The Crazy Departures from COVID

prom group goofy

December 18, 2020

Wondering on the (crazy) departures for the fourteen Brattleboro Union High School students from 2019-2020? Check out the blog post! 

Wondering what happened to each of them, as the world faced an unprecedented international pandemic? 

  • Bela, BRAZIL, was only scheduled to be here for the first semester.  She returned home the end of January, with no complications. However, she had purchased flights to come back for prom—and didn’t get to make the trip.
  • Alec, GERMANY, was the first to return home, at his parent’s request.  He left when the USA was still largely “normal”—but arrived to a very shut-down Germany.
  • Ariel, SPAIN, followed shortly afterwards.  
  • Kuya, MALAYSIA, arrived in late January, coming in only for the second semester.  In his short six weeks here, he experienced winter, helped with the Brattleboro Carnival, and volunteered 100+ hours of community service!
  • Thibaut, BELGIUM, had only about 48 hours’ notice that he had to return home.  He filled that time with taking prom photos—in the snow!  When his host family’s litter of puppies arrived, he was right with them all, thanks to the power of What’s App and video calling!
  • Lena, AUSTRIA, left in early April.  She and her host sister had made good use of their online learning time flexibility:  they repainted a couple of bedrooms. 
  • Bennet, GERMANY, also left in early April—after two flight cancellations. Talk about many goodbyes!  
  • Arturo, MEXICO, really wanted to stay, but his parents really wanted him to come home.  When our two neighboring countries decided to essentially close the border, he, too, went back home. 
  • Pat, THAILAND, wanted to very much to continue through the end of the year. However, with the limited flights, she returned in May.  Thailand had arranged special flights for their students.
  • Gabriel, BRAZIL, returned home the last day of May.  After he had played football and ice hockey, Gabriel was determined to play lacrosse.  When they announced “no spring sports for sure”– and that graduation was going virtual–he and his parents agreed it was a good ending. 
  • Yayhe, SOMALILAND, stayed through to the end of the school year. His flights require travel through three countries with closed borders, which made his return very tricky.  He should be flying home later this month.
  • Wanda, GERMANY, is scheduled to leave on June 26th.  Her parents felt she was safest in the USA, at her remote location near Mount Snow.  It’s been so quiet she’s seen two moose—and a woodchuck!)
  • Giulia, ITALY, will return on June 24th.  Her Italian parents–and American host family—all believed it was better for her to be in the USA. 
  • Isa, SPAIN, has a flight for June 29th.  She notes that COVID-19 brought her much closer to her host family, especially a college-age brother who would not normally have been home.

Still, 2019-2020 was packed with fun! In September, we gathered for potluck. In October, they went together to the haunted house and hay maze.  In November, we spent a night in Providence, Rhode Island, and visited Newport, Plimouth Plantation and the outlet malls.  In December, we went to New York City for a day.  In January, we took the train to DC—and toured at least seven Smithsonian Museums!  In February, we gathered for a sledding party and a visit to a host’s maple sugaring operation.

Those who stayed on for remote learning often said it was the same thing as being at home–just with more room to roam while exploring the great outdoors that our area also offers. They also appreciated the extra family time they had. “It was great to get to know my college brother,” said Isa, SPAIN, “If he had not been home for remote learning, we would not be as close.”

No matter when they went home, they left thankful for the time they had with their host families…. and all of them have high hopes to visit again when travel is an option again!

Exchange Extras 

is all about high school exchange students–summer, academic semester or academic year.  Because Jill’s family often hosts one (or more) themselves, it’s often a poignant, personal look. 

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