Safety concerns cancel study abroad trips

Julie Dreschler, Julie Dreschler, and Julie Dreschler

Recent safety concerns over violent outbreaks in the Middle East forced the new City College president, Dr. Andreea Serban, into action, cancelling the scheduled Studies Abroad trip to the region, and leaving many students disappointed.

The trip was originally approved to go forward despite the safety concerns made by the State Department. But upon Serban’s election, she required reconsideration of the case.

“We found it wise not to make this exception,” Carola Smith, Senior Director of the Study Abroad Program, said. “Both for the students and for the school’s sake.”

The global studies teachers had been planning the trip since the spring of 2007. The students planned to visit both Istanbul in Turkey and Jerusalem in Israel, as well as Marrakesh in Morocco.

The cancellation announcement came as a great disappointment. But when war broke out at the Gaza strip in December 2008, many felt relieved they weren’t in the middle of it.

“I guess it was kind of a blessing in disguise,” said Gabe Finelli, one of the students signed up for the trip.

Recently, the study abroad trip to London was also cancelled, but due to low enrollments. This was also a program that the school had spent a lot of time advertising for, and disappointed to cancel.

“This was a very expensive program which was difficult to finance,” Smith said. “Especially now when so many are struggling economically.”

To avoid another cancelled trip, the study abroad office is considering offering only one program for each semester in 2010. They are already planning the winter break program to Peru.

On the question of summer trips being cancelled, Smith stated that is was very unlikely since several of the programs already were half full.

The summer is often the easiest time for students to travel abroad because the vacation saves them from the risk of losing their jobs, as explained by Smith.

One of the programs planned for the summer is the film studies trip to Prague, Berlin and Paris.

Nico Maestu, chair of film studies and the one in charge of the trip feels very confident that the trip won’t get cancelled.

Every study abroad trip requires a minimum of 20 students to make a program. Maestu said that the trip that is currently taking place this semester in London, England had a very healthy enrollment of close to 40 students.

His own trip to Europe is already fully prepared, organized and scheduled and Maestu says that earlier film studies trips to Europe have been very popular.

“It is a great opportunity for students to see three cities in Europe and receive 6 units in college credits,” Maestu told the Channels through e-mail.