David N. Townsend



I have had the tremendous good fortune to travel all over the world during my adult life, for both business and tourism purposes (often together). I gained the wanderlust mostly from my mother and her parents. When I was a child, my grandparents took several month-long international trips to exotic parts of the world (Africa, South America, India, Scandinavia). Every Christmas or Thanksgiving, after finishing the meal or opening the presents, the family would gather in my grandparents' living room to watch a slide show of the past year's trip. Grandpa was meticulous about taking pictures and organizing the slides, all of which still reside in neatly labeled boxes at my grandmother's estate.

I don't really recall lying there on the floor, looking at all of these photos, and dreaming of traveling the world myself. I think the idea of being connected to the wider world just began to sink in naturally; far-off countries didn't seem as alien and unreachable as they might to many others. It seemed perfectly natural to visit other parts of the world, although in reality at the time, the 1960s, international travel was only just beginning to become accessible to average Americans. These perceptions were reinforced by my mother, who had gone to Europe for two long voyages when she was College age. She used to talk about these trips a lot, and show pictures, and really romanticized the continent, especially France and Italy, in my mind.

My family did travel quite a lot, by car, mostly through the Northeast, with one trip to DC. We also went to Canada several times, including two trips to Montreal for Expo '67. Crossing the border and observing bilingualism in Quebec also made a lasting impression on me.

When I got to High School age, I was immediately exposed to the International Relations Club at Swampscott High, which had an exceptional reputation (for a small school) for participating in Model United Nations, particularly the annual Harvard MUN. Chucky Finger, a close friend, had attended one or two of these 3-day role-playing extravaganzas a couple of years earlier, and his tales of both the daytime diplomacy and the nighttime partying were tantalizing. I joined, and for three years the intellectual and social intensity of the 6 Model UN's I attended (3 Harvards, 2 Yales, and a National Invitational in Washington, DC) were the highlights of my teenage experience.

Because of the times (mid-1970s), I became most caught up in the Middle East issues at the Model UNs. I represented at various times Israel, the PLO, Libya, and Iraq, as well as the U.S. and the Soviet Union. I was quite successful, bringing home some prestigious awards for my performance. Naturally, this interest, especially in Arab-Israeli issues, spilled over into school papers and classes as well. Most of my friends also happened to be Jewish, and they and their families reinforced an overriding awareness of and concern for matters in the Middle East.

Also during High School, I was further inspired by a French teacher, Charles Cunningham. A handful of students had studied French since 7th grade, and together we formed a small advanced class, which Mr. Cunningham wound up teaching for three straight years in High School (there were only 5 of us left by senior year). We got to be so comfortable and interested, that the class often became more of a group philosophy session, where we study the works and ideas of Sartre, Camus, and Beckett, and listened to tales of the magic of Paris. The class was an oasis of inspiration in the otherwise mundane experience of suburban public education. Senior year I also went on an exchange trip with the Band to Ottawa, my first time out of the country without my family.

These interests and experiences followed me to (and helped ensure my acceptance at) Dartmouth College in the Fall of 1977.  My Middle East interest remained paramount, and I eventually constructed a Middle Eastern studies major within the Asian Studies Department.  I also expanded my interest in French language and literature, culminating in a 3-month foreign study program in Toulouse in 1980.  Following that trip, I also had the opportunity to visit with my friend Steve Rosenberg in Israel, where he was on foreign study, and the two of us traveled back across Europe together that summer.  Although I didn't get the opportunity to travel extensively again until almost a decade later, my international interest was firmly entrenched.

Look at any of the following files for details on my travels, including references to some more extensive narratives, and (eventually) photographs.  Feel free to contact me you have any interest in any of these voyages, or world travel in general.

Summary      Before 1991      1991       1992        1993        1994       1995-96       1997

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