KeynectUp co-hosts session at the NAFSA Region XI Conference with partners On Call International, InsureMyTrip, and Regis College
Did you attend the NAFSA Region XI Conference in Portland? The KeynectUp team had the honor of co-hosting in a panel session at NAFSA region XI with our partners at On Call International, InsureMyTrip, and Regis College. The topic of the panel was “How to Align Technology and Risk Management to Optimize Study Abroad Safety and Duty of Care.” To those who joined us for the panel: thank you! Here’s a recap of some key takeaways:
Ensure your students are empowered with the resources and information they may need during an emergency.
Increase students’ exposure and accessibility to your emergency resources. Students cannot act on what they do not know or have not practiced. One of the best practices we discuss with schools is running “Table Top drills” or simulate different scenarios they may run into. These drills get students in the frame of mind of who to call or what the response would be to an incident they face abroad. For example, how many times do we review with students how to dial an international number before they leave?
Make sure you have a plan for effectively identifying and locating students during a crisis.
When it comes to a crisis, the two biggest questions are, “where are my people?” and, “what is going on?” It’s important to utilize an international communication tool that you trust and to test it with your students before they depart for their study abroad term. Take into consideration whether your students would prefer utilizing a tool that tracks them 24/7, or if they’d rather utilize a “lighter” tracking tool; for example, one that tracks them only when necessary. Understanding where your people are in relation to an incident is crucial when determining what should the response be, such as sheltering in place or evacuating.
Have a plan for assuaging parents’ fears about their children’s safety during study abroad.
In states where available, Cancel For Any Reason and Interruption For Any Reason are great benefits that allow a participant to cancel if there is an event that makes them or their parents nervous about traveling to city or region. Cancel For Any Reason is a great way to help assuage parent or participant fears before departure, and Interruption For Any Reason is there if they are already on their trip. Should a crisis occur during a trip, it is really important to have plans in place for external communication, as well as handing and influx of concerns from parents. If you a large scale event where you have around 100+ travelers at risk, you have to be prepared to appropriately handle a rush of parents and loved ones seeking information via phone or social media.
Create rules for what technology students need while traveling overseas.
Depending on cafe wifi for communication is not a reliable risk management strategy. By requiring students to purchase an overseas phone plan, you can streamline the communication process by ensuring students are easily reachable in the event of an emergency. Sourcing destination-appropriate phone plans should be part of a proactive risk-management approach. For example, some collegiate campuses have implemented policies requiring their travelers to have an international plan—this may sound basic, but this is something first-time travelers often neglect to do.
Plan for the worst; have a back-up plan should technology and communication fail during a crisis.
Make sure your emergency back-up plan is well communicated with students and both home and abroad schools. Designate a rally point that students should meet at should they get lost or if an emergency were to occur. Educate students on how to utilize the local emergency resources, such as the local police or embassy. Having secondary communication options in place is recommended. Depending on location, it is advised to have WhatsApp groups for the individual traveler groups as a backup option to quickly facilitate communication. If the location of the travel is more remote and lacks modern infrastructure, it may be appropriate to have a satellite phone for the trip leader to carry.