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SIT Concludes 'Operation Bring Our Students Home'

April 1, 2020
 
 

The School for International Training said Tuesday that it successfully repatriated more than 900 students who studied abroad through its programs around the world this semester. The Vermont-based study abroad provider said it had repatriated 914 undergraduates and six graduate students, representing all students who were studying abroad on SIT programs with the exception of nine undergraduates who signed waivers and chose to remain in their host countries.

The sudden closures of borders and cancellations of flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic left study abroad students stranded, including students on SIT’s programs in Morocco, Peru and Samoa. SIT said students in Peru and Samoa were among the last to board flights home: the closure of borders in Peru on March 16 temporarily stranded 19 SIT students with their home-stay families in the city of Cusco. The students were evacuated on two U.S. government flights on March 24 and 25.

The 15 students studying in Samoa had difficulty returning to the U.S. due to restrictions on travel to Fiji, New Zealand and other transit points. SIT said the students departed Samoa March 25 on a commerical flight to American Samoa, where they stayed for two days before departing for Honolulu and Los Angeles. The last student from Samoa returned home Saturday night, bringing a conclusion to a two-week effort that SIT termed "Operation Bring Our Students Home." [Editor's note: Details about the date and nature of the flight from Samoa were corrected due to inaccurate information initially provided by SIT.]

It's not the first time study abroad providers have had to evacuate students from specific countries due to crises, but the evacuation effort this semester was unprecedented in terms of scale. SIT suspended all its programs worldwide -- including 56 undergraduate programs and two graduate programs -- on March 15. At the time the provider said it had students all over the world, including students in the Amazon, the Himalaya and a group about to leave by boat for Antarctica. Students on SIT programs are completing their spring semester coursework online.

 

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