Each year the amount of travel to and from campus by Yale students, faculty, and staff increases, and with that, the probability of travel-related issues also rises. There are many services available to the Yale community to help them navigate any challenges that they may encounter.
Yale’s International Operations and Compliance Committee (IOCC) helps all members of the Yale community by providing travel-related services to faculty, students, and staff. In addition, for Yale international students and scholars, the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) is also ready to assist in both emergency and non-emergency situations.
Kayoko Shioda, a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at the Yale School of Public Health, experienced firsthand how these organizations can help during an emergency.
In July, Shioda was selected to participate in the Lindau-Nobel Laureate Meeting, a gathering in Lindau, Germany of more than 600 young scientists and 39 Nobel laureates. Just after the meeting Kayoko’s backpack with nearly all her belongings was stolen. Fortunately, Shioda still had her phone. In addition to contact information for Yale organizations that she could call upon for help, it contained pictures of all her critically important documents: her passport, Visa, and I-20. While Shioda was filing the police report, she also made the necessary calls to cancel her credit and debit cards and reached out to two Yale contacts for help.
First, she called Yale Security at their “all fives” number: 203-785-5555. This is the number all travelers are advised to call if they encounter an emergency abroad; it is staffed 24/7 and has a protocol in place to deal with such incidents. Security then put Kayoko in touch with Marje Lemmon, Yale’s risk manager, who advised her to open a case with UnitedHealthcare Global Travel Assistance (UHCG) and to contact Ann Kuhlman, the executive director of OISS, for any Yale paperwork she might need to get her documents reissued.
“Our job is to assist when an emergency happens,” said Lemmon. “It’s important all travelers be aware that there is a team of people at the university always standing by and ready to assist and guide them through any emergency.”
While support is available and guaranteed to everyone, registering travel plans makes getting that help easier. Travelers are advised to carry a UHCGlobal ID card. In addition to providing a list of emergency telephone numbers and other useful information, it contains a “What To Do In A Travel Emergency” checklist. A similar list can be found on the International Toolkit website.
“Kayoko took all the right steps in advance of her trip. That doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen. But when they did, she had the information she needed to get help quickly,” said Lemmon.
International travelers are also advised to keep their phones and important documents in separate physical locations.
“It’s so important to keep everything in a single, easily accessible ‘cloud-based’ location, because often when traveling you may find yourself in areas where cell service may not be good, your battery may go dead, or you could even lose your phone entirely,” said Shioda. “The most important thing you can do is to be prepared before you travel, and the easiest and best way to prepare is to follow all the steps and advice provided on the International Toolkit. Do that, and you’ll find yourself well equipped to face any challenge head-on.”
Shioda also wants other Yalies to know that even when they take such precautions they should be aware it may take longer than expected to replace important paperwork like passports and visas. In her case it took nearly a full month to have her papers reinstated.
Kuhlman concludes, “Regardless of the circumstances, if international students and scholars experience any issues be it related to documentation, travel issues, or otherwise, we encourage them to never hesitate to contact us at OISS.”