April 21, 2020

Keene student home after weeks stranded in a locked-down Peru

It was around the time that Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra announced the country would be going into full lockdown that Quinn Williston realized he’d better try to get home as soon as possible.

Williston, a 17-year-old from Keene who had been in Lima since last summer participating in the Rotary’s Youth Exchange program, began the repatriation process by registering with the U.S. embassy in mid-March. He thought he’d be on his way back to New Hampshire soon, but he was stranded in Peru a little longer than he would have hoped.

[...] After deciding to return to New Hampshire, Williston was told to sign up with the American Citizens Services office at the U.S. embassy in Lima, which helps U.S. citizens who find themselves in emergency situations while abroad. He gave them his name and passport information and told them he was trying to get back to the U.S.

The office sent him daily updates, including how many Americans were being transported back to the U.S. each day, Williston said, but he never got any information about when he might be able to catch a flight home.

[...] Though he wasn’t stressing too much, Williston eagerly awaited news about his trip home. His brother, he knew, had gone home, and he was sure that meant he’d get information about his own flight soon. But that didn’t happen as quickly as he hoped.

While he was waiting, Williston tried another option: He contacted the office of U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan. That’s when the ball finally started rolling.

Williston said he got in touch with Elise Britton, director of constituent services for Hassan’s office, who helped him navigate the process of getting home while keeping his mother updated every step of the way.

“This was actually a lifesaver,” Williston said. “... [Britton] was a very sweet lady who was very committed, and she even ended up putting in a word telling Maggie Hassan specifically about my case, and Maggie Hassan spoke directly with the State Department. This is about three weeks of me waiting, and about three days afterward is when I got my flight.”

[...] On April 7, after three weeks of waiting, Williston was finally home.

Lyndes said she was relieved once both her sons were back in the States, and knew then that everything was going to be all right.

“It’s nice when they’re actually back and you’re able to see them,” she said.


By:  Mia Summerson
Source: Keene Sentinel