Several Winter Term Abroad Programs Canceled Due To COVID-19

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Photo courtesy of DePauw University.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a number of DePauw Winter Term study-abroad trips have been canceled due to travel restrictions and CDC guidelines that prohibit international travel.

Winter Term programs have always been an integral part of the DePauw experience, and the cancelation affected many students’ academic plans, according to three students on campus. However, in order to make final decisions on cancelation, DePauw’s faculty members have come through a long process of discussion and consideration, according to Mandy Brookins, associate dean of experiential learning and director of off-campus programs.

“I gathered information, and I shared the data with the committee with 11 people all across the university, which includes members of the faculty, senior administrators, risk managers, people with unique knowledge related to public safety, COVID-19 protocols, and medical directors,” Brookins said.

All involved faculty and staff vote on the information that she provides, according to Brookins. The vote is then sent to David A. Berque – Vice President of Academic Affairs, shared with the University Cabinets and President White, who then decides whether to accept or reject the recommendation.

Students’ Reactions and Cancelation Information

Students acknowledged the on-going dangerous COVID-19 variants in the world, and several have expressed disappointment in their canceled Winter Term programs due to travel restrictions policies of many countries and health risks during the pandemic. “My trip to Galapagos has been canceled two times actually. I signed up for the first time before COVID-19, it was canceled then reopened recently, I signed up again but it’s one more time canceled. Although I was really excited for the trip, I also expected there would be cancelation,” Michael Aikin’ 22, said.

Senior Michael Lackey also expressed disappointment in his canceled Winter Term trip. “I thought my trip to Taiwan is the least likely to be canceled because their COVID-19 cases have gone down. I’m a bit disappointed that it’s canceled, mainly because it’s my last year, and I can’t do it next year. I also got canceled for a semester abroad in Japan three times because of COVID-19,” Lackey said. 

According to Brookins, students will be informed of the cancellation at least four months prior to the scheduled programs in order to arrange their academic plans and they won’t need to worry about financial issues if their programs are canceled. 

Currently Canceled Programs

Currently canceled programs include trips to South Africa, El Salvador, Ecuador, France, Taiwan, Cuba, and the Netherlands, most of which received travel alerts from the CDC due to high levels of COVID-19 exposure. 

Students may consider programs which are located in Japan, Senegal, as well as other domestic opportunities, including trips to New Mexico, Hawaii, the Mojave desert in California, and more. Students can find more information on their Horizons portal or the Hubbard Center for Student Engagement’s social media accounts. These programs are not yet suspended, and there won’t be any serious adjustments to duration, or general plans because of COVID-19.

DePauw University First-Years can sign up for abroad Winter Term programs, although Brookin’s advice would be focusing on applying for domestic opportunities first, then considering international options later, as the application deadline is coming soon in October and DePauw is currently unable to predict future changes due to the pandemic. 

Suggestions on Alternative Plans for Canceled Students

A student whose plan is canceled will not have any priority for the next potential programs, as monitoring priority for every canceled student is a complicated process, however, students should contact Brookins and Heather Morris, assistant director of short term programs and risk management first for suggestions and assistance on applying, as well as faculty leaders of courses. The Hubbard Center is best to provide essential strategies and tips on applying for future programs. 

There are several options for students to earn credits or complete extended studies requirements, including on-campus courses, internships, and independent study. If students prefer off-campus study opportunities, spring and fall 2022 applications for off-campus programs are open. In order to apply, students can log onto their Horizons portal or follow the Hubbard Center social media accounts for further information. For students who have specific questions about available opportunities, there are upcoming events to answer and exchange information. Off-campus study information sessions take place weekly on Wednesday and Thursday. There will also be a DePauw off-campus study virtual global fair on September 30 on Handshake.