The planned band trip to Istanbul, Turkey, over spring break has raised concerns about the safety of students.
Band Director Tom Deep said that Turkey was chosen as this year’s destination because of the valuable educational experience its rich history will provide. Because Turkey is split between Asia and Europe, it has an interesting mix of cultures and people. Turkey has also been occupied by many different countries and empires over history, and as a result Deep said he expects the trip will give students a new perspective of other cultures that they might not otherwise get to experience. Students will visit historic churches, Ottoman ruins and famous mosques.
According Deep, four unique groups helped to decide the location for this year’s trip. Groups comprised students, band directors, parents and administrators, and Deep said each group chose Turkey. On its last trip three years ago, the band travelled throughout Europe.
One concern about traveling to Turkey is the country’s proximity to the Middle East. Though Turkey is not a part of the Middle East, there are uprisings in countries nearby and according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, there are terrorism threats in Southeast Turkey.
Additionally, the website of the Council on U.S. Relations states that the United States’ relationship with Turkey has been strained since Turkey denied the United States use of territory during the Iraq War in 2006. The Turkish government felt that the United States did not take Turkish security into account during the Iraq War, and as a result, U.S. citizens faced greater risk in Turkey. According to the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs website, some terrorist attacks in Turkey over the past few years have been deliberately directed at U.S. citizens.
“We all know Turkey has problems going on,” said freshman Max Bond, who said his parents are hesitant to let him go on the trip. Although Bond’s parents have agreed to let him go, he says his safety is his and his parents’ main concern. At this time, the number of people going on the trip is higher than the past average, according to Deep. However Deep said that as it comes time to make payments, numbers often go down.
Safety is often a main concern when visiting the Middle East and surrounding countries. Freshman Peter Zagara said it was his choice not to go, but his parents wouldn’t have let him anyway. Zagara said, “You don’t send two planes of school children into a war zone.”
A version of this article appeared in print on 19 September 2012, on page 6 of The Shakerite.