Short of a week after ISIS attacked Paris, France, the seniors of Hills West began to worry about the status of their annual Europe trips. Over the past years, seniors enrolled in a foreign language class have been invited to partake in a class trip overseas. With the option of visiting either Spain or France and Italy, the seniors had much to look forward to until Friday the thirteenth.
Both trips included approximately thirty seniors, and were planned to take place during Presidents’ Week. Scheduled to leave on February 11th, seniors were eager to travel to Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, and Rome. The trip costs a steep $4,000, but many felt you could not truly put a price on this once-in-a-lifetime experience full of fun and a splash of learning. For nine days, dozens of Hills West students would wander the streets of foreign nations and gain new experiences. However, recent events have hindered excitement. On November 19, the senior trips to either Spain or France and Italy were cancelled due to the growing distress in Europe. According to principal Dr.Catapano, World Language Director of Half Hollow Hills, Mrs.Campbell, along with other district officials, had a role in deciding the fate in the trip
ISIS, which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has shaken up Western culture. Its recent attacks have incited a great fear of traveling overseas – especially in Europe. A group that condemns Western culture and loathes the United States and all it offers, ISIS is an ever-growing predator that threatens all Americans.
Killing approximately 130 people, including one American student, the Paris attacks have had a tremendous influence on American soil. Just a few weeks earlier on October 31st, a Russian commercial flight crashed, killing all 224 passengers – a massacre ISIS proudly took responsibility for. Due to recent events, parents and students worry that a large group of American students overseas would be a perfect target for ISIS.
France has been the longest documented ally with the United States, and having been attacked just 14 years ago on September 11th, the United States has been deeply affected by the attacks in Paris. Hills West students have taken to social media with hashtags such as “#PrayforParis,” and images of the French flag have dominated students’ timelines on Facebook. Although the circumstances are unstable, Hills West seniors still have some desires to travel abroad.
“I hope the district changes its mind,” said senior Olivia Dabrowski, “It was going to be so much fun traveling to Spain with some of my best friends.” Dabrowski was planning on visiting Spain with other Spanish language students over the February break. Emily Orlando, another Hills West foreign language student who studies Italian, was planning on going to Italy and France.
Despite the upset, Orlando is understanding. “I wouldn’t have gone either way,” said Orlando, “I was planning on going, but after what happened in Paris, there was no way I would go.”
Senior class advisor and Hills West Spanish teacher Anny Espinal is in charge of the Spain trip. Espinal has visited Spain in the past, and is just as upset as the students regarding the trip’s termination.
“It is really upsetting because these seniors are going to miss out on what would have been a life changing experience and something that they would always remember,” said Espinal.
The loss of visiting Europe wasn’t the only issue. Although the trip has been cancelled for over a week, students and their families remained in the dark in regards to whether or not they would be refunded. After placing thousands of dollars in deposits to hold his spot, senior, David Kaplan said, “Thousands of dollars were paid for a trip that no longer exists..we have not heard anything regarding the refunding of our money.” After over a week of waiting, students and their families were emailed on December 2 by ACIS – the program that organizes educational overseas trips – and learned that they would be receiving refunds for their deposits.
The Hills West community is not the only school concerned with senior trips. Jericho High School of Nassau County has also cancelled its overseas trips in response to the growing concerns of the Paris attacks.
The recent Paris attacks shocked the world and have left millions with just as many questions. ISIS has subjected the West to its terrorism – what will happen next, however, is an unsettling mystery.