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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Students no longer studying abroad in Japan

Published: March 18, 2011
Section: Front Page, Top Stories

Six undergraduate students will see their semester abroad programs disrupted due to the earthquake, tsunami and spreading levels of radiation from nuclear plants in Japan this week.

Three students already abroad in Kyoto, Japan through the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies, a Columbia University-administered program, are returning to the United States due to safety concerns. The program has chosen to suspend the spring semester.

“Everyone at Brandeis understands that this is a very tragic situation in northern Japan and we will work with our students to make the transition back to the U.S. as smooth as possible,” Assistant Dean of Academic Service and Director of Study Abroad J. Scott Van Der Meid wrote in an e-mail.

“After much debate and despite the fact that our students are quite safe at the moment, KCJS felt they could not guarantee safety moving forward and reluctantly decided to suspend the program,” Van Der Meid said in a BrandeisNOW press release.

Three students who were supposed to depart for Tokyo, Japan next week due to their programs beginning April 1 will not be going, Van Der Meid said.

Kyoto students should arrive home within the week and the program is evaluating options for remote study and research so that students do not lose credit for their disrupted semester.

The office of study abroad is also considering options for the students who have not yet departed and the credit issues they could potentially face. These options were not clear by press time and the students could not be contacted in time for print.

“The images of devastation in Japan that we all woke up to this morning are deeply disturbing. As a caring community, our thoughts are with the people of Japan as they struggle to cope with their nation’s biggest recorded earthquake and the savage tsunami that followed,” President Fred Lawrence wrote in his blog “Brandeis First,” “As news of the disaster broke, the university moved to ensure that Brandeis students studying in Japan were safe and unharmed, and that we are supporting Japanese students studying here. We are also concerned about faculty, staff and students who have relatives in Japan,” he wrote.

Three graduate students that were supposed to depart for Japan are considering other international locations. Three International Business students currently in Japan were unharmed according to a BrandeisNOW press release.

The International Student and Scholars Office has been in contact with five undergraduates, 11 graduate students and at least nine scholars, researchers and faculty from Japan who are on campus now to offer support.

“We are concerned about the safety of the members of our entire Brandeis community, which includes families and friends of our students, our faculty and staff, our alumni, and our colleagues abroad who may be facing such devastating circumstances. Our students appreciate that Brandeis is aware of the situation and there to help in any way we can,” Director of the International Students and Scholars Office David C. Elwell said in BrandeisNOW press release.

Students who are currently in the application process for study abroad in Japan in the fall and spring of academic year 2011-2012 will continue their applications as scheduled and decisions will be made during the summer regarding their ability to attend the programs.

“Students who are slated to go to Japan in the fall are still going through their application and approval process. We will make an evaluation over the summer based on the abilities of our Japanese partners to host programs at that time,” Van Der Meid wrote.

Van Der Meid’s office hopes to have more finalized plans for the undergraduate students and their individual situations next week.