SummaryThe health and safety of participants abroad is of utmost importance to American Councils. Our staff takes great care preparing for all program contingencies and have put into place numerous procedures and policies that ensure the well-being of participants on our programs, including:
- Employing knowledgeable resident directors and overseas staff to assist participants and provide 24/7 emergency support
- Registering Americans traveling overseas with U.S. Embassies
- Closely monitoring State Department travel advisories and maintaining supplemental local organizational resources to assess safety risks
- Providing participants with informative and concrete health and safety information in pre-departure materials and orientations
- Enrolling participants in comprehensive accident and illness insurance for the duration of their programs
In many respects the cities where we place students in Russia are like big cities in the US, and share a similar level of risks. We also understand that emergencies may happen and may occur where participants are less familiar with their surroundings. Because of this, American Councils takes great care to share information with student finalists and participants, through online written material, links to the US Department of State travel advisories and CDC health recommendations, and in-person at pre-departure and in-country orientations. We work closely with U.S. embassies, the U.S. State Department, local partners and institutions, travel experts, and insurance companies to assess situations and to make informed decisions should an unstable situation arise.
While American Councils is deeply committed to preserving the health and safety of our participants, our ability to do so depends in part on the open communication and mature, responsible decision making of our participants. Program participants with specific health concerns should contact our office directly to discuss how we can best ensure they receive the support they may require overseas; they should also fully disclose this information on the American Councils Health Information Form that students are asked to complete after admission to our programs. (This information is kept in strict confidence and has no bearing upon selection.) Providing detailed, comprehensive information about one's health history and one's potential needs while abroad is a critical first step toward success on our programs.
Applicants and participants with specific health and safety questions prior to departure are encouraged to contact the Outbound department to discuss their questions or concerns in more detail.
I learned a lot of new words, how to navigate and conduct myself in a Russian office environment, and a lot about the non-profit sector and NGOs in Russia. I do think that my Russian was enhanced, both in that I was exposed to an entire new category of words that had not been a part of my vocabulary, and in that I was regularly conversing with Russians. It was the best aspect of my stay in Russia.