Should Trinity continue its study abroad programs?

I’m sure your Thanksgiving dinner was, like mine, punctuated by family and friends giving special thanks for the ability to be together, healthy, and most importantly, SAFE. Our world’s recent events have set us all on edge, daring us to take life for granted. Whether it’s a movie theater in Colorado, a school in Connecticut, or a café in Paris, no place is – or can be – completely safe. So is the answer to live life as we want precisely because there are no assurances? Or should we suspend our lives and shrink our world as the people in Brussels recently were forced to do when their metros were halted, schools and businesses temporarily closed?
Trinity’s Study Away Program includes eight “Trinity In” programs, as well as many others with which the college is associated or affiliated. The ones bearing Trinity’s name are in exotic places such as Rome, Barcelona, Shanghai and yes, Paris. We are grateful that our fellow students who are there this semester all are safe in the wake of the heinous terrorist acts of November 13. President Berger-Sweeney’s note to the community made clear that accommodations had been made for the Paris students to come home if they wished, and finish out their work for the semester remotely. After carefully weighing the critical choice, only five Trinity students chose to come back to the States.
On one hand, I feel that Trinity got it exactly right: support the decisions of the students, allowing them to finish the semester in the way they would be most comfortable. And I applaud my classmates who are not “giving in” to the terrorists by cutting short their amazing opportunity and adventure of living and studying in Paris. On the other hand, this situation is not something to be taken lightly. If something as important as a life is at risk, students must take any measure possible to ensure their safety.
Ursula Granirer ’17 told the Tripod, “I think we should continue the program because this is the sort of thing where in the middle of living, life happened. Obviously nobody ever says ‘wow I hope while studying abroad my city will become the site of a terrorist attack!’ But that’s the sort of thing that you never know when it could happen.”
Trinity is offering counseling services to the students and is making sure to let them know that there is a huge support group for those who want it. Granirer went on to say, “as awful as the situation was, for it to happen while still under the wing of the Trinity community is the best possible way for any tragedy to occur. Everyone was very responsive and on top of checking to make sure everyone else was ok. Even though I was out of the country, students on the program were aware that I lived in the neighborhood where everything was going on and still sent me messages of concern and love. The professors were very accommodating and our program director, Francie, has been a saint.”
Trinity has a foreign language requirement as well as global distribution aspect to its mandatory curriculum because we live “in a global world.” There is no doubt that those who are to lead our county, politically, economically, and socially, must be well poised internationally. But when there are extreme terrorist organizations whose sole mission is to kill us, spending time on foreign soil suddenly seems less desirable.
I am scheduled to be part of the 45th year of the Trinity in Rome program when I head to Italy in January. I have been excited about going for months, and finally it is only weeks away. Rome is now mentioned regularly as a city on the ISIS “hit list” and planes are being shot out of the sky. Studying history in the shadow of the Colosseum means living in the shadow of the Bataclan Theater.
There is no doubt in my mind that Trinity should continue sending its students abroad. It is so important for America’s future leaders to be well versed in not only domestic spheres but also in foreign ones. By not living up to our full potential as socially motivated students because of ISIS’ terror, we are essentially surrendering. We as students of Trinity College must continue to live, change, and grow as people to create a better world for all.

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