HANNIBAL | When the coronavirus pandemic forced Hannibal-LaGrange University to close for the remainder of the spring semester, most students returned home from campus.
For HLGU junior Jordan Jones and other international students, going home was not an option. Jones was originally from Nigeria and his family lives in Niamey, Niger.
“My dad is currently stuck in Nigeria, while my mom and my siblings are in Niger,” Jones said. “Because of the lockdown, he's not been able to go home to my mom and my siblings … We've been able to stay in contact with them, get updates and update them on my current situation too.”
Jones has stayed on campus throughout the lockdown period, and remained there after the stay-at-home order was lifted in Missouri.
Jones said the experience was a little frightening and felt safer to stay on campus.
“I felt safer to be here, and to not by any chance put myself in a position where I could have been infected,” Jones said. “I would love to have gone somewhere closer to home, but felt safer staying in the same location that I was before the lockdown.”
Prior to the lockdown, Jones had just returned from an early March mission trip to Florida.
“That's kind of when everything went berserk in the whole world,” Jones said. “I was able to go see people on campus at the time because the cafeteria was still open, so I was able to talk to some of my friends. That was helpful to have at least some human interaction, other than to just be locked away.”
Jones was not alone on campus, as several other international students chose to stay at Hannibal rather than travel back to their home country during the shutdown.
“There's about 10 to 15 of us still here, off the top of my head,” Jones said. “For different reasons, aren't able to go anywhere or close to home, if that's what they chosen. I know of one who couldn't fly out because his country wasn't open yet.”
Jones is an art major at HLGU, and all of his classes were switched to an online format for the remainder of the spring semester in mid-March.
For Jones and many other HLGU students, it was quite a change to adapt to virtual learning.
“I am an art student at HLGU and for the most part, the classes are critique done by the different artists and the teacher,” Jones said. “That was kind of an awkward situation to be able to do an online (class). That was a struggle that we were able to find the necessary way to make work for the most part, but I'm not a really big fan of online classes.”
HLGU will be resuming in-person classes for the fall semester, a move that Jones is excited about.
“I do really miss being able to sit in a class and look left to right to see other folks, or to at least laugh at something the teacher said,” Jones said. “The realness of seeing members of the class and seeing the charisma of your fellow students can have an effect on your psychological well-being.”
Jones plays on the Trojans' men's soccer team as a defensive player and he is looking forward to participating in an offseason workout program set up by his coach.
“There's a lot of accountability … throughout this workout season, so we are hoping that we can all pull together and stay fit and in shape,” Jones said. “Really looking forward to being able to have all the guys together to enjoy the good sport of soccer.”