Columbia University

Global Travel

Traveler Feedback: Eric Ratner

Eric Ratner appreciates the guidance and help he has received from the University staff and International SOS (ISOS).

“I’ve had nothing but positive experiences,” said Ratner, who is the Director of Student Affairs at the Mailman School of Public Health. “Their advice has always been helpful.”

Eric’s office works with 100 to120 Mailman students each year who travel internationally for academic reasons. He expressed gratitude for the services Global Travel and ISOS provide, from visiting with students up front to help plan travel, to services offered during their trip.

“They are always very pleasant and good about explaining how ISOS is not insurance, but a service that offers a range of travel resources,” Eric said.

One recent experience stands out for Eric. In 2014, he worked closely with Columbia Global Travel and ISOS to help a Mailman student working on the Global Health practicum. The student had initially planned to go to Sierra Leone, but because of the concerns at the time around the Ebola virus, Sierra Leone began to close its borders while the student was in transit.

The student, having heard the news, made arrangements to travel to nearby Ghana instead. But as Ebola concerns spread, she became increasingly worried about whether she would eventually be able to leave Ghana. She was also understandably concerned about potential costs if she did need to evacuate.

Eric, along with Laura Schon in Risk Management, partnered with ISOS to provide the student with resources and information. ISOS provided reassurance that the gauge for evacuation was not met, and additionally was able to confirm that the student was in a low-risk area. Ultimately, she was able to remain in Ghana to complete her practicum.

Another positive experience for Eric was the assistance Global Travel and ISOS provided to a Mailman student in Egypt during the 2013 unrest.

This student was increasingly concerned and frightened by the violence around her. Although the situation had not yet reached serious alert levels, ISOS and Global Travel again worked with Eric and the student to ensure her comfort and safety. Together they identified a safe path home for the student, including identifying local safe areas in Egypt, reliable transportation to the airport, and an itinerary that allowed the student to return to New York that same evening.

“She knew ISOS had her back,” Eric said, adding that ISOS also provided multiple backup options so that the student truly felt she could count on the service.