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International UL students unable to travel home for holidays find support in classmates

Posted at 9:30 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-30 00:04:28-04

As the saying goes, "There's no place like home for the holidays," and with the season fast approaching, there's more uncertainty amid the pandemic. Especially for those who have to travel great distances to get home, including international students at UL Lafayette.

Romina Carnero-Huaman came to UL in 2018 from Peru to obtain a Master's in Marine Biology. She hasn't been able to go home since last Christmas.

"So it was very stressful for me when my mom got sick with COVID. I was really sad because I didn't even get a choice," she explained. "A choice to say, 'Okay, I don't care if I won't have any more savings, I want to hold my mom's hand and be by her side.'"

This year will be hard for another reason - the holidays.

"I know for my mom, Christmas is a time she likes to have all of the family together, and that's something I can't do this year. But she understands it's not beneficial to come home and worry about restrictions coming back into the U.S."

It's a similar situation for Miriam Abdo-Pitre - it's been nearly a year since she last saw her family in Dubai.

Abdo-Pitre, a clinical mental health grad student, said there are, "Countries not allowing people to come in, or countries not allowing people to come back into the countries they left from."

With new waves of COVID-19 across the world, the students don't know when they will be able to see their families again, but they're finding comfort in their extended family at UL.

"You don't know how a smile or a kind word can change other peoples' lives," said Carnero-Huaman.

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