The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, otherwise known as ISIS, has created mixed concerns and perspectives among Colorado State University students wanting to travel to the Middle East in the near future.
Carley DeRosa, a human development and family studies sophomore at CSU, is planning on traveling to Israel in January.
“ISIS definitely scares me, but is not the entire source of my anxiety,” DeRosa said. “There have been a lot of unfortunate terrorist attacks going on and I am worried that while I am there, I will spend my time worrying about my safety rather than getting the full meaning and purpose out of the experience.”
DeRosa is traveling to Israel for her Birthright trip, which is a program funded by the Israeli government that allows someone with Jewish ancestry to partake in a 10 day tour of Israel.
According to CNN.com, ISIS is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and their focus is to create an Islamic State across the Sunni areas of Iraq and Syria. They are known for their large number of killings, public executions and other acts of violence.
“Honestly, I’ve been battling myself with traveling to Israel lately,” DeRosa said. “My logical brain is telling me that it isn’t a good idea right now, because you never know if you could be in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, my heart is telling me that it is an opportunity I cannot pass up, and should just do it.”
Jacob Lazear, a business sophomore at CSU, recently traveled to Israel this past June for his Birthright trip. Due to his time of travel, ISIS was not a concern to him.
“I haven’t heard of ISIS creating any danger in Israel,” Lazear said. “The main concern was the tension with Hamas. However, my trip occurred before the violence began this summer, so the experience was pretty peaceful.”
According to CSU’s Education Abroad office, CSU offers study abroad programs in the Middle East including the countries of Israel, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
There is an average of about two to three CSU students who study abroad in the Middle East each year, according to Chris Churma, the senior coordinator responsible for advising and programs in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Oceania.
“There has been unrest in the Middle East for several years now, which has formed a public opinion on traveling in that area,” Churma said. “However, we have had students study abroad in that region every year successfully. CSU’S policy with regards to U.S. State Department warnings, if anything, would limit the amount of locations students could study abroad at in the Middle East.”
Churma believes that safety should always be a top priority for students who wish to study abroad and that students should feel free to come to the study abroad office with any concerns they have.
“The Middle East is a wonderful part of this world with a rich history and culture,” Churma said. “We need to be open to the fact that the unrest or turmoil in the Middle East is not representative of the entire Middle East.”
Collegian Reporter Amanda Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @amanduhh3003.