Our Summit Global Education (Summit) programs are designed first and foremost with safety in mind. Student safety is our highest priority, and drives our program-design decisions.
We travel with our students, and so decisions about student safety are also decisions about our safety (our professors, our team, our staff). We treat Summit like family and so we make decisions about health and safety issues knowing full well that our decisions are ones that we would take with our own family.
As a part of this preparation, Summit takes caution to verify that all housing, transportation, medical facilities, communications and emergency procedures are in place to reduce the risk of our students while abroad. While neither Summit nor our host institutions can guarantee the safety of our participants, we have taken great efforts to provide ample safety training and cultural preparation for our students.
Orientation programs begin with online training before the student goes abroad, and they continue throughout the program with our unique daily debrief sessions with the students during our "Introduction to Europe" discussions.
When planning our upcoming Summit programs, we consult regularly with the US State Department and review their global travel warnings, staying closely on top of any international developments that might affect our students. Should the need arise, we will adjust our travel itinerary to avoid any known problem areas.
Within each city we visit, all student accommodations will be located in safe neighborhoods. While traveling, students normally stay in the same hotels as professors. While at our Summit cities, accommodations are typically in apartments or hotels, and will be in close proximity to points of interest and walking distance to public transportation.
In light of the attacks in Paris, lots of parents want to know if Europe will be a safe destination to study abroad next summer?
The answer = Yes, and no.
Europe as an entire continent will definitely be safe on average, but what about any particular city? Couldn't something happen again in Paris? Or, how about London? Or Berlin, or Barcelona? In terms of terrorism, are any of these cities riskier than New York City? Or San Francisco or Miami? By the very nature of international terrorism, it is very difficult to predict, especially a 6-months or a year ahead of time; the amount of time students normally plan a study abroad destination.
This is why we designed our Summit programs with flexibility, so we can make changes as the need arises -- maximizing student safety
Summit staff and professors will have cell phones that can be reached during the program abroad. A list of contact phone numbers will be made available to students and their parents. Our phone number +1-305-600-4337 is set up to forward to the director of Summit Global Education during the program itself. Our toll-free number is also available for students or parents to call 24/7: +1 (855) 781-8828
In addition, most students either setup an international data and voice plan prior to going abroad (so they can text and call home anytime), or our staff will assist them in procuring a local cell phone chip which can be inserted into their unlocked cell phones. Between Skype, Whatsapp, text messaging, Facebook, Viber, and more... the students are always just a call (or text) away.
In the event of an emergency, or if a student just needs to go to a doctor, Summit staff and professors are available. Our Summit staff and professors will assist in scheduling the appointment, accompanying the student on the visit, and aid the student in any other way necessary. Additionally, they will ensure that the student is aware of all procedures required to file a claim for reimbursement for medical services.
Travel Medical insurance.
All participants coming from abroad will be provided with travel medical insurance from FrontierMEDEX (option:TravMed Choice, $250,000 medical coverage, additional Sports Coverage, with $250 deductible).
Upon arriving in Brazil or Europe, students will be given their health insurance cards with full instructions about health and safety procedures.
Health & Safety procedures:
All students will be given extensive health and safety instructions during the orientation session and at each city
A medical information form will be completed by each student and maintained by the Summit staff
Detailed emergency response procedures will be outlined by Summit staff and professors
Students will have an extensive safety orientation session on the first day during the opening ceremony, which will be followed up by regular daily meetings to discuss safety and health issues.
On the start date of the program, students can request to be greeted at the airport by a friendly Summit representative who will offer a brief orientation, and help arrange transport to accommodations.
During our Brazilian program, we will invite local Brazilian students from our host university to participate in the Summit program, offering our international students the chance to gain local perspectives and safety tips throughout the program.
All Summit programs include a full itinerary of professional and cultural visits for students that are overseen by staff and professors
All Summit programs have plans for evacuating students to safety during emergencies.
Summit Global Education staff and professors discuss our extensive and thorough student safety guidelines with students during their arrival orientation, and throughout the program during our daily debrief sessions held during our unique "Introduction to Europe" sessions.
Summit staff closely monitor U.S. State Department Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information.
If the U.S. State Department issues an official Travel Warning for a Summit location, and the warning includes an official State Department recommendation that all U.S. citizens evacuate the country, Summit's default action will be to cancel the program and proceed with evacuation procedures. If the program has not yet started, Summit's default course of action will be to suspend the program. Exceptions can be made if the language in the Travel Warning gives Summit management clear reason to believe that the warning is the result of dangers that exist in areas well outside of the city/cities where our program is operating. If we do suspend the program, we will work with students to transfer them to another Summit program. During this process, we will ask students to obtain written approval from their home institution. The Evacuation Procedure is outlined below.
