Reflections from 70 years of Travel

Alumni share their thoughts on the lasting impact of SPAN in their lives

In so many significant ways!  Certainly, SPAN contributed to sensitivity to other cultures.  I would like to think SPAN started me on a path toward critical thinking, including a thoughtful consideration of foreign affairs, and how about joy in learning!!

Mary Ann Rolloff, Nigeria 1962

I learned how to connect better with others. It was very useful to have the preparation prior to departing.  I made close friendships with other SPANners and Peruvians as well.  The cohort was very supportive during the ups and downs of my field work.

Claudia Fuentes, Peru 1989

I was 19, and this was my first world travel experience. From Australia, I travelled to Singapore, Thailand, India, Lebanon, and Greece.  The experience broadened my cultural perspective and gave me greater self-confidence.   Please keep the program strong.

Lousie Smith, Australia 1968

It was life-changing.  I discovered that I could survive in a foreign culture speaking a foreign language.  I established friendships that I maintain 68 years later.  The enrichment it brought to my life has been priceless.

Lucy Rorke-Adams, Germany 1950

It was a great experience!  We had to sail across the Atlantic.  The people in Ireland were so helpful, as was our leader.  We also travelled throughout Europe, 4 of us in a rental car.  It broadened our horizons.  I love traveling to this day!

Joyce Engeman, Ireland 1955

SPAN was a highlight of my college experience and had a positive influence on me in several ways: It reinforced my childhood experience in Burma… [and] it gave me the confidence that I could make a positive contribution in my choice of a SPAN project, which involved original research on a severe skin cancer called malignant melanoma and was subsequently published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Kenric Johnson, Uganda 1967

My SPAN study was about health practice in post war Germany and I feel that my travelling to Germany [was] very enriching and helpful in understanding people and dealing with people in my medical practice.  It was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.

Ralph Swanson, Germany 1950

Profound influence!  It gave me intercultural experience that has been useful for 35 years….  And we gained best friends from our SPAN experience.

Lanny Westphal, West Germany 1981

The exposure to another culture – especially one vastly different from my own – other than as a tourist was an indelibly valuable experience that taught me respect for all people as well as a profound appreciation of our differences.

Gordon Shumaker, Lebanon 1963

SPAN gave me confidence and stimulated my curiosity.  It helped me develop leadership skills which I depended upon as an elected public official on the Wausau Public School Board. 

Sharyn K. Forbes, Ireland 1966

My SPAN experience was my first exposure to living and working outside the U.S. and set me on the path to my Foreign Service career, especially contributing to my interest in the countries of Eastern Europe and the (former) USSR.  It also opened my eyes to the importance of cultural and educational exchanges, which became a big part of my work at USIA [U.S. Information Agency] and the Dept. of State. Without SPAN, I feel that my life would not have been as interesting or rewarding, nor as enriched by the many friendships and work relationships I have had with people from many different countries.  Thank you, SPAN!

Janet Demiray, Yugoslavia 1965

It was my first time out of the country, and it sparked my continuing interest in music history and research; it was a truly life-changing event and one of the most important experiences of my life.

Rob Engelson, DDR 1971

SPAN gave me a love of travel but most of all, an understanding of and appreciation of world poverty and America’s duty to help and to be a global presence.

Pat Scumancher, Ghana 1961

By far the high point of my entire college career…  [It] led me to developing further interest in geography [and I] have continued to travel in many areas of world.  The concept of “lighting one candle” had a huge impact.  I had heard of SPAN since it was started and kids of my parents’ friends had been “SPANners.”  Then by some serendipitous chance, I went to the 1954 fall banquet… I was alwas adventuresome but SPAN increased this plus such a broadening of a “great big world out there.”

 Gretchen Fogo, Italy 1955

It afforded me an amazing personal and educational experience, and opened many doors, professional, academic, and more.

Elizabeth Hogan, France 1951

The experience fostered a love of foreign travel and an interest in international students during my teaching career. 

Jane Colapietro, Greece 1956

It touches my life EVERY DAY – being open to new people and experiences and SPAN friendships continued to this day!

R. Eloise Stroud, Ghana 1961

After graduation I moved to Liberia where I taught African history.

Charles Kuhlman, Tanganyika 1963

I have always had an interest in our country’s place in the world. We should be proud of the United States and try for world cooperation.

Barbara Marek, Guatemala 1948

I loved Brazil and returned there in the Peace Corps, 1964-66.  Again to do research – summer 1968.  And again to visit, 1989.

Jean Langlie, Brazil 1963


As a result of my SPAN experience and after raising my children I went overseas to teach.  I taught at the John F. Kennedy Schule in Berlin for 4 years,at Robert College in Istanbul for 5 years, and the International School of Dakar, Senegal for 2 years.  I have also traveled the world, including all 7 continents.  ­

Karen Moore, Germany 1957

It exposed me to cultures different than my own.  It also gave me confidence to be more independent and provided a whole new perspective on the world. 

Jeanne Edman, Philippine 1975