Safety Abroad

Preparation was key for EWU Study Abroad students this past summer in Nice, France

By Kristi Lucchetta, News Editor

This past summer, a group of EWU Study Abroad students were visiting France when an act of terrorism struck Nice, France. The incident occurred when a truck drove through a crowd killing and injuring about 100 people, when he opened fire.

Because of the set safety protocols of the EWU Crisis Management Plan, the majority of students, 13 out of 15, were accounted for within 30 minutes of the attack. The whole group was reported safe approximately three hours after the attack said Megan Abbey, EWU Global Programs administrator.

All faculty leaders are trained in The Crisis Management Plan, which instructs the leaders on how to find shelter, locate and report on student conditions and who to contact in both the current country they are in and Cheney.

“In cases where we work with third party providers, we are in constant contact with their on-the-ground program representatives when our students are in the country,” Abbey said.

The study abroad program has a 24-hour emergency phone line that students are provided with, as well as multiple other forms of contact prior to departure. These forms of communication are to increase communication in the event of any emergency.

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a program that U.S. citizens enroll with the local U.S. embassy or consulate. Before departure, students are required to register with the U.S. State Department STEP registry.

According to STEP’s official website, STEP is a free service to allow U.S citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Registering with STEP helps protect travelers during any emergency and allows them to receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in destination countries to help make informed decisions about travel plans.

Abbey said she was worried that students would be deterred from the program after the incident, but the study abroad program has not seen a decrease among student interest. In recent years, the study abroad program has sent about 100 students each year, with that number continuing to grow.

A faculty-led group from the Psychology of Science in Literature department, along with the History and Practice group, will take around 30 EWU students to London and Paris for two weeks this upcoming spring.

Despite the incident, the study abroad program projections show that the program will most likely exceed 100 students abroad in the 2016-17 school year.