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Archive for Saturday, August 11, 2001

KU will continue Costa Rican program

August 11, 2001

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Kansas University will continue its study abroad programs in Costa Rica this fall despite the stabbing death of a student conducting research there, officials said late last month.

The announcement came after university officials conducted two site visits and interviewed students, staff, host families and government officials, said Diana Carlin, dean of graduate schools and international programs.

Shannon Martin, 23, was stabbed to death in Golfito, Costa Rica, while on an independent biological research trip. She had previously studied there on a KU program in spring 2000.

The Golfito program, which began Aug. 6 with a two-week orientation, has 18 students this session.

Carlin said the study abroad office followed the outlines of a safety audit recommended by the Association of International Educators.

"We do everything that they suggest we do to make this as reasonably safe as we can," Carlin said.

One change is in the orientation process. Orientation now will include a meeting with U.S. Embassy officials after students fly into San Jose, the capital city. The orientation meetings typically are conducted by the consular general, a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said.

About 1 million tourists visit Costa Rica each year, according to the embassy, and more than half the visitors are from the United States. Data was not available on the number of study abroad programs in the country.

Shannon Martin's mother, Jeanette Stauffer, of Topeka, said she supported continuing the study abroad programs, but that the university could have put pressure on the Costa Rican government in May or June by threatening to cancel the program if there was not a thorough investigation

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