Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A militant group named The Right Sector marches through Ukraine.
Despite the dangers within the country, some American college students are
studying there.
(AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov) By Collin BinkleySome U.
S.
colleges with overseas-study programs won’t touch Ukraine.
Tufts University, on the other hand, is drawn to the turmoil in the former
Soviet republic, which the U.
S.
State Department deemed dangerous for travel.
The potential to help activists and scholars, Tufts professor Peter Levine
says, outweighs the risks posed by an unstable country.
He is leading a conference in Ukraine next month on civics studies, in part
because the country exemplifies the struggles of a fledgling democracy.
"American universities, at our best, have people who should be getting on a
plane to go to a country that’s in crisis," Levine said.
"Sometimes they do a lot of good.
"As a policy, many colleges refuse to cover costs for students or faculty
traveling to areas where the State Department has issued a travel warning.
But some colleges and universities are attracted to hotspots as subjects of
study and as venues to see historic events unfold from the front row.
Related:  Tourist Destinations That Are More Dangerous Than You
Think  
Institutions of higher learning must weigh the benefits
against safety risks.
Some insurance policies won’t cover travel to troubled areas, and
tragic cases underscore that even students can be victims when conflict boils
over.
A student at Ohio’s Kenyon College was fatally stabbed during a violent
protest in Egypt in 2013 after traveling to the country through a private
education group.
And deadly attacks at universities in Kenya, Syria, and elsewhere in recent
years spurred a summit of worldwide academics in England this month seeking
ways to protect universities from armed conflict.
In this 2011 photo, Derrik Sweeney is reunited with his family in St.
Louis after he and other American students were arrested on the roof of a
university building near Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt.
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
"There’s always a tension between
academics and safety," said Vanessa Sterling, associate director of the Study
Abroad Office at the University of Pittsburgh.
Pitt was among several schools that canceled or rerouted trips to Ukraine last
summer after violence broke out with Russia.
It also withdrew students studying in Egypt after its 2011 uprising.
When a travel warning is issued, Michigan State University automatically
suspends programs in that location, said Cindy Chalou, associate director for
operations in the school’s Office of Study Abroad.
Many schools have similar policies, although students and faculty can appeal
for an exception in certain cases.
"We try to see where we can relocate students to achieve their goals," Chalou
said.
Related:  No Excuses! 9 Ways to Help Pay For Your Study Abroad The
current list of countries with warnings includes Ukraine, Mexico, Kenya, and
much of the Middle East, among others.
But critics complain that U.
S.
travel warnings are overly broad, blanketing entire countries for regional
problems, and that they are updated infrequently.
"State Department warnings are fast to go up and slow to go down, for a lot of
political reasons," said Renee Stillings, program director for the School of
Russian and Asian Studies, which coordinates study-abroad programs from
Woodside, Calif.
The U.
S.
only recently lifted a travel warning for Egypt, and many schools still
won’t send students there.
At Boston’s Northeastern University, officials wonder why there are
warnings for countries such as Colombia but not Tunisia, where 38 were killed
in a June attack at a beach resort.
"To a casual observer, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense," said
Brian Gibson, director of the Global Experience Office at Northeastern, which
hires a firm to provide global safety advice.
Levine, of Tufts, said he isn’t brave; he just knows Ukraine and is
confident the area where he’s headed is safe.
Despite fears about extremist attacks, the Middle East has grown as a study
destination in recent years.
In the decade leading up to 2013, the number of U.
S.
students studying there more than tripled to 4,700, according to the
nonprofit Institute of International Education.
Study-abroad trips globally grew by 80 percent in that span.
International flare-ups can reshape which countries become top destinations.
Egypt was long a magnet for Arabic-language students, but the number from the
U.
S.
has plummeted.
Programs in Morocco and Jordan, meanwhile, have surged.
Related:  These Are the Best Places to Be an Expat Around the World
Friction in Ukraine has similarly pushed programs to Moldova, and violence in
Mexico dispersed programs to other Spanish-speaking countries.
Students can find ways to skirt their school’s protective arm, though.
Colleges can’t stop students from traveling on their own, and even
students in approved countries manage to travel outside the radar of their
universities.
Anna Fechtor, a senior at Chicago’s DePaul University, was studying in
France this past spring when she took a research trip to Istanbul without
notifying DePaul.
It didn’t get her in trouble, but some schools see Turkey as risky.
Fechtor, who worried about government corruption rather than violence, said
the trip was worth it.
"It’s just kind of a place where history is always unfolding," she
said.
At some colleges, officials said it’s their job to dissuade students
from taking travel risks they might not understand.
But those on the other side of the debate said that, in some cases, those
risks carry merit.
"There will always be risks, but I think there is a benefit to experiencing
and being able to sense firsthand what’s going on," said Allan Goodman,
president of the Institute of International Education.
"It’s important to be there.
"WATCH: Meet Candace: The Woman Who Cross Dressed Her Way Through Afghanistan

