Wry Exchange

Chao 2007
12-31-07, 1:01 pm
Filed under: Culture, Home | Tags:

čau-Czech Republic

Chow-Appalachia 🙂

Farewell to 2007. I hope you all have a wonderful 2008, and thank you for reading my blog.


This Host Family Sucked!, Part 2
12-30-07, 12:44 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Program, Exchange Students | Tags: ,

I posted an article about a strange host family, called This Host Family Sucked! a while ago.  A friend of the host family left a comment on Christmas Eve about the student and his experience.   Being the mature adult I am, I just couldn’t let it go. 

I just now stumbled on this but I have a bit of first hand knowledge of this situation with this boy because I was involved. The majority of what he writes about is slanted and simply untrue. 1) He was unhappy because it wasn’t a good fit for him: this was entirely his fault (i will explain this) and 2) his career goal (from my understanding after talking to him) is to be a journalist. ;-)    If he wasn’t happy, he should have asked to move.

I was hosting during this same time in the general area with a student he came here with, AND his “host” was at that time (and currently still is) the rep for the organization our students were with. The area rep shouldn’t be hosting.  It’s a conflict.  If the student has a problem, who does he go to?  This is a perfect example.  This family has very good credentials and have been hosting students for a long time. (how many people would do that???)  Many!   She (his rep knows very well the pitfalls, risks and rewards and chose to do it anyway. Also, there was always plenty of people up the chain that were easy to get ahold of and that they all were told and knew about through monthly check-up phone calls, meetings, literature and email (they could also call the higher rep at any time).   Ooooh. A monthly phone call to see how the kid is doing.  It’s better than nothing, but not much.  Does the area rep get paid, either in money or ‘prize points?’ 

I only became acquainted with his host (our rep) through hosting with this organization. I no longer host and I also have not kept in touch with her.

Monthly follow-up calls were taken and documented by a higher rep. and the host and student were each asked privately a series of questions about their situation. I can also say that before any student is placed with a family a detailed profile is completed and signed by their parents. Many questions and choices such as religious preferences are asked on this form. It is not taken lightly. The student has the option of checking the box that states they will not stay with a family that is not of their religous faith or attends church, etc. or that it simply doesn’t matter to them. He quite obviously stated on the form that it didn’t matter. He should not have taken this lightly because he could have been placed with any other faith (jewish, muslim, buddhist, etc. My first choice declined because we weren’t Catholic so I had to choose another. Not a problem.   Checking a ‘doesn’t matter’ box shows tolerance to me.  I don’t think anyone would expect to stay with a family who expected him to be a missionary for them.  It doesn’t come up often.

All students and hosts are respectfully given plenty of choices as to the type of people they want to live with. Mine unfortunately lied on her profile (which was signed by her parents btw) that she didn’t drink or smoke.  Typical for an exchange student application.   They should have a “hard drugs” question on it too btw. Again, no one is going to be honest with these questions because they cut their chances. They are welcome to go back home anytime however. No one is being held prisoner.

My family and I were at the airport and did not notice his hosts “wielding a bible”. However, when he and our student arrived together they were both a bit arrogant acting which would later become quite revealing. Ours barely looked at us and didn’t want us to touch her suitcase.   Could she have been shy? or didn’t understand you?  They are from a different culture.   I don’t know about his friend situation but he could have made plenty at school. I do know he kept in touch with our student as well. He also had his laptop and attended school. His school (different from where ours attended) wasn’t the best but it wasn’t the worst either. His hosts were very faithful Christians who attended a non- denominational church. I also cannot imagine them talking about personal matters with him. However, perhaps some advice was given to him at some point that didn’t sit well with him. He was living with them afterall and 18 year olds do not like being told anything. Families talk, give advice, and you get to know the family and student very well. Most state that they want to stay with a family to learn the family life, language and culture. We eventually came to realize that ours was already very familiar with the language and culture and was here for her own personal selfish motives.   WTF?  It’s a year, of course the kids come for themselves.  That’s normal.  How can someone be familiar with our culture if she’s never lived here?  TV and movies aren’t a substitute for real life experience.

I absolutely do not agree that a student should be in the same community if they choose to leave. It is bad enough while they are living with you that they have the capability (and often do) disparage you to everyone at school and in your community that they talk to.   Students should be discreet about why they moved, and so should the family.   But just because a family didn’t work out, the student shouldn’t be penalized by moving away from his friends and school.  They also (both) were heavy computer users and I found that mine had a secret web page where she had my family’s pictures up, and was regularly reporting (and disparaging) everything regarding what we were doing, eating, the school, the people..and also only putting up “slanted” pics of weird looking things and stating that was the norm.  Most FES’s have a blog or keep a journal on Fotolog, Windows Live, Skyblog, MySpace, etc. They share their experiences with friends and family back home.  She came extremely close to getting kicked out when I discovered all the horrible commentary (with only about 9 weeks left). She got very lucky on that one. We have since realized we made a mistake in keeping her. I also discovered Michael’s little article about two weeks after it went out. Let that simply be commentary to the type of person he is. Even if half of it were true, it is horrible and appalling for him to reveal personal details and betray a couple that sacrificed, kept him in their home for 4 1/2 months or so and gave up their privacy in doing so.   Why should he be loyal to people who were horrid to him?  It’s a cautionary tale.   His article was in a German paper, not the host family’s local paper.  He didn’t mention them by name, or identify them any closer than ‘living in Winston-Salem, NC.’

