“Safety First: An EXCEL Global/Immersion Mantra" by Director of the Cabot/Anderson Center for EXCEL Ben Snyder
Whenever I get close to construction sites, I am continually struck by the prominence of the often ubiquitous “safety first” message. On t-shirts and signage the message is clear — above and beyond all else, safety is the primary concern.
The same message applies directly to all Nobles global/immersion experiences, and is our highest priority as we build programs for Nobles students. Given the current global and domestic environments, it is important for parents to know the measures we take to ensure the health and safety of all Nobles travelers.
There are many approaches we take as we prepare, the first being to develop long term partnerships with trusted schools and nonprofits in areas where the United States government, our risk management partners, and we deem it safe to go. Our partnership approach assures us of having trusted colleagues “on the ground” with whom we have worked for many years (both for logistics and for direct partnership). These relationships guide us in many ways, certainly in our ability to keep everyone safe and healthy.
In addition, we monitor the United States State Department notifications to be aware of their latest recommendations. Nobles has worked for many years with International SOS — a leading medical and travel security services company that provides ongoing “status” updates on all potential risks as well as medical assistance, emergency services, healthcare, evacuation, and repatriation services. According to the International SOS website, they count nearly two-thirds of the Fortune Global 500 companies as clients. The combination of these resources allows for Nobles not only to be prepared in advance, but also to be able to respond rapidly should any safety related situation arise.
Nobles also provides significant resources to the faculty and staff who lead these opportunities. Every trip has a primary leader who has extensive experience both in leading groups of students and familiarity with our destinations. All leaders and chaperones go through an annual risk-management training that includes everything from review of emergency protocols to basic first aid training to risk prevention through case study exercises. We have built a series of protocols and “on call” resources to be able to respond rapidly to any circumstance, but our focus is always on making sure that we prevent any risky situation from occurring.
As we build itineraries, we work to make sure the experiences of our students provide challenge in a safe and healthy context. It is also significant that while each Nobles adventure involves a sampling of local sites, for the most part Nobles students are immersed with people and organizations away from the typical tourist scene (which has obvious educational benefits along with risk management benefits). And it goes without saying — although it is important to say — that if we have any reason to believe a Nobles destination is anything other than fully safe, we simply will not go.
Given recent national and global events and dialogue, there can be a natural inclination to “hunker down” at home, yet many argue that there has never been a more important time for young people to engage deeply and meaningfully in the wider world. The breadth of Nobles experiences allows our young people to put themselves out into that world safely in a way that connects them to people and places who will broaden their view of the world and their place in it. With opportunities for the coming year in places as far flung as New Orleans to South Africa, Alabama to Cambodia, Spain to China, we remain committed to putting “safety first” as we head out into the world with our most precious cargo — your kids.