Egyptian crisis sparks safety debate for study abroad

Mark Schaub, Director of the Padnos International Center

James Brien

Mark Schaub, Director of the Padnos International Center

Chelsea Stoskopf

Now that the political protests in Egypt are winding down, the crisis has left students and faculty wondering if they will be able to take the scheduled study abroad trip to Cairo over the spring and summer semesters.

James Goode, Grand Valley State University history professor and faculty leader on the study abroad trip, said faculty are paying close attention to the situation in Egypt and will decide by the end of the month if the group will be able to go abroad without worrying about threatening situations.

“We have a long time before we go, so we are trying to wait as long as we can so that we don’t cancel the program too early and then find out that everything has settled down,” Goode said. “It would be ideal if (the Egyptians) could have their change and we could have our study abroad program, but we might have to sacrifice our study abroad program while the Egyptians keep making up their mind on what their future is going to look like.”

Mark Schaub, executive director of the Padnos International Center, said in cases like this, a committee will look at any travel warning the U.S. Department of State has out and assess the situation from there. According to the state department website, there are no current updates on the Feb. 6 travel warning to Egypt.

If the trip is canceled, Schaub said the 12 students registered will receive a refund for their deposit, and faculty will work with students to figure out a different trip they could take for that semester.

“Of course we would never send students to a destination that we think that there are some safety and security concerns like there are today in Egypt,” he said. “We’re keeping a close eye on the situation and will not hesitate to cancel it.”

Schaub said as of Monday, the Egypt study abroad has not been canceled, and he advises all students who plan on studying abroad to read all the instructional materials about the trip.

“In our orientation materials, we talk about these very things – about being aware of surroundings and where you’re going and how you behave while you are there,” he said.

Senior Mike Kaurich, a 22-year-old political science and history major, said he hopes the group will be able to take the trip, especially because of its timing.

“It seems like things are stabilizing to some degree over there, so hopefully it will be stable enough so that we can go and be able to be some of the first students to experience the transition to a free and democratic Egypt, which would be fantastic,” Kaurich said. “I would love that. I just really, really hope that they end up sending out the trip because I think it is one of the wonderful opportunities Grand Valley offers us to be able to go on study abroad and do so at this point in time.”

The program is located in Cairo and is open to all majors with courses offered in the history of Egypt and contemporary issues in Egyptian society and culture. It is a five-week program and is also theme friendly, according to the GVSU study abroad pamphlet.

For more information about this trip and other study abroad opportunities visit

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