Communication

Cell Phone Availability

Faculty Leaders are required to be available by cell phone 24/7 for the duration of the program. While wifi is increasingly available, leaders should not rely on wifi exclusively, but should have cellular service. Leaders typically:
  • Add international calling to their existing U.S. plan
  • Purchase or rent a local phone or SIM card in the host country*
  • Borrow a local phone from the program's on-site coordinator
*Please note that laws and procedures vary around the world regarding the ease of acquiring a local phone/number.

Students are also strongly encouraged to have a cell phone with cellular service while abroad. Faculty Leaders may choose to make this a requirement for any program. While this may not be necessary for programs with a tightly-scheduled group itinerary that does not allow for much free time, it is necessary on programs offering homestays/apartment housing and ample free time. It is also necessary when the Faculty Leader is not housed in the same building as the participants.

Mobile apps like WhatsApp and Viber are also successful tools to communicate with students in country and the Education Abroad Office when WiFi is available. Please note that these apps should not be depended on to be the only tools for communication, as WiDi may not always be available when needed.

Social Media

On many UNL Faculty-Led Programs, the leader creates a private Facebook group for all participants and the designated Education Abroad Coordinator. This is an effective tool before, during, and after the program, for both routine and emergency communication. Depending on the host country's political and cultural norms, the leader should discuss with students guidelines for posting photos and comments about their experiences. Inappropriate posts may affect the safety and/or reputation of the group and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Emergency Response

Faculty Leaders should contact UNL Education Abroad to discuss the response to events including, but not limited to, hospitalization, major injuries and/or trauma, crime, civil unrest, major natural disasters, student conduct issues, or evacuation from the location if necessary. Depending on the nature of the situation, the leader may also need to contact local law enforcement, police or first responders, HTH Worldwide/Drum Cussac, and/or the U.S. Embassy/Consulate. The program's on-site coordinator or on-site travel agent may also need to be contacted for additional support services such as local transportation or translation.

  • UNL Police can be reached 24 hours per day. Callers can ask to be connected to another support contact or a representative from the Education Abroad Office.
  • UNL's Title IX Coordinator must be contacted as soon as possible (within 24 hours) if the situation relates to sexual discrimination, harassment, or misconduct.
  • UNL's Counseling and Pyschological Services (CAPS) has a 24/7 After Hours phone and this number is included on the Emergency Contact Cards.

Once a leader has secured all students and staff and contacted the appropriate people, the leader is responsible for maintaining contact with these individuals.

Faculty Leaders should also:

  • Notify all students of the situation without breaking confidentiality (see FERPA below), even if not all students were involved in the emergency. Lack of information or discussion is likely to create rumors and panic among students.
  • Hold a group meeting to inform and reassure students, and to quell rumors. Be careful not to appear to be blaming the victim of a distressing incident.
  • Encourage students to call, email, or text/message home to assure family members of their safety. Discuss with students the absolute necessity of communicating in a way that prevents undue panic. Ask students not to post sensitive information via social media.
  • Maintain a level head and assume a forceful but reasonable manner.
  • Do not make any statements to the media. Consult with UNL Education Abroad who will in turn contact relevant UNL campus partners.

Student Privacy: FERPA

Please note that under FERPA law it is not legal for University employees, including Faculty Leaders, to contact a student's parent or guardian without permission from the student regarding medical conditions or emergencies if the student is over 18. If a student on your program is involved in a medical or other emergency, you should of course urge the student to contact his or her parents if possible or to allow you or UNL Education Abroad to contact them, but you should not do so until you have the student's permission. If the student is unable to communicate his or her wishes, use your best judgment about the severity of the situation and if emergency contacts should be notified.