by Jess Hoogendoorn
The International Travel Course to Mumbai, India, has been canceled as a result of last week’s terrorist attacks.
Ten gunmen invaded India’s financial capital, killing at least 179 people, including six Americans, and wounding more than 300, according to CNN.com. The armed men, who were allegedly trained in Pakistan, attacked 10 different targets with guns and bombs. The areas with the highest death tolls were the Oberoi and Taj Mahal hotels, according to CNN.com.
Dr. Cynthia Newman and Dr. Susan Denbo, who oversee the trip to India, discussed the situation after hearing about the attacks. With tensions between India and Pakistan rising and the threat of future attacks, the professors decided to seek an alternate destination.
“We were scheduled to arrive in Mumbai on Jan. 7 and we do not believe that the investigation into the attacks will be resolved prior to that date,” said Denbo, a legal studies and business ethics professor. “We also conferred with our travel consultant, who agreed that we should not travel to India right now.”
Although India is out of the question, a replacement trip to Hong Kong and Vietnam is in the works.
“We do not have a lot of time to put a new trip together, but we are working around the clock to make this happen,” Denbo said. “We are a resourceful and resilient group and are excited about our new destinations.”
The group of 20, made up of faculty, administrators, undergraduate and graduate business students is working to prepare for the unexpected change of plans, said Denbo.
“The course involves the study of emerging nations, and both Hong Kong and Vietnam will fit into our course content,” she said. “We expect each country to provide us with exciting business site visits.”
Melissa Renaud, a graduate student, said she was disappointed that she would not get to go on the original trip but is happy she has other destinations to look forward to.
“I cannot even begin to explain how I felt [when I heard about the attacks],” Renaud said. “It was sheer disappointment, anger and sadness for all of those involved.”
Vinaya Saijwani, an adjunct professor, grew up near the Taj Mahal hotel. She said she would not cancel her travel plans to India; however she would not send her child there and thinks the professors made the right decision.
Saijwani said the attacks are part of a lengthy past shared by India and Pakistan. She said people in South Asia will see the attacks as historical while others will just see them as another terrorist attack.
Saijwani attributes many of the modern-day problems between the countries to Pakistan’s president.
“When you have a weak president, you are going to have people who are going to take advantage of the situation,” she said.
Freshman Madiha Latif lived in Pakistan for 10 years and doesn’t advise anyone to travel there.
“It wouldn’t be a good idea to go to Pakistan or anywhere in India right now,” she said. “Even when I lived there, when something would happen, we would get up and leave.”
Monika Rastenyte, a graduate student in the travel class, said she was looking forward to visiting the various cities in India and meeting people who work in different Indian companies.
“We live in such times where you just never know what can happen,” she said. “I think it is important to be involved in current events and to understand history and to be aware that the world that we live in is not perfect. I do not think this should stop people from traveling around the world.”
The students have been studying Indian business practices, environmental concerns, economy and culture throughout the fall semester, according to Denbo.
“The students have also researched all of the businesses that we were scheduled to visit,” she said. “Unfortunately, terrorism is a fact of life today, and businesses as well as tourists must adapt to this new global reality.”
Renaud said she is thankful that no one from Rider was involved in the attacks and it did not happen when the group was there.
“It is sad to know that no one in the world can escape terrorism,” Renaud said. “My heart goes out to the victims and their families.”