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Duke Cancels Summer Program To Study Abroad Amid Concerns Over SARS

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DURHAM, N.C. — Amid concerns over severe acute respiratory syndrome, Duke University officials have decided to cancel their summer study- abroad program in Beijing and are trying to develop an alternate program for students.

The decision, made Thursday by the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute and the Office of Study Abroad, affects more than 50 students who had been accepted into the program and were set to leave for China in mid-June.

The summer program at Capital Normal University features intensive Chinese language instruction.

Beijing is among the areas hardest hit by the mysterious, contagious disease. The World Health Organization has warned against travel to China's capital city, as well as to Shanxi and Guangdong provinces, Hong Kong and Toronto.

"This is just so unfortunate," said Mavis Mayer, coordinator of the Duke Study in China Program for the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute. "We had even more students accepted than last year. The program has become very popular in recent years."

Administrators are investigating alternate options for the students, such as hosting the program on Duke's campus.

"We're committed to try to find an alternative that will provide students with the language immersion experience they had hoped to get, even though it won't be in mainland China," said Margaret Riley, director of Duke's Office of Study Abroad. "We would really like to make something work out for these students."

Eighteen students have been accepted for a fall study abroad program in Hangzhou, in southeast China. Duke officials are postponing a decision about whether to hold that program as planned.

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