Interview Series Part 1: Dr. Richard Deal

Category:  Gallery
Monday, April 25th, 2016 at 11:21 AM
Interview Series Part 1: Dr. Richard Deal by William Stevens

Pitcairn, Fiji, Japan and Europe. All of these places have one thing in common. They have all been visited by Dr. Richard Deal, an assistant professor within the Geosciences and Geography Department at Edinboro University.

Deal mentioned that he’s been to almost every country in Europe. On top of that he’s also been to some countries in Latin America. He’s also traveled to Cuba, China, North Korea, Japan, Tawain and almost every Pacific Island country.

“You can learn a little bit out of books and classes. But you need to go to a place and experience it so you can understand the way people live.”

Deal also spoke candidly about some of his experiences.

He went to Tuvalu when the government was opening a new office building and so he went to the ceremony for it.

“The woman who I was staying with pulled me aside and told me to talk to the Prime Minister. So I went to his office and talked to him.”

Although he wasn’t officially invited Deal laughed as he talked about how he wandered into the state dinner to celebrate the opening of the building.

“So I crashed a state dinner and it was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. Some things I had eaten before but never that much.”

“In those places you either eat the traditional food or you eat imported meat from New Zealand or Australia. It seems like every restaurant on these little, tiny islands was a Chinese restaurant.”

In terms of traveling, Deal mentioned that typically he travels for about a month and a half every year. Depending on where he’s going he may be going to one country or several countries.       

This means that he’ll spend anywhere from a couple days to a couple weeks in each country.

The biggest problem Deal had in the Pacific was trying to rent a car in French Polynesia. He said that in Tahiti you can just rent an automatic. But when he traveled to the outer islands he could never rent a car because they were standard transmissions. So he would ride a bike around the island instead.

Deal teaches World Geography where he talks about different regions of the world. He said the fact that he’s been to a lot of this countries makes it easier to teach. It also helps that he can tell interesting stories that people will remember.

“I know much more about the countries so it’s a much more effective class when I teach them.”

Travel is a big part of Deal’s life. As previously mentioned he’s traveled to almost every country in Europe and some bigger islands. But what were his experiences on the smaller and lesser-known islands like?

Deal also visited Nauru which is an island country in Micronesia in the Central Pacific. He mentioned that a little over 10 years ago Nauru was having a lot of controversy because Australia had banned tourists.

“I didn’t know this and had already bought the plane ticket. So I spent many days calling to get a visa.”

“I went to the embassy in Fiji and they had no idea what was going on. Fortunately, I was flying to another country first. The people at the airport didn’t check that I didn’t have a visa, but they couldn’t deport me because the plane was going back for three days.”

Deal said they had two choices; to let him into the country or put him in jail for three days. So they asked if he was a journalist and searched his bag to confirm he wasn’t. They let him in and held his passport over the weekend to ensure he would return to the airport on Monday morning when the plane was leaving.

Deal will find different ways to visit these places. He mentioned that he “only takes a boat if you can’t fly there.”

“St. Helena’s [is] famous because that’s where Napoleon was exiled. When I went you could only take a boat but they’re opening an airport next month. They want to attract more tourists and bring money into their country.”

Deal visited Tokelau, a small group of islands in between Hawaii and New Zealand. He said that when people visit normally you can only stay on one of the islands and there’s a guy who rents out rooms.

“I happened to go there when they were doing training for government officials. So they went to all three islands and I got to stay on each one for two or three days.”

“So I was very lucky that I could actually spend the night on all three whereas hardly anyone can ever do that.”

He would spend those nights in some of the natives houses since they don’t have hotels because they only get 20 tourists a year.

When it comes to traveling there are many things one should consider. One important aspect to consider is travel time.

Deal says the longest amount of time he spent on a boat was six days to St. Helena but it was a decent sized boat. When riding on the smaller boats to some smaller islands, Deal said he would spend most of his time sleeping to help pass the time.

The longest time he spent on a continuous flight was between 14 hours long. But if he would transfer to another plane the ride could last between 30 to 40 hours to some countries.

Deal has been fortunate enough to visit 80 countries all over the world and oddly enough he says he has never been to Canada.

When he was in college he had to go through a security clearance for a job as a defense contractor. One of the things he had to do was list every country he had ever been to, when he went and why he went.
The person looking at the form noticed he had only ever been to Iceland. They asked if he had ever been to Canada so he decided to put it off as long as he could.

From Pitcairn to Europe any everywhere in between Dr. Deal has been fortunate enough to travel throughout the world. He continues to teach classes at Edinboro using his experience in those countries to supplement that.

William Stevens is the Campus Life Editor for The Spectator and can be reached at campuslife.spectator@gmail.com

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