Baylor prepares students for study abroad programs, mission trips

The Basilica of Esztergom in Hungary overlooks the city, and can be seen by students that take part in the Baylor in Budapest summer program. Photo credit: Gavin Pugh

By Kalyn Story | Staff Writer

Almost 200 Baylor students and staff will be participating in Baylor missions trips over spring break, as part of 11 teams serving six different countries. Baylor has been preparing for months to make sure these trips go smoothly and safely.

Baylor’s Global Preparedness Group meets every Friday morning to look at current and future trips Baylor students may be taking, whether that be missions trips or study abroad or exchange programs.

Holly Tate, assistant director for missions, trains students and staff on how to interact safely in the countries they are traveling to.

“For a spring break trip, we start planning over a year in advance,” Tate said. “We go through a risk management process, and instead of just informing people what the issues are in the countries they are visiting, we are thoughtful and think through potential situations.”

“We pick locations based on risk assessments, and we are not going to let anyone go anywhere that Baylor does not think the risks are things we can mitigate. We are very picky about the places we let students go.”

Jared Bickenbach, assistant director of emergency management and global preparedness, looks at trip proposals, researches potential risks of each location and presents them to the international travel committee, where they decide if a trip is viable or not. With some new trips, Bickenbach travels to the sites before any students do to check all the facilities and make sure all the areas students will be spending time are safe.

Bickenbach also provides a weekly situation report for all areas where Baylor currently has students or staff and monitors those areas daily.

Baylor also provides students with location-specific recommendations and will help them get any vaccines or special prescriptions sent to the Baylor health clinic.

Bo White, director of study abroad, encourages all students to go abroad while at Baylor through mission trips, study abroad programs or both.

The study abroad office hosts Information sessions every Monday and Tuesday at 4 p.m. where students can look at all of the programs Baylor offers. Baylor Missions recruits in the fall semesters, and information about mission trips can be found at the Bobo Spiritual Life Center.

“Most students will forget what classes they took freshman year, but they will remember every class they took abroad. They may be a little fuzzy on what club they participated in in college, but they will remember the entire week of their mission trip,” White said. “We believe this not only shakes them out of their comfort zone but gives them a new lense in which to see the world.”