Bombing in Istanbul cancels McKelvy trip

The McKelvy House spring break trip to Istanbul, Turkey was cancelled following a bombing there this past Saturday.

Although the trip had initially been approved by the school, the recent attack prompted Lafayette to call off the expedition, according to Assistant Professor of History and advisor to McKelvy Rachel Goshgarian.

Before the attack, there were not nationally-sanctioned travel warnings to Istanbul.

“There were some concerns because the U.S. State Department has had travel restrictions to southeastern Turkey,” Goshgarian said. But these concerns were not enough to keep the group away from Istanbul.

On February 17, there was a bombing in the Turkish city Ankara about a five-mile drive from Istanbul. Three weeks later, there was another bombing in Ankara approximately a week before the trip was supposed to depart.

On March 18, Goshgarian received an e-mail from a former U.S. Ambassador, who assured her that Istanbul was stable. The next day, there was a bombing on Balo Street. The attack took place several blocks from Hotel Troy, where the McKelvy House scholars planned to stay.

After the attack, a risk assessment team associated with study abroad decided to call off the trip, Goshgarian said.

Approximately $22,000 was set aside for the trip, according to Goshgarian. The funds came from a $40,000 reserve specifically set aside for the McKelvy House, which Goshgarian learned about earlier this year.

Goshgarian said the only funds that the group may have lost from cancellation would be the $10,000 they spent on plane tickets. However, they are currently in negotiation with Turkish Airlines for reimbursement. The rest of the McKelvy budget remains untouched.

McKelvy House opted to go to Istanbul over Venice, Italy several weeks ago.

Goshgarian said she does not regret choosing this trip because the group voted unanimously in favor of Istanbul.

“The reality is that no one voted for the other option, so they were all very much interested in going to Istanbul,” she remarked.

Although the cancellation was a disappointment, Goshgarian said it is also disheartening that her students, “who were seemingly so open and so brave to go to a place that they knew was potentially in conflict” were not rewarded.

“I hope that these kinds of events do not deter students from engaging in study abroad opportunities, because they’re so important,” she added.

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