Frequently asked questions
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the name of a disease caused by a new (“novel”) coronavirus. Infections first began in China in late 2019 and have since spread to many countries around the world. Symptoms reported have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing (full information on COVID-19 Symptoms). You may find additional background at the CDC website.
What actions has Impact Global Education taken to protect the health of their students and staff?
The Impact Global Education Crisis Team has been and will continue to closely monitor this rapidly evolving public health situation and have appropriate plans in place to protect the health of our community. We are following the
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and
World Health Organization (WHO) guidance to ensure our response protocols remain aligned with the most current health care community recommendations. The IGE Risk Management Team, the IGE Medical Director, (Dr. Ivor Garlick), the Crisis Response Teams for IGE, and WorldAware, our security assistance provider, are all working together to ensure that we are following WHO and CDC recommendations and guidelines on all matters related to the response to this outbreak to help us make the best decisions based on the latest information for our students and students.
Will this affect any Impact Global Education programming?
After significant discussion and reflection by our risk, programming, operations, and management teams, we decided to transition students on all programs back to their home countries. Our decision is in line with industry recommendations and, we believe, is in the best interest of the students and staff on our programs. The trajectory of the number of COVID-19 cases has increased dramatically around the world. Based on concerns over potential future quarantines and travel restrictions our teams made the decision to move programs to remote options. We will provide extensive opportunities for our students to continue their learning, fulfill their skills requirements, and gauge their skill progression without being in-person.
Have you made any adjustments to the 2020 IGE programs?
We are keeping a very close watch on the current global situation and are optimistic that COVID-19 will be contained before 2020 program start dates. At this time we have not made any updates to our 2020 itineraries. We are evaluating the situation on a daily basis, however, and are poised to make any adjustments as needed. Given the wide IGE footprint across the globe, we are poised to pivot quickly and still be able to continue to offer impactful experiences.
Is it safe to study/travel abroad?
Every area of our lives contains risk, and in any of the activities we engage in, whether at home or abroad, risk is present. At IGE, rather than safety, we speak about risk management. There are particular challenges of traveling abroad and operating in environments you may not be familiar with and being exposed to risks you may not be initially aware of. Because of these risks, travelling with a program with industry-leading risk management practices is particularly important. Risk management is a core awareness of IGE. Our field staff, Country Directors, Chief Risk Officer, and IGE Medical Director are continually focused on identifying and responding to any areas that may affect the health and safety of our participants. Additionally, all participants are provided with top-tier travel insurance for any medical issues or security evacuation. IGE has placed significant resources focused on addressing constantly changing global risks.
Under what conditions would you decide to cancel your program?
Our criteria for canceling programs are based on CDC and US State Department warnings. These are the primary factors as well as key information from our security assistance provider and on-the-ground information from local partners and IGE country directors. In the example of COVID-19, that would most likely heighten risk of exposure to the virus from sustained community transmission (and subsequent need for quarantine), or a local environment that was too restrictive for effective programming (limits on travel, closed schools, embassies, and shops). We would first strive to replace programs with options in other IGE countries unaffected by the virus. If that solution was not available we would consider canceling a program.
Who can we talk to if we have questions? Or is there a website you recommend where we can follow news about COVID 19?
Our program teams are always available if you have program-specific questions. For general information about COVID-19 especially as it relates to international travel, both the CDC and WHO have well put together COVID-19 pages.
Do you have any confirmed cases on any of your programs?
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on any of the IGE programs spread around the world.
Are you providing face masks for students on your programs?
Neither CDC nor WHO recommend masks as a preventative measure for healthy individuals (except for people providing care in healthcare environments). For the prevention of transmission of this and other viruses, both the CDC and the WHO recommend normal hygiene measures (effective and frequent hand washing, covering coughs/sneezes, avoiding close contact with sick individuals). This being said, IGE field staff on programs carry masks, and if students request them or if local community practice dictates their use, programs have them available.
Does IGE have capacity to quickly shift programs to one of your other locations?
Yes, IGE has program operations and deep relationships in 20 countries along with a significant network of program partners. Because of the wide geographic spread of IGE and our large number of partners and country programs around the world, we can quickly pivot to comparable programs, in a way that other more regionally-based organizations may not be able to do.
Will this affect Think Impact programs?
We are currently evaluating all Think Impact countries based on CDC guidelines and on the ground assessment by the IGE Security Assistance Provider (WorldAware). As of March 11, 2020, Panama, Costa Rica, and South Africa are the ThinkImpact country locations that have confirmed cases of imported or locally transmitted cases of COVID-19, but none of these countries currently have any level of CDC watch or alert. Our Chief Risk Officer continually monitors these alerts. If the situation were to change, we have strong partnerships throughout Europe and in IGE countries around the world and are poised to react quickly to any situation.
Is Thinking Beyond Borders canceling the Asia semester?
At this point, we have not made the decision to cancel our Spring 21 Asia program, based on CDC notices/recommendations. However we are monitoring the situation very closely and are ready to make changes to the itinerary as needed. None of the countries that the Asia Semester travels through (Thailand, Cambodia, India, and the US) have seen significant outbreaks of COVID-19, of the 4 countries on the itinerary, the US currently has the greatest number of cases and none of the countries outside the US have been issued a Level 1 watch from the CDC (the lowest level of warning). The only countries in Asia that have been issued CDC notices are in North-east Asia (China, South Korea, and Japan). And IGE does not have a presence in these areas. With our crisis response teams we are actively monitoring new outbreak areas, but these are more likely to affect programs in Europe and the US.
What is the Impact Global Education mission?
At Impact Global Education, our mission is to develop and deliver socially- and environmentally-conscious educational travel experiences around the world.
How many individuals does IGE serve annually?
IGE is proud to serve over 1,000 individuals every year.
What brands are a part of IGE?
IGE is comprised of the four following brands.
Winterline Global Education: Since 2015, Winterline Global Education has offered skills-based gap programs for young adults with an adventurous spirit and an interest in the world around them.
ThinkImpact: Using an asset-based approach, Think Impact works with communities to leverage local resources and to open new avenues to economic development and long-term growth. Active since 2007.
Thinking Beyond Borders: For over a decade, Thinking Beyond Borders has prepared students for a life of critical questioning and informed social action.
Cross-Cultural Solutions: For 24 years, Cross-Cultural Solutions has offered ethical, community-based engagement experiences around the globe.
What audiences does IGE serve?
IGE serves a wide variety of audiences. Our programs serve gap year, individual travel, high school, undergraduate and graduate, and corporate audiences.
Which countries does IGE operate in?
Impact Global Education offers programming across 20 different countries. These countries are: Austria, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, India, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Panama, Peru, Rwanda, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda, and the USA.