The International Field Program places students in challenging countries. With those challenges come certain risks, the most serious of which is a potential personal danger to students. The IFP, going into its fifteenth summer, has experienced student illness, theft and mugging, and a bombing in Kampala, Uganda that did not affect IFP students. In a small number of cases, we have had students leave their IFP for personal or health reasons. Though we have not had a major incident that required
serious intervention, we must anticipate and plan for such an event.
The types of emergencies for which a student may need to be evacuated include:
- Accident and injury
- Personal or psychological problems
- Family emergency
- Physical or sexual assault
- Natural disasters or environmental catastrophes
- Political and/or civil unrest
- Terrorist attacks
Each country’s on-site faculty bears primary responsibility for the safety and well-being of all students, monitoring security and deciding when a situation requires action. In Spring, FCCs will compose a Risk Assessment Analysis of anticipated hazards, to be updated upon arrival in-country, with any possible safeguards implemented. The Risk Assessment will include:
- Country’s recent history and potential hazards and emergencies, including natural disasters, environmental hazards and pollution, health or disease risks, crime, socio-political unrest, terrorist threats
- Potential turmoil around scheduled events, such as elections
- Host country laws and regulations that should be highlighted, concerning illegal substance use/abuse, political activism by foreigners, photography, etc.
At some point in spring or early summer, your FCC will hold IFP Seminar meeting to review and discuss:
- An emergency contact list
- New School university mental health resources
- Embassy registration including online and in-country
Unless there are extenuating circumstances, you should be picked up at the airport upon arrival. FCCs will arrange for someone to pick you up at the airport. In the case that no one is there upon your arrival, call Faculty Country Coordinator or local coordinator (make sure you have FCC in-country phone numbers and your arrival destination with you on departure) or call a fellow IFPer. If you do not have a cell phone, borrow one or ask someone to dial a number for you. If you are really stuck, take an official taxi to a hotel. If arriving at night, have some cash. If possible, exchange a small amount into local currency before departure.
In summer, you will:
- Immediately meet and confirm on-site medical office.
- Review a potential evacuation plan, including a pre-arranged meeting place.
- Visit embassy to re-register. If necessary, travel to the embassy, so you know its location.
- Be assigned a “buddy” as part of a communications pairing whereby, in the case of an emergency, you are responsible for knowing the whereabouts of your buddy and vice versa.
- If FCC travels outside of IFP site, students should be aware of such plans and informed of alternate contact points and planning.
- If you travel during summer you must fill out a Travel Sign-out form with a copy of itinerary for FCC.
Deteriorating Security or an Incident
In the event of deteriorating security or an incident, the FCC should undertake the following steps:
- Immediately contact all students to keep them apprised of latest developments and program changes as they arise.
- Evaluate immediate danger to students, considering event proximity and general threat level to foreigners, particular nationalities, an innocent bystander
- Determine if internships and other IFP events, or the IFP itself, should be modified
- Determine specific activities that may make students safer, and decide whether the internship or class attendance is advisable during a period of strikes, demonstrations, or unrest
- Determine if certain streets, neighborhoods, cities, or entire regions should be avoided
- The FCC must require students to inform them of their whereabouts at all times.
IFP Faculty Adviser Mark Johnson
IFP Director Fabiola Berdiel
GPIA Director Stephen Collier
GPIA Assistant Director Phil Akre
This team will manage any incident or potential threats and may recommend procedures and safety measures that may include curtailing or suspending activity, or canceling an IFP. In the event of a more serious threat or situation, this core Security and Emergency Response Team will consult upper-level university administration. University Health Services Assistant Vice President for Student Health & Support Services Tracy Robin is also available as needed for consultation.
In event of a security incident, the GPIA Security Team will:
- Establish communication with FCC.
- Evaluate FCC report on the immediate danger to students.
- Evaluate FCC report on whether IFP activity should be modified.
- Communicate GPIA Security Team findings to FCC, and come to an agreement on any actions.
- Communicate with IFP students on FCC/Security Team findings and action.
All IFP participants are required to register with their Embassy, and during the first week on the site should visit their Embassy to re-register in-person.
U.S. citizens may enroll in the State Department Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, a warden network in case of emergency. You will then receive Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and other updates. In addition, individual embassies have additional procedures according to their countries’ security situation. For example, the Beirut U.S. Embassy offers an additional registration procedure.
Evacuation and/or IFP Cancellation
If a crisis develops, and the Faculty Country Coordinator and GPIA judge that the nature of the situation requires withdrawal or evacuation, an appropriate method to complete credits will be implemented, such as finishing research in a different locale.
Responsibilities of Students
While it is your FCC’s responsibility to keep you safe, you ultimately bear significant responsibility for your own safety. If, in the judgment of the Faculty Country Coordinator, a student is putting themselves and/or the group in jeopardy, they can be expelled from the IFP. Such cases may involve:
- Not adhering to Faculty or program directives regarding security and safety
- Taking personal risks that compromises their safety
- Student physical or mental health has reached the point that they should return home
During time in-country, students must:
- Follow all safety and security instructions of Faculty Country Coordinator. Failure to do so could result in expulsion from the IFP
- Follow procedures stipulated in Security and Emergency Response Plan
- Keep FCC informed of their whereabouts, including supplying FCC with itinerary for any out-of-site travel
- Stay in touch with other students and use buddy system
Use same common sense you use in NYC, and avoid dangerous or risky situations. Try not to travel alone at night. Try to seem purposeful when you move about. If you are lost, act as if you know where you are going. Only take taxis clearly identified with official markings. Beware of unmarked cabs. If robbed, do not fight back – give up your valuables.
In many countries, you can be detained for photographing security-related institutions – police, military installations, government buildings, border areas, transportation facilities. If in doubt, ask permission before taking photographs.
Our IFP sites can also be “challenging” to our parents’ peace of mind, and this summer may be stressful for your parents, particularly if your country is in the headlines. While we are sensitive to parental concern, we maintain a policy of dealing with you as adults, and therefore will not engage in parent-student discussion (or arguments) about leaving a site.
Remind your parents that their first point of contact at The New School is GPIA:
IFP Faculty Adviser: Mark Johnson, extension 2451
IFP Director: Fabiola Berdiel, extension 2454
GPIA Director Stephen Collier, extension 2432
GPIA Assistant Director Phil Akre, extension 2421
You should feel free to contact either Mark Johnson or Fabiola Berdiel at any time, with any concerns.
In IFP history, personal and health problems, and security incidents have been few and far between. Though we must plan for the worst, we fully anticipate a healthy, smooth, successful, productive and rewarding summer experience.