Then and Now: Remembering Davidson As a Study Abroad Destination

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Neither time nor distance could keep the affinity of Davidson’s Richardson Scholars Class of 1963–64 at bay when the idea of a 50th reunion sprang to their minds. Richardson Scholars were international students who came to campus for one year of study, in the early days of Davidson’s international focus. Today that focus finds a strong home in the Dean Rusk International Studies Program.

Last fall’s Richardson Scholars reunion was a co-production, wrote erstwhile Richardson Scholar Benno Straumann. “Everybody did a little, beginning in Kyoto and Paris and spreading through the web, creative, a bit chaotic, very productive, but without any definite ‘leadership.’”

The momentous event was held at Richardson classmate Jonas Lonnroth’s converted fisherman’s hut on the Island of Oeland in the Baltic Sea.

“All attended except Simon Henson and Karl-Heinz Hauer, who died in a traffic accident in 2006, as well as Joon Yoo from Korea, whom we could not locate,” Straumann wrote.

l-r: Gunnar, Alan, Koichi, Serge, Romir, Benoit, Jonas, Paul (sitting), Benno. Click to enlarge.

• Gunnar Skagestad (Norway), after military training with Russian studies, entered the diplomatic service, currently as ambassador of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

• Alan Arthurs (England) studied chemistry, worked for Imperial Chemical Industries, then worked on fair employment practices.

• Koichi Komatsu (Japan) studied chemistry, taught and did research at Kyoto University.

• Serge Ricard (France) studied history, specialized in the post Civil War period and published widely, particularly on Theodore Roosevelt

• Romir Chatterjee (India, now U.S.) studied economics, had an energy consultancy firm, and then returned to teaching in academia.

• Benoit Nzengu (Congo, now France), the first black student at Davidson, studied medicine, became a surgeon in Reims, France, and now regularly substitutes in surgeries in central France.

• Jonas Lonnroth (Sweden) trained and worked as a medical doctor, worked in Stockholm, then turned real estate developer in Stockholm, now lives in Belgium (near Waterloo!), and has a splendid holiday location on the Island of Oeland in the Baltic Sea, to which he invited us all as a gracious host.

• Paul van den Berg (Netherlands) trained as an architect, became a theater set designer and also taught the subject.

• Benno Straumann (Switzerland) studied English and history, taught English, history and political science, and did political work for the Swiss Social Democratic Party.

• Eric Heinz (Argentina, now U.S.) Studied mathematics in the U.S., stayed and taught maths, and did not make it into the reunion picture due to his participation in the Washington triathlon as a 70-plus contender.

Congratulations to these pioneering Richardson Scholars and all internationals who have since enriched the campus life of Davidson—notably today’s Alvarez Scholars—on the eve of celebrating the 50th anniversary of Davidson’s own study abroad program in the coming year!

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