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Safety concerns fade for students visiting Europe

War, terrorism don't thwart experiences in Spain, France

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By Lisa Seiser

Lake Geneva Regional News

Early concerns about safety because of the war in Iraq and terrorism dissipated quickly for the Big Foot High School students and adults who ventured on spring break trips to Europe.

Fourteen students, two adults and two teachers had no problems and no worries during trips to Spain and France.

Despite concerns prior to the trips, students and teachers noticed little affect of the war in Iraq on life in the European countries.

"I think parents were very concerned with the situation about the war and I, myself, at one point was very concerned as well," Spanish teacher Ramon Reyes said. "But as soon as we got on the plane, everything was safe and security was very good. I felt comfortable, and the students seemed the same."

The only sign of the war appeared to be some "no to war" signs in Madrid, Reyes said.

"There were obviously people for and against the war, but it really didn't affect anyone that I was aware of," Reyes said. "It didn't affect the kids at all."

French teacher Kristi Reierson said there were some students who backed out of the trip to France.

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"The ones who went on the trip were pretty determined through it all to go," she said. "They would keep checking with me and I was e-mailing someone over there that I know to get information."

Reierson said upon the group's arrival in France, there appeared to be little affect from the war.

"I didn't sense or notice anything different," she said. "There was a little more police presence in some of the busier areas. I noticed it was there, but there is always heightened security compared to what we are used to anyway."

Reierson said she didn't see anything different compared to her trip there two years ago.

Although Reyes said he wasn't worried about safety issues that could result from the war on terrorism, he took an extra safety measure for his students.

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"To be secure, I even purchased a cell phone that works only in Europe," Reyes said.

Reyes said the purchase was more of an aid for the students if they were homesick or having trouble during their family stays.

"I felt more safe that way, knowing what they were doing and how they were feeling," Reyes said.

There always is danger when you travel, Reyes said.

"I told the students that there has aways been danger, it is just that we are more aware of it because it has happened here," Reyes said. "It has always been. There is danger anywhere you go."

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