Story by Alisha Kempher, Contributing writer
Faculty members, advisers from the Education Abroad office, representatives from Cooperative Center for Study Abroad and Kentucky Institute for International Studies set up tables at Waterfield last Tuesday, promoting study abroad opportunities for the upcoming semesters.
The Study Abroad Fair gives students an opportunity to explore the different programs and find the one best suited for their schedules and interests. The fair also allows students to ask questions or voice concerns to faculty members or program directors.
Several attacks have taken place overseas within the last year, including the bombings in Brussels and Paris. There were students from Murray State who were abroad in Paris when the attacks occurred in November 2015.
Jaylynn Will, junior from Marion, Illinois, was a student who traveled to Paris with some friends during the weekend of the attacks when she studied abroad.
She said while touring the city they heard the news of the attacks and were stunned to find out they were 700 meters from one of the restaurants attacked.
“We decided to walk the 20 or so minutes to the embassy as it was in the opposite direction of the reported attacks at that point,” Will said.
Will said she talked with an American agent who helped calm them down during the situation. She said they were able to get into contact with their families and made the best decision they could at the time, which was to go back to their apartment.
“To be there during the attacks was very scary and eye opening,” Will said. “I have no clue what kind of protocol we should have followed during a situation like this, but I think we did the best we could with the time we had.”
Robyn Pizzo, senior education abroad adviser, said the staff that go on the study abroad programs must go through extensive training for all emergency situations, ranging from a broken leg to a catastrophic event.
She said there is also an emergency contact in the Education Abroad office assigned to every program that is abroad.
“I personally think other students should be concerned about the attacks, but not so concerned that it hinders them from traveling more and having new experiences,” Will said.
Pizzo said she has not heard many concerns from students. However, she said she thinks it will be a big concern for parents.
“It is definitely on our radar,” Pizzo said. “We will have to do some additional work making sure they know what our emergency plan is, if the students were to be in a situation like that.”
The potential for terrorist attacks are a concern for parents like Debbie Cooke, whose daughter is going to Prague this summer.
“The concerns I have regarding terrorism aren’t enough to want her to miss out on this opportunity,” Cooke said.
Martin Dowling, a graduate student from Regensburg, Germany, was at the fair attempting to convince Murray State students to study abroad. He said he did not have concerns about students studying abroad.