EXCLUSIVE: Foreign exchange student from China unable to fly home due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Students will soon be able to relax with summer break right around the corner, but due to COVID-19, that’s not the case for one Chinese international student.

Today is the last day of classes for high school students at St. Anne-Pacelli High School. Frank He says he’s excited for Summer Break, but he wishes he were home in China.

“I’m sad about it because they canceled my flight. They like canceled May and June. I’m just sad about it,” He said.

He is part of the International Language School of Columbus foreign exchange program and just finished his freshman year at Pacelli. He is one of 10 foreign exchange students here from China dealing with travel restrictions.

The foreign exchange program allows students to complete high school here in Muscogee County. If He goes back home in July, he’ll have to come back in early August.

He says he first learned about COVID-19 when speaking to his parents back in February.

“My family says to tell them to wear the mask. Let everybody wear the mask and wash their hand, but I didn’t hear my family get any of it,” He said.

Although He says no one in his family got the virus, his host mom, Terri Jordan, says she could tell he was starting to worry.

“He actually knew quite a few people back in China that had been affected by the COVID-19 the coronavirus and he was extremely worried. He was very worried about it,” Jordan said.

He’s flight back to China was supposed to be today. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, that flight was first postponed to June 12th and now it’s supposed to be July 1st.

“I’m missing my food, my friends, my family,” He said.

Jordan says she can tell it’s taking a toll on him.

“We support him emotionally and we make sure that he gets as much Facetime and communication time with his family and friends as possible,” Jordan said.

He says although he does miss home, the support and love he receives from his host family is making every day brighter.

He says even though his time home will be cut short, he is still looking forward to it.

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