Blytheville host mother has concerns about returning exchange student

Blytheville host mother has concerns about returning exchange student

BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) - Many U.S colleges and programs are ordering their study abroad students back home during the pandemic crisis and now other countries are doing the same.

Spain has requested one student to come home; however, one Blytheville host mother, Wendy Ray, has her concerns.

“We don’t have any time to prepare. It just drops her off," Ray said.

Ray is a mother of 9 and a grandmother 16, but she’s also a mother to foreign exchange students. When the time comes for her to say goodbye to the students, it’s never easy, especially when it’s forced.

Nerea Porto is from Spain and she has been living the teenage American dream here in the states.

“High school is different. Life is different," Porto said.

She’s enjoyed life in Blytheville living with Ray and another exchange student from Brazil. She has attended school sporting events and now she’s still waiting on one special moment, prom.

Now, Porto faces an unexpected end.

Ray received a call Tuesday morning where she learned the young girl was required to leave by noon Thursday.

That gave Ray just less than 48 hours to be with Porto before she had to have her bags packed and board a flight back to Spain.

“It’s just scary because now I have to take her to the airport and they’re telling me that I just have to drop her off,” Ray said.

Ray worries she’ll be exposed during the trip.

“When she goes home she’s going to have to go through three different airplanes, three different checkpoints. There’s no telling how many people she’s going to come in contact with,” Ray said.

Ray believes she would be more at risk traveling than just staying in Mississippi County.

She has requested Porto’s mother’s approval to let the teen stay.

Region 8 News reached out to Monica Edwards, the International Student Exchange representative for this area and she had no answers, even suggesting we call the headquarters in New York.

No one answered in New York

Region 8 News called the exchange program in Spain. However, it was the middle of the night so we had no response as to the safety for those students required to travel.

Concerned with her protection, Ray’s now left juggling what she should do and what she feels is right.

“This is momma-bear fighting for the kid. You can’t say I didn’t try,” Ray said.

She plans to take Porto to the airport on Thursday to Memphis, but she says she plans on calling and fighting the request to the very last second.

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