Boarding students continue to cope with COVID conditions


Annie Le ‘21

Boarding student Meidyn Nguyen ’21, from Vietnam, studies for one of her classes while in her dorm room on campus.

Annie Le ‘21, Staff Reporter

Travel restrictions. Expired Visas. Borders closing.

International students have been through countless trials since the Covid-19 outbreak. Announcements of schools going full-distance learning last spring caused families back home to stress over their children’s living conditions abroad. Dorms were closing and students were forced to leave within short notice.

“The boarding students at Riordan have been able to stay on campus throughout this entire time of the pandemic. We’ve received a lot of support from Epicurean who has served food on campus as well as RAs working additionally to be here to support our students,” said David Lin ’99, Director of the Boarding Program.

As the majority of high school international students are underaged, it was impossible to book an Airbnb or hotel room. The fortunate ones who lived near family friends or relatives were able to seek shelter until they were approved by their home country’s government to fly home.

Like many countries, the Vietnam government closed its borders and forbade any non- citizens to enter.

“I filled out a form on the Vietnam Embassy website in April 2020, but they never responded. I haven’t seen my family in over two years,” said Meidyn Nguyen ’21, a boarding student at Riordan.

With over 5.3 million international students across the world, not everyone received their approval letters. Although plane tickets are less expensive during the pandemic, slots at quarantine camps are limited.

I filled out a form on the Vietnam Embassy website in April 2020, but they never responded. I haven’t seen my family in over two years. ”

— Meidyn Nguyen ’21

Moreover, international students need to renew their visas after each school year. Based on, foreign students can stay in the United States on an expired F-1 visa as long as they maintain “student” status. If students returned home or traveled to a country where automatic revalidation does not apply, they must have a valid F-1 visa to return to the United States.

“I’m having issues with my traveling documents and I contacted my agent in China for help. Because of the time zone, it is inconvenient to communicate,” said Christine Zhu ’22.

The many sudden changes of the pandemic come with chronic stress and mental health issues that these students might face. While online learning from home is difficult, online learning in a different time zone is much more challenging. Though many students at Riordan were able to come back to the dorm before September, many others have been watching files and files of Zoom recordings from around the world.

“Sometimes I can attend classes live. When school starts at 8 a.m. over there, it is already 11 p.m in Ho Chi Minh City. When all meetings end, it is probably 3 a.m. my time. I also don’t think I can attend the graduation in person,” said Khanh Le ’21.

Booking a ticket to San Francisco for graduation might not even be an option for some students. With the increase in Covid-19 vaccinations, international students are hoping to reunite with their families soon.