Stuck in Peru: Seven students remain in Peru after borders close due to COVID-19
Thursday, March 19, 2020
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7
AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Many colleges, including Augusta University, have closed its doors and students are learning from home. However, learning is a little more hectic for seven students who are stuck in Cusco, Peru and with no way to return home.
A group of seven Augusta University PA students never thought their trip to Peru would look like this.
“We heard about the travel bans on China and Italy, but all of the American citizens were still able to come,” a student said. “We were thinking, you know, if people can still come home from those countries, there’s no way that we’re not going to be able to come home.”
When coronavirus cases in Peru started to spike, and airlines started canceling flights, the students started to look for a way home.
They had no luck, and things got even worse.
“8 o’clock on Sunday, the president came on and announced that we had 24 hours to leave Peru before they would close all the borders,” one of the students said.
And they still couldn’t get a flight out to the states.
“We decided to pack our bags, get in taxis within 30 minutes, drive the U.S. consulate in Cusco, and there we were met with a sign on the door,” a student said.
The sign had a help number to call, but the number was not in service. With all other outlets closed, it sunk in: the group was trapped in Peru.
“Our family and friends have reached out to congressmen, U.S. senators, U.S. representatives who then reach out to the state department,” a student said.
Despite everything, the group says they aren’t afraid of their situation. In fact, they feel the opposite.
“I’ve had a lot of peace and I’ve been so so thankful for this group of girls here,” one of them said. “We are a team and we’re in this together. That’s been a constant through our time here.”
But like the hundreds of Americans trapped in Peru, the group is ready to come home.
“We want to make sure that we’re advocating for the other US citizens that are here that may be running out of medication, or have children they need to get back to,” a student said.
President Trump held a press conference today and said he was aware of the hundreds of Americans that remain in Peru. He is currently working to bring them home.
August University said in a statement about the students in Peru:
"Augusta University is working with our fellow academic institutions, the U.S. State Department and other federal officials to bring the affected students home from Peru. We have been in communication with our students and their families and are keeping them up to date on our efforts."
The seven students were scheduled to graduate from Augusta University in August however they weren’t able to finish their rotation in Peru. However, while trapped in another country, they remain positive.