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Large group of students celebrating graduation, Winter 2018

Jordan Slomianyj

Jordan Słomiany smiling in a UNC Charlotte shirt while in Antarctica
Residence Education Coordinator, Witherspoon Hall

Housing and Residence Life


Jordan Slomianyj Travels the World, Returns Home to Charlotte

By Wyatt Crosher, Assistant Director of Communications for Student Affairs

For most staff members at UNC Charlotte, if they’re not at work, they can be found at home, perhaps even somewhere around the city. For Jordan Slomianyj, Residence Education Coordinator in Housing and Residence Life (HRL), if he’s not at his office in Witherspoon Hall, guessing his location could be as difficult as pointing randomly to the right spot on a map.

Slomianyj (pronounced “slow-me-on-knee”) has traveled to around 70 countries spanning all across the globe. He took that to new extremes on a recent expedition to Antarctica, a trip that earned Slomianyj the honor of visiting every continent before the age of 35.


Early Explorations

How did Slomianyj start his journey to dozens of countries and every continent on Earth? It began at an early age. 

Born in Chapel Hill, Slomianyj grew up only a few hours from the University, but when he was about 8 years old, he moved to South Africa with his mother and stepfather. He lived there for two years before they ultimately moved back to the United States.

Fast forward to Slomianyj’s mid-twenties when he found himself at a career crossroads. Slomianyj decided then to work odd jobs and plan a trip around the world. This would take him backpacking through 10 countries in total, including a successful trek through Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. But, after a quick stop at home, things hit a snag two months later.

While in Bali — a province of Indonesia — Slomianyj came down with dengue fever, a mosquito-borne illness that is prominent in more tropical areas. Along with a high fever and muscle pains, it can also be life threatening.

“I got so sick that I was bedridden for 10 days, and this is while I'm by myself in a foreign country,” Slomianyj said. “You just have to wait it out, that's how you treat dengue fever, there's not really medication for it.” He cut the journey short and began to consider new paths. 


Journey to Higher Education

Slomianyj started applying to graduate schools. He chose Western Carolina, his undergrad alma mater, and earned a master’s of education through the university’s Higher Education Student Affairs (HESA) program.

His desire to work in student affairs came from strong personal experiences he had with housing staff during his time as a college student.

“There were all these people that were in residence life that made a difference in my life somehow or someway,” Slomianyj said. “I thought the opportunity to go into res life was a really good one, especially if I wasn't specifically sure what I wanted to do, because I knew I wanted to serve students.”

Slomianyj worked at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts after earning his master’s, a position he enjoyed, but one that took him far from home. That’s how he ended up in Charlotte’s HRL department, where Slomianyj has worked since October 2021.


Unfamiliar Territory

Slomianyj’s most recent trip would take him to the southernmost location on the planet: a 15-day cruise that included about a week in Antarctica. The other days were spent going to and from the continent, along with a stop in the Falkland Islands.

How does Slomianyj recount his time on one of Earth’s least populated locations? Above all else, he said it’s difficult to find words for.

“I really struggle to describe it,” Slomianyj said. “You're going through these places, and you don't know if they've ever even been walked on. It's like you're going into a place that's uncharted, or at least it feels that way. It’s ridiculously windy all the time. It's so unforgiving and harsh. But at the same time, because it's untouched, it's both beautiful and indescribable.”


Photo Credits: Courtesy of Jordan Slomianyj


Among the highlights from Slomianyj’s journey include a variety of penguins, one night sleeping in a tent on the continent instead of on the ship — a night Slomianyj said he “did not sleep a wink” because of the harsh winds and low temperature — and a moment walking on the ice that put into perspective how real and potentially dangerous the trip was.

"I go out on the ice, and the main guide, he yells 'Abort, everyone off the ice right now,' because it's starting to crack,” Slomianyj said. “Everyone gets off the ice, and I go up to my cabin, and I see the ice cracking while the guide is in a boat pushing the ice close so all these other staff members can get to safety. As soon as we pulled away, that piece of ice sank. It showed the human element of what they're doing and how scary and risky it is.”

Slomianyj made it through the trip unharmed and returned home in December. 


On the Horizon

With about 70 countries and seven continents down, there are still new countries he aspires to see. At the top of the list is Japan and South Korea, but another goal is to visit the five “-stans”: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. He also has a trip planned for South Africa in March. It will be the first time he’s back since living there 24 years ago.

For those interested in traveling to a foreign country, Slomianyj recommends enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP. He also uses the U.S.’ travel advisory scale to help with the risk assessment on future journeys.

As a traveler who has gone to Brazil, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and Thailand, just to name some of his favorite’s, Slomianyj has been able to see the world from a variety of angles. He said all of these experiences help him connect with the students he works with in his position.

"I think it helps relatability. I don't even need to have been to the place that you are from, but if I know something about it or I've heard of it, and make someone feel just a little bit more comfortable here,” Slomianyj said. “A lot of what we do in our job is mediation and conflict resolution, so it gives me skills to deal with that, and also to be aware of cultural differences and have better cultural awareness.”

Along with that, after making it through scenarios like surviving a 10-day bout with dengue fever or the harsh overnight conditions of Antarctica, Slomianyj also feels prepared for any situation that arises.

“If I think of the craziest situations that I've ever had while traveling,” Slomianyj said, “I don't think that anything I've encountered so far with work can even come close.”