When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold around the world last spring, some Case Western Reserve University students found themselves in uniquely difficult situations. International students were faced with the prospect of not being able to return home, as were students who were studying abroad. The Center for International Affairs, composed of the Offices of International Student Services, Education Abroad and Global Strategy, sprung into action.
From coordinating flights for students to return home with the help of the travel office to quickly processing paperwork for international students, the center’s main priority has been to help students navigate the uncertainties of the pandemic.
The center also has worked to continue anticipated programming in virtual formats, including the Holi celebration, Global Citizen Awards and the Study Abroad Photo Contest.
The center even called upon the university community to offer support for international students and created a new #YouAreWelcomeHereCWRU video.
For those students who were studying abroad last spring, the center’s work didn’t end once they were home. The focus instead shifted to making sure students were able to remain academically whole and have meaningful learning experiences.
While the months since the pandemic began have been riddled with more uncertainties and rapid changes, the center has remained in constant communication with students. As international students arrived on campus for fall semester, the center oversaw their quarantine process and made sure they had what they needed.
While study abroad was not an option this fall, the Office of Education Abroad is teaching North Star courses—Exploring Global Learning; Digital Storytelling: The Intersection of Technology; and Recent Immigrant Communities, and Intercultural Knowledge and Competence.
In addition to navigating COVID-19, the center responded to calls for racial justice with an Anti-Racism Statement, internal discussions about improving the experiences of Black and Brown students, faculty and staff, and launching the #WelcomeHereWednesday campaign on social media.
Though there is still much that is uncertain in the time of COVID-19, the Center for International Affairs remains steadfast in its commitment to the university community and beyond.
“Case Western Reserve is not just a campus in Cleveland, but a world-wide community. We’ve been able to support our international and study abroad students no matter where they are in the world, and we look forward to finding new ways to help students connect throughout the year,” said Molly Watkins, Assistant Provost for International Affairs.