Problems like large-scale protests and natural disasters happening in other countries often seem remote and distant to Marquette students, but for students studying abroad they become an issue of personal safety.
At the time a tsunami hit Japan and caused concerns about nuclear radiation, Marquette had a single student in the country, with three more who planned to come for the spring semester. Blake Ward, the Study Abroad Coordinator, said his office contacted Evan Kelley, who had been there since the beginning of the year, soon after the disaster and verify he was okay. Ward said Sofia University in Tokyo, Marquette’s partner school, only gave them a few days to decide and ultimately they sent Kelley home.
A similar case happened in Egypt, he said, forcing Marquette to withdraw a student who had already arrived in Cairo. Ward said the past semester was “relatively unprecedented,” but he felt his office handled the challenges well.
“Things from our perspective went pretty smoothly in both cases,” Ward explained.
Stephen Wroblewski, one of the three planning to travel to Japan, said that he has wanted to study in Asia since freshman year. He said he planned his schedule so he could take the courses he needed for his minor, Asian Studies, in Japan. Despite his disappointment, Wroblewski said he understood the school’s position on student safety.
“There is nobody really to be mad at,” he said. “I understand the school’s stance on the situation.”
Ward said that while the Japan program is still suspended, the Egyptian program has already resumed, with a student slated to study at the American University of Cairo. He explained that the office was comfortable sending students there already because the campus is away from the site of protests.
Ward said that the Office of International Education, which runs the study abroad programs, has a person on-call 24/7 in order to deal with any problems which arise abroad. Additionally, the program has a subscription to SOS International which keeps them updated of events that could impact the safety of students studying abroad. Ward said that the office’s safeguards fared well in the recent emergencies.
“It was tested this semester for sure and it went well,” he said.
by Alec Brooks