In the wake of the November 13th Paris attacks, three Bates students studying abroad in the city were quickly accounted for—all three will finish their semester overseas.
Bates responded promptly following the attacks, verifying the well-being of Emilia Calderon ’17, Mallory Turner ’17 and Lillie Shulman ’17 late in the evening of the 13th, Eastern Standard Time. Two students studying elsewhere in France, Jules-Phillipe Ball ’17 and Grace Clunie ’17, were also accounted for. Calderon was at the Stade de France at the France v. Germany soccer game where terrorists detonated three bombs outside of the stadium.
Associate Dean of Students and Director of Off-Campus Study Stephen Sawyer walked The Student through the subsequent communication and recommendations from the Off-Campus Study Office in following days. After confirming their status and letting them know that fellow Bates students in France were safe, the Bates community was then informed of their classmates’ well-being.
Marcus Bruce, a Religious Studies professor at Bates, currently in Paris, was contacted by Dean Sawyer and asked to reach out to the students in Paris. As Dean Sawyer said in an email with Professor Bruce, “Their programs are stepping forward with reassurance and assistance, but I assume they would welcome an email outreach from a Bates voice in Paris…”
Shulman, who plans to spend the year in Paris, said in email correspondence with The Student that she was “contacted by a Bates professor [Bruce] on sabbatical in Paris who warmly received me over coffee.” In addition to the communication with the Off-Campus Study Office, Shulman is grateful for the support of Bates alumnae currently residing in Paris.
As the fall semester concludes, more Bates students prepare to depart for a semester in France. Dean Sawyer and the Off-Campus Study Office contacted the students planning to study in France in the winter—six students total, five headed to Paris.
As Dean Sawyer explained in an email to the six students, Bates will support them in any decision, helping them register for winter courses if they choose to stay or perhaps look into studying abroad in the fall.
“Unfortunately, the incidents of last Friday might be repeated in France or elsewhere in Europe in the months ahead,” Dean Sawyer said in the November 17th email. He suggested students discuss their plans with their parents and reminded them that both he and Assistant Director of Off-Campus Study David Das were available to them for guidance.
Along with Tom Carey, the Bates Director of Security and Campus Safety, Dean Sawyer contacted all students abroad last week to remind them of the safety advice provided in the study abroad handbook. Tips include observing local customs and laws, speaking the local language if possible and avoiding spots where Americans typically congregate.
When asked about the support available to Bates students in Paris, Dean Sawyer cited “the calming influence of the host families” and the accommodations of the abroad programs, who offered counseling and security updates.
“We had a strong support system that helped us through the immediate shock and the aftereffects,” Shulman said. “There remains a lingering sentiment of anxiety, but we’re making sure to enjoy Paris and our time abroad.”
“I think the resumption of university classes the following week, getting into the routine, helped students work through this,” Dean Sawyer added.
No Bates student has come home early in light of the attacks, though approval of course credit would be uncertain, contingent upon the abroad program’s stipulations.
When asked if students would be discouraged from traveling abroad in the future if the situation continues to escalate, Dean Sawyer pointed out the “selective judgment” of the Off-Campus Study Office.
“I think we already are selective in where we choose to send students,” Dean Sawyer said. “There are parts of the world where we don’t have programs available. We also consider a program’s concern for safety and emergency response abilities when we evaluate them.”
“I’ve been really proud of how the Bates students who are abroad, especially those in Paris, who have worked through these situations,” Dean Sawyer said. “This was very close to home for many of them and I’m just proud of how they both initially reacted very maturely and then have worked through it.”
Shulman offered a bit of advice to those planning to study in Europe, specifically France: “Most importantly, trust your instincts. Everyone’s abroad experience is tailored to his or her own personality, and should feel comfortable in any situation he or she is in. Have an open mind and be willing to embrace cultural differences and possible change.”
As the situation continues to unfold, Bates and the Off-Campus Study Office remain attentive and available to those abroad and planning to depart in the coming months.