A springboard for learning to travel – Edward T Ordman – Australia 1974

Shortly after my Ph. D. I engaged in some correspondence about a mathematical paper I’d read, which led to a one-semester post-doctoral research Fulbright to Australia in 1974. I was able to give lectures up and down the Eastern part of Australia, at several universities. While I’ve never seen a formal list of the “far corners of the earth” I suspect that Hobart, Tasmania, may qualify, probably the farthest place I’ll ever get from home. When I spoke there (after my first overnight boat trip, from Sydney) I got a brief write-up in the local newspaper.  Then I got a letter from Auckland, New Zealand: “We don’t have any cash money available, but if your return flight to the US will let you lay over here, we’ll house and feed you for a week in exchange for a lecture.”

       This was an education in how to organize travel and how to make connections which has served me well for more than 45 years. By arranging trips with partial support or one-leg-at-a time-support from a variety of places, some sabbatical and grant support and some self-funded travel, I’ve lectured in places from Aalborg, Denmark, to Bangor, Wales, Budapest and Shanghai, as well as such unlikely places as Torshavn (Faroe Islands) and Zomba (Malawi). I’ve also lectured in French – and had many professional conversations, although no public lectures, in German. I’ve made friends and colleagues all over the world. I became a frequent counselor to foreign graduate students at my home university. And later in life this led me to continue to travel, seeking unusual volunteer opportunities such as teaching English in a children’s summer camp in rural Poland and practicing English with potential English teachers in Xi’an (China) and Kherson (Ukraine.)  The initial Fulbright grant was a relatively small one, but it has paid immense life-long dividends.

Edward T Ordman – Fulbright to Australia 1974

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