By the time Charles R. Melvoin ’10 comes to Harvard in the fall, he will have eaten dog in Vietnam, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, ridden a camel in India and an ostrich in New Zealand, and gone shark-cage diving in South Africa. Melvoin has already cruised through 19 countries, with three more to go before coming back to the States.
But those not lucky enough to take such a jet-set gap year can get in on the fun vicariously through www.whereischarlie.com, a professional-looking website that boasts hundreds of blog posts and photo galleries tracking the traveler across the globe. With 40,000 visitors, the site has gotten international attention.
“It’s so cool that I get to share my experiences with so many people around the world,” Melvoin says, phoning in from Chile.
He says that before setting out, most Americans were impressed that he was packing his bags for Cambridge, but the folks he’s met abroad have a different reaction. “If I mentioned it to the majority of the people I’ve met over the past eight months, I’d get a blank stare. They are far more impressed if I say a few phrases in their native language.”
Melvoin’s brother, Nicholas J. Melvoin ’08, traveled with his brother to Chile and Easter Island this spring break, and he says he’s looking forward to having his brother here in the fall, though he’s a bit apprehensive.
“He spent his last year bungee jumping, sky-diving, and white-water rafting—and being stuck in a lecture for an hour may make him want to jump out a window,” the elder Melvoin says.
The younger Melvoin, however, is anxious to get back to the daily grind.
“I feel like a bum after awhile, so I’m ready to start working,” he says.