Wartime threatens abroad programs

Lindsay Shoff

Despite imminent threats of war from President Bush, University students are still interested in studying abroad.

Office of International Studies Director Lance Kenney said the number of people participating in summer programs last year was the same in the summer of 2001.

“What distinguished last year was Sept. 11,” Kenney said. “I had a guy come up to me right after it happened, put his arm around me and said, ‘I like you, but do you still have a job?’”

University students are not fazed by the threat of war, however, as 166 students, relatively similar to last year’s numbers, are currently signed up to study abroad during the upcoming school year.

“Current world events are actually promoting study abroad,” Kenney said.

Kenney also noted the relative safety of traveling in other countries during the summer months. “I told people it might be safer to be in Western Ireland than New York City.”

James Murphy, director of the Galway, Ireland program, agreed. “[Ireland’s] official political neutrality might make it appear a more ideal place to visit,” he said.

So far, 20 people have signed up to study in the Galway program, two more than last year.

Murphy also said that no one has backed out this year and that more students are expected to sign up.

Carmen Peraita, the Cadiz, Spain summer program director, does not expect her program to mirror the anticipated high numbers of the Galway program.

“I would expect there to be less people than last year,” she said. Although official numbers will not be known until spring, only 60 percent of the number of last year’s students are registered. Though the number of students remained constant for the last two summers, Peraita foresees a decrease this year. “This situation is very serious,” she said.

There are some students who are fearful of studying abroad, as 50 people dropped out of both summer programs and semester-long sessions immediately after fall break.

“I imagine it is the parents that are more concerned than the students,” Peraita said.

According to Kenney, the University follows recommendations from the Department of State when deciding whether or not to pull out of some programs. This summer, the University was advised not to send students to Jordan, so the program was eliminated.

All others are still in effect. To combat some fears, OIS is spending more time than usual on the health and safety aspects of its pre-departure orientation at the request of many students and parents.

Regardless of the possibility of war, OIS still expects an increase in participation.

Students are “less of a target in situations where they are immersed in the culture and not feeding into the stereotypes” that produce anti-American sentiments, Kenney said.

Sophomore Lindsey Conlin will be traveling to Galway this summer as part of the Irish Studies Program and feels no qualms about traveling or living in a foreign country.

“I am very excited about studying abroad in Ireland this summer, and at the moment, I am not at all scared or concerned about the trip,” Conlin said.

“I feel that if there was a problem, the University would take the utmost measures to make sure that its students would be safe,” she continued.