By: Savin Mattozzi ~Staff Writer~
In light of the recent attacks in London that killed five and injured 50 others, Xavier’s study abroad office continues to strive to ensure the safety of students studying abroad.
Just under 50 students are studying abroad this semester, including one in Scotland and another in Ireland. Neither was in London at the time of the attacks.
Kim Diehl, the assistant director for education abroad at the Center for International Education explains that there is a system set in place if there is an event in a country where a student is studying abroad. The system ensures that the university and family members are made aware of the student’s safety.
If the student does not reach out to the study abroad office, which they are told to do during their pre-departure orientation, the program provider might contact the study abroad office to confirm that the student is safe.
They would then reach out to students via email. If the students do not respond quickly, then the office tries try to contact them via phone or tries to contact the program provider. If these processes do not work, then the office will reach out to the student via Facebook or through the institution where they are studying.
During the Paris attacks in 2015, the three students who were there at the time were able to get in contact with the study abroad office in a timely manner.
The study abroad office does not send students to places with a State Department travel warning unless the country has been heavily vetted. Diehl cited Israel as an example of one of the exceptions.
“If you look at statistics, international travel is safer, or as safe, as being in big cities in the U.S.,” Diehl said.
There’s a need to balance between having a diverse offering for students who wish to study abroad in what are called “non-traditional” locations such as the Middle East or East Asia and making sure that students will be safe.
“All students go through a pre-departure orientation that reviews a lot of health and safety protocols…,” Diehl said. “For summer programs the orientation is two hours. For semester long programs it is a four-hour orientation. This does not include the program-specific orientation that they get that is specific to their program. Everyone has an emergency card to contact people in case of emergency and are covered by international insurance that covers them in case of natural disasters and political evacuation.”