Juan Agudelo Arboleda comes from a long line of mariners, and has pretty much become one himself. He grew up in the Colombian city of Cartagena and, at 21 years old, eventually hopes to work as a pilot for his family’s business.
Pilots are the sailors who board vessels as they enter port to help them navigate the unfamiliar waterways; they know the location of every current, sandbar and sunken ship.
For the last four years, Arboleda has been one of the few international students enrolled at Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) — more than 2,000 miles from the waters he wants to navigate for a living.
What’s he doing there? And why, for that matter, have students from countries as diverse as Turkey, China, India, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Jamaica and Sweden crossed literal oceans to study at MMA in recent years? The short answer: MMA does a fine job training its students.
Just like their American counterparts, the academy’s international students have landed well-paying jobs in the maritime and logistics fields. They’ve also used their overseas experiences to make contacts, acquaint themselves with a different culture, eat the obligatory lobster and better understand English, the language of global trade.