Students are The Priority. We take the responsibility of group health, safety and well-being very seriously. As teachers and parents of children ourselves, we operate with the principle of acting in loco parentis. We engage the teacher program leaders in active pre-departure training for each journey: Learn, Orient and Prepare. Best Practices of Planning and Prevention allow participants to travel with the peace of mind that by following the rules of the daily program, they may adventure at ease. Risks are managed, minor and foreseeable; very little is left to chance.
Our high ethic of care for our groups, and the communities we serve, reflects superior organization principles to adventure responsibly. No Peace Works Travel student traveler has suffered any injury, serious illness, hospitalization, or assault on our program. While rare, voluntary removal (for example, an individual’s social-emotional concerns) and behavioral issues (for example, a violation of the alcohol and drugs policy) have compelled organized evacuations of single participants. We are nimble, and can respond to group needs with a proactive awareness of on-the-ground conditions. Our in-country partner providers are trained regularly so as to ensure a high quality group travel experience. We operate as a well-defined team, engaging participants and partners in a commitment of shared responsible practices to support our mission.
While we are prepared to handle accidents, our sensible itineraries preclude high risk of problems occurring. Our planning leaves little to chance. Health and safety preparations begin before departure with “Stay Found and Sound” traveler awareness training and Student Rules of Conduct for smart self-regulation. We encourage travelers to consult their physicians and follow the recommended practices of the Center for Disease Control under the advisement of global travel infectious disease specialists. All groups are registered with the U.S. State Department STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) pre-deparature. We monitor the conditions on the ground in our destination countries, and make itinerary modifications as necessary to avoid potential hazards. Our programs take minimal risks with eating: we avoid street food and cheap restaurants of dubious quality. Every Program Leader is CPR certified, equipped with a cell phone, first-aid kit, bottled water, and all travelers’ personal medical data during every excursion.
In case of an emergency, our Emergency Action Plan is supported by 24/7 support of TravelEx 360 Student Group Travel insurance services, including western medical facilities akin to Urgent-Care centers in the U.S. In the case of rare, minor incidents such as 24-hour traveler’s diarrhea or urban pick-pocketing, stakeholders are notified, reports filed and remedies pursued. Whether the issue is mild or severe, we are committed to timely communication and solutions for restoration of the traveler’s well-being.
The safety of our student travelers is our top priority. Additionally, Peace Works Travel independently reviews UN reports and NGO updates, keeping close track of the political and social environments of the countries we visit. We pre-register all of our travelers with the U.S. State Department and American embassies in the destination country. The professional excellence and superior knowledge of our local partners serves our goal of crisis prevention; early-awareness of potential hazards is taken seriously and we err on the side of minimizing risk in determining itinerary modifications. Peace Works Travel reserves the right to cancel or modify an itinerary if conditions warrant a change of plan.
All travelers should see their physician prior to departure in order to make informed decisions about necessary immunizations and booster shots. Generally, our tour itineraries are classified as “urban and upscale” according to the Center for Disease Control, and present very low health risks to the traveler. Vaccination recommendations will vary according to itinerary destinations, season and personal choice. Student travelers who follow our preparatory “packing list” will be well-equipped for the temperatures and conditions present on their itineraries. Our Best Practices further minimize the possibility of illness and injury. In addition, groups are furnished with bottled water, anti-bacterial hand wipes, bug repellent and sunscreen as needed.
To ensure overall well-being, students are never left unsupervised when outside of their private rooms. Program Leaders are always present during group activities and we employ the “buddy system” for brief departures from the group (ie; to use the restroom). Students are not permitted to leave the hotel at the conclusion of the day’s activities and Teacher Program Leaders conduct random room checks during “hotel free-time.” Students who require a rest day are accompanied by a chaperone—no one is ever left behind.
The violent crime rate in our destination countries is lower than that of most urban centers in the United States. Even still, we take the safety of female and non-gendered travelers very seriously. Adapting to cultural norms of conservative dress and behavior is the best way to avoid unwanted attention. All students are required to remain consistent with their public gender identity for the duration of the program, and to present a respectful demeanor in accordance with cultural standards. All students operate on the buddy system for brief departures from the group, for example, use of the restroom. We prepare our students before departure to dress and behave modestly. We regularly exercise the right to insist students change their clothes for more modest attire should they be in violation of these norms. Our host managers are trained to recognize and deflect or redirect potentially inappropriate behavior directed towards students from individuals outside the group. No student of any gender is permitted to engage in unsupervised communication with strangers. No hotel or Homestay rooms open directly to the street: all students’ rooms lock from the inside and are accessible to hotel security and/or chaperone observation.
Every program is equipped with standard safety and medical preparations: first aid kits, bottled water and ready access to medical-professional staff. Program Leaders are CPR certified, trained to administer basic first aid, and travel with copies of student medical data forms at all times. Although our solid planning, participant screening and safety precautions have ensured that no student traveler has suffered a medical issue requiring hospitalization, Peace Works Travel is prepared for issues requiring emergency medical care. Our emergency response is supported by 24/7 TravelEx 360 Student Group Insurance services for every traveler, providing quality in-country medical facilities akin to American “Urgent Care” centers. In the unlikely event of a medical emergency, our team secures the health and safety of the students first, and will contact stakeholders (schools, administrators, parents) immediately thereafter. Peace Works Travel promises clear and candid communication with all stakeholders in accordance with institution preference for designated communication channels.
Our Emergency Action Plan establishes clear decision-making processes to support travelers’ health and well-being in cooperation with all stakeholders. Distinguishing between a “crisis” and an “urgent action” our EAP assigns emergency management roles to U.S. staff and local partners abroad, to resolve unforeseen issues affecting individual travelers or the entire group. Actions requiring the temporary or permanent evacuation of a single traveler from the program, (for example, due to health or behavior), are mapped differently than actions affecting program modification for the whole group (for example, due to weather or transportation.) In each case, staff and host managerial partners are trained annually in risk management scenarios and resolutions. While rare, evacuations of single or groups of travelers are handled with the utmost professionalism to support a positive overall experience upon the resolution of the issue. Peace Works Travel operates in compliance with the school or group institution communications policies and channels as defined pre-departure. We are committed to supporting all stakeholders – schools, teachers, parents and our partners — with integrity, principles of open communication, proactive and efficient care.
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Bill Morse, Director Cambodian Landmine Museum, Siem Reap
Briggs Boss, Sophomore, Thacher School
Stacy Serrette, Teacher and Dean of Student Life, Emma Willard School
Paul Rusesabagina, Real-life Hotel Rwanda hero who saved over 1200 people during the Rwandan genocide.
Shirley Hahn, Beverly Hills, California
The Santa Barbara Independent
Alex Greer, Junior, Laguna Blanca School
Kelly Bennett, history teacher, Santa Barbara Middle School
Alexandra Kall, Francis Parker School
Spencer Barr, English Teacher, Santa Barbara High School, California
Stacy Serrette, Director of Student Life, Emma Willard School
Eric Taylor, Francis Parker School, San Diego, California