Change of Itinerary Procedure:
In the event of an emergency in one of our "itinerary cities", the procedure may be slightly different that the "cancellation" procedure:
Due to the traveling nature of our Summit programs, we can often take minor itinerary changes to avoid potential trouble spots, without needing to fully cancel the Summit program. For example, on our upcoming Global Summit Barcelona program (with extended travel to Paris, London, Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest), if an emergency were to occur which might prevent us from traveling to Berlin, we could rearrange the Summit program to skip that stop in our itinerary.
Any decision to change the traveling itinerary for participants from a Summit program will be based largely on the advisories and warnings of the U.S. State Department, but also on information gathered from OSAC, news media, local government, law enforcement agencies, and trusted friends/colleagues residing at the affected site. In the event the U.S. State Department issues a Travel Warning for a Summit location after the program has started, and if the warning also includes an official State Department recommendation that all U.S. citizens evacuate the country, Summit's default action will be to change the itinerary for students, which might include the following:
Summit staff at the affected Summit program will work with our logistics carriers to try and re-route the itinerary to an alternate site. As in the example above, if we needed to skip Berlin from our traveling itinerary and go straight to Prague, Summit would work with our bus/train company partner to arrange for alternate transportation past the city with the U.S. State Department warning. Students who have completed their core academic materials will be given the option to exit the program. Students wishing to continue with the traveling itinerary part of the program will be asked to pay for the additional accommodation costs which might arise from additional nights stay in our new itinerary. They may also be asked to pay any additional transportation costs which might arise from the itinerary change. Summit Global Education will do our best to keep these costs to a minimum, and will share these estimated costs with students before changing the itinerary (to give them the option of continuing or exiting the program).
Any decision to evacuate participants from a Summit program site will be based largely on the advisories and warnings of the U.S. State Department, but also on information gathered from OSAC, news media, local government, law enforcement agencies, and trusted friends/colleagues residing at the affected site. In the event the U.S. State Department issues a Travel Warning for a Summit location after the program has started, and if the warning also includes an official State Department recommendation that all U.S. citizens evacuate the country, Summit's default action will be to evacuate students. Evacuation efforts will include the following:
Summit staff at affected Summit program location will work to help students make necessary changes to their return flights back to the United States or their home country. Students will be responsible for any fees charged by airline to change flights. Summit is prepared to temporarily cover these fees for participants who cannot pay. A detailed accounting of the expenses incurred by Summit on behalf of students will be maintained, and participants will be invoiced for the costs accordingly.
Another key resource is Frontier Medex, Summit's insurance provider. Medex can provide information and coordination of various resources as necessary in the event an emergency evacuation is deemed necessary by Summit Management.
Summit's host university(s) will be ready to offer assistance. All of our host universities are prepared to provide various resources in the event of a political unrest, and these resources would include meeting spaces, communications infrastructure, and temporary safe havens, should the entire Summit group need to remain in one place at one time to coordinate the evacuation response.
Per the U.S. State Department web page on section regarding evacuation (www.state.gov): "Sometimes commercial transportation entering and leaving a country is disrupted during a political upheaval or natural disaster. If this happens, and if it appears unsafe for Americans to remain, the embassy and consulates will work with the task force in Washington to charter special airflights and ground transportation to help Americans to depart. The U.S. Government cannot order Americans to leave a foreign country. It can only advise and try to assist those who wish to leave. By law, an American receiving evacuation assistance is required to sign a promissory note, Emergency Loan Application and Evacuation Document agreeing to reimburse the government for some of the evacuation costs." Summit will help students with the arrangements to utilize this assistance.
Summit will arrange for Summit participants' ground transportation to airport(s). Evacuation by ground transport to neighboring cities or countries may also be necessary due to airport closures, overbooking of flights, or loss of access to nearby airports. Summit will arrange and cover the expenses for this transportation. Summit's agreements with providers of ground transportation will facilitate these efforts.
If evacuation is delayed due to circumstances beyond the students' control, Summit will arrange for students' extended housing in the host country. Students will be responsible for covering the costs of the extended housing and related incidental expenses. For students who are temporarily unable to pay, Summit is prepared to offer temporary financial assistance. Detailed accounting of the expenses incurred by Summit will be maintained and the participants will be invoiced for the costs.
Summit will use its resources and communications network to try to keep interested parties (e.g. home institution, parents, embassy etc.) informed, as necessary and appropriate, of the students' whereabouts, status, and wellbeing.
Summit will work with students' host institution(s) to salvage the work they've completed during their time in the host country. Summit cannot guarantee that these efforts will be successful. Summit will explore various possibilities, including the completion of coursework at remote locations. The possibility of completing the cancelled program at an alternative Summit program location will also be explored.
If Summit cannot provide students with a reasonable means of completing the academic coursework for the affected program, Summit will make attempts to recover and refund tuition plus any other recoverable program costs.