Author Topic: "Thailand too dangerous for US students"  (Read 602 times)

Offline Johnnie F.

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"Thailand too dangerous for US students"
« on: June 12, 2012, 08:45:19 AM »
Pasadena ISD may not allow academic team to compete in Thailand

Students from Pasadena High School are the favorites to win an international academic competition  in Thailand next week, but the  school district officials are “squeamish” about sending the team abroad because of safety concerns.

A team of three students won a place in the World Scholar’s Cup competition to represent the U.S.  in Bangkok on June 21-24 for the final global round. The international competition has about 100 teams from around the world competing this year, said Daniel Berdichevsky, the group’s international program director.

In the regional tournament in Houston last month, the Pasadena High School team not only won a spot in the global round, but received the highest score out of all the worldwide competitors, making the team the No. 1 seed heading to Thailand.

“They had the highest score out of about 5,000 teams at regional level,” Berdichevsky said. ” They are favored to win the global round.”

The students face obstacles with their school district, however, who said that Thailand may be too dangerous for a school-sponsored trip. A school district official  initially said they would not be allowed to travel internationally for the competition.

Superintendent Kirk Lewis says he will make a final decision on Tuesday after meeting with the teens and their parents. Lewis said they are outstanding kids and he is so proud that they made it far in the academic competition, but he is conflicted because of concerns for their safety.

“To be honest, I am struggling with them going on international travel to Thailand. I have seen international travel advisories from that country,” Lewis said. “They have worked hard and earned the right to compete, but I don’t know if it’s the smartest thing to do at this point.”

He said he is “squeamish” about sending them to the country on a school-sponsored event. The competition would provide most of the expenses for the trip, but the travel would not be covered. Lewis said funding was not the issue.

“I dont want to put them at risk,” he said. ”I wanted to give them a chance to talk to me about it.”

According to records from the U.S Department of State , there are currently no travel warnings against Thailand.

Pasadena  High School sophomore Pedro Reyes, 16,  said the team practiced for months to win the regional competition. The other team members are sophomore Alondra Serna and junior Eduardo Aleman.

“I felt like it was a kick in the face,” Reyes said. “I spent countless hours studying and stayed up late learning the material I needed to know. The fact that we are No. 1 doesn’t even make me happy. It’s like keeping the No. 1 contender in the world from competing in the Olympics.”

Berdichevsky said that the team from Singapore, which has the second highest score, wrote a letter to the competition that urged the U.S. team to be allowed to compete. The Singapore team doesn’t want to win without the No. 1 seed competing, he said.

“We are really excited about the tournament this year and the missing element would definitely be the team from the United States,” he said.