Mom relieved daughter, Spelman international student, returning safely from Morocco

One worried mom has received welcome news that her daughter, a Spelman College junior, will return home from her study abroad program in Morocco.

Spelman College student Arianna Valbrun. (Photo: WSB-TV)

In the midst of the worsening coronavirus crisis, one worried mom has received welcome news that her daughter, a Spelman College junior, will return home from her study abroad program in Morocco.

Valda Valbrun says she was not only concerned for her daughter’s health amid the COVID-19 pandemic but also how Arianna Valbrun was being treated in North Africa. Arianna left the United States at the end of January for her program, administered by the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES).

Her time in Morocco was not as welcoming as she’d hoped, Valda Valbrun, an educational consultant based in North Carolina, told WSB-2 in Atlanta.

“She was referred to as the ‘n’ word,” Valda Valbrun said.

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“One of her friends happens to be of Asian descent and so they were really experiencing a lot in terms of not being treated nicely,” the elder Valbrun explained, referring to anti-Asian bias that has emerged due to reports that the coronavirus came from China.

“I guess many people there have concerns about Americans,” Valda Valbrun continued. “The host family has a small child and so they were expressing concerns that made her feel uncomfortable.”

The mom said her concern reached a peak when her daughter sent her video showing violence in the streets of Morocco. Multiplying the mom’s worry was that authorities were shutting down international air traffic to and from the country.

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Valda Valbrun turned to that global means of communication: Twitter. From her account, @vsquared613, she tweeted to Spelman, an all-female HBCU in Atlanta, and asked if they could help.

On Friday, Valbrun learned that her daughter would be boarding a flight Friday, and she should be arriving at Miami International Airport Saturday afternoon, according to WSB.

“When there’s chaos in a country, you want your kid nearby,” Valda Valbrun said, adding that she is keeping the experience in perspective. “There’s so much to be grateful for and I’m just going to sit in that space.”

Arianna’s LinkedIn profile indicates she is majoring in international/global studies with a concentration in marketing and a minor in photography.

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