Current Students - Before you arrive


Introduction | Current Students | Curriculum


Pre-arrival Information.

Before the course begins, a pre-arrival questionnaire will be e-mailed to you, asking for details and information about any religious observations you would like to make and any dietary restrictions you may have. Please fill out this questionnaire and return it promptly to the SMC Team so that we may make your stay more pleasant. Transportation to religious services will be arranged based on the responses we receive, and special meals may be ordered to accommodate participants.

Pre-Arrival Exercises and Discussions:
Prior to arrival at JMU, participants will receive reading assignments as well as exercises which will help prepare them for the course. These will be posted in a specially created Yahoo group that all participants are expected to join after receiving their acceptance notice.

Photo-release form:
Participants will also be receiving a form that grants the CISR/MAIC permission to take photographs during the course and then use the images in promotional material, on our Web site, and in The Journal of ERW and Mine Action, as well as elsewhere. Please review this form when you receive it and return it promptly.

Travel information and per diem:
Information on informing the CISR/MAIC staff about your travel plans and coordinating per diem for the course may be found below. If you have any questions or concerns about either of these topics, please e-mail Geary Cox ( before you depart.


What to Pack


Conference Attire:
Casual attire is acceptable for normal class sessions; however, please bring proper business attire as you will need it at certain times throughout the course. Also keep in mind that classrooms on campus are air-conditioned and may be much colder than average "room temperature," so you may want a sweater or light jacket.

Weekend clothing:
Casual dress is appropriate for weekends. It gets chilly sometimes in the evenings, so pack a jacket or a sweater. Also, bring comfortable shoes in case of weekend activities such as hiking and sightseeing.

Keep the weather in mind while packing:
In the early summer, the weather in Virginia is usually mild. The afternoons are generally warm while the evenings can be mild to chilly, especially in early May. Rainfall is not uncommon, so don't forget an umbrella.

Average Temperatures in Harrisonburg:


Average High: 73o F (23o C)
Average Low: 48o F (9o C)
Average Precipitation: 3.67 in (9.3 cm)

Average High: 81o F (27o C)
Average Low: 57 o F (14o C)
Average Precipitation: 3.56 in (9.0 cm)

What to Bring

At some point during the course, you will be asked to give a presentation on a topic concerning mine action in your country/region. It is recommended that you put together a PowerPoint presentation and bring it on a CD to present to other students. This presentation should be no longer than 10 minutes with an additional 5-10 minutes allocated for questions and answers. You may also e-mail the presentation ahead of time to the SMC e-mail account. Under no circumstances may you use a USB flash ("thumb") drive on a JMU computer during the course.

Personal items:
You will be in the United States for four weeks. While many items are available for purchase here if you forget to pack them (such as toothbrushes, shampoo, etc.), it will be very difficult for you to obtain personal prescription medications. We strongly recommend you carry all medications in your carry-on luggage since checked luggage can be delayed in arriving. It is also important to note that due to US travel regulations, you may not bring agricultural items (such as meats, fruits, vegetables, plants, soil, etc.) with you. Please review your airline's policies with regards to other personal items restrictions.

Make sure you bring a camera (and film if necessary). You will have the opportunity to take many field trips and will want to remember your visit. If you have space, please pack the cord that connects your camera to a computer so that we may compile digital images from as many participants as possible.

During your stay on campus, you will have access to JMU's wireless Internet in classrooms and most campus buildings. Please feel free to bring your wireless-enabled laptop or tablet to stay connected. You will have access to wireless Internet in the hotel room, but you may also want to bring a small ethernet cord for use in your room. Additionally, you will have access to JMU computer labs around campus and in the JMU libraries.

Please note that you may not use USB flash ("thumb") drives on any JMU computer. If you have need to send/receive files, please use e-mail when possible.

JMU staff will only be able to provide limited technical assistance while in the classroom. Hotel staff may not be available to provide technical assistance. Please be familiar with your computer and its operating system before you travel, especially wireless/Internet connection protocols.

Electricity converters and adapters:
Depending from whence you are traveling, your personal electronics may require an electricity converter and/or plug adapter to work properly in the United States. Please bring whatever converter(s) you require. JMU is only able to provide a limited number of adapters, which are not guaranteed to work with every device.

Calling cards and cellular phones:
Please check with your cellphone providers before departing to see whether your cellphone will work in the United States. American phones are usually not compatible with foreign SIM cards, however calling cards and pay-as-you-go phones are available for purchase at participants' expense in most larger stores in the United States.  Internet access will be available on campus and in the hotel, so it may be preferable to use e-mail or other Web-based communication (Skype) to maintain contact with family and coworkers.

