Cross-Cultural COVID: Working Internationally in a Global Pandemic

Feb 9, 2021 11:36:45 AM Sarah Rymer

It’s been more than 100 years since the world has lived and worked through a global pandemic. What’s it like to live and work internationally during a worldwide pandemic?

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We recently asked the IDEAS Crisis Response Team Leader how IDEAS professionals have been able to continue living and working in their host countries overseas, demonstrating love and serving holistically those who are forgotten and overlooked.

Have IDEAS professionals returned to the U.S.?

Although a few IDEAS professionals with underlying health issues chose to travel to the U.S. from their host countries for safety reasons, most have been able to continue their work even as they have confronted travel difficulties, lockdowns, medical infrastructure questions, and educational difficulties.

Are IDEAS professionals able to travel?

International flights have been greatly curtailed, making travel difficult. Direct flights are often no longer possible. Connecting flights through some countries (such as the United Kingdom) are not allowed by many countries. International air tickets have become more expensive, with tickets to China costing 500% more than pre-pandemic tickets.

Do IDEAS professionals need a COVID-19 test?

Most countries require proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 3 days prior to travel to enter the country and require a 14-day quarantine. Usually this is in a hotel at the traveler’s expense, but it can also be a home quarantine which is monitored by government officials. Some countries also require an additional quarantine when traveling from one part of the country to another.

Are countries in lockdown where IDEAS professionals work?

All the countries where IDEAS professionals work have had stay-at-home orders, lockdowns, and curfews. The lockdowns are often for 3 weeks but can be 6 weeks and are enforced by police and/or the military. The only time residents were able to leave their homes were scheduled times to go shopping. Many countries continue to have daily curfews with police patrolling the streets. The curfew in Tunisia is from 8:00pm to 5:00am daily, and Jordan has a daily 11:00pm to 6:00am curfew. Internal travel within many countries has been stopped or restricted.

Do IDEAS professionals have access to healthcare during a pandemic?

All IDEAS professionals have been able to access healthcare, though in some countries the medical system is becoming overburdened. In a major city in South Asia, IDEAS healthcare professionals run a clinic which provides basic medical care. For the past several months they have daily treated COVID-19 patients.

Are schools around the world open or closed?

In most of the countries where IDEAS professionals live the schools have been closed, which means the children of IDEAS professionals are studying at home. This has also meant that IDEAS education professionals are teaching online with all the challenges this entails. One IDEAS professional is a college professor in an Asian country. However, she is currently in the U.S. and has not able to return to her host country due to travel restrictions. She teaches her classes in the middle of the night via the internet.

How does IDEAS handle crisis during a pandemic?

IDEAS has had a Crisis Management Team working for the past year to help IDEAS in its response to the pandemic and to provide up-to-date information for IDEAS professionals concerning the rapidly changing situations. Thankfully, no one has been hospitalized during the pandemic. The Crisis Management Team’s goal is to help all IDEAS professionals remain healthy, safe, and informed.

In the midst of a global pandemic, we’re grateful that IDEAS professionals continue to work as a global community leveraging their skills in education, agriculture, healthcare, business, and community development to restore hope!


Click here if you’d like to learn more about joining IDEAS and leveraging your professional skills to restore hope!


About the Author: Scott is the IDEAS Director of Project Operations for Asia and IDEAS Crisis Response Team Leader. Enjoy other posts by Scott, such as  6 Tips to Live Cross-Culturally from Home.


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