OLDHAM COUNTY, Ky. — Since her arrival, Annika Borer, 16, felt at home in her new old Kentucky home.
She fit right in with her host family, the Heady family.
Annika wanted to get the American high school experience.
She got that with football games and joining the soccer team.
What was next was supposed to be prom.
“I hope that prom is still going to happen and I can fly back,” Annika said.
Her next flight would be back to Switzerland.
Tuesday, she boarded a plane at Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport for Washington, D.C. for a connection to Frankfurt, Germany and then onto Zurich.
“Because it’s worse there, I don’t really get it, why are they sending me home right now?” Annika wondered.
Switzerland’s per capita rate of COVID-19 cases is much higher than it is in the United States.
“Basel, where Annika’s from, is the 3rd highest city for contractions in Switzerland,” Rod Heady, the host family father, said.
From conversations with her parents, Annika says there is a nationwide shelter in place order back home and people have only an hour to leave their homes to get groceries or medications.
“I do feel like it was a fast reaction,” Maria Heady, the host family mother, said. “I feel like in 90 days, things have to get better.”
Annika was scheduled to leave in June.
Despite less exposure in the U.S. for now, Annika’s exchange program, Education First (EF), is trying to get all their students back home as soon as possible.
EF, in an emailed statement to FOCUS, stated it made its decision due to travel options are becoming less and less, and foreign governments are urging travelers to return home.
For the Heady’s, Annika’s return was not only sudden, it was also heart-wrenching.
“Yeah, she’ll always be part of the family,” Ron Heady promised while holding back tears.
Maria and Ron Heady have three daughters. They love Annika like a fourth daughter.
“We love you kid,” Ron Heady said while hugging his Swiss daughter.
And before she went through security, they all prayed together.
“(Lord) keep her healthy, keep her family healthy,” Maria Heady asked.