AUSTIN, Texas—Students from The University of Texas at Austin planning to study abroad this summer in the VEN-USA Intensive Spanish Program, have been informed that the program has been suspended until further notice because of political instability in Venezuela.
Prof. Matthew Bailey of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese said 24 students from the university had been scheduled to participate in the six-week program from May 20 to July 1 in Merida, Venezuela. The University of Texas at Austin has been sending students to this summer program for the past 10 years.
On April 16, the United States Department of State issued a travel warning for Venezuela, recommending American citizens “…against travel to Venezuela due to the unstable security situation,” and saying that “the security situation in Venezuela is volatile and unpredictable,” Bailey said.
Jerry Wilcox, director of the International Office at The University of Texas at Austin, said there were two reasons for suspending the program.
“First and foremost was the safety and security of our students, based on the travel warning,” Wilcox said. “But also, we were concerned about the quality of the educational experience for our students under these uncertain circumstances. The University of Texas at Austin tries to design programs that allow students to explore academic and non-academic aspects of a culture. The freedom to explore the off-campus aspects of life and culture apparently would have been curtailed as Venezuela struggles to resolve this political crisis.”
The Intensive Spanish program is a collaborative effort between the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at The University of Texas at Austin and the Institute of International Studies and Modern Languages in Merida, Venezuela. Student participants are working with the university’s study abroad office and departmental advising staff to decide on other options to meet their educational needs.