Travelling and Trembling Over Terrorism


After walking out of Harvard with diploma in hand tomorrow, Jeffrey C. Levy '86 plans to travel abroad with his friends for a "last hurrah together" before plunging into the professional world. No, he and his friends will not be walking on the Champs Elysee this summer. They'll be hiking along China's Great Wall. Not because they prefer Chinese food, but because, as Levy says, "the terrorist stuff pushed us eastward."

"It was almost like an imposed coin-flip," Levy says. "We didn't have a burning desire to jump into terrorist warfare against Americans."

Recent acts of anti-American terrorism in Europe have affected Harvard seniors' plans to make the traditional post-graduation "grand tour" of Europe. While those who still plan jaunts to London and Paris are proceeding with caution, other graduating seniors like Levy have decided on a wide spectrum of alternatives--from driving cross--country to visiting the world's fair in Vancouver and country-hopping from South America to the Far East.

"Chinese terrorists haven't been in the headlines lately," Levy says with a smirk. Flying to Bangkok in mid-June, he and his companions plan to spend some time enjoying the "beautiful beaches and French women" of Thailand's Club Med. While plans for the rest of the trip are not definite, Levy projects that they will be "slumming it" in China, Japan, and Hong Kong until some time in August, staying in cheap hotels and visiting Harvard friends working there or travelling on Rotary Fellowships.

Levy says he has no regrets about going to Peking instead of Paris this summer. While he has been to Europe before, he will visiting the Far East for the first time. And he is happy that their parents, who "had a big impact" on their travel plans, won't be worried all summer about their safety.

"I just felt it was not a good time in the history of the world to be traipsing around Europe," says Roger J. Kaplan '86, who also won't be going there as he and roommate Arthur D. Goldman '86 had planned. Kaplan and Goldman decided to tour North America instead in light of terrorist attacks which had occurred even before the United States and Libya squared off in the Gulf of Sidra last April.

"We didn't want to be heroes," Kaplan says. "Terrorists target places where Americans go." Goldman says his parents' fears, and not his own, will keep him on this side of the Atlantic for the summer. "I wasn't really worried, but they thought it was possible something would happen," he says. Although his parents had offered to help pay for his trip as a graduation gift, after the rash of terrorist incidents they told him they would only help pay for his vacation if he stayed on this continent.

"If I had kids I'd probably do the same thing," Goldman says.

Kaplan says he has no regrets about his decision not to travel to Europe. "I think it's still unwise to go at the present time," Kaplan says. "You have to let the situation cool a little."

Amy L. Rosenberg '86 and fellow senior Rhonda J. Roberts '86 also scuttled plans for Europe after "our parents decided we weren't going," Rosenberg says. Parental concern peaked "right around spring break," and the duo soon abandoned what had been very sketchy plans to travel through Great Britain.

"The fact that they would tell me their reservations when they knew it was something I really wanted to do made me realize how concerned they were," Rosenberg says. "It wasn't worth giving my mom ulcers."

"I was a little upset at first" about scrapping plans for a Europe trip, Rosenberg says, but then she and Roberts planned a trip to the West Coast, with a stop at Vancouver's Expo '86 on the way. "Europe isn't going anywhere; it's been there for a long time," she says.

Rosenberg says she has heard that the Expo is already drawing as many as 100,000 visitors a day, but the crowds won't deter Roberts and her from going. "I'm expecting lines and stuff," she says. "We'll just end up meeting more people."

In addition, Rosenberg says, "I'm pretty psyched to go to the beach; I've never been west of Syracuse."

While a number of seniors have opted to stay away from Europe this summer, many still plan to go, according to area travel agencies. Crimson Travel Agency reports that while its European bookings have declined region-wide, its Harvard Square office continues to experience brisk sales. "Students are still going," says the agency's marketing manager Maryann Toldalhagi.