OIP Monitors Protests
Students abroad safe; programs operative amid unrest in Muslim world
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 02:09
The Office of International Programs is closely monitoring its study abroad programs across the globe in response to the wave of violent anti-American protests that have spread throughout much of the Muslim world.
Thus far, no Georgetown students studying abroad have been endangered, nor have any overseas academic programs been disrupted, according to Executive Director of International Programs Katherine Bellows.
“All of our programs are operating normally and … [OIP] will continue to monitor the global situation closely,” she said.
An email sent Sunday evening to students studying abroad by Lisa Gordinier, interim director of OIP’s Division of Overseas Studies, urged students to avoid protests and comply with instructions from local police.
The region has been a tumultuous one for study abroad programs in recent years. All 15 students studying at the American University in Cairo in spring 2011 were evacuated to Doha following the escalation of protests against the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak. Last fall, Derrik Sweeney (COL ’13) was arrested while studying abroad in Cairo for allegedly participating in violent protests in Tahrir Square.
Since this month’s protests have mostly targeted American consulates and embassies, the email also advised students against travelling with large groups of Americans and frequenting American establishments.
Samantha Lin (SFS ’14), who is studying in Amman, Jordan, this semester, said that although the city has not been immune to protests, she does not feel like her security has been threatened.
“I feel very safe here in Jordan. There are several layers of protection surrounding the students here,” she said.
Lin said the combination of a supportive host family and a constant stream of updates from the American embassy and the Council on International Educational Exchange, which operates the program in Amman, has ensured her safety.
“My host mom and four host siblings … are very protective of me,” she said. “In the evenings they watch the news and then relay it to me since my Arabic skills are not up to that standard yet. We talk about the situation, and they truly watch over me on my commute to school and to other activities.”
Barbara Gallets (COL ’14), who is also studying in Amman, agreed.
“Honestly, I do not feel that my safety has been put into jeopardy because of the unrest over recent events,” she said. “Nothing has been disrupted; classes have gone on as normal.”
Lin and Gallets both said that they have taken precautions to avoid areas of the city that are particularly rife with protests.
“We are told to stay away from downtown Amman after the Friday prayers because weekly demonstrations follow,” Gallets said. “But we haven’t had any other restrictions or disruptions here.”