The U.S. Department of State has issued a worldwide caution because of terrorist attacks in the USA, Paris, Brussels and other countries. Can you depart smart? Do you have an action plan?

The Minnesota State University Mankato Film Club is bringing 2010 Mid-America Hall of Fame inductee, WestSide Band, to perform at the Vetter Stone Amphitheatre, 310 W Rock Street, Mankato, MN, on Thursday, April 14, 2016 from 6:00-9:00 PM to raise awareness and funds to help students depart smart.

Rain or shine, the crowd-pleasing WestSide Band will fill the air with sounds ranging from Prince, Santana, Jerry Lee Lewis, Kid Rock & the Rolling Stones, featuring sax, trumpet, drums, guitar and soaring vocals! Tickets are $20 online at or at the event. Ticket purchasers will receive a purple wristband at the event. The following food trucks will be on location selling delicious concert foods:

  • Bacon Me Crazy – Hot sandwiches, burgers, fries, and soup.
  • Pharaoh’s Gyros – Gyros, falafel, baklava, and kabobs.
  • Slider Squad – Burgers, corn fritters, fries, and sandwiches.

Monies raised will go towards funding the first online, independent education tools to help students depart smart. Ashleigh Bagshaw, a Minnesota State University exchange student from Australia, is passionate about studying abroad. As a senior, a foreign exchange student, and a journalist Ashleigh wrote a compelling article about ClearCause Foundation’s mission to save lives and protect students abroad. “I felt like I knew what to do. I was stunned by what I did not know. Everyone should know how to depart smart. ClearCause’s work is so important. It’s why I engaged the MSU Film Club to raise funds and awareness.”

ClearCause Foundation was started by Allen and Sheryl Hill whose sixteen year old son, Tyler, died a preventable death on a People to People (now Ambassador Leaders) trip to Japan in 2007. They learned through every parent’s worst nightmare that the $230 billion student tourism industry is self-regulated.

Hill passionately speaks out, “Our students’ well-being is not well-protected by any federal law. No standardized education helps students depart smart. It’s why we are on a mission to engage students as active participants in decisions affecting their health and safety abroad.”

ClearCause created a checklist with more than 50 points to consider before studying abroad including tips that may have saved Tyler’s life:

  • Tyler Hill tried to dial 911 for help in Japan. The emergency numbers in most countries are not 911.
  • Even if he could have gotten through, he would not have been able to ask for help in Japanese.
  • He did not know the Japanese Red Cross Hospital was 10 minutes away.
  • His medical records were useless because they were in English.
  • Sheryl’s passport was going to expire in six weeks. She was almost unable to travel to her son.
  • It can cost more than $50,000 to bring a loved one home when tragedy strikes on foreign soil.
  • Many students abroad are not sufficiently insured.
  • And many more.

Founded in 2010, ClearCause spent the first four years collecting data, providing survivor support, and advocating for protective laws. Minnesota is the only state with policy mandating transparent reporting on illness, injury and death because of bills sponsored by Minnesota Senator Terri Bonoff and Minnesota Representative Yvonne Selcer. The state of Virginia is passing Damion’s Law sponsored by Representative Kenneth Alexander. Damion’s law is waiting for Governor Terry McAuliffe’s signature.

Now ClearCause is rebranding as Depart Smart to create awareness and online education helping to ensure every student returns with a rewarding experience in an industry held to the highest standards. We should all know how to depart smart. The first online module will be Action Plan – Emergency Preparedness. Each module will cost $10-15,000 to develop and support. Per Sheryl Hill, “Safety means the world to students abroad, and they mean the world to us.”

SPONSORS who want to share in the mission and rewards of helping our greatest treasure, our next generation, depart smart so they return with rewarding experiences should contact Ashleigh Bagshaw, MSU Film Club, (323) 304-3251, or Sheryl Hill, ClearCause, (952) 292-2725,

Thank you to McGowan Water for their donation of 100 gallons of water at no charge! We are truly grateful.