Business cards:
Please pack sufficient business cards to exchange with other participants, guest lecturers, faculty, staff, and anyone else you may meet with at JMU.

Travel items:

As you leave, make sure you have your passport, visas, and any other documents that your country requires. Please bring original versions of documents; copies of documents (especially U.S. visas and other paperwork) may cause a significant delay while traveling. Don't forget money to exchange once you arrive in the United States; traveler's checks (in US dollars) can be extremely useful. You must travel with enough per diem money to cover your expenses from your departure through the first week of the course (at least US$200). Per diem money will not be available until after you arrive at JMU and the course is under way. Additionally, you may wish to bring extra luggage with you in order to take back course materials you receive, souvenirs, and other items bought while in the United States. You should check with your airline regarding baggage weight and restrictions for your return flight.

Per Diem and Other Expenses

CISR will be providing you with a small per diem to cover dinner and incidental expenses. This money will not be available until after the course has started, so please make arrangements to depart for JMU with sufficient funds to cover your expenses while traveling and during the first week of the course. Please be sure to convert your currency into U.S. Dollars (US$) or traveler's checks (in US$) before you leave your home country or as soon as you arrive at the airport in Washington, DC. Currency conversion is not available at JMU.

The money provided by CISR as “per diem” is intended for purchasing dinners and covering small incidental costs. The per diem will not be provided in cash; it will be issued on a JMU debit card known as a FLEX card which may be used on campus or in certain businesses within the vicinity of the school.  If you have questions about what the SMC will pay for, please e-mail Geary Cox ( before departing.


Health Insurance


JMU will also provide you with emergency medical insurance for the duration of your stay in the US. Realize that you will have to pay for any expenses incurred with your personal funds at the time the services are provided. If the services qualify for coverage under the emergency medical insurance, you will be reimbursed after the proper paperwork has been filed. This insurance covers costs for emergency medical care in the event of an acute illness or injury during your stay in the US. The cost of routine medical and dental care, as well as treatment for pre-existing conditions, is not covered. Please e-mail Geary Cox ( if you have any questions or concerns about the insurance coverage.

Visa Process

CISR will send out personal invitation letters and visa application packets to the mailing address you provide on your application. If there is a delay in receiving the letter, please contact Geary Cox ( as soon as possible. Once you receive this information, it is imperative that you take these documents to the United States embassy in your country to apply for a visa as soon as possible. Please remember to bring original versions of all visa and travel documentation with you -- bringing copies or not bringing documentation at all could significantly delay your travel.

Please note CISR will cover the visa initiation fee; however, it will not reimburse any additional fees incurred related to the US visa process.

Travel Arrangements and Cost-sharing Responsibilities

When planning your travel arrangements, please be aware that you should arrive at Dulles International Airport (IAD) outside of Washington, DC, on either 12 May or 13 May 2013. Once you have made your travel arrangements, please inform CISR of your plans.  CISR cannot arrange to pick you up at Dulles Airport if we do not have your flight information.

Departures should be scheduled for Friday, 7 June 2013. Transportation to/from JMU will be coordinated once all participants' flight information has been submitted to JMU. Please do not make a flight reservation to return prior to 7 June. Events on the final day of the course - Thursday, 6 June - are very important and not to be missed. If you have difficulty arranging for a departing flight on 7 June, let us know and we will help you decide on the best itinerary (

Please note that the campus of JMU is a substantial distance from Dulles Airport (IAD), and a failure to meet shuttles may result in additional expenses to be covered by the participant.  Dulles Airport (IAD) is more than two hours away from JMU, so special flight arrangements may not be able to be accommodated—please communicate your travel schedule early and avoid last-minute changes.

Because of financial constraints and new tax guidelines issued by the US Government, our ability to financially support course participants is more limited than it has been in the past.  

Sponsoring offices will be expected to contribute more financial support to participants' travel, including the full cost of airfare, any additional transportation and accommodations needed to reach Washington Dulles Airport (IAD), and any per diems related to participant travel days. 

Please direct all questions concerning cost-sharing responsibilities to Geary Cox ( – CISR and JMU will not be responsible for participants’ financial situations and cannot provide assistance beyond the basic accommodations and meals described above. We appreciate programs working in advance with participants to provide sufficient financial support in this regard.