Health, Safety, & Risk Management

The Experiment recognizes risk as inherent in all travel, and we continually work to identify, mitigate, and manage risks within our program contexts. Our comprehensive 360-degree approach to risk management has been developed over our decades of experience providing safe learning environments abroad.

The Experiment is well poised to consider resuming thoughtful and responsible travel in summer 2021 for the following reasons:

History & Experience

The Experiment is the most experienced provider of summer abroad programs for high school students. We are considering our longstanding history and experience within new global and local COVID-19 contexts. The Experiment’s/World Learning’s executive and risk management teams continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry. We consult International SOS – a leading expert in the field of international risk management, as well as closely monitor U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of State advisories and alerts.

Global Context, Local Focus

Experiment programs are implemented by a global network of offices that can adjust programming as necessary to meet new health and safety guidelines. We work with local experts who can alter itineraries quickly to respond to changing scenarios during programs.

Cultural Immersion & Experiential Learning

Cross cultural understanding is important, now more than ever. When the global COVID-19 pandemic ends, for the world to recover and rise to new challenges we must live and work together across cultures. Through The Experiment’s experiential and culturally immersive programs, Experimenters gain critical skills such as leadership, teamwork, cross-cultural competence, language acquisition, and problem-solving.

360-Degree Approach to Health, Safety & Risk Management

Our comprehensive, 360-degree approach focuses on the mental and physical well-being of participants before, during, and after the program. The Experiment has robust emergency preparedness supplies, action plans, and protocols in place, as well as detailed contingency plans. Experiment programs also have two (2) expertly trained adult group leaders, small groups of 10-15 participants, 24-hour on-call assistance from our staff, in-country support, and more.

Risk Management Team

The Experiment risk management team works collaboratively with Experimenters and their families, health care professionals, and partner organizations—in consultation with a team of counseling providers and medical staff provided by The Experiment’s risk management company, International SOS—to ensure that students are set up to succeed on the program.

Risk Management Team

Kirstin French-Kray
Director of Operations & Youth Programming
(802) 258-3418

Christina Thomas
Divisional Vice President, Youth Exchange
(202) 464-8542

Kristen Dowling
Operations Manager
(802) 258-3461

Our 360-degree approach includes:

Health Review Process

Once program admission has been confirmed, medical clearance for travel is required from an Experimenter’s healthcare provider(s). Experimenter health histories and provider clearances are then thoroughly reviewed by our medical team. This detailed-oriented health review process allows The Experiment to anticipate many health-related risks on program and to facilitate appropriate management of these risks.

During the health review process, a member of The Experiment medical team may contact Experimenters and families to follow up on health information provided, discuss program realities, and clarify expectations of and for the Experimenter, their family, and Experiment program staff. To facilitate management and support of certain medical and mental health concerns on program, individual Experimenter Wellness Plans may be created collaboratively prior to travel.

Full disclosures of health histories and concerns are vital to the success of the health review process and to Experimenters’ preparation for safe and successful programs. Any changes to the Experimenter’s health history or status that arise between the submission of their health forms and their departure for program must also be immediately disclosed to The Experiment. Up-to-date health information allows Experiment group leaders and risk management staff to best support Experimenters’ health and wellness on program.

All information will be kept confidential and shared securely with Experiment group leaders and in-country partners as needed to facilitate planning and support for anticipated health concerns and response for any healthcare needs that may arise on program.

Pre-Departure Preparation

Understanding that Experimenters and their families often have many questions about health and safety abroad, The Experiment provides resources to address these questions and to help Experimenters prepare for safe and successful program experiences. The following are general guides for all Experiment families, accessible through the Experiment Portal:

  • Travel Vaccinations & Medications
  • Traveling with Allergies Abroad
  • Traveling with Personal Medications Abroad

The Experiment also provides in-depth Experimenter and Family Handbooks, program-specific Health Guidelines, detailed packing lists, and comprehensive travel logistics.

Wellness Planning

The Experiment is committed to supporting program participation for Experimenters traveling with physical or mental health concerns requiring active management through proactive wellness planning. For Experimenters with such health concerns, Wellness Plan Templates and guidance are made available as part of the Health Review Process. Wellness planning allows Experimenters to anticipate challenges they may encounter while traveling and to translate management strategies from their daily life at home to the Experiment program context. The core of a Wellness Plan articulates realistic strategies for prevention and response, as well as expectations and responsibilities for safe and successful behavior on program.

