January 30, 2011

Student Abroad in Egypt to Return Home

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A Cornell student studying in Egypt is escaping the country amidst widespread unrest as protests against President Hosni Mubarak escalate. On Friday, the United States State Department issued a travel advisory urging all U.S. citizens to “defer non-essential travel” to Egypt and all Americans in Egypt to “defer non-essential movement.”The student enrolled in a Cornell Abroad program “is on her way out of Egypt,” according to Richard Gaulton, the director of Cornell Abroad. Gaulton said he could not comment more specifically on the student’s location.Gaulton said Cornell Abroad has students studying in other Middle Eastern countries, including Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Syria and Turkey. Currently, only Egypt and Israel have State Department-issued travel warnings.“Once there’s a State Department travel warning, then the International Travel Advisory and Response Team (ITART) has to approve any proposal for Cornell undergraduates to go to that country,” Gaulton said in an e-mail. All Cornell students studying in Israel received ITART-approval before studying in Israel. The travel warnings for Egypt are set to expire Feb. 28, according to the State Department website. If they are still in place, however, the next time a Cornell student chooses to study abroad in Egypt, the student will need ITART’s approval.In regard to the numerous Cornell students studying abroad this semester in various countries, Gaulton said that their personal travel is their own affair and not a “University responsibility.” Many students enjoy traveling to neighboring countries while abroad, but Gaulton urges them to research and learn about their destinations before embarking on weekend trips.  To help students with this research process, Cornell uses an emergency travel assistance company called International SOS, according to Gaulton. International SOS regularly publishes information on its website regarding health and safety information for countries Cornell Abroad students may plan on visiting.According to International SOS’s website, the Cairo airport remains open and functional, despite many flight delays and cancellations. Many international travelers are attempting to return home after multiple countries have recently issued travel warnings.The Cornell student studying in Egypt began making her preparations to leave Egypt on Jan. 29, the day after the State Department issued the travel warning.“The program [the Cornell student was attending] had decided to withdraw its students even before a travel warning was issued,” Gaulton said.

Original Author: Seth Shapiro