TCU student studies in West Africa despite Ebola concerns

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    A TCU student is studying in West Africa this fall amid worries about the growing Ebola crisis in the region.

    Abby TerHaar, a senior political science major, is in Senegal this fall with CIEE, a non-profit organization promoting international education. CIEE is a partner program that works with the TCU study abroad office.  

    Jesica Severson, a study abroad coordinator for TCU, said that they are monitoring the situation in West Africa. They rely on information from host program providers and International SOS, an organization that has been providing coverage on the Ebola outbreak

    “We make sure that information is communicated to students so they can make their own personal decisions,” Severson said.

    Senegal has closed its borders and tightened travel restrictions in an effort to contain Ebola outbreaks from neighboring countries. CIEE sent an email out to all participating students and universities stating that they plan to continue the program in Senegal, however they are taking additional measures to make sure students stay safe.

    Some of the precautions that CIEE is implementing include prohibiting any independent travel to Travel Warning countries and reviewing hygiene and sanitation measures with all host families. Students were also required to attend a health, safety and security briefing for their trip.

    In addition, CIEE also provided the option for students to choose a different program if they decided not to study in Senegal this fall.

    TerHaar, who will is enrolled in a French immersion program, said that there was only one other program she would consider switching to based on her study interests. She said she would only switch if the program in Senegal was canceled.

    “While the Ebola virus is dangerous, it’s important to realize that it’s not airborne and you can only get it through interacting with someone that has the disease,” TerHaar said.

    “I believe that part of my duty when studying abroad in developing countries is to return to the United States and dispel myths and stereotypes people have about those places.”