This is the first year seniors have not filled all 20 spots for the interim Africa trips. There are four African trips this year: Kruger National Park South Africa Culture and Adventure, North Cape South Africa Service in the Kalahari, South Africa Reconciliation and Beauty, and Rustic Pathways Moroccan Wonder.
Ebola will only affect interim if it spreads to the specific trip locations within Africa. Currently, neither South Africa nor Morocco are seriously impacted by the disease. Both countries are labeled not active by the CDC. However, there has been one fatality in South Africa from Ebola to date.
The Ebola virus has officially infected 8,011 and killed over 3,857 in the 2014 outbreak as of Oct. 10, and the number is increasing daily. Unofficially, the number is likely much higher, with the CDC saying the number of Ebola cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone could rise to between 550,000 and 1.4 million by January if there are no “additional interventions or changes in community behavior.” Originally starting in Guinea, West Africa, the virus has now spread to numerous countries. This scares some students.
“We were on the brink of canceling all Africa trips because of Ebola, but then we got in contact with the US embassy and a private company we work with,” Head of Interim Mr. Skimin said. “They both said we could still do the trips and they would still be safe for our students.” Because Ebola is mainly in western Africa nations and the interim trips are in South Africa and Morocco, Skimin feels our students will be out of the danger zones.
However, SAS is monitoring the disease in the areas of student travel. If the virus travels to those locations, the school’s vendors will be contacted and plans will be evaluated.
Skimin commented on the possibility of trip alterations. “The new trips won’t be the same experiences they would have had in South Africa, but it would be in a location that we could do similar activities that would cost the same amount and are in much safer locations,” Skimin said. The students on those trips will stay together for whatever happens, Skimin said.
Some students are wondering why traveling students would be worried about Ebola.
“I don’t think it’s a problem because it’s not very contagious, especially before you start showing symptoms. SAS wouldn’t let a student near any place that isn’t completely safe,” junior Kathleen Early said.
Yet others are saying their parents wouldn’t let them go to Africa for fear of Ebola. This could be a possible reason why the normally popular trips were available for sophomores this year.
Junior Maddy Werner, a student going on the South Africa Reconciliation and Beauty trip said, “I’m not worried about Ebola. It is in the northwest, and we are are going to the south. And it sounds like a great trip.”