World Endeavors is committed to providing safe, healthy, and meaningful experiences abroad for all of our participants. Safety is our guiding consideration as we develop new programs; as such, we know that the best way to keep our participants safe is to design safe programs. We select our relationships with individuals, organizations, and schools abroad very carefully to make sure we are providing the safest programs possible. This ongoing process requires constant monitoring from our staff and frequent check-ins with each of our participants. In addition, we have safety procedures in place to maximize the level of support we provide.
The World Endeavors US-based administrative staff work in close collaboration with our local onsite staff in each program’s country. This regular communication allows us to ensure that not only are our general health and safety policies implemented at each site, but that we are also able to respond and adapt to current conditions on the ground at each of our sites. Our US staff members are experienced travelers, and our onsite staff members are locals who are often native to the city in which the program is based.
In addition to relying on our onsite staff to provide up-to-date evaluations of health and safety issues, World Endeavors also regularly reviews health and safety information from the US Department of State, NAFSA Association of International Educators, the World Health Organization, and the US Centers for Disease Control as well as various online news sources.
While there are risks inherent in anything one does – both at home and abroad – we strongly believe that a combination of advance preparation and common sense can help to ensure our participants have a safe, healthy, and meaningful experience abroad.
HEALTH AND SAFETY WHILE ABROAD
In addition to selecting program sites with safety as the primary consideration and working closely with our local staff, World Endeavors Advisors also work hard to prepare our participants to care for their own health and safety while abroad. Some crucial steps and features of our process are:
• One-on-one interviews conducted with each applicant prior to acceptance which allow our advisors to better understand his or her background, experience, and skills
• A detailed Pre-Departure Handbook including health and safety guidelines as well as country-specific information, cultural tips, and strategies for a successful experience abroad
• Unlimited access to World Endeavors staff with pre-trip questions
• One-on-one phone conversation with participant immediately prior to departure to answer any last-minute questions or concerns
• Cellular phones rentals provided without charge in all countries where possible
• Knowledgeable onsite coordinators to provide orientation, emergency help, and general assistance through a participant’s program—coordinators are citizens or long-time residents of the country and are often native to the city where the program is located
• An Emergency Procedures Plan for each country
• Safe and appropriate housing—host families are screened and interviewed by World Endeavors In-Country Coordinators
• Comprehensive travel and health insurance provided by World Endeavors for each participant
• Frequent check-ins from World Endeavors US staff via email or phone from the participant’s arrival at their program site through the end of the program
• Staff that stays current with government travel warnings and world news
• US-based staff that has all traveled, studied, volunteered, or worked abroad and who all have a strong passion for providing others with successful experiences abroad
COMMUNICATION WITH PARTICIPANTS AND STAFF
Other than the numerous steps listed above, the best way we can help keep participants safe is by checking in often. Nothing beats first-hand knowledge of an individual’s experiences or challenges. While our participants are abroad, we continue to reach out to them and to make ourselves available to participants’ family members and universities. Our staff has lived, worked, studied, interned, and traveled in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania, and they can draw from their own experiences to help prepare our participants to make good choices. In the end, we encourage our participants to use common sense and follow the advice and guidelines given by our professional US-based and onsite staff. By doing this, participants can maximize the benefits of their international experience and have a successful program abroad.