Study abroad causes conflict

Despite State Dept. warnings, a University student studies in Israel.

Jerret Raffety

Craig Ancier said he knew finding the opportunity to study in Israel after college would be difficult. But he didn’t predict it would be just as difficult to do it during college.

Ancier, a Carlson School of Management sophomore, attends Hebrew University in Jerusalem, even though the University of Minnesota doesn’t offer study abroad programs in Israel. After the U.S. State Department issued travel warnings for 26 countries this fall, the University of Minnesota decided it wouldn’t offer sponsored or co-sponsored study abroad programs for academic credit in those countries.

Ancier had to withdraw from the University of Minnesota with a leave of absence. He must apply for transfer credit from the University of Minnesota once he returns for spring semester, along with forfeiting financial aid through the University of Minnesota, he said.

Ancier said he doesn’t fear the dangers mentioned in the travel advisory.

“I feel safer here, in Jerusalem, than I do walking the streets of downtown Minneapolis and even on my own campus at night,” Ancier said.

The security in public places across Israel is very tight, he said. Security guards and metal detectors are commonplace, Ancier said.

“When I walk into a mall (in Jerusalem), I can be 99 percent sure that nobody has anything that can cause me harm, but when I walk into the Mall of America or any other mall in the United States, I am zero percent sure,” he said.

The government issued the travel warning after U.S. citizens and other foreigners were kidnapped in the West Bank and Gaza, and terrorist groups such as Hamas threatened attacks against “U.S. interests,” according to the U.S. State Department’s Web site.

Ancier’s parents said they are both constantly concerned with his safety.

“As a mother, I think about Craig 24 hours a day,” LeeAnn Ancier, Craig Ancier’s mother, said.

As a Jewish student, wanting to study his own culture was one motivation for studying in Israel, Craig Ancier said. Another was the chance to see how young adults work, live and study in Israel, he said.

He might not get full credit from Carlson School for his classes in Israel, he said. Craig Ancier is taking four classes, two of which he hopes will transfer to Carlson School.

A Carlson School committee, in cooperation with academic faculty, will decide whether Craig Ancier will receive credit for his classes, said Laurie Slaght, a Carlson School academic adviser.

LeeAnn Ancier said her son had to go through a lot to get to Israel.

“I think it’s interesting that the Carlson School encourages you to go abroad when you do an international business degree, but only where they tell you – they’re very selective,” LeeAnn Ancier said.

The Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Minnesota told Craig Ancier that any class on the Israeli economy or Jewish history taken at Hebrew University would count for University of Minnesota credit, Craig Ancier said.

The Education Abroad Suspension Committee is responsible for deciding whether to suspend University of Minnesota-sponsored study abroad programs when safety concerns are involved, according to the Education Abroad Policy.

The committee considers factors such as the academic purpose of the opportunity, political and physical conditions of the country, risk to the students’ health and safety, and travel and evacuation conditions, according to the Education Abroad Policy.

Students have to apply to the committee, which assesses the risks of the non-University of Minnesota sponsored programs the student selected, said Al Balkcum, director for the University of Minnesota’s Learning Abroad Center.

If the committee finds the program risks are minimal, they can apply for financial aid and stay registered as students with the University of Minnesota, he said.

Craig Ancier said that he is experiencing things in Jerusalem that are impossible to experience anywhere else.

He said he’s visited sites from the Negev Desert in the south to the Golan Heights in the north.

“The ability to learn about a site and then to actually go visit it – sit on the rocks, touch the walls, sit in the caves and touch the artifacts – is truly amazing,” he said.