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SARS, war cancel trips

By Matt Kelly

Disease and conflict have forced the University to cancel summer study trips to Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai in China and Jordan. Another trip has been rerouted.

“This is bad luck,” said William B. Quandt, vice provost for international affairs. “We usually don’t have a war and a plague at the same time.”

The “plague” is the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, blamed for 495 deaths as of April 21. It has spurred the State Department to issue travel warnings about China, leading to the University’s decision earlier this month, Quandt said.

The China programs would have served about 67 U.Va. students. McIntire School of Commerce associate professors Mark White and David LaRue revamped their three-week international finance and tax class, changing the itinerary from Japan, China and Hong Kong to Australia, New Zealand and Honolulu. White said canceling their Asian plans by March 26 gave them time to salvage the trip.

Other foreign studies programs were made available to students who qualified, including having the language skills, in France, Morocco, Peru and England.

Alton Taylor, director of the University’s Summer Session, is adding a class in Chinese, four hours a day of lecture and conversation, to the Summer Session schedule to compensate for the loss of a language immersion program in Shanghai. At least six students must sign up in order for the class to be held.

There are other programs offered in the United States, Quandt said.

Not everything can be replaced, however.

Yunsheng Huang, an associate professor of architecture, canceled plans to take 15 students to study architecture in Beijing and celebrate the 10th anniversary of the program.

Huang said there is no substitute for the program, which depends upon visits to Chinese landmarks such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall.

“This is not a slide show or looking through an architectural book,” Huang said.

“This a three-dimensional experience in that environment that it was designed for.”
State Department warnings about political unrest led to the February cancellation of a summer language program trip to Jordan. A program in St. Petersburg, Russia, has also been dropped because only four people signed up.


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