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risk 2024

Monitoring and Managing Risk in 2024: 
Our Approach in Educational Travel

In educational travel, the thrill of global exploration must be balanced by the tremendous risk management responsibility. University programs that offer students a taste of international immersion bear the weight of ensuring an enriching academic experience and a safe one.
The essence of safeguarding students amidst our world’s diverse landscapes and cultures grows more profoundly each year. In 2024, as we continue to expand our global reach, we naturally understand more risks.

We sit down with our Risk and Safety manager, Monica Villanueva, to reflect upon the lessons learned in the past as we tackle the present and prepare for the future.

Risk and Safety Manager

Monica Villanueva

Risk and Safety Manager

“In this article, we want to share with our university partners how we equip ourselves not only with a list of risks but also with the antivirus, the protocol, and the firewall to ensure the safety of your academic travel experiences.”

Reflecting on
Risks Past

A glance in the rearview mirror offers more than reflection; it provides foresight. Risk is a dynamic entity influenced by both time and circumstance. Understanding historical threats equips us with the knowledge to address them when they resurface and offers a blueprint for approaching new ones. 

By continuously reflecting on past experiences, we equip our team with valuable knowledge to navigate challenges effectively. Sharing these insights internally and training new employees ensures everyone, whether seasoned or new, is prepared to handle unexpected events and learn from past situations we’ve faced.

Risk Management: A Tale of Preparedness

We recall the times when political unrest impacted our programs. How did we respond? What systems did we put in place for swift resolutions? Those experiences, filled with calculated decisions and well-oiled responses, are the threads needed to sew together a robust management plan for incidents that arise in the future.

Navigating the Pandemic

While COVID-19 is no longer a significant thread, the pandemic represented an unprecedented global challenge, forcing immediate, large-scale response measures. The lessons we learned, from rapid re-evaluation of itineraries to implementing rigorous health and safety protocols when we resumed travel, transformed how we approach risk. These internal pandemic playbooks are our baseline for all risk scenarios—an adaptable blueprint for swift, data-driven, and people-first responses.

Our university partnerships lead to a busy season during spring break, when many programs schedule electives. This brings increased risk monitoring and incident management in a short period. We look back at the challenges of our past 2023 season to prepare, knowing that 2024 will also have its own set of unexpected situations and unique obstacles to solve.

Environmental Hazards: Nature’s Call to Awareness

Incorporating an organic understanding of the planet’s natural threats, our risk management has evolved to consider and respect the environments we visit while we incorporate our global warming awareness into the design of our programs to lower the impact of extreme weather to our academic trips.

Societal and Cultural Hazards: The Human Factor

The human element is as unpredictable as it is essential. Our teams continuously remain attuned to the cultural landscape of our destinations, monitoring socio-political undercurrents to ensure we are familiar with the climate of opinion and action. These relationships, built on respect, open dialogue, and exchanging ideas, form a cultural risk-preparedness network.

Present-Day
Vigilance

Monitoring active risks in 2024 is akin to a diagnosis process, where every clue—from the changing weather patterns to political tides—may influence the safety and success of our programs on the ground. This year brings a constellation of considerations that highlight the multi-faceted nature of risk.

Armoring for
the Future

What hides beyond the horizon line is a blend of known unknowns. Our task is to remain agile and vigilant, with our fingers on the pulse of global events, our eyes on the predictive models, and our readiness unwavering.

Education as a Shield

Empowering students with practical knowledge and cultural understanding is an often overlooked yet invaluable aspect of risk management.
For students and educators alike, the imperative is clear—engage with the world, mindful of its dynamics. In this intricate dance between academic inquiry and global exploration, we find our purpose continually refined. We travel, and we learn.
We are not just travel partners but protectors, innovators, and diplomats of the risk-management realm. In 2024, may our travels be filled with eye-opening conversations and, above all, a remarkable dedication to the safety of the global classroom.

Emergency Procedures and Protocols: 

A Fine-Tuned System of Support

Even the most arduously planned trips can encounter unforeseen emergencies. Our team’s agility is our greatest asset. We’ve honed our emergency response protocols through scenario-based training and simulations, preparing for every eventuality without instilling fear.

ENVIRONMENTAL & Societal risks SO FAR IN 2024

Environmental

The earthquake that hit Japan on Jan 1st generated a Tsunami alert in South Korea. We had to monitor this as a program would arrive in South Korea a few days later. Thankfully, this did not affect our program, which ran as planned starting January 4th.

In September 2023, the earthquake in Casablanca, Morroco, led us to evaluate the possibility of operating in January with a program we had scheduled. Gladly, we were able to pivot and run a great program in Madrid and Casablanca with one-day trips in Toledo and Rabat. (Jan 2024)

El Niño (ENSO) and the heat waves affecting LATAM countries during the first quarter is something that we’re closely monitoring and ensuring we provide sufficient water and alert students to stay hydrated. This has made the most impact, particularly to our programs in Brazil, but all the region has been affected.

Societal

There was a protest in Machu Picchu, and the train service was canceled. We had a program on the ground in Machu Picchu, but thanks to our longstanding local relationships and swift action, we evacuated the group back to Cusco city and avoided having them stuck in Machu Picchu town.

As a consequence of high temperatures, in late February, there was a Level 1 Travel Health Notice about dengue in the Americas affecting several countries in our travel portfolio, particularly Brazil. We released a statement to the Universities talking about Dengue and how to prevent it 

The airport workers’ strike on Feb 23rd in Buenos Aires affected the flight of one of our programs traveling to Santiago. We could have advised the University to move the flight for the following day preemptively, and we arranged the agenda accordingly. They wrote this article about their experience, including the flight cancellation.

On Feb 5th, wildfires were affecting the Valparaiso region in Chile. It did not affect any of our programs, but we did the correspondent assessments to ensure this would not affect upcoming programs in March. This is a great example of how we had to monitor immediate risk but also keep an eye on potential risks for future programs to be able to preempt them.

Navigating Uncharted 
Realities: The Constants
in an Ever-Changing
Global Arena

We have recalibrated our initiatives to promote cultural adaptability and sensitivity in response to the latest global developments. Our emphasis on pre-departure orientation, including virtual language courses and cross-cultural awareness workshops, ensures students arrive well-prepared to engage with diverse communities.

For example, our program in Southeast Asia has integrated seminars on traditional etiquette with modern virtual interactions. These sessions debunk common misconceptions and pave the way for genuine connection. By continually adapting our approach, we strive to make cultural immersion a rewarding and respectful experience for our students and the local populations.

Our commitment and passion for international education to create global citizens is what motivates us. By weaving safety and sustainability into the fabric of our global initiatives, we ensure that every trip is a profound learning experience—an odyssey of growth and connection. Our dedication to cultural sensitivity, medical preparedness, emergency support, and sustainable transportation underscores our integrity and trustworthiness. As we chart courses to unknown shores, we invite you to partake in the promise of discovery, securely anchored by our shared principles and expertise.