As we learn about the tragic events that occurred in Brussels, we understand that many travelers and parents may have concerns regarding travel safety. We want to assure you that the safety of our travelers is our first priority. We are not only travel coordinators, but parents and educators as well.
We currently have groups in Costa Rica, Argentina, Spain, and France. Our groups are doing visits in various areas of each country, and many of our groups are currently with their host families. We are hearing stories of wonderful experiences. Some groups are returning home this week, while we still have many groups yet to depart for their programs abroad.
We have contacted all of our teachers currently abroad with their groups and are in contact with many of our colleagues abroad as well. So far, all are reporting sadness about the attacks but a high comfort level regarding their current situation as well as a true dedication to the students and to the program. We want our teachers and host families to stay focused on their students, so please direct any concerns or questions to us at Language & Friendship.
Our policy as an organization has always been to seek out the facts and to proceed thoughtfully and realistically as we plan our programs. Our Travel Safety policy can be found in the Program Enrollment Booklet and in the FAQ on our website. Unless the U.S. State Department issues an official warning against travel to the destination country, our programs will proceed as planned.
What will Language & Friendship do?
- As always, we monitor the U.S. Department of State website and proceed thoughtfully. https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html A Worldwide Caution was updated on March 3. The previous update was in July 2015.
- Language & Friendship program coordinators have many years of experience in student travel and family stays. If the situation warrants, modifications can be made to the itinerary/daily visits.
- We will work with L&F’s network of colleagues and friends abroad to ensure the safety of everyone in the group.
- The CORE Travel Insurance included in the program provides coverage with EuropAssistance, a 24/7 leader in security management. If something serious occurs, they would first help our group get to a safe place and then make arrangements for return at the earliest possible time. You may refer to the FAQ on our website for our complete Travel Safety Policy.
How do I know my child will be safe?
- Because of heightened securityat airports, stations, and sites, travel may be safer than usual.
- The family-stay coordinator is not only a local person who knows the community and the families who host, but is also a long-time professional colleague and friend of L&F.
- L&F groups use the same bus drivers, hotels, restaurants, and guides from group to group, which means there is a network of support throughout our program.
- All Language & Friendship teacher/leaders are enrolled in the U.S. Department of State’s STEP program (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) to receive important safety and security information.
No one can ever fully guarantee safety, not even at home. Whether random or targeted, accidents of all types happen daily in every part of the world, including our own.
We are glad to speak to you should you have any further questions. Thank you for your consideration of the importance of reason in the midst of a culture of fear.
Liane Mattson, L&F Director