Majority of MISTI programs suspended for the summer

Students in active programs instructed not to buy flights or housing

The majority of MISTI programs have been canceled for this summer due to COVID-19. 

MISTI Africa, Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, Russia/Eurasia, Spain, Switzerland, and Uruguay summer programs have been suspended, according to the MISTI COVID-19 page

MISTI Australia, Brazil, China, India/South Asia, Israel, Japan, Korea, MEET, New Zealand, and Singapore will decide whether to suspend their summer programs by May 15.

MISTI U.K. internships for this summer have been suspended, but U.K. research exchanges will make a decision by May 15.

April Julich Perez, MISTI executive director, wrote in an email to The Tech that MISTI faculty directors suspended their programs “on a region-by-region basis.” They considered “potential impact on student health and safety while abroad,” “anticipated local government response and travel restrictions,” and “the availability of high-quality local host organizations.” 

The decisions were made in consultation with program staff, program partners, MIT’s safety and risk management staff, and Griselda Gomez, MISTI assistant director for student health and safety. 

As part of MIT’s COVID-19 response, MISTI joined the Working Group on Academic Continuity “to address the impact of MIT policies on extracurricular learning,” Perez wrote. 

When MIT announced new international travel policies March 5, students were given the option to withdraw from MISTI summer programs without penalty. However, “the majority of students opted to remain in their programs and wait for final decisions” about program cancellations, Perez wrote. 

Many of MISTI’s partner companies and research institutions “have been increasingly focused on the rapidly evolving situation in their own countries,” so “program planning for this summer rapidly became infeasible,” Perez wrote.

Students in canceled MISTI programs were notified “as soon as the decision was made,” Perez wrote.

Students in active MISTI programs have been “notified by program managers of the uncertain status of the program” and “offered the option to withdraw without penalty.” Students have been told not to buy flight tickets or housing abroad while MIT’s travel policies are in place.

Perez wrote that about 600 MIT undergraduate and graduate students participate in MISTI each summer. MISTI currently does not know the number of students affected by the cancellations.

Less than 50 MIT students participated in MISTI internships or study abroad this spring. When MIT released its new travel policies, MISTI allowed students to choose whether to stay abroad or return to MIT. 

“There are presently 10 students remaining abroad, and we are in frequent contact with them to ensure they feel safe and supported,” Perez wrote.

Perez acknowledged that the program suspensions are “very disappointing” for many students, but MISTI hopes to “give students ample time to make alternate plans for the summer.”

Perez wrote that MIT has created a new team to “focus on coordinating and planning for non-academic or co-curricular summer opportunities” including internships, UROPs, MISTI, D-Lab, and PKG Center opportunities. The team aims to “make careful assessments and timely decisions about the status of MIT summer opportunities in light of the latest developments” and “support MIT students with clear and helpful advice, communication, and programming.” 

“MISTI is working with colleagues across campus… to assist students in finding alternate options for summer, such as remote internships,” Perez wrote.

MISTI Germany, Netherlands, and Switzerland Managing Director Justin Leahey wrote in an email to students Tuesday that he is willing to work with MISTI’s German, Dutch, and Swiss partners to “roll over” internship positions to next summer. Students who were not placed this summer and still wish to participate will be prioritized next summer, he wrote.

MIT Career Advising and Professional Development “is available to help students make alternate plans for this summer” through “one on one virtual meetings,” Leahey wrote. Virtual appointments, along with job and internship listings, are available on Handshake.

Some students “may be able to participate in their placement in the early fall,” Perez wrote. 

“Faculty members and research scientists with active MISTI Global Seed Funds grants may be eligible for an extension based upon the length of disruption to their project,” according to the MISTI COVID-19 page.

Students with questions or concerns should contact their MISTI program manager. Updates will be posted on the MISTI COVID-19 page.