PENDLETON - Thirty-eight years ago Kjell Havnevik made the puddle jump from Norway to Pendleton. Now he's back for a second helping.
Much has changed since the 1967-68 school year that he spent here as an exchange student with the Rada family.
Havnevik, who received his doctorate in 1988, is a professor of rural development at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala. He has authored many books and contributed to scholarly journals regarding impoverished nations. He said he's eager to help bridge the socio-economic gaps that have brought great wealth to some nations and overwhelming poverty to others.
"Since the '70s I have been in universities and research institutes in Africa, Tanzania, Norway and Sweden," said Havnevik. He and his colleagues are constantly "trying to understand the complexities of agriculture and urban development."
Specifically, they are now trying to wrap their heads around how Africa is not responding to market reforms.
"One needs to go beyond economics," Havnevik said, citing cultural and ethnic norms that influence the rate of progress.
He's critical of the British and German colonies that drained Africa of much of its wealth. His goal now is to determine what strategies and assistance are needed to help Africa blossom.
Havnevik said he has been alarmed by America's go-it-alone policies of late. "There needs to be a partnership where we find solutions together," he contended. "Not by using power, but by dialogue. The American government is bilaterally pushing its own ideas and plans. Policies of the U.S. government are not aiding the world."
He called the Iraq war "a disaster ... Trying to impose your will upon others will produce more terrorists."
Rada said he's concluded that many foreigners "hate the American government, but they love the American people."
Havnevik said youth from around the world "don't have the desire to come here as much" as he did in the 1960s.
Havnevik enjoyed his time in Pendleton, though. He came to Pendleton High School through the Exchange American Field Service. He competed in track and football, and held the record for many years for the longest field goal at PHS, a 42-yarder.
Before Havnevik came to town, the idea of school sports was a foreign concept. "Sports are not tied in with school (in Norway)," Havnevik said. Clubs and other organizations are in charge of sports in his native land.
The move to Oregon was "dramatic in terms of climate," Havenvik said. Accustomed to the frigid Norwegian weather, Pendleton proved to be unfamiliarly warm.
Professor Havnevik teaches students from all over the world, from Asia to Africa to Europe. All his classes are taught in English. Natural resource management and globalization are common topics.
When asked about his accolades, Havnevik responds, "The reward is to be able to assist Ph.D. students and enhance their understanding."