As Hong Kong Protests Escalate, American Study Abroad Students Arrive in China’s Troubled City

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As Hong Kong Protests Escalate, American Study Abroad Students Arrive in China’s Troubled City

Protests in Hong Kong proceed, however most American examine aboard college students had been undeterred. When given the choice to remain, many college students selected to proceed with their plans to enterprise to China’s troubled metropolis.

Demonstrations in Hong Kong began out as peaceable shows of opposition to a proposed legislation that may give China the facility to extradite individuals who had been accused of a criminal offense. The invoice was shelved and previously 10 weeks, protests have morphed right into a name for elevated democracy and police accountability.

While largely remaining peaceable, protesters have had violent clashes with police and shut down Hong Kong’s worldwide airport on Monday and Tuesday. As tensions escalate, the Department of State issued a journey advisory, cautioning Americans to keep away from areas the place persons are demonstrating. A chunk of recommendation at the least one faculty additionally gave to college students.

“Hopefully things will calm down soon, but students have been told to avoid political demonstrations,” Hobart and William Smith Colleges Dean of Global Education Tom D’Agostino informed Newsweek. “I was 20 years old at one time and I know that would have been something that would have been really interesting to me, but even if you’re on the fringe and just want to observe things, demonstrations are unpredictable.”

Princeton Review not too long ago ranked Hobart and William Smith Colleges one of many prime faculties for examine overseas. This yr, the personal Geneva, New York, faculty has 4 college students finding out in Hong Kong. One scholar had her flight canceled on Tuesday, however was capable of get it rescheduled. Another scholar considered laying aside his arrival to see how the state of affairs developed, which the college supported, however finally determined to take his scheduled flight.

“We want them to go—we’re not canceling our program—but at the end of the day our responsibility is to take all the information we have, give it to our students and their families, and they need to be comfortable with their decision,” D’Agostino stated.

As Hong Kong Protests Escalate, American Study Abroad Students Arrive in China's Troubled City
Protesters maintain placards as they relaxation on the ground of Hong Kong’s worldwide airport on Wednesday. PHILIP FONG/AFP/Getty

Start dates fluctuate on a program-by-program foundation and a few college students will not board a flight for a number of weeks. However, others, together with these in Syracuse University’s program, have already began orientation.

Similarly to Hobart and William Smith Colleges college students, Syracuse supplied college students a chance to cancel, defer or embark on a special examine overseas program.

“Of the 41 college students enrolled on this program, solely three selected to not attend the Hong Kong semester,” Sarah Scalese, Syracuse’s senior vice chairman for communications, informed Newsweek.

Student security is a prime precedence for Syracuse and Scalese was assured college students within the Hong Kong program would as soon as once more have a “distinctive global learning experience” as tons of of others did earlier than them.

American University in Washington, D.C., and Goucher College, the highest college for examine overseas in accordance with the Princeton Review, each have applications for college kids to check in Hong Kong. While they’re monitoring the state of affairs and Goucher stated they’ve worldwide insurance coverage that covers evacuation if it is necessary, neither have determined to cancel as a result of protests.

D’Agostino defined Hobart and Williams Smith depends on a number of mediums for data, together with the State Department, different nationwide governments and an unbiased security and safety group. Although not a pleasing thought to have to think about, the college developed plans within the occasion {that a} vital hazard was posed to college students abroad.

Hong Kong is among the safer locations that we ship college students,” D’Agostino stated. “In terms of safety, generally it’s not a concern at all but it just goes to show at any place, at any time, you have to be prepared for these things.”

As Hong Kong Protests Escalate, American Study Abroad Students Arrive in China's Troubled City
A duplicate of the “Goddess of Democracy” statue is seen on the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, subsequent to which college students met to debate a doable scholar strike in Hong Kong on September 4, 2014. The Chinese University of Hong Kong performs host to college students from throughout the globe. Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty

On Wednesday, police fired tear gasoline at protesters rallying exterior a police station in Hong Kong’s Sham Shui Po neighborhood. The State Department famous that protests have largely been peaceable, however warned that demonstrations have spilled over into neighborhoods and the current motion of navy autos raised extra issues.

Satellite photographs confirmed what seemed to be navy autos close to the harbor separating Hong Kong from mainland China and authorities officers have repeatedly condemned the protests. Chinese State Council Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office spokesperson Xu Luying characterised the demonstrations as “terrorist-like acts,” including that the behaviors confirmed an “extreme contempt for the rule of law.”

Hong Kong, as soon as a British colony, was returned to China in 1997, however the Special Administrative Region has its personal foreign money, political system and cultural id. Unlike in mainland China, enshrined in Hong Kong Basic Law is the appropriate to freedom of speech, press and meeting.

In a couple of weeks, Rudy Lopez, a rising senior at San Jose State University (SJSU) in San Jose, California, will enterprise to Hong Kong to take programs on the City University of Hong Kong. Constantly scanning the information to make sure he is well-informed, Lopez informed Newsweek that he is nonetheless enthusiastic about his upcoming expertise.

“What’s taking place in Hong Kong in the meanwhile shall be ingrained in historical past without end and will probably be charming to witness it firsthand,” Lopez stated. “I was a journalism major before switching to [Public Relations] so naturally, I am drawn to situations like these but I will be smart about it and avoid putting myself in danger.”

As Hong Kong Protests Escalate, American Study Abroad Students Arrive in China's Troubled City
Policemen cross over a bridge as they arrive at a gathering known as by Pro-Democracy Protestors within the Sham Shui Po Area of Hong Kong on Wednesday. MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and Ranking Member Michael McCaul cautioned the Chinese authorities towards participating in one other brutal crackdown paying homage to the bloodbath in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

“We urge China to avoid making such a mistake, which would be met with universal condemnation and swift consequences,” the congressmen stated.

Lopez had religion in SJSU‘s examine overseas workplace, saying he felt they really cared about their college students and would not ship them to Hong Kong if they might be at risk. If college students really feel the state of affairs is unsafe, Lopez stated, they will withdraw from this system and enroll in lessons again in California. However, presently, he did not really feel that was obligatory.

Hong Kong is hardly the primary examine overseas location to expertise a interval of unrest and D’Agostino stated the college is regularly monitoring its 50 applications. In 2015, college students had been evacuated from Brussels within the wake of a sequence of coordinated terrorist assaults.

“It’s not something we do lightly, but in that instance, we decided we would end our program and bring them home and we did,” D’Agostino stated.

As a guardian himself, he acknowledged the college was answerable for different folks’s youngsters, even when these youngsters had been technically adults. While there are ramifications for canceling a program, he famous they may all be handled and weren’t price risking a scholar’s security.

“Even when our students are halfway around the world, we don’t lose sight of the fact that they are there,” D’Agostino stated.

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