The Center for International Programs (CIP) cancelled three study abroad locations when persistent dangerous activity in Kenya, Senegal, and Israel was deemed unsafe for student travel. Kalamazoo students who had planned to travel to one of these sites during their fall semester were forced to put their international studies on hold to look to other opportunities on campus and abroad.
Margot Couraud ’16 was accepted to study abroad in Senegal when the program was suddenly cancelled due to the continuing spread of the Ebola virus in Western Africa.
“While its disappointing that I can’t go to Senegal, I never really had that boom, crash, moment where I felt like the sky was falling,” Courand said.
After receiving the news of cancellation over the summer prompted, Courand looked at her second choice for study abroad, Thailand.
“When Senegal was cancelled, I looked on the International Sustainable Development Studies Institute in Thailand website and I saw the spring semester. It worked out oddly well and very unexpectedly.” Couraud is now enrolled to study at the ISDSI starting in January through spring quarter and into summer.
“I’ve really been enjoying this quarter on campus, being on the cross country team and being able to spend time with people I normally wouldn’t be able to spend time with as a way to push myself to meet new people,” Couraud said.
The study abroad site in Kenya was cancelled due to continued terrorist activity aligned with the Al Shabaab terrorist group preceding the Westgate mall attack in Nairobi in September 2013. Peter Steward ‘16, who was accepted into the program, followed the news over the summer to keep up with what the CIP might decide.
“The last article I read before they cancelled the program was that the Kenyan government had issued warnings out to its citizens not to go and see the world cup in restaurants and bars,” Steward said, “If you are telling your citizens that they shouldn’t go and see a world sporting event, just on the TV, then you really don’t have a whole lot of faith in security for your own people, let alone foreigners.” The final decision was made, Steward said, when US Embassy pulled out of Nairobi.
“Everything was just so up in the air and because of the all facts that were coming through to them [CIP] they had to make a decision. That way when they did cancel the program I was just thinking of what was next and hoping that the problems in Kenya could resolve themselves,” Steward said.
Steward is now working with the administration to finalize plans to study in Botswana during the fall quarter of his senior year.
“People are making moves and keeping me in mind, but I haven’t heard any outcomes yet,” he said. Steward is taking his extra time on campus to get to know the new people in the K-community. “I’m just getting to know the new faces and making more friends with international students and people in other grades.”
It has not been released yet when or if these three programs will be available to apply to for the 2015-2016 school year.