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Safe Travels: Teachers and students reflect on safety of school trips to Europe

Band+members+pose+for+a+group+picture+while+on+a+trip+around+cities+in+Italy+during+spring+break.
Band members pose for a group picture while on a trip around cities in Italy during spring break.

Band members pose for a group picture while on a trip around cities in Italy during spring break.

Randy Sundell

Randy Sundell

Band members pose for a group picture while on a trip around cities in Italy during spring break.

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Traveling to a different country always seems like a grand opportunity and a goal on most people’s bucket lists. Recently, however, devastating terrorist attacks have taken place in Europe. News of these events might turn people away from visiting Europe, but some teachers and students at Vernon Hills High School remain unfazed.

Mr. Clifford, who is planning a Social Studies trip to major historical sites in London and Paris,  brought up the point that the news coverage is part of the reason why people think that Europe is turning into a dangerous place.

“Right now, as far as going to travel abroad, you’re more likely to die of an intestinal bug than you are of a terrorist attack,” Mr. Clifford said. “We don’t really follow the news in major European cities until something like this happens. We have limited exposure, and that limited exposure becomes that there was an attack in Western Europe.”

Travis Pak (11), who is going on the Orchestra trip to Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, mentioned that the danger of a terrorist attack came up while he was deciding on whether or not to attend the trip.

“The issue of terrorist attacks did come up frequently in my family when I was deciding whether or not I wanted to go, but ultimately, I decided that I wanted to have some awesome experiences in Europe with my friends over break rather than stay home doing nothing,” Pak said.

Mr. Sundell, who hosted a trip to Italy last spring break for band students, said that tour companies handle the safety issues so that there is less to worry about.

“They do a good job of making sure you are not in the middle of [any danger], because that doesn’t look good [for their business],” Mr. Sundell said.

Mr. Clifford agreed, and added that they combat any issues that are prevalent in Europe to prevent that to happening to any students on the trip.

“One of the things that happens a lot in Europe is pick-pocketing, and that happens most on public travel. Tour companies usually arrange private transportation, and they are staffed,” Mr. Clifford said.

Spanish teachers were planning a trip to Zamora, Spain, but it got canceled because not enough students signed up. Even though Barcelona, which has had several terrorist attacks, is across the country, the fear in a possible terrorist attack still loomed.

“I remember when Mrs. Acosta and I first heard about one of the attacks in Barcelona in early September. We were nervous about how parents and students might react to that and how it would impact our trip,” Mrs. Raciak added.

“I think that the number one challenge was the homestay [aspect]. Maybe the students’ parents weren’t comfortable with them being in the home of a Spanish family, somebody that they haven’t met,” Mrs. Raciak said.

Even though Zamora is on the opposite end of Spain from Barcelona, the attacks in Barcelona still might have had an impact on the decision students made about whether or not to sign up for this trip.

Students shouldn’t let recent news affect their choice to take a trip. Europe is far safer than recent news might make it seem. Mr. Clifford added an important statistic.

“Even after the recent attacks, the most updated statistics say that going to the UK, you have a one in a million chance of being in a terrorist attack; [in addition, if you are] going to France, you have about a one in five million chance,” Mr. Clifford said.

The social studies trip being planned by Mr. Clifford and the Orchestra trip are only two of multiple upcoming trips to Europe that are being planned by different departments.

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The student newspaper of Vernon Hills High School
Safe Travels: Teachers and students reflect on safety of school trips to Europe