The current fall semester (2020-2021), will always be remembered for being the first semester that starts and ends during the COVID-19 global pandemic, which is an excellent achievement without any kind of doubt. Greenville University board and staff worked really hard during those previous months of the semester to be able to provide and ensure a safe environment where to attend face-to-face classes and enjoy campus life; work that is nowadays tangible. However, as a small private institution, some situations go beyond their control and scope. This is also the case for making sure that international students who spent their summer in their home country are allowed to come back and continue their education.
International students, a growing population every year that passes at GU, have experienced how their opportunities to fly back to the United States were strictly limited because of the country they were taking off from. In particular, it is important to highlight the situation of those students that are originally from Brazil. This South American country has been continuously mentioned in news reports because of the outbreak of COVID-19 cases and the very little control available and provided by public institutions, which provoked the establishment of a travel ban by the Department of Homeland Security in late May (2020). Such scenario and circumstances forced students like Henrique Fernandes and Matheus Oliveira, both members of the GU Men´s Soccer Program, to make the difficult decision of continuing their education (or not) far from their teammates and friends.
Their situations are similar and, at the same time, different. Oliveira, a sophomore from the well-known city of São Paulo, is continuing his education and taking online classes “for the very first time” which are currently his biggest challenge. Besides studying, he is also working and getting ready for the next soccer season which will take place in the spring semester. On the other hand, Fernandes, junior from Goiás, who mentioned the importance of face-to-face classes in his education, decided to take a “break” from college and enjoy meaningful time with his family and friends. Even though the global situation regarding the spread of the virus is not showing any kind of improvement, both players are confident in their arrival to campus next semester. Hopefully, this will be a time when they will be able to enjoy the benefits that GU has to offer.
Soccer-wise, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has given grace to the athletes whose season has been somehow affected and has provided a whole other year of eligibility for them to use. Although the NCAA just announced Division I and Division II schools, the truth is that coaches and institutions all over the country are confident in that decision to be extended to everyone unanimously. In case that never takes place, the most prominent organization in college sports would potentially be facing accusations of inequality, injustice, and double standard.
Oliveira and Fernandes pointed out that they are not in a hurry to come back, as they will “think about their safety, and what is better for them first.” The disappointment that they first felt at the beginning of the semester is no longer in their minds, considering that for the the current scenario, it was the best for them. On the other side of the coin are their teammates who feel that something is missing at every practice and meeting. The Brazilian charm might be considered a myth, but the Greenville University men´s soccer program is conscious about it, and they deeply miss it.
Media by José Soutullo Fernández.