Wry Exchange

Weekly Update & Evicted
08-31-07, 7:49 pm
Filed under: Exchange Students, Home | Tags: , , ,

Eli’s school papers are in the consulate, again.  Now we wait for them to call for another Visa interview.  The poor boy wants to come here so much, even more since he saw the orientation photos.   His host brother has been helping him with his English.  Eli is so ready to be an exchange student. 
Ian, Che, and Mia are all adjusting well. So far. I’m sure I’ll get a phone call when a problem gets big enough it can’t be ignored. The kids all have first-time host families, who are afraid everyone is judging them.  I think they are treating the students as guests.  One of our other kids has moved already. The hostmom decided she really didn’t want to host. 2 weeks isn’t a record. It’s not even close.
Our quickest eviction was 3 days.  The boy had very limited English skills, but was really sweet.  The first-time host parents wanted a soccer-playing boy because their 2 sons lives revolved around soccer.  Our boy wasn’t too good at soccer, but was a superb swimmer.  He beat both host brothers in swim races.  They didn’t like the competition.  I think they also wanted either a soccer coach or a ringer for their team.  The sheriff was called to the house in the middle of the night saying they had a 911 call (from a computer chatroom in another state) that the foreign exchange student was going to stab and kill the father.  Grandma answered the door, and didn’t even bother waking hostdad up.  The next morning, we received a call to come get the kid IMMEDIATELY.  The reason was that the boys were frightened by the crazy exchange student, and the family wanted him shipped back home.  Husband and I go to pick up the boy, and he was happy to see us.  Then we had to tell him he was coming with us, along with his belongings.  It took a while for him to understand.  The host family was rude to us, and the student.  We brought the kid back to our house for a few days, and then he went to his counselor’s home for a week until he could move to his new permanent family.  He was a well-mannered, sweet, kind boy….who just didn’t play soccer well enough for the family.  The parents didn’t believe their sons made the prank 911 call, they insisted our student made the calls.  He couldn’t speak or type English well enough to pass for an American. 
Sparky called last night to bitch. I ‘got him in trouble’ at school.  Classes are usually over by noon, and  I called at 2:00pm.  He was in a special assembly, and his cell phone was confiscated.  He’s doing better, he’s been having reverse culture shock.  We miss each other.  Husband was home, and got to talk and tease him.  Jon and Jen are doing well, and are having fun.  


Target or Walmart?
08-31-07, 12:04 am
Filed under: Home | Tags: ,

 I’m a Target shopper.  Sparky asked me last year ‘Why don’t you shop at Wal-Mart like normal people?’  I said to look at the people going in and out of Target.  Then we drove to Wal-Mart, and people-watched.  He never asked to go to Wal-Mart again.
Which leads me to Behind the Counter, a blog written by a Wal-Mart customer service clerk. He is a great writer, and has much to write about.  His Florida store attracts the freaks.  His daily posts are wonderful, and break back memories of working retail.  I had a small jewelry store, and then Wal-Mart opened nearby.  People liked the prices at Wal-Mart, and didn’t believe there were any quality differences. 

Visa Denial, part 198
08-29-07, 11:39 am
Filed under: Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: , ,

We have progress!  The consulate sent an email to 2 Congressman, and CALLED Eli.  A third congressional office called the consulate, and received the same information.  Of course, it’s not the consulate’s fault, but I don’t care what their story is as long as the kid gets here.
 Please be advised that Eli was interviewed on August 2.  During his interview he stated twice – first to the interviewing officer and then a native-speaking colleague to make sure he had graduated from high school.  He did not bring any documentation to support otherwise.  Therefore, under FAM 9 FAM 41.62 N4.10-1, this student was refused. Today we have contacted Eli and have requested that he obtain and present proof from his high school that he is still enrolled and in fact, not graduated.  
I hope they schedule his new Visa interview this week, and he arrives in time for the beginning of school.  I’m just never satisfied.

Eau d’Exchange Student
08-27-07, 2:42 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Is it a scent or an odor?
  I think Axe body spray is the work of the devil.  Some of the students must use a can a week of that crap.  PUKE.
It’s not uncommon to have a chat with your student about scents….or odors.   Almost annually, I have to say something about the amount of cologne students use.  The conversation is usually held in a car, with the windows down, and my head hanging out the window as discreetly as possible.  I try to tell FES that cologne should only be detected by someone hugging him.  I tell FES many Americans are allergic to perfumes, and we don’t use as much as some other countries.  I also tell FES it’s not necessary to reapply the cologne each time she leaves the house. 
We also have the hygiene speech. It was hot Saturday at Orientation, and some of the kids really smelled. I always talked to the girls at Orientation as a group before bedtime about hygiene, flirty behavior, and appropriate clothing.   The female night chaperone asked me what I used to say to the girls before lights out, but I don’t know if anyone spoke to the boys.   I gave Ian, Mia, and Che travel sized toiletries as part of their welcome gifts.
Have you noticed that your FES smells different from the rest of the family? When the kids first arrive, they smell different to me. I think it has to be diet, because the smell goes away after a bit. I can tell when the kids get sick though, they smell ‘sick’ to me.  I know it’s weird, and I can’t explain it.
Americans just don’t like to smell other people.

