EUGENE, Ore. — Some University of Oregon students say they were the victims of crime while studying overseas.
Dozens of their items stolen while they slept, but they’re not letting the experience ruin the opportunity to learn.
The prestigious six-week program immerses students in Ghana media with internships at major media organizations. And even though they lost laptops, cell phones, cash and more, the students say the trip won’t be remembered for this one incident.
It happened in the middle of the night a week and a half ago. The UO journalism students woke up to a nearly empty room.
“One of the girls in our group came in our room and said, ‘You guys, you’ve been robbed.’ And it didn’t really hit me at that point what that meant,” said UO senior Conor Armor.
Burglars broke into the students’ home as they slept on July 17. Among the stolen items were laptops, other electronics, and cash.
“It was very surprising from going to from a place where we felt really, really safe and really, really welcome to having our space invaded,” said UO junior Dana Bredeweg.
And while they’re frustrated their items are gone, the students say it’s just stuff.
“We’re so attached to our technology, and we’ve been doing a good job of bonding, but I think going through something like that and then being left with just ourselves, we’ve become much stronger and we’re spending more time together,” Bredeweg said.
That added an unexpected element to the experience.
“We’re here for six weeks. Just because of one night was a very bad night does not mean that we should have six weeks of bad nights,” Armor said.
And there was a message students and parents of students want to make clear.
“When he called he said, ‘Mom, please when you tell this story, just represent as anywhere there can be a break-in in any city in any place in the world. And that this has nothing to do with Accra or its people,'” said Liz Kelly, a mother of one of the students.
“You know there’s this one story that goes on with Africa that it’s dark and dangerous, and really the reality of our experience has been absolutely contrary to that,” Bredeweg said.
“To get an internship at a media organization on the other side of the world, that’s an experience I feel so few people have an opportunity to do,” Armor said.
The program is selective. This year it accepted 16 students. The students expect to return at the beginning of next week.