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International student is thankful to Liberty for being a refuge during COVID-19

April 23, 2020 : Jacob Couch/Liberty University News Service

The majority of Liberty University’s student body left campus in March and traveled to their homes across the country to finish the 2020 Spring Semester online due to COVID-19 restrictions, but for many of the school’s international student population, Liberty’s campus has been their only refuge during the pandemic.

Senior Blessy Sam is one of those students. A long way from her native India, she doesn’t know when she will be able to return home.

Born in Tenkasi, Tamil Nadu, in 1998, Sam grew up in a missionary family. Her grandfather, M.A. Thomas, founded Emmanuel Ministries in 1960. She has six biological siblings as well as 50 adopted siblings.

Through Emmanuel Ministries, her family’s desire is to glorify God by providing help for today and hope for tomorrow.

While in high school, Sam heard about Liberty through relatives who are alumni.

“I originally heard about Liberty from my uncle and cousin who went to Liberty,” Sam said. “My mom desired that one of her children would go to Liberty and she wanted me to do it. After a lot of prayer, I applied and got accepted. It was His will for me to come here.”

Her younger sister, Sona, followed her to Liberty and is a freshman this year.

Sam is studying Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Christian Counseling and Women’s Leadership.

Since arriving at Liberty in 2016, Sam has never gone back to India to see her family, mainly due to travel expenses. She usually travels to North Carolina during school breaks to spend time with extended family members, but when the COVID-19 pandemic arose, remaining at Liberty was a more viable and convenient option.

“When all of this began, it was a little stressful,” Sam said. “All of the airports were shut down, so we could not really go anywhere.”

Sam and her sister are staying in a dorm room together. Aside from the two of them, Sam said that their living area is void of other residents.

“Once Liberty offered for us to stay on campus, that was very helpful and was an answer to our prayers,” Sam said. “In the beginning, it was a little strange to not see many people around campus, but we’ve gotten used to it.”

Sam is thankful that Liberty’s housing remained open to them since they have not been able to travel home to their family.

“I’m really thankful for the Liberty authorities and for all of the people who work here because they have made this process very smooth for us,” Sam said. “They didn’t panic but instead had a procedure that they followed. That was very helpful. Liberty also encouraged us to trust in God and pray for others in this difficult time."

Sam intends to enroll in graduate school at a university in the U.S. this fall before eventually venturing back to India to serve with Emmanuel Ministries.



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