Yale keeps watch on students abroad

Studying in Egypt, Aaisha Tracy ’03 said she was quarantined in her dorm Sept. 11 while the U.S. Embassy debated whether to evacuate the American school after the terrorist attacks in the United States.

Tracy is one of 25 Yale students in study abroad programs this term, and the International Education and Fellowship Programs office has increased its contact with these students since Sept. 11. Students said they appreciated the University’s efforts, and many said they felt safer overseas than they would at home. All are planning to finish their terms abroad.

Yale has been conscientious about staying in touch, Tracy said.

“They are doing an excellent job,” she said in an e-mail. “I cannot think of anything more that they can do, other than fly over and personally greet me.”

Karyn Jones, the associate director of the IEFP, said her office sent e-mails to the students registered with study abroad programs both the afternoon of Sept. 11 and the day after the United States began bombing Afghanistan. The IEFP office also forwarded e-mails from University Secretary Linda Lorimer and President Richard Levin that students on campus received.

Jones said the e-mails her office sent out urged students to contact the IEFP with any concerns.

John Meeske, dean of administrative affairs, said Yale is also communicating with the directors of the individual programs.

In addition to the 25 students who are studying overseas, some Yalies are traveling abroad on leaves of absence and they are not officially registered with the IEFP. Contacting these students has been more difficult, said Barbara Rowe, the director of IEFP.

Nicolas Maier ’04, who is traveling in New Zealand on a leave of absence, said in an e-mail that he has not heard from the University.

Jones said that while the University usually requires students studying abroad to complete their programs, the council of residential college deans decided students with security or family concerns would be able to return to the United States mid-program. None of the Yale students have come home, however.

Tracy said her program offered a full refund to those students who wished to return to the United States, and she said many students who returned had motivations other than personal safety.

“For those who were experiencing culture shock, the full refund that [the program] provided was a good incentive to leave,” Tracy said. “Others were in the reserves in the military and were compelled to leave.”

Though at least 20 out of 100 students returned, Tracy said she has asked to stay for another semester.

Jung Choi ’03, who is studying in Japan, said that, while she registered with the embassy in Japan as a precautionary measure, she feels safe.

“The fact that I’m studying at a center that is predominantly American and sponsored by an American institution enabled us to have access to a network of support,” Choi said in an e-mail.

Several of the students said they are gaining a new perspective on the attacks and the conflict in Afghanistan by living in other countries.

“The Spanish media definitely had some interesting coverage,” said Katharine Goheen ’03 in an e-mail from Spain, where she is studying. “As much as I would have liked to have been at home on the 11th, I think that I will appreciate later having had the opportunity to experience this from another part of the world.”

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