A 100-year-old club that boasts an impressive roster of circumnavigators including William Jennings Bryan, President William Howard Taft and General Douglas McArthur granted a University of Michigan undergrad a summer 2001 journey to circumnavigate the globe.
Mark A. Rosier, a senior political science major and a native of Detroit, won a grant of $8,500 from the Circumnavigator”s Club of Michigan in January of 2001 to plan an itinerary to travel around the world. Michigan Circumnavigators began giving these awards in 1981 and have sent 10 students every other year to travel around the world during the summer between their junior and senior years of college.
With the only incentive of killing an hour before class, Rosier dropped by the Fall 2000 Study Abroad Fair in the Michigan Union last year. “I just walked around the fair and happened to see the circumnavigator competition, so I said “great!” and signed up,” said Rosier. The purpose of the grant is to gather factual information, around the world, at each local site. The information has to be on a significant subject of broad general interest in the area of international human relations. Every grant recipient is looked upon as an ambassador representing both the Circumnavigator”s Club of Michigan and the United States.
Historically, the Circumnavigator”s Club was founded in 1902 when two Americans, sailing across the Indian Ocean, discussed their good fortune to be going around the world.
The awards are made through the Circumnavigator”s Foundation, which was created by Michigan”s George F. Pierrot, the well-known travel host, and Raymond Dinsmore of New York. The foundation has chapters throughout the world including Arizona, San Francisco, California, Singapore and the United Kingdom.
To qualify for the grant, participants must submit a written proposal that defines the significance of the project. This proposal asks for a preliminary itinerary with explanations of its relevance to the proposed topic, a personal resume and scholastic records. After three rounds of competition, a winner is selected after the last round of finalists” oral presentations.
Rosier proposed to examine compliance problems and protection of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization”s World Heritage Centre in preserving natural and cultural sites around the world. The natural sites that Rosier visited were the Ligurian costal region of Italy, the seven megalithic temples on the islands of Malta and Gozo and the Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve in Madagascar. The cultural sites he visited were the Komodo volcanic “dragons” of Indonesia, Australia”s Fraser Island and Solomon Island”s raised coral atoll (small islands made of coral), which are the largest in the world.
In addition to these seven sites, Rosier stayed a week in Paris to meet with UNESCO leaders both on the international and national levels to learn more about the sites. As an added bonus, Rosier also got a layover in Fiji and Iceland simply because it was the cheapest route. The whole trip lasted about 13 weeks with 23 flight segments, with Mark starting his journey on May 7 and returning home on August 7. Rosier stayed mainly with friends in Italy and Paris. In the lesser developed countries, he stayed in youth hostels, camped out in the rainforest and stayed in villagers” huts. He planned his whole itinerary out with the help of an Around the World Specialist at Counsel Travel on Central Campus.
In preparation for the trip, Rosier was already familiar with international territory due to his two-year study abroad in Italy before coming to the University, along with his fluency in Italian, French and Spanish. The only obstacles during his trip were the delay of his luggage in Mauritius for four days and the difficulty of getting in touch with or meeting with the people involved in UNESCO”s World Heritage Centre. “It was hard to get in touch with them before the trip, especially in the lesser developed countries such as Madagascar because they had no infrastructure like email as Australia did,” Rosier said, “So I had to basically hunt them down, but I was eventually able to talk to those I needed to talk to.”
An unexpected trend also emerged during his visits. “As soon as the villagers found out that I was a young, single American, they were so excited about it that many of the fathers offered their daughters for marriage,” said Rosier. This started in Indonesia and then in the Solomon Islands and continued least seven times.
Rosier is preparing for an oral presentation of his research from the trip to take place next Wednesday at the Grosse Pointe Hunt Club to the members of the Circumnavigator”s Club Foundation. Rosier is also presentation on his research in the first or second week of November, a separate venture from the Circumnavigator”s Club Foundation, at the International Center to bolster publicity for international and study abroad programs. After graduation, Rosier already has a job lined up in Italy and he is also considering attending law school in a couple of years.
Applications for Circumnavigator 2003 are available through the student activities offices or by contacting Alfred B. Thomas, Foundation Coordinator, via email: email@example.com. The competition is open to enrolled students of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University or Wayne State University who will be juniors in 2002-03.