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.

COVID-19 Repatriation: Bringing Americans Home from Exchange Programs

Our nation’s diplomats are serving on the front lines of the global COVID-19 pandemic as international first responders, as they have for 200 years. Their priority is to protect American citizens abroad during crises and bring them home or repatriate them if needed. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo initiated the social media hashtag #AmericansHome to signal his support for these heroic behind-the-scenes efforts. As of June 1, 2020, the State Department has repatriated more than 98,000 American citizens during the pandemic.

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, 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. 

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

Photos from COVID-19 Repatriation Efforts for Exchange Programs