by Sarah Haman
Whitworth University has canceled the 2016 study abroad trip to Turkey due to the recent civil unrest in Syria. The Syrian crisis has spilled into Turkey resulting in heightened concerns for student safety while studying abroad.
“The hotspot of the Syrian Crisis in Turkey is the southeastern corner,” junior Chase Weholt, a student who was to attend the 2016 Turkey trip said. “There is a group of people that have been wanting to create their own state.”
Due to the Syrian crisis, Whitworth has canceled the 2016 trip to Turkey for liability and safety purposes, Weholt said.
U.S. citizens can travel to Turkey, but there is an official travel warning put out by the U.S. State Department. It cautions travelers from going to the region due to an unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime and violence or frequent terrorist attacks, according to the Bureau of Consular Affairs.
The Syrian Civil war has raged for four years, beginning in 2011.
The 15 day trip would have taken place during the 2016 January Term, according to the Whitworth website. This trip is usually available every three years.
In place of the trip to Turkey the administration has scheduled a trip to Greece, Weholt said.
“It’s in the works right now. Jonathan Woo [the trip leader] came to us and gave us the news and out of anyone this had been more tough on him,” Weholt said. “Years of planning go into a study abroad trip. Turkey’s history bleeds into Greece. The next best place to go is Greece.”
The Greece trip has been confirmed, but the economic crisis in Greece could affect the trip.
“It’s not promising. Our dollar is going to have a lot of power in Greece, so that should be helpful when it comes to expenses,” Weholt said. “On the flip side, making changes now to the trip and rescheduling, there will probably be some increased fees. I don’t have any worries in its stability in where we would be able to go.”
Twenty-four students had been scheduled to go on the trip to Turkey and they expressed sadness in the cancellation of the trip, Weholt said.
“Students, when they came to me, prepared a paper on a specific aspect of the trip that gave them an expert voice in that particular field and then when we were at a place in the journey that was relevant to their paper, they would give to the entire group a summary of their findings,” Jim Edwards, the previous trip leader and retired theology professor said.
“There are wonderful advantages to Turkey. Turkey is a large country with a diverse and beautiful landscape,” Edwards said.
The theology department holds this trip for students to experience the birthplace of Christianity, Edwards said.
“I devised and established the trip back in 2007,” Edwards said. “For our purposes we were studying the history of Christianity there. It has tremendous antiquities especially when referenced to Christianity. That was our primary objective. The Turkish people always treated us with great friendliness.
Contact Sarah Haman at firstname.lastname@example.org