The ties that bind Arcadia’s Global Safety Network.
by Arlene Snyder, Director of Health, Safety and Security
This Spring, several of our overseas staff members were brought to Glenside for health and safety training. They met with The College of Global Studies staff, as well as with Arcadia members from Student Affairs, Glenside Counseling Services and International Affairs.
During their visit, many staff from the U.K. and Europe found themselves “stranded” in the U.S. due to flight disruptions caused by volcanic ash in Iceland. The silver lining to Mother Nature’s traffic light was a wonderful opportunity to have several more days to help one another. We who most regularly would communicate via email, Skype or phone call were now together, live and in the flesh. experiences were shared across the table, resolutions discussed, personalities shined through the stories. This extra time was a gift, and strengthened the bonds of our worldwide network of staff. Below are our staff’s contributions on health and safety in their own words. ~
Gráinne Hand Dublin, Ireland
My training in counseling has enabled me to be more aware of the needs of students. The biggest challenge for me in working at Arcadia has been in supporting students who do not take their own health or well-being seriously. The application stage, when students are encouraged to disclose various health matters (including physical and psychological) is a crucial time for me. It would seem that in the past few years there has been an increase in students who have disclosed psychological issues. The more common disclosures relate to anxiety, depression and ADD. Students who may not have disclosed anything on their application form for one reason or another, can often have issues when they’re faced with adjusting to a new culture. This can often exacerbate pre-existing conditions. Through the highs and lows of our supporting roles I think it’s always important to remember that the student is at the centre of our work. Without them we wouldn’t be here!
Joanna Simos Athens, Greece
It is inspiring and exciting to work with young individuals who are experiencing new things. It is also inspiring to be able to contribute to the good health of students, create a safe nurturing environment for their development while abroad and remove the usual restrictions they encounter, making the experience a long-lasting learning adventure rather than just exposure to a different culture.The greatest challenge for me in working with students is convincing them that their health and safety are primarily their own responsibility and part of a holistic experience.
Nicky Clarke London, England
I see students at their happiest; empowered and successful in navigating their new community. I also see them at their low points, homesick or ill and on the other side of the world in an unfamiliar environment and healthcare system. However, I love the student and community interaction my role affords, watching as our students become increasingly independent and more deeply engaged with British culture and I feel fortunate to be able to provide the tools and the key support students need to succeed. I get to see my home country with fresh eyes and use my experiences and knowledge to benefit others, to guide and to inspire without dictating the journey.
Marion Finlay Queensland, Australia
One of the greatest challenges with health and safety in Australia is the reputation Australia has for having dangerous animals. Many students come over worried about deadly snakes, poisonous spiders and sharks but in reality crossing the road can be the students’ greatest risk. Students need to learn to slow down the frantic pace that they are used to living in the States and take time to smell the roses (and look the right way before they cross they road!). The greatest joy for me is when students gush to tell me about their adventures. They sleep under the stars, watch sunrises and sunsets and hike up mountains and swim through waterfalls. They take the time to stop and reflect and to work out their values and what is important to them and what makes them truly happy. Study abroad is all about learning but so much of the learning happens within themselves. We try to teach them to appreciate the little things and to be resilient in a world dominated by stress and mental illness. Perhaps our greatest achievement is teaching students to be truly happy.
Silvia Serra Barcelona, Spain
My position allows me to have a very direct and constant relationship with students. The two main challenges for me in dealing with health, safety and security are being able to find the best and most appropriate answer for issues that arise and being able to identify the ones that have a negative affect on students’ experiences abroad. Although it is a stressful job sometimes, it is especially rewarding in the sense that you are contributing to their well being and helping to make the students’ experience abroad more gratifying. Seeing their smiles is priceless. ~