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Emotional departure from Montezuma campus

By Britti Paudyal

The March 12 decision to evacuate United World College-USA students from the Montezuma campus because of the spread of the  coronavirus left Jagoda Sokolowska stunned, confused and uncertain about what was next.

“I had no way of getting back home,” said Jagoda, who lives in Poland, which like many countries, had closed its borders in hopes of slowing the spread of the highly contagious virus.

“I planned on staying with my Get-Away family, but there were so many changes in plans, all within the span of an hour,” she said. 

Jagoda ‘20 traveled to Miami and stayed with her father’s best friend.

“From there, I boarded a plane sent by the Polish government to bring back Polish citizens from abroad,” she said. “I finally got home after an entire week after I left campus.”

COVID-19 since early this year had been spreading and wreaking havoc in China, surrounding countries, and Europe. When the pandemic reached the United States, Victoria Mora, president of UWC-USA, announced that the campus needed to be evacuated. First-year students had to leave campus within five days, by March 17. Two days later, it was announced that second-years had to leave by March 19. 

Students reacted in disbelief, confusion, anger, sadness and fear. Students had less than a week to stage a graduation, pack, and say goodbye. Graduation, Expressions and Blue Moon Cafe all took place on March 13.

Some students who traveled home, like Lukas Lahucky’ 21, Slovakia had to be quarantined for 14 days.

“I’m living in an apartment all by myself,” Lukas said. “My parents only bring me food.” 

Others like Sarah Akake Onyembe’ 20, Democratic Republic of Congo, chose to stay in New Mexico with a host family.

“My country closed the border so I will have to stay here,” Sarah said. “For now, I am just planning to continue with the online classes and have the IB experience for a few more months.” 

Britti Paudyal is a first-year UWC-USA student from Nepal.

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