Coronavirus fears leave many Chinese students grounded in US

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A lot of Americans studying abroad are heading home because of fears over the COVID-19 coronavirus. Those same health concerns are keeping some international students in the United States from going back to their home countries.

International student Bo Xuan, who delinced to give his last name, is a St. Joseph's Preparatory School freshman from China. Unexpected obstacles from the coronavirus are making an already difficult adjustment to life in the U.S. even more challenging.

"I lived a large amount of time in Wuhan, which is the epicenter of the virus," Bo Xuan said. "A lot of my mother and father's friends have been diagnosed with the virus."

Bo Xuan says he's a little anxious, as he tries to keep up with things back home. 

"I call my parents definitely more than usual just to check in and make sure they are fine," he said. "My family is doing okay, but still, I'm kind of worried. I have a cousin who's currently working at a hospital, and she can't get out." 

Like other international students from China, Bo Xuan cannot go home for spring break, or to visit family, because a travel ban currently in effect would will keep him from being able to return to the U.S.

The Ivy International Group is responsible for placing at least 600 Chinese students in U.S. schools. Right now those students are in a tough position, says Sue Trimble, senior director of school partnerships.

Trimble said concerns about the coronavirus are taking their toll on students.

"There is disappointment," she said. "I think the stress is in knowing that their friends and family are back home in China dealing with a very concerning issue."

Trimble says, even though Chinese students cannot get back home, Ivy is working to make sure their needs are taken care of.

"Fortunately, our students are in fantastic schools that have wonderful resources for them. We know that very wide net of a support system is in place for them," she said.

Meanwhile, Bo Xuan is keeping his fingers crossed about summer travel.

"I was kind of worried about summer, not being able to go home," he said. "Will there be any more issues while I'm in China? And will I be able to return back here in the fall? That's another issue."

He says, even though things have been hectic and out of his control, he's happy to have a support system while he's in Philadelphia.


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