Nick van der Linden

Date Submitted: 7/10/07

Nick writes:

While surfing on the internet and upon entering the word Smethport on Google, I found this site for alumni of SAHS. It took me right back to August 1978 when I arrived in a little town called Smethport. I was a foreign-exchange student from a town of 65,000 inhabitants in The Netherlands. Under the wings of the organization AFS I spent a year with a host-family, the McGavisk's, and attend my senior year of high school. With the aid of my host-sister Brenda McGavisk who also was in her final school year, her friends and many friendly, cooperative teachers and fellow students I managed to survive this year in SAHS. Although the courses I took were quite abnormal for a student from the senior class, I graduated in 1979. Shortly after graduation and after a two-week tour with 25 other exchange students through parts of eastern United States, I had to return back to The Netherlands.

Upon returning to my home in the city Venlo, I had to finish my senior class in high school there. With great effort and a lot of studying I managed to get that diploma. In that same year of 1980 I met a girl at a meeting of the local chapter of Amnesty International. We fell in love and we have been together ever since and in 2007 we will be married for 22 years. We both graduated in the same year and the next year we went on to the University of Nijmegen. Universities over here do not have campuses so you have to find a room in the city itself. With considerable effort we finally managed to find a place and we liked the atmosphere of this city in the east of The Netherlands so much that we still live here. We now have our own house in a suburb called Lent. If you have the software-program GoogleEarth, which can be downloaded for free, you can fly to Lent, Netherlands and zoom in to pointer 5152'08.40 N and 552'11.36 E to see our house and surroundings.

In university I studied Cultural and Social Anthropology, and I more or less specialized in development studies, planning of projects in developing countries and development policies in general. As part of my study I did research in Sri Lanka for a few weeks and I graduated on that subject. Finding a job in The Netherlands with that knowledge and those skills proved to be very difficult at that time and I had to shift my career plans. So I took some courses in general management and in business administration and I found a job with an accountancy firm. I liked the job and the working conditions with this small firm so much that I have been working here ever since.

As an anthropologist I still like to meet different cultures and people. My wife, who studied Spanish, also acknowledges the importance of keeping an open mind towards different customs and beliefs. Therefore we try to travel as much as possible. With my job and her very demanding job as head of the Department of Personnel and Organization of the Dutch Society of General Practitioners our spare time is pretty much limited. We try to make the most of my 25 and her 32 days of vacation a year. In 2006 we went to Uganda where we visited a refugee camp of the UNHCR where a friend of ours is working. This year we plan to visit Peru. Adventures abroad like these put your daily worries and activities at home in perspective and keep you focused on what is important in life. These impressions also are formative building-blocks of one's personal history. As such the years 1978-1979 in Smethport and particularly at Smethport Area High School will always be part of my personal history.

My email address is

See the rest of the Class of 1979