Foreign Friends Forced To Return After CoronaVirus Outbreak

Agnete+Maria+Vonheim+puts+on+a+mask+in+front+of+the+airport+before+heading+back+to+Norway.+

Agnete Maria Vonheim puts on a mask in front of the airport before heading back to Norway.

Anna Mialky

BY ANNA MIALKY (‘20)

Due to the Coronavirus, the high school’s five exchange students have been asked to return to their home countries. 

This includes sophomore David Seidl from the Czech Republic; junior Yi-Chia Hsieh from Taiwan; and seniors Mariana Garcia-Tapia from Chile, Agnete Maria Vonheim from Norway and Mahmoud Hassan from Egypt.

Exchange student organizations have been scrambling to assist the students. The pace at which the coronavirus escalated was unexpectedly fast and organizing paperwork plane rides, and much more has proven to be a challenge. 

“I have been waiting three weeks for my plane ticket,” Garcia-Tapia said. “It’s really stressful. They have cancelled my flights twice and AFS Chile is still trying to get plane tickets for me and the other Chileans.”

The process overall was stressful and emotional for everyone involved.

“it was surprising” guidance counselor Elizabeth Adams said. “Pretty much everything about the last month has been completely surprising! This is such an unprecedented time.”

Furthermore, returning home for the students will be a huge adjustment.

“In Chile, we have to do two weeks of quarantine,” Garcia-Tapia said. “It’s mandatory, so we can’t go anywhere, just staying home.”

However, some things for the exchange students will stay the same. 

“I’m going to continue online school at Granville,” Garcia-Tapia said. “I need to finish the school year here so I can come back and give the papers to my school in Chile and continue my education. That way I don’t lose an entire school year.”

Many students are sad to see the five exchange students leave so early but are relieved to know precautions are being taken to ensure their safety. 

“If this pandemic is going to drag out for several more months, it makes sense that these students should ultimately be at home with their families” says Adams.