Study Abroad in Bali May Be in Jeopardy

Michael J. Arvizu
El Vaquero Staff Writer

A terrorist explosion on the Indonesian island of Bali on Oct. 12 has placed in jeopardy the Glendale Community College study abroad trip to the island in the summer of 2003.

The explosions that killed at least 187 people – including three Americans, one a man from Southern California – destroyed two nightclubs in the Kuta Beach tourist area of the island.

According to geography professor Darren Leaver, who is scheduled to teach international field studies and cultural geography during the trip, the island had been considered immune to conflicts found elsewhere in Indonesia.

However, due to the increased risk of terrorism on the island as a result of the Oct. 12 explosion, the study abroad program has chosen to wait at least 30 to 60 days to determine what the Indonesian government will do to guarantee the safety of its tourists.

“We don’t want to have a knee-jerk reaction to what has happened,” said Leaver. “We want to take a balanced approach to our next step.

“I’ve been to Bali nine times; it’s my most favorite place in the world,” said Leaver. “I’ve felt like it’s one of the safest places in the world. Would I feel that right now? Absolutely not.”

After the one to two month wait, the Bali trip will either go ahead as scheduled or will be cancelled, or an alternative destination may be chosen. Fiji is one of the alternatives under discussion.

Provided that the trip proceeds as scheduled, most of the places that will be visited by the study abroad group are considered low key.

There will be visits to Ubud, Lovina, Amed and Candidasa. However, a visit to Kuta, the site of the Oct. 12 explosion, might be switched to another location.

If the program is canceled, students (so far, three have applied) will receive a full refund. Even though this option is unpopular with students,

Leaver points out three main things that have to be taken into consideration: safety, liability, and enjoyment.
“Those things have to be considered in that order,” said Leaver.

Though student enthusiasm for the Bali trip and other trips (GCC also offers trips to Thailand, Paris, England, Ireland and Austria next year) has not diminished to a point where future study abroad trips will be canceled, Leaver points out that the administration’s policy is to provide the safest environment for any student traveling overseas.

Instructors also want to provide an environment in which travelers are not worried about terror attacks before or during the trip.

“We’ve had a war on terrorism since this occurred,” said Leaver. “What are they [Indonesian government] going to do to combat terrorism in their country and keep it away from Bali?” This is the question that will have to be answered to the college’s satisfaction.

Leaver pointed out that the level of student interest in studying abroad has increased, even after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The conesnsus after the attacks was that the number of students enrolling in the college’s study abroad program would decrease to the point where it would put the program in jeopardy, Leaver said. However, in January, student enrollment in the trip to Australia, New Zealand, and the Cook Islands trip filled up with 31 students.

“It would be fantastic if we could make this program go under the right conditions,” said Leaver. “But we want to bring back the same amount of students that we take. It would be a nightmare for an institution or an instructor to have anything happen to any of our people.