Letter to Students Abroad from the Director


TO: Students Abroad

FROM: Dr. Brian Harley, Director

DATE: March 20, 2003

Dear Purdue Student Abroad:

On behalf of the Office of Programs for Study Abroad, I am writing to you as the United States has begun its military campaign against Iraq. Since we expect the conflict to be limited to the Middle East, we do not anticipate any need to make changes in the schedule of your program at this time. However, Americans living abroad should undertake extra measures to ensure their safety. We want you to know that we understand the concerns you must be feeling since you are far from friends and families at a very stressful time.

We presume that the staff members of your programs are in regular communication with the U.S. Embassies and Consulates in their countries, and the U.S. State Department. As of this writing, no U.S. educational institution in your host country has any reason to believe that study abroad programs should be cancelled nor has any program issued a recommendation for students to return to the United States. The majority of study abroad programs around the world have emergency plans which are consistent with these recommendations given the current world situation:

Dress to blend in with the local people, avoid places where Americans are known to frequent, and avoid large gatherings or demonstrations. Avoid moving around in a large American group speaking English.

If someone makes a hostile comment to you as an American, keep walking and avoid verbal confrontations. Whether the government of your host country has been supportive or not of United States policy towards Iraq, most people around the world have been less supportive. Try not to take anti-American statements personally. Of course, your local friends will want to talk with you about the war and your opinions. You should seek to engage in friendly and intelligent dialogue with them.

Be selective with your travel plans during the coming weeks. Heed the program staff advice and instructions. They know the local situation best, and will make decisions intended to assure the safety of program participants. (It is likely that, in almost all cases, their advice will be to continue attending classes and following a normal routine.) If independent travel is acceptable, keep program contacts informed of your whereabouts and provide an itinerary. If you forget to do this, please at least call and let them know where you are going. As always, keep a photocopy of your passport with you at all times. If you travel outside of your host country, we recommend that you bring your original passport with you but exercise caution as to where you keep it.

Please keep program staff advised of any changes in your phone numbers. If you have a cell phone, make sure that it is always charged and available and that you have adequate power and minutes available in case you need to make a call. If you do not have a cell phone, be sure the director knows how to reach you by conventional phone.

Be aware of Purdue Safety and Security Resources which are available on the web. http://www.studyabroad.purdue.edu/safety/

Keep up on local, American and international news via newspapers, radio, television, and the web. Remain calm and informed without becoming obsessive about the news. Don't let the quest for information interfere with your studies or your basic routines. It is important to take care of yourself during times of increased stress. If you are having trouble concentrating on your studies, sleeping, or maintaining a routine, talk about it with your Program Director and take advantage of the help and support that is offered.

In uncertain circumstances, there is sometimes an impulse to return home immediately, either to avoid the possibility of trouble at your location abroad or to comfort your friends and family. Doing so is often an overreaction based on imagined dangers. It is unlikely that the current hostilities will have any direct bearing on your academic work abroad this semester.

Please forward this message to your parents for their attention and stay in touch with your family and friends so that you can reassure them about your situation. Your study abroad experience during a time of conflict will still be rewarding, challenging and very special. At the same time, this international experience will help you become an informed and concerned citizen of the world. The Study Abroad staff is doing everything possible to make sure that you return home safe and sound when your study abroad experience is over. Your safety is the most important thing to us. Please make every effort to follow these guidelines and respond to us with any questions.

Brian Harley