Dear CIS Abroad Community,
Since our first update on February 24th, we have seen an escalation in the destruction of Ukrainian cities and a deterioration of the situation in that country. Our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine whose loved ones have died, whose homes have been destroyed, and whose lives have been forever altered in this war. Below is a brief update on what we are monitoring, what we expect for this summer and fall 2022, and how we keep our students safe.
At CIS Abroad, we have operated through many difficult times; through the Madrid bombings in 2004, the Great Recession of 2009, the Paris bombings in 2015, the 2017 London and Barcelona attacks, and the past two years of sending students abroad during the pandemic. We have done so safely because we have an entire field of expertise and operational excellence that we belong to, and we have over 120 years of collective experience on our executive team.
As we prepare to send students to Europe in the coming months we will work with these international bodies to monitor all updates and communicate them, and follow best practice. All CIS Abroad 2022 program locations remain open.
Specifically what we do to keep students safe:
- We belong to the following international bodies: The FORUM on Education Abroad, The US Department of State’s Overseas Security and Advisory Council Academic Working Group and NAFSA, the National Association of International Educators.
- We closely monitor news sources as well as the US State Department Travel Advisories, The World Health Organization country-specific travel Information. IATA Travel Center country specific travel restrictions, and the Global Health Index.
- We highly recommend (and give instructions during pre-departure orientations) that program participants register with the US State Department’s STEP program to receive timely updates and information.
- We ensure that all students are covered under a comprehensive health and emergency insurance plan which includes emergency evacuation in the event of widespread terrorist attacks, acts of war, and natural disasters.
- We have 24/7 support and a risk mitigation plan in each program location so that we are constantly connected to the situation on the ground.
- We have a travel form that program participants fill out when they travel outside the country in which they are studying so we know where they are. They always have our 24/7 emergency phone number. We are currently not allowing travel to Ukraine border countries.
The closest program that CIS Abroad operates to the conflict is in Prague, Czech Republic. The Czech Republic is separated from Belarus and Ukraine by the countries of Poland and Slovakia, both of which are NATO members. Our students in Prague are safe, and some are lending a hand as they organize clothing, food, and other donations needed for Ukrainian refugees. These are not easy times, and these are tough, but important, lessons to learn.
CIS Abroad remains steadfast in its commitment to international education, student mobility, and cultural exchange as vehicles for a more connected and compassionate world.
Joe Debiec and the CIS Abroad Risk Mitigation Team