Study Abroad office reacts to Belgium attacks


Jennifer Gruber, coordinator of the Chico State Study Abroad & International Exchange, hopes that recent attacks in Brussels don’t deter students from studying abroad. Photo courtesy of Ad Meskens.

The world is in mourning after the two horrific bombings in Brussels that, according to a recent New York Times article, killed approximately 30 people and left more than 230 wounded. The world looks different with the threat of violence looming unpredictably over daily life.

“Our thoughts are with our friends and colleagues in Belgium and throughout Europe. It is truly heartbreaking to hear of such senseless acts of violence,” said Jennifer Gruber, coordinator of the Chico State Study Abroad & International Exchange program.

For Chico State students, travel and studying abroad may seem too risky. Gruber hopes students, faculty and staff don’t allow these concerns to prevent them from studying or teaching abroad.

“It is our hope that incidents such as this will not deter students or staff from fulfilling international academic goals and traveling abroad, as we have full faith in the international offices and program staff who take excellent care in guiding and supporting our students while they study abroad,” she said. “International exchange and cultural competency is needed now more than ever, and fear of the unknown is not a valid reason for halting personal and academic pursuits.”

Last year, Nohemi Gonzalez, a 23-year-old senior from Long Beach State, was killed in the Paris attacks that left 129 others dead, as reported in USA Today.

Gruber explained that there were no Chico State students studying abroad in Belgium, and that most study abroad students have been accounted for and were not near the attacks.

None of the students currently studying abroad have expressed an interest in coming home early, and Gruber expressed confidence in the continued strength and safety procedures of the program, while regretting that some students might be dissuaded from participating.

“I don’t believe that study abroad programming will be affected dramatically by such incidents, though there may be a few students who will be deterred from studying abroad as a result, which is a shame,” she said.

Eric Couderc McGuire can be reached at [email protected] or @ericcoudercmcg on Twitter.