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Hanover teen makes it home from study abroad

HANOVER, N.H. (WCAX) Thousands of Americans remain stranded overseas because of the ongoing pandemic, including dozens from our region. Our Adam Sullivan spoke with a Hanover teen who made it back.

Seventeen-year-old Isabel Estes entered Peru by bus March 13th with a groups of students studying abroad. Three days later the borders of the South American country were closed. Thankfully, with the help of New Hampshire's Congressional delegation, the Hanover teen was able to get home.

"Seeing my dogs and running up to them, they were so happy to see me. Just being back -- it is a good feeling," said Estes.

It's noticeable relief after being locked down in a foreign country. The high school junior was spending part of the school year in South America, but the semester came to an abrupt end because of the worldwide pandemic.

"Initially, I was pretty overwhelmed," Estes said. She had support from her fellow students and teachers who were quarantined in Peru while officials back in the states worked to get them out. "I was with a program, like I said, so I felt really supported by them and they were really helpful managing the emotional side of quarantine."

After more than two weeks of uncertainty, Estes and her classmates boarded a chartered flight at a Peruvian military base.

"Just relief and gratitude," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, who helped facilitate travel arrangements with the State Department. "It was high school students ages 15 to 18 too -- they were young. They are all back and safe and home with their families."

Estes was one of hundreds of Americans stuck in Peru. Shaheen says bringing home New Hampshire residents is a top priority. "We still have about 20 Granite Staters that we are trying to help get home from abroad. We've gotten over 30 home already," she said.

Estes is currently halfway through her self-quarantine in Hanover, with plenty of time to write thank you notes. "Normally, I would actually write them letters but given, corona, I've decided email is the best option. But I have a long list of people who I want to thank, and yeah, if anyone is listening and they were helping our cause, thank you," she said.

Estes says while the entire ordeal was an inconvenience and cut her studies short, she recognizes that Peru only locked down the country to keep keep its citizens safe. She says she looks forward to the opportunity to visit in the future.