Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Turkey Program Cancelled

A travel warning from the State Department and the subsequent withdrawal of several participants led to the last-minute cancellation of this year’s study-abroad program at the cGhee Center, a Georgetown owned-and-operated villa on the editerranean coast of Turkey.

The State Department issued an official travel warning after terrorist attacks on synagogues and a British bank in Istanbul in November. They recommended U.S citizens defer any non-essential travel.

The Emergency Support Team for International Affairs, a committee responsible for evaluating safety and security issues for Georgetown students abroad, met two weeks after the warning was issued. Michael Vande Berg, Director of International Programs and a member of the EST committee, said the decision was made based on the travel warning as well as additional information obtained from embassy representatives and consultants from the State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council.

“One of the things we try to do is assess the situation for ourselves,” Vande Berg said, adding that although there was a travel warning issued while students were in Alanya last spring, they concluded that the participants were safe where they were.

“If the State Department took off the travel warning before Jan. 9, we would then be comfortable sending the students there,” he said.

Students scheduled to participate in the program were advised to register for classes just in case. Some of the 10 enrolled students, however, chose to withdraw from the program rather than wait until January to see if the warning would be lifted. As a result, the enrollment number was too low to allow the program to operate. Students were notified of the official suspension in an e-mail sent Dec. 12.

“I’m a little bitter,” said Beth Shumaecker (COL ’05), who returned to campus on Sunday with no classes or housing due to miscommunication of her study-abroad status after the program’s suspension.

She said she regrets that she will not be able to study abroad, something she had been looking forward to since before she came to Georgetown.

“I understand that it was a difficult decision,” Shumaecker said. “But it was very frustrating that they didn’t cancel it earlier, since it was virtually impossible to find a different program after that.”

Minimal enrollment has plagued the program in the past. In its 12-year history, the program in Alanya has been cancelled three other times, most recently in 2002 following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “Enrollment numbers as of 9/11 were very low . if there are concerns [about events overseas], people drop, and then the program is no longer viable,” he said.

Vande Berg said that withdrawals are often the result of parental concerns.

“Our experience in situations with crises abroad is that the parents are generally more nervous than the students are,” he said.

Though she was still looking forward to the trip in spite of the November attacks, Shumaecker said news of the events frightened her family.

“[My parents] were fine with it when I originally wanted to go . but as soon as the bombings occurred, everyone I knew over the age of 22 called and protested to me about going,” Shumaecker said. “Personally I was not deterred by the bombings. The opportunity was worth the risk.”

Looking forward to her semester in Alanya, Bryn McDonough (COL ’05) sublet her house and quit her job. McDonough says she felt overwhelmed when she found out in the middle of finals that the program had been suspended. Though she had registered for classes just in case, she scrambled to find a job and a place to live. As a live-in nanny for a Georgetown family this semester, cDonough says she still wishes she could have gone. “My mom asked before I came back to Georgetown, `Aren’t you even a little glad that you’re not there?’ But honestly, I’m not. I wanted to go.”

Berg said the Office of International Programs is trying to increase awareness about the Turkey program in hopes of significantly increasing interest in enrollment to prevent similar situations. “I just don’t think enough people understand what this program has to offer . It’s one of the finest U.S. programs in Turkey, so it’s a pity we’ve had these on-again, off-again enrollments,” he said.

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