A Message from Anne and Charles Schewe:
In 1996, our daughter Sara viewed study abroad as an important part of her university experience. Tragedy struck and she was killed as a passenger on a bus in India 1996 and if we had known then what we know now about road travel in India, we may have been able to help her. We are providing this information to help students, parents and other family members, college and university faculty and staff, and others to be safe when traveling and studying abroad, to honor our daughter, Sara’s wish to help others and learn about the world outside the U.S.
Since 1996, there have been a number of advances in the materials and information available from the U.S. government, colleges, universities and study abroad programs, other organizations, as well as support available through insurance and emergency assistance providers. There have also been domestic and international meetings and workshops supporting improved health and safety policies and procedures to support U.S. college and university students.
We have collaborated with some of these organizations to develop the video “Know Before You Go”, and to put together the information you will find on our website. The following information and links are intended to help inform you, as students, parents, and friends who may go abroad or support others who do, that knowing more about good study abroad program practices and health and safety challenges in countries around the world can help students have a healthy and safe time abroad.
Foreign travel and study abroad remains an invaluable learning experience, broadening a student’s world view and enhancing the college experience. While there have been advancements in the field since this incident to ensure student safety, precautions must still be taken, students and families need to research about benefits and risks associated with a particular location and/or program, and understand that the quality of support does vary from institution to institution and from program to program.
Safety Guidelines & Resources
Remember: Three Rules that Could SAVE YOUR LIFE
- BUCKLE UP! – INSIST upon seat belts in any moving vehicle.
- AVOID TRAVELING AT NIGHT. – Forgo traveling at night if possible, especially in developing countries.
- BE EMPOWERED TO SPEAK OUT. “SLOW DOWN,” “STOP,” “LET ME OUT” – are three of the most powerful phrases a traveler can learn.
The following links provide you with resources and information to help students study abroad with health and safety in mind:
- Reasons to Be Involved and Informed
- Evaluating Study Abroad Programs for Health and Safety Good Practices
- Pre-Departure Planning
- Personal Safety Awareness
- Transportation Issues
- Preparing for Worst Case Scenarios
- Additional Resources to Support Health and Safety Planning
- Experiences of Sara’s Wish Scholarship Awardees
Lack of highway safety standards make Indian roads an international hazard.
Seasoned travelers try to avoid bus travel in India, where 75,000 road accidents take place every year. To drive in India, says Lonely Planet Online, you need “nerves of steel and excellent karma.” Indian drivers are known as “fearless and innovative,” according to one Atlantic Monthly travel writer, and as a result, Americans abroad often choose to travel by train. The subcontinent is crisscrossed with railroads laid down by British colonists, which adhere to a much greater standard of international travel safety than the highways. After Sara’s death, we learned of other Semester at Sea participants who were shocked by the number of crash sites they passed on Indian roads.