With the support of non-governmental cooperating organizations, regional bureaus, and U.S. embassies and Fulbright Commissions abroad, ECA’s staff has successfully repatriated more than 3,500 American participants of ECA exchange programs.

During the outbreak of COVID-19, the dedicated public servants in ECA ensured American exchange participants could safely return home.  With the support of  non-governmental cooperating organizations, regional bureaus, and U.S. embassies and Fulbright Commissions abroad, ECA’s staff has successfully repatriated more than 3,500 American participants of ECA exchange programs. ECA established its own COVID-19 task force on March 11, 2020, to coordinate the bureau’s efforts  and facilitate charter flights from all over the world. 

Educational and Cultural Affairs: Bringing Home America’s Citizen Diplomats

During the outbreak of COVID-19, the dedicated public servants in ECA ensured American exchange participants could safely return home.  With the support of  non-governmental cooperating organizations, regional bureaus, and U.S. embassies and Fulbright Commissions abroad, ECA’s staff has successfully repatriated more than 3,500 American participants of ECA exchange programs. ECA established its own COVID-19 task force on March 11, 2020, to coordinate the bureau’s efforts  and facilitate charter flights from all over the world. 

Educational and Cultural Affairs: Bringing Home America’s Citizen Diplomats

Fulbright students who were hosted in Arequipa prepare to board their flight in Lima, Peru. Fulbright Program staff worked closely with participants on evolving travel arrangements

Fulbright students who were hosted in Arequipa prepare to board their flight in Lima, Peru. Fulbright Program staff worked closely with participants on evolving travel arrangements.

Gilman Scholar Daisy Hernandez from University of California, Santa Barbara needed to get back home from Thailand, but was notified that all flights were suspended. ECA’s USA Study Abroad Team, the Institute of International Education (IIE) Gilman team, and the Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer at U.S. Embassy Thailand secured her a special commercial flight from Bangkok.

Gilman Scholar Daisy Hernandez from University of California, Santa Barbara needed to get back home from Thailand, but was notified that all flights were suspended. ECA’s USA Study Abroad Team, the Institute of International Education (IIE) Gilman team, and the Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer at U.S. Embassy Thailand secured her a special commercial flight from Bangkok.

Halima Mahdee, San Francisco State University, Gilman Scholar, was studying in Accra, Ghana on a twelve-month international program, accompanied by her young daughter. After their original flight was cancelled, ECA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs, the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and his team secured them spots on a repatriation flight back to the U.S.

Halima Mahdee, San Francisco State University, Gilman Scholar, was studying in Accra, Ghana on a twelve-month international program, accompanied by her young daughter. After their original flight was cancelled, ECA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs, the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and his team secured them spots on a repatriation flight back to the U.S.

 

U.S. Embassy Officer Captain Reppert Greets Flight Passengers
In coordination with U.S. Embassy Peru, ECA’s USA Study Abroad staff, and the Institute of International Education (IIE) Gilman team, three Gilman Scholars were able to fly home from Cusco, Peru to Miami. This is a video clip of Captain Joe Reppert greeting the passengers in Cusco. Captain Reppert is a member of the West Virginia National Guard, detailed to U.S. Embassy Peru.

NSLI-Y participants, shortly after landing on a flight from the Republic of South Korea, February 2020.

NSLI-Y participants, shortly after landing on a flight from the Republic of South Korea, February 2020.


In January 2020, 24 American high school students were studying in Chengdu and Beijing, China on ECA’s NSLI-Y program. ECA began coordinating with U.S. Mission China staff and program partners on options and all students made it home to their families.

By The Numbers: Repatriation Statistics

I just wanted to say thank you so much for your help during all of this. Your emails and messages really calmed all of us down and comforted us during this crazy time. Thank you for being so organized and communicative.” — Participant thank you note to the NSLI-Y team

During this time of uncertainty, the Gilman Program was a great support system.  All the follow-ups showed how my safety was their priority, and working quickly to book my flight back home relieved some stress.” — Gilman Scholar Daisy Hernandez from the University of California, Santa Barbara