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Spring 2020 TBC Students’ Notable Short-Lived Semester Abroad

The start of every semester at TBC begins with the eagerness of new experiences, shared cultural immersion, and the opportunity to see each cohort of students grow and learn. This Spring 2020 semester was no exception in the way it began, despite being cut short.

Just a few weeks after Spring 2020 students arrived, the coronavirus outbreak prompted their premature departure back home.

In order to ensure the students’ safety and mitigate the outcomes of the outbreak, TBC coordinated the students’ immediate return back home in a timely manner. In the process, it was our intention, to make sure that the unexpected return didn’t negatively impact the students’ academic schedule this semester.

With the support and cooperation of our staff and partners, the students were able to arrive home safely. Since the students’ return, TBC has maintained contact with the students and universities, to receive the students’ feedback and assess the handling of the situation. The situation was “very well handled, we were very informed about what was happening and were able to safely get back to Beijing and safely evacuated to our home countries,” Celia Manders, Spring 2020 TBC student from John Carroll University.

Celia Manders with fellow TBC student Anna Gilbert, Gonzaga University

Having experienced a small part of the TBC experience, students have expressed interest in returning in the fall, once the epidemic stagnates. TBC Spring 2020 student Qiying Wei from Fordham University, said, “I enjoyed every second I spent in Beijing and on my excursion. Everyone that I met was amazing and hospitable. I will definitely come back and visit again.” Although the students’ departure was bittersweet for everyone, students unanimously agreed on the lasting impression of the Yunnan Province excursion. 

“I really enjoyed the program, even though our semester was cut short. Everyone was so welcoming from the staff to the Chinese roommates, I felt very welcomed and comfortable from the start. Traveling to Yunnan really opened my eyes to the diverse lifestyles that are thriving in Yunnan and China as a whole. This program made me step outside of my comfort zone, and I found it quite enjoyable and I would love to come back for a future semester. I made so many memories here and it will always be a part of me. I’m glad to have made many new friendships in the short time we were there.” – Celia Manders 

In light of the pragmatic changes, the support TBC has received from the alumni, partners, and Jesuit affiliates has been wonderfully overwhelming.

TBC partners and friends have expressed their encouragement through video messages. Many TBC alumni briefly recounted the memorable experiences they accumulated during their time at TBC and in China, hoping for a future reunion with friends and cherished places.

Furthermore, the support continues, as TBC coordinated two generous donations. One donation of surgical N95 masks through the approval of Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, to aid China in its fight against the coronavirus. The donation was well received at Jingzhou No. 1 People’s Hospital, where citizens continue to cope with the imposing effects of the virus. The second donation of medical protective suits was delivered to Jingzhou Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, to support the increasing demand for a variety of medical supplies.

Despite the circumstances, the TBC community continues to maintain contact with its students and partners, to ensure a smooth transition and coordinate future opportunities at TBC for returning students.

At this time, TBC staff are safe and healthy, working remotely from home, while also remaining optimistic and receptive towards the mutual efforts of its partners, supporters, and all institutions who are being affected by coronavirus.