While much of the country bakes under the August sun and most families are enjoying a final vacation before school starts this fall, over 225,000 young Americans are preparing to depart for Study Abroad programs around the world. The U.S. Department of State's highest priority is the protection of U.S. citizens abroad. The safety and welfare of U.S. students studying and traveling overseas is a special concern to us, and it's the reason for our efforts to inform and assist student travelers.
How do we do this? Before students depart for exciting new locations, we encourage them and their college or university study abroad programs to check out a fantastic resource -- our award-winning Students Abroad website. The site offers students and schools a friendly, easy to navigate travel toolkit. It's a one-stop reference for international travel. We also share important safety and security information with students overseas via Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare. And just last month, we launched our Smart Traveler app for iPhone users.
If a student loses his or her passport, is arrested, falls ill, or becomes a victim of crime, the student, his or her family, and advisers can use these online resources to obtain information on how to reach the Department of State and our embassies and consulates all over the globe for help. We strongly encourage students to enroll in our online Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which enables our embassies or consulates to send them current safety and security information, and contact them more easily in the event of an emergency.
So visit our Students Abroad website as soon as you can and get all our information and our travel toolkit. Then join us in conversations on Facebook and Twitter. Remember, a well-informed traveler is a safe traveler!
Mary Hantsch, the author of this post, serves as a Consular Officer in the Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management.