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Jun 2, 2020

Belizeans Studying Abroad Determined to Complete Studies Despite Pandemic

Hundreds of Belizean students remain stranded in many countries due to the corona virus that spread so quickly they were unable to get back home. The P.G.I.A. and borders remain closed but some Belizeans who work on cruise ships have been able to get back in the past week. Mexico and Taiwan are worlds apart, the number of cases in Mexico is at a record level but in Taiwan, there has been containment.  Today, News Five’s Hipolito Novelo spoke to two Belizean students in both countries.


Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

Dozens of Belizean students are scattered across the globe. Twenty-seven year old Melody Wagner is on the other side of the world, in Taiwan.


Melody Wagner

Melody Wagner, Belizean Student Studying Abroad

“I am pursuing a Masters degree in Culture and Creative Industry.”


Wagner has been in Taiwan for the last ten months. With over twenty-three million people, Taiwan has reportedly only four hundred and forty three positive COVID-19 cases. The country has gone more than fifty days without reporting any new case.


Melody Wagner

“So, I was in the Philippines and when I flew back they had to check my temperature and when I came back to the school they had to sign forms, telling them my flight number and my flight information.”


Closer to home in Mexico, is Emanuel Pech. He’s been in Mexico for the past four years, completing his studies to obtain a bachelor’s in International Relations.


Emanuel Pech

Emanuel Pech, Belizean Student Studying Abroad

“I have been in Mexico since 2016 when I began my bachelor’s career in international relations.  This is actually my last semester. I am suppose to graduate this semester.”


Mexico’s COVID-19 related deaths have increased to ten thousand. The country has recorded more than ninety-three thousand cases. Pech is safely tucked away in Colima, along Mexico’s Pacific coast.


Emanuel Pech

“Actually the state where I am at right now has the lowest count of coronavirus cases thus far.”


Given the continued rise of COVID-19 cases in Mexico, face to face classes for Pech and his colleagues, has been suspended.


Emanuel Pech

“We don’t go to school. We don’t go there personally but we do have work teachers keep sending us, assignments. Since I am in my last year, well we still have to graduate and develop a thesis which is one of the prerequisites for us to graduate at the university.”


Even though Wagner and Pech live on opposite sides of the world, and in countries with different COVID-19 realities, they have one thing in common; they are determined to complete their studies despite the worldwide pandemic.


Emanuel Pech

“Although the confinement to our quarters has in a way allowed us to get more time to finish certain research projects it has been particularly difficult for us to really gauge our time.”


Melody Wagner

“While we did not discontinue classes, so up to this day I still have face to face classes which is different from most of the rest of the world. We have to wear face mask and we have to take our temperature before coming on campus.”


The government of Belize is giving Belizeans, including students, stuck in other countries the opportunity to return home under the repatriation process. While some students in the U.S., U.K and India are rushing to return home, Pech says he’ll stay in Mexico to complete his studies.


Emanuel Pech

“The thing I still have to finish my semester regardless of the pandemic and everything. I still have an obligation to the scholarship which provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico. So they are funding my studies here in Mexico and I have an obligation to them to finish and so that is one of the things that I am considering when making that decision. But eventually I will go back to Belize but for the time being my main priority is to finish my studies and finish the prerequisite for graduation.”


Wagner is expected to complete her studies in 2021. Like Pech, she plans to stay in Taiwan until then.


Melody Wagner

“I am trying to console myself and say that staying here is the best option still because of course, you want to go home. Home is home. You  miss home. There is no place like home. So at this point I don’t think I will be making use of that repatriation system that is available.”


And these two Belizeans want their family and friends to know that they are keeping safe.


Emanuel Pech

“I just want to tell my family that I am okay. They shouldn’t worry about me anf for them to take care and keep calm in the situation.” I just want them to take care as I am taking care of myself.”


Melody Wagner

“I just want to say hi to my friends and family back home. I miss you guys. Stay positive and remain COVID-19. God job a flattening the curve.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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