YOURS AT CAROLINA
As the World Grows Smaller
One evening on the banks of the Nile River, a group of Carolina alumni was awaiting a sound-and-light show among the ancient temple ruins in Luxor. It
occurred to them that, just at that moment, the men’s basketball team was playing Villanova in the NCAA Tournament. In
celebration, an impromptu chorus of the fight song broke out.
As the song ended, a young man approached to
ask: Was anyone in the group from Chapel Hill?
Indeed. The entire group of 30 travelers had
ties to Carolina, and the young man offered that
he also was a UNC graduate, working in Cairo.
Later in their trip, in Israel, they met a young
woman who had gone to grad school at UNC.
The GAA’s travel program has been making
global connections for alumni for 40 years, and
just as the world has changed in remarkable ways
since 1971, so, too, has this program dedicated to
taking alumni to every continent on the globe.
In the beginning, students ventured out before alumni:
Carolina’s first study abroad program was in Lyon, France, in
1965. Six years later, then-Alumni Secretary Clarence Whitefield ’ 44 hosted the GAA’s first group travel program, going to
London, Rome, Madrid and Paris.
Today, UNC offers 300 study abroad programs in 70 countries, and whenever possible, GAA trips connect with Carolina
students studying abroad as well as alumni living overseas. The
program always has had an educational focus, but in 1982 history Professor Richard Solloway became the first faculty
member to serve as an enrichment lecturer on a GAA trip,
touring Scotland and Ireland.
Since then, scores of Carolina’s most engaging faculty have
accompanied GAA tours. Just a few examples:
■ In 1984, James Leutze, then a UNC professor of military
history, served as the GAA’s faculty lecturer on a 40th anniversary D-Day trip to France and Belgium, following the route
along which he had escorted his undergraduate students. And
next year, history department chair and Professor Lloyd
Kramer will guide Carolina alumni and friends along those
same Normandy beaches.
■ Professors Dave Griffiths and Joel Schwartz served as our
faculty lecturers for several tours to the former Soviet Union
and later to Russia, the Ukraine, along the Danube River and
to Eastern Europe; and professors Gerhard Weinberg and
Madeline Levine have accompanied a number of tours
through Eastern Europe.
■ Religious studies Professor Bart Ehrman — known as a
provocative and prolific author — has provided lectures to
alumni and friends on tours following the travels of several
Many of our UNC faculty enrichment lecturers also provide “Passport Lectures” in Chapel Hill before trips depart.
And in collaboration with Duke’s alumni association and
Oxford University, each September since 1996 we’ve provided
a two-week residential study opportunity for Carolina and
Duke alumni in Oxford.
Our 650-plus tours have included walking tours through
Europe; family trips in the Caribbean and Europe; young
alumni tours throughout Europe; a chartered around-the-world
plane trip; tours to China, Antarctica, India, Australia, New
Zealand and the Galapagos Islands; river and ocean cruises; ski
trips; national parks tours; safaris; and land and cruise trips to
Alaska. There have been many more, with Carolina travelers
entertained in embassies and hosted by Carolina chancellors —
Chris ’ 47 and Barbara Fordham; Paul and Barbara Hardin;
Michael Hooker ’ 69 and his wife, Carmen; and James and
Susan Moeser — and other notable hosts, including Dean and
Linnea Smith ’ 76 (MD); Bill and Leesie Guthridge; Dick ’ 66
and Lynda Baddour ’ 70; and Woody ’ 63 and Jean Durham. (As
an aside, the cost of our tours is not affected by providing
UNC hosts or faculty lecturers, although a minimum number
of travelers may be needed for their participation. A bit more
fine print: All tour participants must be GAA members; GAA
membership is open to friends of Carolina as well as alumni;
and alumni travel is not a profit center for the GAA.)
Evaluations are solicited after each tour, and the comments
we hear are gratifying: “Everything was so well-planned.” “The
best part was getting to know my fellow Carolina travelers.” “It
was the trip of a lifetime.” “I didn’t have to worry about one
thing from the time we left the airport until we returned.” “I
wasn’t certain I’d enjoy group travel, and now I won’t travel any
other way — particularly with Carolina.” “I learned so much.”
Their comments reinforce a sentiment noted on many of
our travel brochures: “When we travel, we return to a more
childlike state of wonder and curiosity, and it feels good.
Knowing the world at large is a responsibility. Travel is a great
way of fulfilling that responsibility.” It is reassuring that more
than a third of our travelers have participated in two or more
of our tours. (And we know of at least three couples who first
met while traveling with the GAA.)
To the thousands of UNC alumni and friends who have
traveled with the GAA over the past 40 years, thank you. And
to readers who have not yet traveled with us, please consider
it. The evidence suggests that you’ll enjoy the experience so
much that you’ll return again and again.
Yours at Carolina,
Douglas S. Dibbert ’ 70