As violent conflicts in Iraq and Syria escalate, Claremont students studying abroad in nearby countries have faced increased security measures. Still, program administrators and participants are confident that those students can complete their expected time abroad.
This month, the School for International Training (SIT), an outside group that organizes study abroad programs in Amman, Jordan for students at Claremont McKenna College, imposed a 10 p.m. curfew on students in Amman due to the current military conflict in Iraq and Syria. CMC has one student studying abroad in Amman through SIT this fall semester, and Pomona College has four students in Amman.
Although the heightened security measures might reflect the danger in the country, according to CMC’s Director of Off-Campus Studies Kristen Mallory, the risk of students ending the program early and being sent home has a low probability. Mallory said students should adhere to SIT’s new rules to remain safe.
“CMC requires that students follow their program provider’s policies, requirements, and regulations while abroad,” Mallory wrote in an email to TSL.
According to Mallory, there are several reasons why the curfew might have been imposed, including concerns by SIT about liability for its students in the midst of a military conflict.
Jenya Green CM ’16 is studying with SIT on its Modernization and Social Change program in Amman.
“My program seems very concerned with liability in the unlikely event that one of the students are harmed,” Green wrote in an email to TSL. “Because the curfew is an extreme measure that doesn’t reflect actual levels of risk, there is a high possibility that the curfew will last throughout the semester.”
Another reason the curfew is enforced is to inspire full cultural immersion into society, because when participating in a homestay, host families can set curfews for their students, according to Nicole Sheldon-Desjardins, Interim Director of Study Abroad at Pomona College.
“The social sphere in Jordan is quite different than it is here, and curfews are the norm for many young Jordanians,” Sheldon-Desjardins wrote in an email to TSL. “One of the primary goals of study abroad is integration into local cultures, and therefore, curfews are one practice students in Amman must prepare to adjust to.”
In an effort to keep students safe from international conflicts overseas, CMC advises study abroad students to avoid dangerous areas.
“CMC tells students to avoid protests and areas where protests are held as, even if the individual student is not participating, bystanders can easily be swept into the chaos should chaos, violence or otherwise, occur,” Mallory wrote. “I know our program providers also require this of students.”
The United States is not alone in increasing security measures overseas, according to Mallory.
“London, Spain, and the U.S. have increased the caution alert for unrest based upon current actions taken by western countries towards ISIS (ISIL) so it is important to remember that no country is exempt from protests, issues, or general concern for student safety,” Mallory wrote.
Green has not sensed danger in her immediate surroundings.
“I feel perfectly
safe living in Amman and traveling throughout Jordan,” Green wrote.
“Jordan enjoys great stability relative to many of its neighbors, and at
least according to many Jordanians, the nation’s security forces are
well-organized and effective.”
Green said that she hopes these
restrictions do not grow into a termination of the program.
“In my opinion, there is not much of a
possibility of Daesh [ISIS] crossing the Jordanian border in a way that is
comparable to their infiltration throughout Iraq and Syria,” Green wrote. “Barring the possibility of an isolated act
of terror such as a bombing, I like to think that the chances of being sent
home this semester are slim.”