It isn’t often you get to spend the evening with someone you’ve admired for a long time from afar, but that’s exactly what happened to me when Paul Scurke, Polar Explorer, came to speak at Bismarck State College on November 5, 2014. I was asked to be on the committee Institute for Culture & Public Service (I think because I knew what a sled dog was) to help promote this event. The Institute for Culture & Public Service is the result of three colleges (Bismarck State College, United Tribes Technical College and the University of Mary) coming together to create an avenue of sharing knowledge and the understanding of different cultures and believes.
It’s always a pleasant surprise when someone you and your family have somewhat idolized turns out to be as genuine, generous and as kind as you thought they would be. This was the case with Paul Shurke. Prior to his talk the stakeholders in the committee had the opportunity to sit down with Paul and break bread.
How lucky was I, to sit at the same table as Paul, along with the master mind of this event, Master Carpenter Earl Torgerson, BSC Provost Drake Carter, and newly appointed UTTC President Leander R. McDonald.
Despite Paul’s credentials as an arctic explorer, his talk this evening was about his recent trip down the “River of Doubt,” a tributary of the Amazon river, since renamed the Rio Roosevelt after President Theodore Roosevelt who canoed this river 100 years ago.
As many of you know Theodore Roosevelt spent four years in the Badlands of North Dakota and says he would never have been president if not for his time spent there. Because of this tie to our state Paul talked to a near capacity crowd of his own descent of this river. He ate piranhas like Teddy did, saw the same sites and on several occasions slept in the same campsites. He met the same tribe of Indians who stalked Roosevelt and had only made “first contact” in the late 1960s. He told his story and we held our breath. An evening well spent. Thank you Paul.