Summer abroad programs impacted by Ukraine-Russia conflict

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has left many study abroad programs affected or canceled. GIF by Brittany Tankersley

By Sophia Tejeda | Staff Writer

Due to the Ukraine-Russia conflict, several study abroad programs have been forced to either cancel or change locations.

Baylor in Budapest planned to host a seven-credit journalism program during the first summer session. The Global Engagement Office intends to move the program to a home base in downtown Dublin. The refurbished plans include excursions throughout Ireland and possible trips to Belfast and London.

Matthew Brammer, the lead faculty member for Baylor in Budapest, said the change in location was done with the intention of preserving Baylor students’ safety and cultural sensitivity.

“Our students’ safety is [the] No. 1 priority,” Brammer said. “We have to make the best decision we can with the information we have right now.”

Additionally, Brammer noted the struggles of the Ukrainian people in their position within a humanitarian crisis. He said tourism is not currently an appropriate response, even if it has the intention of education.

Regardless, shifting locations allows students an opportunity to highlight new aspects of British and European journalism in comparison to American journalism. The Global Engagement Office hopes to connect students with BBC and local papers.

The trip still implements exposure to a variety of cultures, foods, religions and geography, though differing from that students would be exposed to in Budapest.

Brammer said he remains excited to dive into “a totally different culture” than planned, noting the “cultural differences” and focusing on “the great, rich heritage of Ireland” rather than the “rich Eastern European history” of Budapest.

Brammer said he encourages students to apply if interested, as the application window has been extended. Deposits are due March 15, and costs are similar to those of the Budapest trip, varying slightly due to fees for housing and travel.

Additionally, Baylor’s mission trip to Romania with the Medical Service Organization (MSO) has been canceled due to safety concerns. Though originally moved from the northern border of Romania at Tulcea, flying in from Bucharest, and later moved to the southern border at Giurgiu, Baylor Missions has canceled the entire trip.

Conroe senior Andreea Loghin, who is originally from Romania, said she understands the change but remains disheartened.

Loghin served as team leader for the Romania mission, picking the team, acting as primary contact with Romanian mission group LIFE Romania and working 20 to 30 hours a week on planning the trip. The trip would consist of Baylor nursing and pre-health students, who would work with underprivileged areas in Romania by conducting health screens, checking blood pressure, sugar, vision or BMI. The group also planned to bring nurse practitioners to assist in diagnosing patients.

Loghin also planned the past two mission trips to Peru, which have been canceled due to COVID-19 and political tensions. In light of cancellations, MSO has created a virtual platform on which students can conduct scientific research that will be more accessible to underprivileged communities that struggle to find reliable information, especially with a language barrier. Baylor in Romania had planned to expand upon this research opportunity by gathering data on how their work over the past year impacted the communities.

Despite cancellations, Loghin said she hopes that Baylor Missions continues to work with LIFE Romania and that future Baylor students continue to push past the disappointments that come with cancellations due to uncertainty within the global forefront in order to continue to serve and learn.