20/2500 Uncorrected Vision
08-27-07, 12:28 pm
Filed under: Home | Tags: ,

 Coke bottles. That’s me.  20/2500 vision. I can’t even see an eye chart on the wall, let alone the big ‘E’, but I can see the wall.  I need my glasses.  I’ve broken four this year.  I try to keep 3 pairs in rotation, but I keep dropping them.  They are heavy, so they land lenses down.  When they fall, the lenses chip or scratch or the frame cracks.  I use glass lenses because they are more precise than plastic, and I need all the help I can get.  I gave up my contacts about 5 years ago.  I couldn’t see as well with contacts.  I typically replace a pair every year or so as styles change.  This is the first year I’ve broken glasses in a long time, and never multiples.  It’s an expensive whoopsie; about $400.00 each. 

08-26-07, 6:18 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: , , , , ,

Orientation is over.  Everyone lived.  The program’s adults outnumbered the kids by over 2-1.  By now, you realize I live love to bitch.  However, since the adults are all volunteers, and I gave up my position of ‘Queen of the Universe’, I’ll play nice.  The t-shirts were nicely folded.  
I had a great time with the new kids.  I had them all to myself for over an hour at the beginning.  I missed the parent-counselor orientation meeting to chaperone the kids.  Someone had to chaperone them, you can’t just leave 15 students who just met each other standing in a parking lot. That’s not a very hospitable welcome.  I passed out squirtguns, and that broke the ice.  They had fun, and got to know each other a bit.  This is the smallest group we’ve ever had, and they all seem like good kids. 
Husband and I got to spend time with some of our former outbound students.  We love catching up.  Three of our favorites were at Orientation; one just returned from an interview at Harvard, the second graduated magna cum laude with a double major, and the third is donating a kidney next month.  Impressive!  (The organ donation deserves it’s own posting.)
We got Sparky’s gift finally.  My own fault for not being able to meet Ian before yesterday.  I opened it in the car, and started crying.  The damn kid sprayed his cologne all over everything, and it smelled like him.  He sent us his flag, because he just hated seeing large flags of other countries in his room, in his house.  I’m supposed to use his to cover one of the others.   He wrote a wonderful letter, too.  We miss Sparky.

“Soft Denial”
08-24-07, 7:23 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: , , , ,

 Doesn’t ‘Soft Denial’ sound like a romance novel? Or girly porn movie?  Nope, just part of Eli’s Visa saga.  For the last 3 weeks, it’s been ‘administratively delayed.’  My Congressman’s immigration specialist has been very helpful.  This morning, she called and said ‘It’s a soft denial.’  She said she’s never heard that term used before.  I googled ‘soft denial.’  It “is a simple refusal to issue a visa based on the paperwork submitted. These denials can be overcome by submission of additional documentation at a subsequent consulate interview.”  I think it’s code for ‘I hope you just give up and quit asking.’
 Momma needs a drink. maybe 2. 
Tomorrow is our orientation.  All of the students, host parents, and counselors must attend as mandated by the State department.  Let’s see how many families and counselors don’t show.  I’m guessing over a third.  Last year we had almost perfect attendance.  The people who don’t attend tomorrow’s orientation session still must be trained.  Someone (not me!) has to go to their homes and train them individually.  It’s a pain.
I’ve been trying to see advantages in not being in charge.  A big plus is I get to be myself, not ‘Queen Bitch.’  It’s difficult getting students who only get together once a month to be quiet, pay attention, or move in a timely way.  It’s like herding cats.  I yelled a LOT.  The adults milled around, and didn’t want to be mean chaperones.  We always had a lot to accomplish in a small amount of time.  I bought squirt guns for tomorrow.  I’ll have fun, and it’s a great ice breaker for non English speaking kids. Maybe I’ll squirt a few adults who piss me off.
Edited to add: Ohmygawd.  The people in charge have never emailed the hostparents.  I emailed my 4 hostparents a ‘save the date’ 3 weeks ago, and reminders.  The kids weren’t told to bring  passports,  landing cards, money to reimburse their SEVIS fees, or their cameras.