Things come full circle for McSwean

Published 8:34 pm Thursday, October 15, 2009

If it’s true that all things come full circle, then Malcolm McSwean has done just that.

In just five days, he was right back where he started after having fulfilling a long time desire.

Several years ago, McSwean met three international students at Troy University and they all became fast friends. When the students returned home, McSwean promised that “one day” he would cross the ocean and visit them in their homeland.

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“Because of work obligations, I knew I wouldn’t have much time but I had wanted to visit Nicoline Krijger and Ruby Nussy in Holland for a long time,” McSwean said. “Manisha Dahal is from Nepal but now lives in Atlanta. She left for home the day after I left for Holland.”

For McSwean, it was his first international flight and he didn’t sleep the entire eight hours.

“It was strange but I wasn’t tired at all,” he said. “I guess I was so excited to be in the Netherlands.”

McSwean’s friend Nicoline lives in Montfoort, a city with walls. City hall is housed in a castle and some churches date back to 1544.

“Nicoline’s dad took me on a tour of the city and I was surprised that almost everyone rode bicycles,” McSwean said. “But that was understandable because gas prices were very high, nearly five dollars a gallon. It took $120 to fill up Nicoline’s car.”

McSwean visited the Market Garden Battlefield where 1,750 allied soldiers of World War II are buried. Operation Market Garden was an allied military operation fought in the Netherlands and Germany. It was the largest airborne operation of all time.

For McSwean, the most interesting part of the sightseeing trip was the tour of Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam. Anne Frank was the Jewish girl who detailed her thoughts and her family’s life while hiding in an attic from the Nazis.

“Actually, where the Frank family hid was the top of a warehouse,” McSwean said.

“We climbed the staircase and were able to walk around in the area where the family hid. Anne Frank was fond of movie stars and she had covered a wall with pictures. We were also able to see one of her diaries.”

McSwean and Nicoline visited Ruby Nussy in Rotterdam and he was very impressed by a piece of sculpture by Russian sculptor, Ossip Zadkine, “The Destroyed City.”

“The center of the city was destroyed during World War II by German bombs and the sculpture shows the despair throughout the city,” McSwean said.

But the Netherlands today are picturesque.

“The entire country is pristine,” McSwean said. “There’s no trash to be seen anywhere. Everything is immaculate. It’s almost unbelievable. There are windmills throughout the countryside and all of the houses have flowers and the cities are beautiful. The people are friendly, much like here in the South.”

And, even though he only saw two police officers and one police car during his stay, McSwean said he felt safe everywhere he went.

Having an opportunity to visit with friends that he met on the campus of Troy University in their homeland was a special and unique experience for McSwean.

“I hope to be able to go again sometime and stay longer,” he said.

“There’s so much to see and do. And, if I had not become friends with three international students at Troy University, I might never have had such a great experience.”