John Carroll University’s Immersion Program recently released applications for students to embark on worldwide journeys in the spring and post-commencement. There is no question that this program is important to the JCU community. Students and staff provide personal and hands-on service to hundreds of people yearly due to the work of the administration and the host communities. Recently, there has been some concern regarding the Zika Virus, a mosquito-borne illness that causes symptoms such as a fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis and other milder annoyances. The Carroll News urges university officials to educate students about the virus and other potential harms that may be presented during the immersion experience.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following areas in Central America have been infected with the Zika Virus: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. John Carroll takes students to four the of the listed countries. Although this community of individuals are all around good people and will not be permitted nor be allowed to engage in risky behavior, they are still owed some assurance about the relevant risks and precautions that should be taken.
The Immersion Program has a series of meetings for all participants to fully prepare for their trips both domestic and international. One of the meetings specifically covers the logistics of the trip. By providing additional information regarding potential harms, the entire group will be more prepared, and, hopefully, will feel more at ease understanding the whole of where they will be traveling to.
Regardless of where immersion participants travel, there are going to be risks. Multiple writers of the Carroll News have been on one or more of these trips, and the general consensus is that experiences such as these are extremely important in narrowing the barriers between different cultures and people around the world. Providing additional information about exactly where the students are going and what extra care and instruction will be provided is pivotal in growing this program into something greater than it already is.