Seven wonders of the world

Before the age of 21 Declan Glynn has done something most people would never imagine doing in their lifetime: He has traveled to all seven continents.

Although he has been traveling since he was a baby, the College of Arts & Sciences senior ventured to Antarctica on his latest excursion over winter break.

The 24-day Voyage to Antarctica 2005 took Glynn around South Pole ice sheets and to the capital of Argentina. The program was offered through the University of Delaware and included two three-credit classes, one in photojournalism and another in geopolitical issues of the region. For 14 days, Glynn and his classmates floated among icebergs to study their surroundings. The group spent about 10 days in Buenos Aires and explored Latin American culture.

Glynn said the experience in Antarctica taught him about the politics surrounding the vast terrain that is Antarctica.

"It wasn't what I was expecting," he said. "Everywhere I've gone there's always been people and technology and civilization. This was just pure nature."

But Australian-born Glynn has seen more than penguins in his life. He has lived in Australia, Illinois, Japan, Maryland, Singapore and Wisconsin. Glynn said his extensive travels stem from the fact that his father works for an international company.

Glynn said his exposure to different cultures has changed his outlook on life.

"I found that you're less likely to fall prey to stereotypes," Glynn said.

Glynn took his first trip when he was five months old to Ireland, said Mike Glynn, Declan's father and president of the innovations division at Austin Scientific Corp.

Glynn traveled to South Africa with his family in December 2003, where he took in the sights and sounds of the local wildlife reserve. Glynn said his family chose South Africa because Zimbabwe, where his mother was born, was wrought with political tension and instability.

Mike Glynn said he took his son to India, China and the Middle East to present him with a first-hand, unmediated view of the nations.

"I feel he's learned a lot and has a much larger perspective," Mike Glynn said. "Our media does not give a real image. Ninety-nine percent of the population is out to live and let live."

Declan visited Holland during his 16th summer as part of an exchange program. He took the trip between his freshman and sophomore years at Lake Forest High School and his junior and senior years at the Singapore American School.

Amid his global voyages, Glynn was able to interact with many people.

One of his friends from around the world is Kathleen Nolan, who was Glynn's classmate at the Singapore American School.

Although she is now a junior at the University of San Diego, Nolan said she keeps in touch with Glynn from time to time.

The Business Administration major said Glynn is a great guy with a good sense of humor.

"He's just an amazing person," Nolan said. "When you're around him he makes everyone around him feel comfortable."

Glynn was part of an interim semester project at the Singapore American School, which is a classroom-without-walls approach to education, according to Nolan. When he and Nolan visited Udon Thani, Thailand, to help Habitat for Humanity efforts, Nolan said Glynn became highly involved in the culture.

However, not all his global experiences oozed with sugar canes and marshmallows. Glynn said he was not immune to discrimination while in Singapore — when walking with his mother one day, a local told Declan he was going to hell. Glynn said this has not discouraged him from traveling and in fact, most people are more alike than they think.

Despite all his cultural immersion and exotic experiences, Glynn said slight feelings of solitude emerge at times.

"I miss the whole hometown thing," he said.

Glynn said whenever he returns to Singapore, he sees fewer and fewer people he graduated with. But this change gives him a chance to make new connections, Glynn said.

He tries to keep in touch by calling his parents weekly. Glynn sees them about two or three times each semester when they visit Milwaukee.

Glynn's father said his son went to Marquette due in part to a university recruiter's personal attention. Mike Glynn said Declan saw a Marquette representative at a college fair at the Singapore American School and the representative remembered Declan's name.

Glynn continues to make an impact at Marquette.

"He's pretty much my best friend here," said Ben Banks, Glynn's roommate and a junior in the College of Health Sciences. "He always backs me up."

Banks met Glynn during freshman year and became close friends, Banks said. Even though Banks said he was a little jealous of Glynn's adventures, he said those experiences made him into a more noble person.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Feb. 10 2005.