SF State student stuck in Ghana

David Sjostedt

Update March 27, 2020: California State University International Programs has informed Golden Gate Xpress that Halima Mahdee will be evacuated back to the United States tomorrow. Stay tuned for more updates.

Halima Mahdee, an SF State anthropology major, was studying abroad in Ghana when the COVID-19 outbreak caused the program to be suspended on March 15.  She was informed by a letter from Dr. Jaishankar Raman, the director of the California State University International Programs (CSU IP), that a student on the University of Ghana campus had tested positive for the virus. In the letter it stated that, “all students are required to evacuate from the country as soon as possible, but no later than March 20, 2020.”  However, Mahdee had her 6-year-old daughter with her, and says she couldn’t move out as fast as the other students.

She says she first inquired with CSU IP about the virus in February, and was later informed that if she evacuated it would count as a withdrawal on her transcript.  This, in turn would affect her financial aid, and she worried that would mean she had wasted her money and time on the program.  Ultimately, when it became essential that she leave, her flights continued to get canceled until the borders were closed completely on March 22.  Mahdee remains in Ghana at the time of publication, as she waits for the embassy to board her on an emergency flight home.

“We have been in contact with the embassy to get the student on the list for evacuation. We of course did provide opportunities to travel back. Unfortunately, those opportunities have been canceled by the various airlines, but we are doing everything we can to support a student in a very challenging situation,” said Michael Uhlenkamp, the senior director of public affairs for CSU IP.

COVID-19 Timeline

• March 9– SF State suspends classes.

• March 11– Email sent out by CSU IP stating that evacuating the country would result in a withdrawal.

• March 15– CSU IP suspends programs at University of Ghana.

• March 20– All CSU IP students are required to evacuate the country.

• March 22 – Ghanaian borders officially close.

• May 2– Next available flight out of Ghana.