Santa Clara University

casa-turismo

Safety and Security

 

Official SCU Response to the Travel Warning

On August 9, 2013 the US Department of State (DOS) issued a revised Travel Warning for the country of El Salvador. Santa Clara University has again reviewed this Travel Warning and will continue to proceed with the Casa study abroad program. Of course, should the in-country situation change, the University will not hesitate to act swiftly to insure the continued safety of students.

Casa has long implemented significant safety measures for El Salvador and these will not change in light of the Travel Warning. Santa Clara University follows the best practices related to health and safety in keeping with The Forum on Education Abroad’s Standards of Good Practice and the Association of International Educators (NAFSA). We continue to maintain a strong network of in-country contacts including the US Embassy and Peace Corps, as well as other community and governmental leaders and monitor safety announcements related to El Salvador through Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). We also maintain a strong network of local community partners in the neighborhoods where students live and volunteer.

Trena and Kevin Yonkers-Talz’ Personal Reflection

yonkers-talz-famWe co-founded Casa in 1999 and have been co-directing it ever since. We take the safety and security of our students very seriously. As parents (we have 4 daughters - ages 13, 11, 8 and 4) we can identify with concerned parents. While no study abroad program can guarantee safety, we are confident that our policies and procedures, which have kept our students safe for the last 14 years, continue to do so today. Here are some examples as to how we approach the safety and security issues:

  1. We have excellent sources of information regarding national security issues. We have strong relationships with the following institutions: Jesuits at UCA, U.S. Embassy and Peace Corps, Salvadoran Government, Non-Government groups such as Catholic Relief Services and the in-country reporter for the New York Times.
  2. We have strong relationships with our praxis partners in the local communities. One of Trena’s main responsibilities is maintaining solid relationships with our praxis site partners. The praxis site supervisors are trusted leaders in each of the praxis site communities who share in the responsibility of ensuring the students’ wellbeing and overall safety. The supervisors are individuals who know their communities extremely well and agree to inform us immediately if they ever feel an increased risk to our students. Trena visits the communities at least 5 times each semester and conducted two evaluations per semester. One aspect of that evaluation is safety.
  3. Students take private transportation to all Casa related activities including to praxis sites.
  4. Each student is provided with a cell phone so they can contact program directors at any time.
  5. Student live in Antiguo Cuscatlan, one of the safest neighborhoods in el Salvador. There are no gangs in Antiguo Cuscatlan. The police station is right next door to Casa Romero, one of the student houses. In addition, we have 2 security guards who watch the houses at night.
  6. We also have extensive policies set up to ensure students’ safety. For example, students are not allowed to walk in the neighborhood alone after dark, students are not allowed to travel outside of the neighborhood alone, students cannot take public transportation at night, etc.
If you have any further questions or if you would like to talk to us directly about the situation in the country, please feel free to email Trena at tyonkerstalz@scu.edu .