Perhaps one of the silver linings of the volcano ash cloud that has paralyzed Europe and many parts of the world is the addition of new phrases to our vocabulary. On the Sciences Po Paris campus several students discussed their travel plans for spring break (which started this week in France): “I was going to go home for the break, but it looks like I’ll be ‘ash’ed in’” said one international affairs student who had hoped to travel to Morocco to visit family. “I’ve been ‘volcano’ed’” says another who had hoped to fly back to the States over the weekend. An English student commented on her own country’s ingenuity: “They’re sending boats!”
Neologisms aside, the newest natural disaster has disrupted the lives of many students and teachers and has demonstrated just how global education has become. In England, one teacher was reported to drive to Germany to pick up five teachers on a school visit to Lithuania. In Spain, professors are using web cameras to communicate with students preparing for an A-Level business classes. 100s of students from the UK on a government-funded program are stuck in Beijing and are unsure what will happen when their visas expire.
Those who have been lucky enough to stay on ground, however, have used this unique volcanic activity as an opportunity to teach students about geothermic activity and atmosphere layers. But while students of finance might wonder if the latest volcanic eruption is revenge on Iceland’s lax credit policy that exacerbated the economic crisis, the economic consequences of the volcano are very real. It is still too early to say to what extent the volcano has affected education, but when the dust (or ash) settles, governments must access the disruption of the eruption (puns abound!) and hope that the current volcanic crisis does not hurt an already struggling education sector.