These are challenging times, particularly for those involved in programs for American students in the Middle East and North Africa. At AMIDEAST, student health , safety, and security are the number one priorities. While no one can guarantee that unexpected risks or situations will not arise, we continually strive to provide the support necessary for students to have a safe and healthy education abroad experience.
We continuously monitor the security situation in all of our program locations and work with our local staff and other local contacts to get up to date information on the safety of the cities in which we operate. In general, we utilize a number of tools to ensure the health, safety, and security of our students including:
Although it is not possible to eliminate risk, AMIDEAST is committed to ensuring that its programs operate in safe and secure environments. AMIDEAST's longstanding physical presence in the Middle East and North Africa and long history of service to local communities have enabled the development of strong local networks and relationships with local institutions and individuals. AMIDEAST’s Country Directors maintain close ties to the Regional Security Officers at the U.S. Embassies, and local program staff members are included in the U.S. Embassy warden network. AMIDEAST is also a member of the Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council.
AMIDEAST facilities are accessible only through controlled entrances. Local staff is able to send out text messages (SMS) simultaneously to all students' program-provided mobile phones to update them instantly as issues related to health, safety, and security develop. Local staff maintains a vital local network and contributes to the understanding of ongoing and developing situations on the ground.
In addition, to further enhance access to up-to-the-minute information in crisis situations, AMIDEAST contracts with iJET: Intelligent Risk Systems, to offer certain services directly to AMIDEAST students. Lastly, an internal communication system links AMIDEAST Headquarters in Washington, DC, with field offices in the Middle East and North Africa, and key staff members are available at all times to respond to emergency situations. AMIDEAST Staff also provides information to students about how to register with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
All students are required to submit a completed medical profile prior to departure. AMIDEAST staff review this information and work with students to make necessary accommodations for any health or dietary needs. As part of the program fee, AMIDEAST provides medical and accident insurance for all students through HTH Worldwide Insurance. Once in country, AMIDEAST program staff help students deal with medical issues as they arise and have a list of recommended providers and hospitals both in the host city and in areas visited on excursions. In addition to medical insurance, HTH provides high-quality medical and political & natural disaster evacuation coverage.
AMIDEAST was established in 1951 to build bridges of understanding between Americans and the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa. Today it is more important than ever that Americans learn more about this critical area as we work to build a more peaceful future. AMIDEAST has field offices in 12 countries through the region; the oldest have existed for more than 50 years. This longstanding physical presence in the region has enabled AMIDEAST to develop an extensive network of contacts with local educational and other institutions, organizations, government offices, and civil society.
Upon arrival in country, AMIDEAST students participate in an in-depth orientation designed to introduce them to local culture and daily life and familiarize them with the logistics of the program. Orientation combines structured informational sessions with organized activities and free time to familiarize participants with the urban environment. Topics such as safety and health, cultural adjustment, program regulations, participant responsibilities and other essential information are discussed in detail. Students receive a AMIDEAST mobile phone upon arrival and all emergency contacts are programmed into their cell phone. During the in-country orientation students also meet their professors, take language placement tests, become familiar with the program’s IT environment, and learn how to navigate their new city.