The current Ecuador and Tanzania Study-Service Term units were informed over the weekend that they will return home this week, nearly three weeks earlier than planned. This decision came only hours after all Goshen College international May Term classes and summer SST units were also cancelled following a level 2 or 3 travel advisory issued by the U.S. State Department of Bureau of Consular affairs.While those who were set to travel in May digest the information, the SST units have begun preparing to return home.
Noelia Calderon, a sophomore business major currently based in San Vicente, Ecuador, explained that all members of the unit will return to Quito, the country’s capital, while travel arrangements are made for them to be able to return to the U.S.
“Most of us have mixed feelings,” Calderon said. “Of course we are upset that our experience is cut short, although it is a relief to be able to deal with the deadly virus at home with our own families. Personally I’d rather go home early now that I have the chance. The situation is unstable and risky to stay here.”
In Tanzania, the students are still currently spread out in their service locations, but are expecting to be told soon to begin making their way back to Dar es Salaam, the country’s largest city, to fly home.
“Right now, we don’t know much other than we will be returning home to the states very soon,” said Denver Beck, a sophomore sustainability studies major, currently based in Mugango, Tanzania. “Personally, I’m feeling pretty disappointed and frustrated that we won’t be able to finish out our time here in Tanzania when we are so close to the end.”
Beck was also enrolled in the Economics in Ecuador May Term course and will now have to find an alternative class to take following its cancelation.
“It’s a bit frustrating,” Beck said. “It’s definitely a unique situation, and it’s hard knowing that it’s completely out of your hands.”
Students who were registered for international May Term classes were told of the cancellations via email. The students have been informed that they will receive a full refund for the deposits and payments they had already made.
In another email from Jan Bender Shetler, director of international education, students were informed that additional SST-Alt classes would be added to May Term for those who require it to graduate.
“Obviously I’m upset over the cancellation of our trip to Ecuador,” said William Troyer, a junior broadcasting major. “I trust that this is the right decision based on what we currently know about the Coronavirus. I hope that in the future I can pursue a study abroad opportunity in the time I have left at Goshen College.”
Jerrell Ross Richer, professor of economics, who was set to lead the Ecuador May Term is currently based in Tena, Ecuador. In an email to students who were signed up for the class, he explained that the Ecuadorian government had decided to close all schools indefinitely and had canceled all public meetings. Athletic events are continuing but without any fans. Ecuador has also made the decision to close its borders to non-citizens.
Richer asked the students to keep “us and the people of Ecuador in your prayers. We’ll keep you in ours.”