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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

When Coronavirus Cuts Your “Study Abroad” Program Short

Can you imagine getting to study abroad somewhere as exotic as Morocco, and then getting stuck there due to coronavirus?

Danford, an American student from the University of Vermont in Burlington, was less than two weeks into what was supposed to be over a month of education and cultural immersion in Moroccan life. “We went from thinking we might stay there for the whole semester to leaving as soon as possible,” she told ABC News… Following the announcement on Sunday, March 15, Danford said the next four days were a blur of finding any option for her and at least 27 classmates to get home — all of whom were enrolled in a study abroad program focused on climate change through the School of International Training Jaime Molyneux, the director of international risk management at UPenn, chartered a private plane for eight students — including Chia — from Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport to London Luton Airport on March 19. From there, the students took ground transportation to London Heathrow Airport and booked commercial flights to their final destinations. According to Molyneux, the university was able to cover costs of the private flight with an emergency fund… “What ended up getting us out were connections and money and institutions,” she said. “I really feel like institutions were so much more powerful than the U.S. government.” Danford echoed those sentiments, telling ABC News that she and 23 of her peers secured seats on a Ryanair flight, which had been chartered for European citizens, also on March 19. They found out about the flight through a travel agent that a student’s parents knew… Putting aside the risks associated with the Ryanair flight, Stahelin commended the group for taking initiative. “I admire how some students decided to take matters into their own hands and be very resourceful, self-organize and get themselves out,” he said. Before they had a definitive way home, both Danford and Chia contacted their respective senators and representatives, asking their family and friends to do the same.

What an adventure those students will have to tell their children and grandchildren about!

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