My most memorable college experience was as a participant in the 1971 Study Tour to Russia. This trip was special in so many ways for me. It was the first time I was to travel outside of the United States as well as fly on an airplane.
Since then, I have made many memorable trip overseas all thanks to that first opportunity provided to me at UWO. Our tour group developed a strong camaraderie as we had to face the loss of our tour leader, Dr. Juris Veidemanis, who had passed away a few months prior to our departure.
To help keep the momentum going, Mrs. Veidemanis would host some pre-trip events at her home to help us make the most of our upcoming experience. Their son also was on our trip and that added to the meaning of what we were going to experience. Dr. Veidemanis, who had been from Riga, Latvia, had planned many special tours for us in his homeland, such as visiting collective farms, elementary and secondary schools, meeting with university students, etc.
We became a really united group and had a lot of fun together. One year after the trip, Mrs. Veidemanis hosted a reunion where we also celebrated the addition of the bench outside of Dempsey Hall in memory of Dr. Veidemanis.
And there were lasting friendships. One in particular for me was Dr. Donald Bruyere, who became our tour leader. We stayed in touch with Christmas cards for more than 35 years, along with a couple of visits after he moved to Tucson. And after all of the support my parents provided me with my education, I was able to provide my Dad with the unique opportunity of also going on the trip.
Today, I still enjoy looking at my Dad’s 525 pictures capturing the many special memories of the trip to include my turning 21 in Budapest (though I always thought I would be at Andy’s Library on that fateful day!). So this trip will always hold very special memories for me.
by Linda Rondeau ’72, Phoenix, Ariz.