Speaker shares insights on oversea exploration

Tom Schmiedeler, political science instructor, gave a lecture over the outer Hebrides last Wednesday in the International House.

“Travels Down the Long Isle: the Geography of the Outer Hebrides” allowed Schmiedeler to discuss the trip to Ireland while showing a slide show of pictures taken from the trip in July. Schmiedeler wanted to make the trip for the past 30 years, but had repeatedly heard from other travelers how difficult the trip was.

“It seemed hard to get to, because it’s isolated,” said Schmiedeler. “After getting here I can understand why it’s rather difficult, logistically, to get to the outer Hebrides. The easiest way to get to it is to fly.”

He discussed unique landforms, uncommon to the United States. Among those were a group of rocks called Lewisian Gneiss, which Schmiedeler noted were 3 billion years old.

Along with religion, road conditions and the friendliness of Scottish natives, Schmiedeler listed important facts pertaining to the learning experience of his trip. Surrounded by nature, Schmiedeler became as big fan of Scotland.

“Scotland doesn’t promote itself quite the same way,” said Schmiedeler, comparing Scotland to Ireland.

He also discussed the weather in the Hebrides, stating just how unpredictable it is, similar to that of Kansas.

With many similarities, he jokingly related the Hebrides to the western part of Kansas.

“Are we looking here at the Flint Hills? Maybe, with some imagination,” said Schmiedeler, after presenting a slide from the trip.

Schmiedeler has taken seven different trips to Europe since 1976. After staying in Europe for months, Schmiedeler traveled to India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. He then returned home in November of 1977.

Along with sharing knowledge and experience, Schmiedeler believes people enjoy hearing about places that are nearly unreachable.

“People enjoy hearing about other places, and some dream of travelling to them even though they may not be able to do so,” said Schmiedeler.

Schmiedler presented the information previously at the International House on Orkney, the island chain off the north coast of Scotland. He plans to present the information through the University of Kansas again this summer at Brewster Place, a retirement community in Topeka.