Another coronavirus casualty: SRJC’s Swedish program

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SRJC Swedish Program

The Swedish exchange students were expected to arrive March 25, but the plans were canceled this semester due to fears of COVID-19.

Alden Nichols, Staff Writer

The Swedish Entrepreneurship program that brings Swedish exchange students to Santa Rosa Junior College each year has been put on hiatus this spring semester due to rising concerns over the novel coronavirus. 

Nineteen students were scheduled to arrive March 25 to live with host families and begin five weeks of studies at SRJC. Both students and families were disappointed they wouldn’t get to meet as planned.

“My family and I were very much looking forward to hosting our student,” said Santa Rosa Junior College Board Trustee and intended host Dorothy Battenfeld. “The students in Borås have been working towards this trip and final project since entering the entrepreneurship program three years ago so this must be very disappointing for them.”

The program has been a staple of SRJC’s spring semester since 1999, bringing students from Sven Eriksongymnasiet school in Borås, Sweden for part of their last semester before they graduate from the two-year entrepreneurship program. 

“Swedish students generally have a project from their home school that they must complete while here that involves interviewing local SRJC students to learn about various topics such as culture, politics, religion, values, customs, recreation,” said Peg Saragina, program coordinator. “In those conversations, the Swedish students share information about their own countries.” 

Swedish students had already been placed in SRJC classes, but with Coronavirus cases increasing in both Sweden and the United States, program officials decided to cancel out of safety concerns. Had they not cancelled the program last week, President Donald Trump’s European travel ban would have likely forced its cancellation this week.

Many host families had already organized activities for the students’ California visit.

“Our two students wanted to visit Yosemite and Gold Country. We made hotel reservations for their last weekend here,” said Anne Belden, another host. “We also bought Giants tickets for April 4 and were making plans to show them some great local spots.” 

The program is expected to return in the spring of 2021.