By MATT DEMIRS
The recent terrorist attacks in London and Europe have caused some North Shore residents to reconsider overseas travel.
One of the groups affected are students studying abroad and visiting these targeted countries with their schools.
In light of attacks in Europe, Peabody High School cancelled annual overseas trips in concern for their students’ safety.
While the trips were dropped before a request by Interim Superintendent Herbert Levine, he won’t be allowing any field trips to Europe.
“We have to stand up,” he said. “But we don’t have to do that by sending 16-year-olds overseas.”
But Thomas Strangie, Lynn English High School’s principal, gave the green light to Latin Club which had a trip to Rome planned for the April vacation under the direction of Michael Haddad, the school’s Latin teacher.
“You can’t let them win,” said Strangie, who has chaperoned 17 trips to Europe in 25 years. “You have to go and live your life. You shouldn’t have to worry about being targeted.”
In order to ease parents’ hesitance on letting their children study abroad, he leads parent-student meetings to ease their concerns. He also staffed the trips accordingly.
This year, 19 students were supervised by three chaperones.
“We can’t allow our lives to be colored by the acts of a few,” said Haddad. He is already planning a trip to Greece in 2019 with his students. A handful have already signed up.
In Saugus, officials worked with EF tours to re-route their travel plans to Greece that included a stop in Turkey last year.
School committee members worried about sending their students to Turkey. In the end, Turkey was removed from the itinerary.
“We understand that trips to these places has a great impact on the students who go,” said Jeannie Meredith, chairman of the Saugus School Committee. “It’s a great enrichment trip, but our endgame is to keep the kids safe.”
For college students, acts of terrorism in Europe haven’t hindered their pursuits to travel.
Lynn Classical High School graduate Natalie Galdamez, who majors in acting at the University of Southern California (USC), was studying in London last semester at Queen Mary University of London at the time of the attacks.
Galdamez said she was on campus during the Westminster incident when police said 52-year-old Briton Khalid Masood drove a car into a crowd of pedestrians walking along Westminster Bridge leaving more than 50 people injured.
While Queen Mary University is nearly five miles from the area of the attack, Galdamez said her school didn’t go into lockdown. USC was the first to make sure Galdamez was safe and offered counseling if needed.
School officials then asked Galdamez to notify her parents. She called home and told her parents, who hadn’t learned of the news until then.
Galdamez said police presence grew in places with a lot of people, like on trains, but it didn’t last long.
Her experience wasn’t greatly changed because of the attacks, she said. While she felt sorry for Londoners, she said it was a bigger deal to those in the U.S.
The 21-year-old who loves to travel, hopes these events don’t deter others from choosing to go abroad.
“Stuff like this happens all the time,” she said. “Nobody is immune to it, but I wouldn’t let that stop anybody from going.”
Salem State University has no students in the United Kingdom, according to spokeswoman Nicole Giambusso. Several students are scheduled to travel to the UK in the fall, with no reports of students changing their mind in light of recent incidents.
Larry Davis, a department chair at North Shore Community College, will be doing a joint trip with Salem State to Germany, Czech Republic, and Hungary to study the Holocaust.
“I’m not scared, but I am concerned,” he said. “Before we leave I will sit them down and tell them what it means to travel during these particular times.”
No students have pulled out from the trip since the recent attacks, he said.
Patrick Finnigan, a Classical High School graduate, said he had positive experiences while away.
He spent last semester studying at Menendez Pelayo International University in Spain through a program at UMass-Amherst.
While Finnigan, 21, was in Europe during the series of attacks in London, he said there were no signs of attacks in Spain and he never feared he was in danger.
During his five-month stay, he visited Morocco, a country where many Muslims live.
His parents, Paula and John Finnigan, were understanding of his decision to travel. While his mother worried, like many parents are when their children go away unsupervised, she trusted him to be safe.
Finnigan plans to study abroad again next semester, this time in Costa Rica.
“I want to see the world and I am not going to let a small group affect my decisions to adventure throughout the world,” he said.