The COVID-19 pandemic has affected both domestic and international travel at the University of Indianapolis. Despite the physical office closing, the Center for Global Engagement is continuing to provide remote resources, including those for international students, according to Associate Provost and Chief International Officer Jodie Ferise.
Global Engagement assists international students and students studying abroad with travel arrangements and with the transition to online learning, Ferise said. The center is also helping international students who were supposed to fulfill Optional Practical Training and Curricular Practical Training requirements, which allow these students to stay in the country and gain work experience, according to Ferise.
One international student staying on campus during the pandemic is Ghaida Nael, a graduate student in applied sociology from the Palestinian territories. Nael said she had spring break plans to go to Ohio and visit a group of friends, one of whom is a doctor.
After her friend was called to extended work at the hospital, Nael said the group canceled the trip and she chose to stay at her Greyhound Village apartment. In order to return to the Palestinian territories, Nael said she would need to pass through Jordan and Israel, both of which are locked down.
According to Nael, her apartment contract lasts until the end of July, and she said if the pandemic lasts until then, she will ask for permission to stay longer.
“It’s either staying here in the dorms or going back and being homeless there,” Nael said. “If they closed the dorms, if they asked us to leave, that would be my only issue here.”
Junior nursing major Zeel Dholaria, an international student staying on campus from India, also said she is unsure of her future housing. She said she hopes her housing in Warren does not close because she and other international students do not have another place to go.
“For international students, we don’t even have flights to go back to our country,” Dholaria said. “I haven’t thought what I’m going to do at that time [if dorms close], but if that happens, that’s going to be a struggle for all international students.”
Limited to carry-out orders, the dining hall remains open, according to Ferise. Dholaria said she has dietary restrictions and her choices in the dining hall are reduced daily. Ferise said the center will compile a list of grocery delivery resources for international students on campus.
The center is also operating an online hangout session for international students, according to Ferise. She said the purpose of these sessions is to allow international students to socialize and ask questions pertaining to their situations.
“Social isolation is tough at this time, and they [international students] are no different than anybody else,” Ferise said. “We’re trying to provide some opportunities for them to have interaction while still practicing appropriate social distancing.”
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