Oberlin Blogs

On the Road Again

August 19, 2009

Charles Grim

All of you fans of American country music will probably recognize this as the title of a song by Willie Nelson. "On the road again. Just can't wait to get on the road again." Well, here in the Oberlin admissions office that should be our office song this week as we all are putting the final touches on our fall travel plans. You can look forward to seeing the detailed itineraries up on the website soon, but I thought I'd give you a sneak preview of our international travel plans.

Here's the basic puzzle: visit as many prospective students as we can in as many countries as we can in as few days as possible, all within a budget that sounds big but evaporates quickly as one books international flights and hotel rooms. This year we wanted to be sure to spend adequate time in Europe, East and South Asia, and Turkey, maintaining our long-standing relationships with schools and counselors that have provided significant numbers of students to Oberlin over the years. Of course, we also want to continue to develop new areas. For the last few years we have been working hard to increase our presence in the Persian Gulf and in Latin America. We particularly try to visit schools from which we have newly enrolling students. And of course, we always try to add a new country or two each year. Factor in national and school holidays, plane schedules, on-campus commitments, and the domestic travel schedules for everyone but me (I only travel internationally), and the challenge is real. When we can, we also like to travel with some of our peer institutions as we think this is helpful to the schools and students that we visit, and, of course, each college has somewhat different priorities and different travel schedule constraints. Oh, and don't forget the occasional change in plans when a school schedule is changed due to swine flu or a new teacher in-service day. But in the end, we come up with a travel schedule and are able to visit students around the globe looking for the great international students who will help form the class of 2014!

Four people will be doing some international travel for us this fall. Our dean, Debra Chermonte, will be traveling to Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey, October 7-13th. This will be our first trip to Ankara in a very long time - maybe even ever. Dean Chermonte will be travelling with colleagues from Johns Hopkins and Lehigh for part of her trip. Joel Presti will be visiting India and Pakistan October 18-30th. We visit India pretty much every year, but this is only our second trip to Pakistan. Our former president Nancy Dye visited there in 2006. Joel will be traveling with colleagues from Bryn Mawr, Vanderbilt, Lafayette, and Middlebury for all or part of the trip. Kris Surovjak will pop up to the Vancouver, Canada, area in October during one of her trips to the US Pacific Northwest. Jill Medina in our office has also just returned from a five-city tour of China.

And now for my schedule. I will be the first person, international or domestic, to head off on fall travel this year - leaving on Wednesday, September 2nd - when I join up with colleagues from Hamilton, Barnard, Brandeis, and Bryn Mawr for travel to Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina. This will be a whirlwind tour as I return home to Oberlin on September 12. I hope Katya is ready to wash clothes quickly as I hit the road again right away, leaving September 17th for the UK where I will meet up with representatives from Smith and probably Williams for visits in Wales, England, and Italy before I continue on to Thessaloniki, Greece, on my own - returning to Oberlin Sunday, October 25th. I have a couple weeks to recover before I start my longest ever odyssey. On October 11th I head off on a solo around-the-world adventure that begins in Tokyo, continues in South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman, finally returning home to stay on November 5th. This will be our first visit to Saudi Arabia and Oman, and our first admissions trip to Indonesia - although I have been there on other College business.

In case you're wondering why my bottom is shaped like an airplane seat, by the time I finish my fall travel, I will have flown 83,069 km, traveled by train 794 km, and who knows how many kilometers by taxi and subway. And I've already flown 42,043 km this year - mostly on College business. And the world is less than 41,000 kilometers in circumference. Add in the travel of my colleagues in the Oberlin Admissions Office and we have traveled the equivalent of more than four times around the earth to promote Oberlin College. Michael Manderen of our Conservatory of Music will travel the equivalent of another round-the-world trip auditioning potential musicians as well.

So we hope to visit many of you as we travel. But if we aren't coming to your school or even your country, please understand that it isn't because we don't want to. It is just a REALLY big world and we can't visit everywhere.

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