A Carleton Alum’s Dream Comes True

Grad builds on language education while sailing around the world

The ship is called the Ocean Dream – an appropriate name for the adventures that Carleton alumnus Sebastien Cloutier had while on board.

Cloutier had been to Japan twice. He worked as an ESL instructor and then returned to conduct research while pursuing his Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies at Carleton.

When he graduated last year, he knew he had to go back to Japan.

“That’s when I thought about The Peace Boat,” says Cloutier. “I remember having seen posters about this organization that took people on around the world cruises while promoting peace, sustainable development, and respect for the environment.”

Intrigued, he approached the Peaceboat organization and found out that the organization offers English and Spanish classes to interested participants while travelling to exotic places for 3.5 months.

Cloutier soon found himself aboard the boat. The organization paid for his room and board and safe passage around the world, and in return, he taught English.

“It’s funny to think that I spent 105 days on a ship that crossed the entire Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, passed through the two great canals (the Panama and Suez Canals), and stopped at 24 ports in 22 different countries along the way,” says Cloutier. “I met extraordinary people that challenged me and forced me to rethink my points of view. I learned first-hand about exploitation in Brazil, refugees in Palestine, and the civil war in Sri Lanka from the people that lived through these experiences.”

But it is August 15, 2014 that is most memorable for the Carleton alumnus.

“In a way, it was a little bit like what Bill Murray experiences in the movie Groundhog Day,” explains Cloutier. “Our ship was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and, that night, we crossed the international date line. On one side of the date line, it was 23h59, August 15th, but a few metres away on the other side of the date line, it was 23h59 August 14th. So we relived August 15th all over again.”

The Carleton graduate says that the knowledge he gained from his studies at Carleton allowed him to teach with more confidence. “Understanding how learners acquire a first and a second language has helped me adjust my teaching style and methods. I no longer teach what I think is effective, but teach what I know is effective.”

Cloutier with Nicaraguan in tradition dress

Cloutier with Nicaraguan in tradition dress

Reminiscing about his time in the School of Linguistics and Language Studies, Cloutier says that it is the professors who stand out for him. “Their support far exceeded what I expected when I entered the program,” he says. “Whether I needed advice on assignments or direction with my research and my career path, I found the professors exceptionally supportive and understanding.”

Cloutier says that Prof. David Wood deserves a special mention. “He was and continues to be a mentor that I have great admiration for and respect for. There were many times while pursuing my degree that I thought about quitting. During those low points I would meet with Dr. Wood, and an hour later I was re-energized and back on track. I greatly appreciate it now, because my Master’s degree has allowed me to secure a teaching position as an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) instructor at Carleton.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 in
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