Keene State students may not be able to study internationally this semester, but national travel and hopes for international travel next semester are keeping things in the Global Education Office running.
“I am planning to go abroad again this spring and I am hoping to get some life skills and get something more for the sustainability side of my major,” said Mara Grady, a junior at the college.
Last semester, many students either had to cancel abroad trips completely or were forced to return early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Skye Stephenson, Director of the Global Education Office, was a part of the team to monitor the pandemic and determine when to bring students home.
“We worked many long hours, nights and weekends because the situation was changing very rapidly. Sometimes it would change overnight and we had to stay on top of it,” said Stephenson.
Grady was one of two students studying in Chile who chose to remain with their host family in the country until the situation became more extreme in April. Eventually, her global education advisor helped her get the first flight back in May.
“When they arrived, the situation was beginning to arise, but they requested to stay as long as they could. I was calling them every week and they were able to have about six or seven weeks there,” said Stephenson.
Although Grady plans to study abroad again, other students only had one chance last semester. Junior Emily Sheard said she planned to study in York, England since middle school not only to further her education, but also to meet a side of her family for the first time.
“My mom has cousins, an aunt and an uncle that have always lived there. They would have only been about thirty minutes from where I would’ve been living,” said Sheard.
Sheard said she decided not to study abroad this year or next year; however, she still does want to travel there.
“I am thinking about doing an internship there after graduation or going to grad school there,” said Sheard.
Despite the travel restrictions, Stephenson said there are two students currently studying abroad nationally. One student is studying at the Washington Center and another is in Montana.
National abroad programs will continue throughout the semester, unless new restrictions are made. Stephenson also said she is hopeful for the spring semester and is already looking into possible international travel such as to Costa Rica.
“This isn’t going to go on forever. We don’t know how it will end, but this isn’t how the world is going to be in ten to twenty years,” said Stephenson.
Kiana Joler can be contacted at