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Saturday, October 23, 2021

News-in-Brief: Japan quake keeps students in California

The Education Abroad Center (EAC) cancelled the spring Japanese Language and Culture program in response to the earthquake in Japan on March 11. Twenty-seven students were enrolled in the program, which would have started in Kyoto, Japan last Saturday.

“[Kyoto had] no noticeable damage. Everything was fine, they were prepared to host our students,” said Zachary Frieders, EAC associate director. “Our concerns though, the radiation leaks were in progress … It was really difficult to come up with satisfactory contingent plans if something else happened.”

Students were reimbursed their program fees and immediately enrolled in classes at UC Davis. EAC is working with its insurance to possibly reimburse students’ flight costs, which they purchased on their own.

There was no EAC program in Japan winter quarter, though two faculty members were in the country and seven UC Davis students studied in Tokyo through the University of California Education Abroad Program (EAP). There were 80 University of California students total, all of whom are accounted for.

It was mandated that EAP students leave Japan. Many were on spring break in other countries during the earthquake and opted to continue traveling. Others returned to California, Frieders said.

It is UC policy to evacuate students and faculty from countries in compliance with U.S. State Department travel warnings. However, both the Kyoto and Tokyo trips were cancelled before a travel warning was issued.

The fate of summer abroad programs in Okazaki and Kyoto will be decided by May 1.

“If it looks like there is no threat or radiation exposure and no impact of food rationing [the programs will not be cancelled], but we’re waiting to make a final decision,” Frieders said.

On Jan. 31, EAP evacuated the Cairo, Egypt program due to civil unrest. It is unknown when the Cairo program will be reinstated.

“With the events around the world this year, we’ve had more evacuations than we normally do,” Frieders said. “A travel warning is still in place [for Cairo]. It’s not likely reopen anytime before fall … unless the travel warning is lifted or there is a high level of confidence.”

– Becky Peterson

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