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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Study abroad in Mexico survives

    Study-abroad programs in Mexico will not be affected by recent UA and U.S. Mexico travel alerts, according to the Office of Study Abroad and Student Exchange.

    “”The travel alerts are centered on the border, because that’s where the violence is occurring,”” said Laura Thornes, assistant director of the Office of Study Abroad and Student Exchange. “”We’re hoping that overall, students will realize that most of our programs are well within the country.””

    The U.S. Department of State’s travel alert, updated Feb. 20, replaces the alert dated Oct. 15, 2008. The current alert expires Aug. 20.

    Thornes said it’s too early to see how the alerts will affect summer programs in Mexico, but she did say that so far, they have had no problems with students studying in the country this semester.

    “”We’ll have to see how this will affect our overall numbers once we get into March and April,”” she said. Those months are when the office starts taking applications for summer sessions.

    The study abroad office currently runs eight programs that are based entirely or partly in Mexico.

    One of them, the Arizona in Oaxaca program, experienced political uprising in 2006, said program director John Paul Jones, head of the Department of Geography and Regional Development. Even then, Jones said, all the students chose to stay in the program.

    “”It’s extremely safe,”” Jones said. “”I’ve talked to students and parents in Oaxaca and I’ve never had a student pull out.””

    Students in the Oaxaca summer program are given the resources needed to be safe, said Jill Calderon, who facilitates the program from the study abroad office.

    “”It’s a small university. There’s a program director on site. We’re not sending you off to a foreign university alone,”” she said.

    Political science junior Bryan Milward, who plans on spending the summer in Oaxaca, said he isn’t worried about the recent travel alerts.

    “”I hear most of it (the violence) is closer to the border. Oaxaca is a lot closer to southern Mexico,”” he said. “”I’m not really worried about it.””

    Jones said that students typically fly from Phoenix or Tucson to Oaxaca, but sometimes students will fly to Hermosilla and take a bus, something he said he wouldn’t encourage students to do. Students then spend half of the first day learning safety issues and focusing on things to be aware of in their new home, he said.

    The chances of the travel alerts affecting the Oaxaca program are slim, Calderon said.

    “”I would be really surprised if it affected this program.””

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