Let World traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
Hang out with us on Facebook,Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
 Watch World traveling club Travel’s original series "A Broad
Abroad.
"
Some colleges are attracted to troubled countries as subjects of study and as
venues to see historic events unfold.
.
When a travel warning is issued, Michigan State University automatically
suspends programs in that location, said Cindy Chalou, associate director for
operations in the school’s Office of Study Abroad.
Many schools have similar policies, although students and faculty can appeal
for an exception in certain cases.
"We try to see where we can relocate students to achieve their goals," Chalou
said.
Related:  No Excuses! 9 Ways to Help Pay For Your Study Abroad The
current list of countries with warnings includes Ukraine, Mexico, Kenya, and
much of the Middle East, among others.
But critics complain that U.
S.
travel warnings are overly broad, blanketing entire countries for regional
problems, and that they are updated infrequently.
"State Department warnings are fast to go up and slow to go down, for a lot of
political reasons," said Renee Stillings, program director for the School of
Russian and Asian Studies, which coordinates study-abroad programs from
Woodside, Calif.
The U.
S.
only recently lifted a travel warning for Egypt, and many schools still
won’t send students there.
At Boston’s Northeastern University, officials wonder why there are
warnings for countries such as Colombia but not Tunisia, where 38 were killed
in a June attack at a beach resort.
"To a casual observer, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense," said
Brian Gibson, director of the Global Experience Office at Northeastern, which
hires a firm to provide global safety advice.
Levine, of Tufts, said he isn’t brave; he just knows Ukraine and is
confident the area where he’s headed is safe.
Despite fears about extremist attacks, the Middle East has grown as a study
destination in recent years.
In the decade leading up to 2013, the number of U.
S.
students studying there more than tripled to 4,700, according to the
nonprofit Institute of International Education.
Study-abroad trips globally grew by 80 percent in that span.
International flare-ups can reshape which countries become top destinations.
Egypt was long a magnet for Arabic-language students, but the number from the
U.
S.
has plummeted.
Programs in Morocco and Jordan, meanwhile, have surged.
Related:  These Are the Best Places to Be an Expat Around the World
Friction in Ukraine has similarly pushed programs to Moldova, and violence in
Mexico dispersed programs to other Spanish-speaking countries.
Students can find ways to skirt their school’s protective arm, though.
Colleges can’t stop students from traveling on their own, and even
students in approved countries manage to travel outside the radar of their
universities.
Anna Fechtor, a senior at Chicago’s DePaul University, was studying in
France this past spring when she took a research trip to Istanbul without
notifying DePaul.
It didn’t get her in trouble, but some schools see Turkey as risky.
Fechtor, who worried about government corruption rather than violence, said
the trip was worth it.
"It’s just kind of a place where history is always unfolding," she
said.
At some colleges, officials said it’s their job to dissuade students
from taking travel risks they might not understand.
But those on the other side of the debate said that, in some cases, those
risks carry merit.
"There will always be risks, but I think there is a benefit to experiencing
and being able to sense firsthand what’s going on," said Allan Goodman,
president of the Institute of International Education.
"It’s important to be there.
"WATCH: Meet Candace: The Woman Who Cross Dressed Her Way Through Afghanistan

Let World traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
Hang out with us on Facebook,Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
 Watch World traveling club Travel’s original series "A Broad
Abroad.
"
Some colleges are attracted to troubled countries as subjects of study and
as venues to see historic events unfold.

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