Safety abroad comes first at Waterloo International

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

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Every year, thousands of University of Waterloo students, faculty and staff, leave Canada for study abroad, field and research trips, and other travel. In recent months, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended these types of international activities.

With the Government of Canada advising against all non-essential travel outside of Canada, as well as the cancellation of in-person classes at universities around the world, border closures and travel restrictions, the University of Waterloo urged travelers to return to Canada or their home countries, in the case of non-Canadian citizens, cutting short many student mobility programs. Many experienced challenges returning home, some even found themselves stranded.

Fortunately, Waterloo International’s Safety Abroad team was able to assist over 1,400 students, faculty and staff on exchange and other university-related business to return home, get to safe destinations or to take appropriate precautions to remain where they are until the situation improves.

Safety Abroad works collaboratively with units across campus to offer resources to support international travel and enhance the safety and security of University travelers

“The Safety Abroad team was able to offer resources and support to travellers to help them navigate their way home during this fast-moving and complex situation by communicating updates regularly regarding the University’s responses and actions related to the coronavirus,” says Elissa Cressman, Safety Abroad Manager. 

In addition to many tools and resources to help ensure your safety and security while on international travel, the University of Waterloo also subscribes to a third-party provider, Anvil Group (Anvil), to quickly and efficiently provide travellers with emergency assistance in the event of an incident or crisis abroad.

Though we don’t know when international travel will resume, now is the time to think about how you can ensure your own safety while on University business abroad, be it an exchange term, a field trip, a visiting professorship, or research. Waterloo International strongly encourages all University travelers to register their travel with Safety Abroad to receive information on a variety of risk mitigation resources and travel support. The process is easy and can go a long way in keeping you informed and safe while abroad.

“Safety Abroad is committed to helping you prepare for your trip before you go, while you are away, and after you return. Whenever University-related travel resumes, our resources and support will be available to you,” says Cressman.