On Thursday, March 5, Goshen College announced that the China fall Study-Service Term would be relocated to Indonesia. The announcement was made on the college’s website where a specific Coronavirus page has been set up to keep the campus community updated and informed about the virus and its impact on the college. An email was then sent out to students, employees and retired Goshen faculty and staff from the Dean’s office to inform them of the change.The change in the SST destination is a result of China remaining at a level 4 on the travel Advisory scale by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular affairs since January.
“We were waiting to see if it would be removed as the COVID-19 cases subsided,” said Jan Bender Shetler, director of international education. “However, we need to move ahead with plans for fall SST and cannot wait any longer for that to change.”
Students that were signed up for the China SST will now study Bahasa Indonesian over May Term rather than Mandarin. Shetler met with the students during their third SST orientation meeting on Tuesday, March 10, to provide them with more information about the transition.
“I was getting excited about China, and I am definitely sad I won’t get to go there,” said Sierra Ross Richer, a junior in the group. “But Indonesia sounds like a cool country too, so I will probably still go. I think I can get excited about it too. It’s just an adjustment.”
Shetler explained that all SST and May Term abroad students are currently in the process of opting in or opting out of the program that they signed up for.
“Given the current levels of anxiety in the U.S., we want to give everyone the chance to decide for themselves whether they want to proceed or not,” she said.
Students who decide to opt-out will receive a full refund of their deposit. Shetler explained that if the number of students in any of these programs drops too low, the programs will be canceled and all students will receive a full refund.
The May Term trip to Nepal has already been canceled but preparation for the other May Term, summer and fall trips are still in place as England, Spain, Ecuador, Sengal, Kenya and Indonesia have no travel advisories in place at a level 3 or 4. The current SST programs in Tanzania and Ecuador will also continue to function normally.
“We continue to feel confident that our students will be healthy in these locations and will take action if the situation changes over the next few months,” Shetler said.
Other precautions have been put in place within the college to keep the campus community healthy. On Sunday, March 8, hand sanitizer and tissues were placed by the entrance and inside of the Harold & Wilma Good Library; Physical Plant are offering employees bottles of hand sanitizer for shared work areas and classrooms; and some students are already taking the precaution to self-isolate after returning from level 3 countries, or being in contact with those who have returned.
Rebecca Choi, a senior, is currently self-isolating after recent travel to South Korea. Since returning, Choi had been following the CDC guidelines and been in communication with the Crisis Management Team at GC. However, those guidelines recently changed to state that people who had returned from a level 3 country should remain at home for a period of 14 days even if they fail to display symptoms.
Choi is currently allowed guests, but they are required to stay within 6 feet away from her. She has been able to continue with classes and choir practice through FaceTime. As for food, Choi explained that “Student Life has been awesome about getting the food I need,” she said.
Due to self-isolating, Choi was unable to perform at the 60th Annual Concerto-Aria Concert. Choi was set to perform “Ah perdona al primo affetto” from La Clemenza di Tito with fellow student Bek Zehr.
Choi expressed her disappointment in not being able to perform the duet with Zehr, but the pair will be able to showcase their talent on April 18 at the Symphony Orchestra Concert.