Parents’ concern for the safety and well-being of their children abroad is natural and shared by Loyola Marymount University. During the course of a semester or summer abroad, Loyola Marymount University makes a concerted effort to ensure students’ safety, while not inappropriately restricting their exposure to the country they have chosen as a place to study and/or work.
This effort is headed by the Loyola Marymount University Study Abroad Office staff at home, and by our staff abroad (in most cases, staff and/or director and one or more additional full-time faculty, among whose responsibilities are the health and safety of our students). It is a part of their job to be in ongoing contact with the students, as well as, when necessary, the U.S. Embassies and other appropriate bodies in our host cities, and the Study Abroad Office at LMU.
When students arrive at their destination, part of their on-site orientation consists of presentations on health and safety issues, simple precautions they should take while there, and more detailed information on handling issues of security, safety, illness, injury, and emergencies. During the program, the LMU staff is in communication with each of our program offices, and we carefully monitor the economic and political situations of the host countries, via contact abroad, as well as announcements issued by the U.S. Department of State and other public information sources.
In addition, each program office has a plan for dealing with events and situations affecting individuals and the group. These precautions vary from country to country depending on the availability of communication, transportation, and political systems, and include such resources as networks or doctors, dentists and healthcare facilities, and contact persons.
We do not take these precautions to pamper our students or to restrict their ability to enjoy their time abroad. The value of study depends in part on the experience of difference, not similarity to what we are familiar with at home. Rather, we consider health, safety, and security part of our primary responsibility to our students.
Play It Safe
Remind your student that they will soon be spending a semester or year in what may be unfamiliar territory and that they should use the same – if not more stringent – common sense safety precautions as at home. We also recommend that you know your son or daughter’s travel itinerary before departure so that you know where he or she can be reached in the event of an emergency.
A Final Note
A Student’s off-campus study, whether it is at a site as close as Washington D.C., or as far away as Beijing, will introduce them to many people whose cultures differ from those to which they are accustomed. In fact, students’ experiences in our programs may be quite different from what they expected. Getting the most out of the program depends on the student’s ability to adapt to new and different situations.
However, we cannot anticipate the course of events they might experience, nor can we make them run as we wish they would. The decision to study in a particular program or region of the world must be made by each student and their family, in light of their own interpretation of events and the student’s willingness to live with a certain degree of ambiguity. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict future events or guarantee a completely safe environment in any region of the world, including our own, and we reserve the right to alter or cancel a course or program due to unforeseen circumstances.
The Institute of International Education (IIE) has put together a detailed and helpful resource for parents and families of students who will be studying abroad. We recommend that you take time to read this document and bring up any questions you have about your student's study abroad program prior to their departure.