A planned trip to China for the “Engineering in a Global Context” class has been cancelled after the country has been battered by the COVID-19 virus.

COVID-19, a disease spread by a novel coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2, originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019. The disease quickly spread through the entire country. At the time of publication, the disease had claimed the lives of 3,162 people in China, while infecting 80,955, according to the John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. Rowan University cancelled all university-sponsored travel earlier this month.

The trip, scheduled for spring break, was meant to “provide [students] with an introduction and opportunity to understand cultural nuances of engineering in China, gain insights into business innovation and the chance to expand your career development,” according to the online description of the class.

The 10 day trip was scheduled to include stops in Beijing, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai.

The cancellation of the trip was disappointing for many of the students in the class, including Giselle Onofre, a senior mechanical engineering major.

“I was very disappointed,” Onofre said. “My friends went on this study abroad experience last semester during the trial run of this class so I felt like I missed out.”

While still disappointed at the lost opportunity, Onofre understood, given the threat COVID-19 poses to themselves and those in China.

“I still very much appreciate Professor Streiner for his attempts to incorporate study abroad experiences into a major that limits the chances a student has to study abroad,” Onofre said. “[I] also understood the reasons why we could no longer travel to China.”

While the class has lost the opportunity to gain insight into how engineers operate in China, Dr. Scott Streiner is doing what he can to help the class learn more about what they would have seen on the trip, Robin Seazholtz, a junior mechanical engineering major said.

“We were originally not going to talk a lot about Chinese engineering in class, because we were going to see them in action, but our teacher amended the schedule to allow more of a focus on engineering in China,” Seazholtz said.

Fortunately, these students will have the chance to go on the trip next year, as well.

“All students are allowed to go on the trip next spring, even if they are graduating this year,” Seazholtz said.

While students are disappointed about the trip’s cancellation, the students were fortunate their payment hadn’t been given to the Chinese Institute hosting the trip, allowing the students to receive a full refund.

“The only payment we made out of pocket was never given to the Chinese Institute,” Seazholtz said. “So we didn’t lose that money.”

Rowan University has cancelled all trips to high-risk areas and is no longer accepting travel requests for international trips.

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