological distractions that consume the lives of millennials, including myself. I found time to reflect on the massive undertaking it must involve supplying or resupplying the floating city I was on. While eating lunch one afternoon, I thought about how all of the food, water, medical supplies, and other amenities arrive on this ship under way or at a port. I mean, seriously, there were 800 voyagers on this journey! From every water bottle I drank to every peanut butter sandwich I ate, the ingredients were mysteriously appearing to keep us living comfortable. It was as if the logistics, employed to keep our temporary home afloat, were magic. Then, while away from my home, I began to miss my home and think about the men and women who protect my freedom. What about an aircraft carrier or a supply ship supporting our United States military men and women? When I returned home, I began researching this topic and stumbled upon the National Defense Transportation Association (NDTA). I reached out to their Director of Public Relations, Kimberly Huth; she agreed to allow me to shadow her at their headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. While there, she shared how important logistics are to our nation and although our United States military is vital, it is also important that companies (she kept calling them industry partners) are involved in the logistics machine that ensured our service men and women were able to enjoy water and eat peanut butter sandwiches as well as perform the duties required to defend our nation. She said NDTA’s mission was to benefit national security and defense through knowledge sharing in logistics, transportation and passenger travel services. They provide a trusted environment for government, military and private sector experts to build working relationships and develop the next generation of professionals. I was fascinated to hear a small office, out of a strip mall in the middle of Alexandria, Virginia, played such an important role. I was so impressed, I joined the association! I plan to take this knowledge back to the campus in Western Kentucky and see if my classmates understand how important logistics are to our world and specifically our nation. –Lucas Hackmann, Class of 2020.