04/29/09 — MOC students are doing fine on Mexico trip

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MOC students are doing fine on Mexico trip

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 29, 2009 1:46 PM

The Mount Olive College contingent that left over the weekend for a seven-day internship in Mexico is following news about the swine flu outbreak but will continue with its travel agenda, officials said Tuesday.

Despite reported closures of public and private schools, as well as businesses and restaurants across Mexico, the five students and their professor spent Tuesday attending conferences and touring the area.

The students -- Felix Reimundo of Miami, Fla., Mishael Bautista of Mount Olive, Camila Kurebayashi of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Michael Ratley of Fayetteville and Ivette Clemente-Andoney of Goldsboro -- and Dr. David Hill, associate professor of the Robert L. Tillman School of Business, were invited by former Mexican President Vicente Fox to Leon, Mexico. Rhonda Jessup, director of public affairs at MOC, said the area is about 500 miles from where the reported outbreak of swine flu originated.

Officials declined comment on why the "exclusive internship opportunity" continued as planned in light of the publicized spread of swine flu.

In a statement released by the college, officials said, "Although the group is aware of all the news surrounding the swine flu, they feel they are taking the appropriate precautionary measures at this time, and plan to continue with their planned agenda. (Tuesday) the MOC group has a full day of more visits and conferences."

On Monday, they visited the Universidad Iberoamer-icana. The campus was empty, however, because of canceled classes. The group toured the campus with three senior student guides. The tour was followed by an hour-long visit with former President Fox, who talked with them about leadership.

In an e-mail received from the college, Dr. Hill remarked, "The Mexican government is concerned about the swine flu, as was evident by them canceling schools and universities yesterday. There are no known cases of swine flu in this area. Our students are washing their hands constantly before meals and snacks and use sanitizer lotions several times each day. We are using caution and good judgment, and will continue to do so while in Mexico. We will monitor each student as we return to the U.S."

Hill also indicated that the students had been in contact with their parents, speaking with them nightly.

One of the students, Camila Kurebayashi, wrote via e-mail, "We are enjoying this opportunity to its fullest. We have opened our minds after each workshop, and learned more about ourselves. This experience is unique and I consider myself extremely lucky for having the opportunity to be part of a diverse group, to learn from people with different perspectives."

They are expected to return to the U.S. on Saturday.