Medical Insurance

All Experimenters traveling internationally are covered by the World Learning medical insurance policy, which provides full coverage for accidents, illness, and emergency evacuation while on program. This policy starts when Experimenters either board their international group flight or join their group in their program country.

Experimenters traveling on programs outside the United States are insured through Cigna and Lloyd’s. For further details about the Cigna and Lloyd’s policy coverage, read the Summary of Benefits. For out-of-pocket costs for medical expenses incurred on program, Experimenter families can submit a claim for reimbursement through Cigna’s Medical Benefits Abroad Claim Form.

Experimenters who are citizens of the United States and traveling in the United States for any program component will be primarily covered by their personal medical insurance. Experimenters are strongly encouraged to maintain their ongoing coverage in the United States even while traveling abroad.

International students traveling in the United States for an Experiment program are covered by a similar World Learning purchased insurance policy.

International SOS

The Experiment partners with International SOS to provide medical support and security assistance coverage for all Experiment programs abroad. International SOS has been providing high-quality global medical and security services for over 25 years. All Experimenters and Experiment families have access to extensive country-specific resources through International SOS’s member zone website.

The Experiment’s International SOS membership includes access to a 24-hour assistance network that works in coordination with The Experiment’s summer on-call team. This multilingual service helps Experiment group leaders locate appropriate medical treatment in country, coordinate with doctors and hospitals, arrange direct payment, and facilitate medical transfer or evacuation if necessary.

Ongoing Monitoring

The Experiment Team continuously monitors events abroad and receives up-to-the-minute travel advisories both before programs depart and throughout the program season. The Experiment monitors U.S. government advisories issued by embassies and consulates as well as the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC. The Experiment also consults with academic and nongovernmental organizations through World Learning’s global network. World Learning’s institutional global risk management committee and International SOS provide additional support and context for assessing risk associated with events in program countries.

In-Country Local Support

Each Experiment group is supported by an extensive professional network of in-country resources including partner offices, international educators, homestay coordinators, program guides, and translators. Our in-country partner offices help us design each program and support our groups throughout the program season. All third-party program partners and providers have been vetted for safety standards and compliance with all Experiment polies. All Experimenters are registered with the local U.S. Embassy through the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

Experiment Group Leaders

The Experiment groups are accompanied by two carefully selected and trained adult leaders. Group leaders maintain ongoing contact with all Experimenters throughout the program and work collaboratively with in-country partners and The Experiment offices in the United States. All Experiment group leaders are certified in CPR and First Aid, receive program-specific medical briefings, and are trained as on-the-ground risk managers.

Policies and Procedures

The Experiment has created a robust suite of policies and procedures to structure the program experience and to mitigate known and anticipated risks. All polices are published in full in Experimenter and Family Handbooks, and Experiment group leaders receive extensive training on policy and procedure implementation.

Comprehensive In-Country Orientation

Each Experiment program begins with an in-country orientation that includes health and safety information. The orientation focuses on local health and safety best practices, increasing cultural knowledge (such as language survival-skills and in-country norms), and developing Experimenter’s cross-cultural communication skills and self-awareness, specifically within the context of the program country. Beginning with the in-country orientation, and continuing throughout the program, Experimenters are routinely familiarized with location-specific emergency response plans.

24-Hour On-Call Support

The Experiment provides a 24-hour on-call assistance line based in our Brattleboro, VT and Washington, DC offices for any health, safety, or security concerns that may arise throughout the program season. Our on-call staff communicates with families, group leaders, in-country partners, International SOS, and other relevant support resources.

Virtual Exchanges & Program Safety 

Safe and sustainable 

We provide a safe online space for young people to engage with their peers while interacting confidently and respectfully sharing their ideas. The fully online low-cost program design promotes an environmentally-friendly, low carbon footprint model. 

Throughout the entirety of the program, participants are directly supervised by professional facilitators, who have experience with cultural exchange and undergo an intensive month-long training on online facilitation. They will monitor all interactions on program platforms. Facilitators will follow The Experiment’s progressive discipline and risk management protocols to manage any incidents that occur, this includes informing full-time staff at The Experiment Digital, who will are reachable 24/7. 

Safe interaction online 

The Experiment Digital is delivered on  secure, password protected platforms. Only those with an invitation will be able to access the program and any information on program platforms. The program begins with a module on Digital Citizenship and E-Safety, which teaches participants how to interact productively and safely online. During synchronous program activities, participants have the option to engage at their own comfort levels, including choosing whether to connect via audio or video.