International Reporting Class Sees Vietnam Trip Canceled in Wake of the Coronavirus Outbreak

Story posted March 6, 2020 in News, CommRadio by Andre Magaro

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Coronavirus has continued to make headlines across the globe. The epidemic has begun to impact life in the United States, including the shutdown of events on the Penn State campus.

On Tuesday, Penn State announced it canceled all spring break embedded course travel for the Spring 2020 semester. This includes the international reporting class on campus, who arranged to travel and produce stories in Vietnam.

With their flight abroad scheduled to depart early Thursday morning, the class was informed of the trip’s cancellation less than two days before getting underway.

Many students were disappointed upon hearing the news, including senior Zach Kaplan.

“This really shocked me more than anything,” Kaplan said.

The cancelation was much more than a missed opportunity to go abroad. One of the supervisors for the trip, Steve Kraycik, explained the logistical expenses and effort that goes into the stories produced on the trip.

“This is a trip and a project that is the better part of a year in the making,” Kraycik said. “People had news stories lined up. Obviously, the airline tickets, the hotels, transportation, everything was set up.”

Despite the disappointment, Kaplan and his peers are understanding of the university’s decision, given the outbreak of the virus.

“Ultimately, I think it’s the right move,” Kaplan said. “They sort of had to cancel any trip to avoid any liability they’d have to face.”

“While it is a disappointment, the reasons behind canceling the trip are sound,” Kraycik said.

The trip being canceled put the international reporting class in unfamiliar territory. Much like the rest of the world, the supervisors had to adjust and come up with an alternative approach.

“We want to try and develop a project where we have a whole series of stories about the virus and about how a larger university like this and the community deals with a worldwide crisis,” Kraycik said.

Students have seemed to rally around the idea, coming up with a plethora of unique ideas.

“We were very impressed with how resilient the class was,” Kraycik said. “There’s a lot of good ideas being generated, and people are getting enthusiastic about pivoting to a new topic.”

In the meantime, the staff behind the class is looking to push a Vietnam trip through for next year. Unfortunately, several of the students taking the class are seniors, and have missed their only opportunity. Despite the situation not being ideal, Kraycik has found a silver lining. News is an ever-changing field.

“There’s definitely a lesson to be learned in this,” Kraycik said. “Seldom do things go exactly as planned.”

Students look to complete their stories in the coming weeks, as they are just one of the many groups across Penn State and the globe affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.

Andre Magaro is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email ajm7362@psu.edu.