Also, I met Michael from several out ings and keeping him in our home overnight. Both these two were quite graciously entertained with plenty of travel, dining, field trips and experiences much of which was at the host’s expense (hosts were required to pay for all meals). We personally sacrificed much to keep ours. They were spoiled and nothing we did made them treat us any better. They seemed to be used to getting and doing anything they wanted and did not like being told ANYTHING or having to help around the house or lift a finger. They must see stuff on MTV and they think its going to be like that here…one big party.   So why did you keep entertaining them? Why didn’t you sit them down, and have a chat about cultural differences and expectations?  Maybe your interests and the students were just very far apart.  Why didn’t the area rep talk to them?

I would like to say no one “let Michael down” but Michael. He and anyone else should make sure they state clearly the type of family they will or won’t stay with on their dossiers and profile forms!!! Who expects to live with religious wackos?  It’s not something kids think about.  Uh, let’s see, OK-no religious freaks, pedophiles, porn producers, drug dealers, dog fighters, UFO nuts, survivalists, and oh yeah, no gun runners. But I forgot to list ‘no pirates.’  Damn.  Please do not lie. It isn’t easy to find host families, and I have heard of hosts that aren’t the greatest also, but in this case, I know for a fact he was with good people with good intentions. You didn’t live with the people.  Until you live with someone, you really don’t know how they live.  He lost credibility with me due to some of his statements in the article. 

As soon as he wanted to make a move, I was personally asked if I would “take him in” and that wasn’t until sometime around mid to late Dec.  That’s a no-no, you were already hosting one student, and the other student was female-another bad idea.  If he asked to leave earlier than that, I think I would have known about it since my student was always in touch with him via email. I asked and emailed around and my student asked her friends and teachers if they would take him in and no one obliged. Again, reveals the fact that not many people are willing to open up their hearts and homes in such a huge and sacrificing way.   And he did go back home over the holiday, but wanted to return and finish which was his choice. 

It is unfortunate that when you open up your home to strangers, give up your privacy, offer them your lifestyle, family, friends, school and resources free of charge one would think you would at least receive a little gratitude in return. Instead all we got was betrayal and a bad impression of Germans.  What did the kids get out of it? It sounds like everyone was miserable.

One more thing, my family had hosted previous to this (short term) and had a much better experience. I would most definitely advise anyone to host only short term and if possible in the summer. Also, I do know that alot of churches seem to be involved in exchange student programs and try to get members of their congregations to host. It seems to be a more successful way for the organizations to solicit for host families which are much fewer than the amount of students that want to come here. Studying here means everything to alot of these students (or at least their parents) because getting into a good university means everything to them and studying abroad is the path to it. I hope this helps explain this terribly slanted story.   blah, blah, blah.

Sexual Harassment of FES
12-28-07, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program, Exchange Students | Tags: , , ,

 The safety and well-being of students should always be the first priority.  All exchange student programs should have harassment policies.   This is the policy my program follows. 

 Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse refers to engaging in implicit or explicit sexual acts with a student, or forcing or encouraging a student to engage in implicit or explicit sexual acts alone or with another person of any age, of the same sex or the opposite sex. Additional examples of sexual abuse could include, but are not limited to: Non-touching offenses; Indecent exposure; Exposing a child to sexual or pornographic material.
Sexual harassment: Sexual harassment refers to sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. In some cases, sexual harassment precedes sexual abuse and is a technique used by sexual predators to desensitize or “groom” their victims. Examples of sexual harassment could include, but are not limited to: Sexual advances; Sexual epithets, jokes, written or oral references to sexual conduct, gossip regarding one’s sex life, and comments about an individual’s sexual activity, deficiencies, or prowess; Verbal abuse of a sexual nature; Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures or drawings Sexual leering or whistling, any inappropriate physical contact such as brushing or touching, obscene language or gestures and suggestive or insulting comments.
Is it Abuse or is it Harassment? Whether the alleged conduct amounts to sexual abuse or sexual harassment is not to be determined by the adult to whom allegations are made. After ensuring the safety of the student, all allegations should be immediately reported to appropriate law enforcement authorities. In some countries, this reporting is required by law.
Allegation Reporting Guidelines For use by all adults to whom a student reports an incident of abuse or harassment. Any adult to whom a student reports an incident of sexual abuse or harassment is responsible for following these Allegation Reporting Guidelines.
1. Report from Student
a. Listen attentively and stay calm. Acknowledge that it takes a lot of courage to report abuse. It is appropriate to listen and be encouraging. Do not express shock, horror or disbelief
b. Assure privacy but not confidentiality. Explain that you will have to tell someone about the abuse/harassment to make it stop and to ensure that it doesn’t happen to other students
c. Get the facts, but don’t interrogate. Ask the student questions that establish what was done and who did it. Reassure the student that s/he did the right thing in telling you. Avoid asking ‘why’ questions. Remember your responsibility is to present the student’s story to the proper authorities
d. Be non-judgmental and reassure the student. Do not be critical of anything that has happened or anyone who may be involved. It is especially important not to blame or criticize the student. Assure the student that the situation was not their fault and that they were brave and mature to come to you
e. Record- Keep a written record of the conversation with the student as soon after the report as you can, including the date and time of the conversation. Use the student’s words, and record only what has been told to you.
2. Protect the Student
Ensure the safety and well-being of the student. Remove the student from the situation immediately and all contact with the alleged abuser or harasser. Give reassurance that this is for the student’s own safety and is not a punishment
3. Report to Appropriate Law Enforcement Authorities. Immediately report all cases of sexual abuse or harassment to the appropriate law enforcement authorities first and then to program leadership for investigation.
4. Avoid Gossip and Blame. Do not tell anyone about the report other than those required by the guidelines. Care must be taken to protect the rights of both the victim and the accused during the investigation.
5. Do Not Challenge the Alleged Offender.  The adult to whom the student reports must not contact the alleged offender. In cases of abuse, interrogation must be left entirely to law enforcement authorities.
6. Follow-Up. After reporting allegations to the counselor or area program chair, follow up to make sure steps are being taken to address the situation. Specifically, we will conduct an independent and thorough investigation into any claims of sexual abuse or harassment. Any adult against whom an allegation of sexual abuse or harassment is made will be removed from all contact with youth until the matter is resolved.
Post Report Procedures. The student’s counselor and the area program chair chair are responsible for ensuring that the following steps are taken immediately following an abuse allegation is reported.
1. The adult to whom the student reports the abuse should follow the Allegation Reporting Guidelines.
2. Confirm that the student has been removed from the situation immediately and all contact with alleged abuser or harasser.
3. Contact appropriate law enforcement agency immediately (if not already done). If law enforcement agencies will not investigate, the area program chair should coordinate an independent investigation into the allegations.
4. Ensure the student receives immediate support services.
5. Offer the student an independent counselor to represent the interests of the student. Ask social services or law enforcement to recommend someone who is not in any way involved with the program.
6. Contact the student’s parents or legal guardian. If away from home, provide the student with the option of either staying in country or returning home.
7. Remove alleged abuser or harasser from all contact with the specific student and other youth while investigations are conducted.
9. The student’s counselor should inform the area program chair of the allegation. The area program chair must inform headquarters of the allegation within 72 hours, and provide follow-up reports of steps taken, the outcome of all investigations, and resulting actions.
Follow up care: There will need to be a cohesive and managed team approach to supporting the student after an allegation report. The student is likely to feel embarrassed, confused, and may become withdrawn and appear to be avoiding members of the host family or club. After a report of harassment or abuse, students may or may not want to remain on their exchange. If they do, they may or may not want to continue their relationship with their counselor depending on the circumstances. In some cases, a student may wish to remain in country, but change to a different area. It may be difficult for counselors and host families to understand how the student is feeling, but it would be helpful for the student to know that the counselor remains a support for them. Counselors and host families may experience ambiguity toward their roles and may feel unclear regarding their boundaries. However they need to do whatever is necessary to reassure the student of their support at all times.

I’ve Been Busy
12-27-07, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Exchange Students, Home, hosting | Tags: ,

 Sorry for not posting for several days.  I’ve been surprisingly busy.  Husband and I had an unexpected guest for Christmas-one of our inbound students!   We were notified Sunday afternoon that a student needed a new host family immediately, and picked up our new FES.  (We’re actually just a temporary family.)  Husband worked on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day since we weren’t expecting anyone, and it’s nice so coworkers can spend time with their children.  I grabbed a few Christmas gifts for FES on Christmas Eve.  The stores were packed with many last minute shoppers, but at least I had an excuse for being out so late.   Husband and I didn’t even giftwrap our presents to each other this year.  We were exchanging one a day all week.   This was going to be a low key Christmas.   All I could think of was ‘Welcome to your one Christmas in the states!  We aren’t doing anything.”  Ooops.  
FES has a laptop and Ipod, and probably doesn’t even notice that it’s a different house.  All we see is the top of a head.
In other news, Santa brought me a new Ipod and Husband somehow deleted my entire library of songs.  2,000 songs have vanished.  If anyone has any suggestions, please leave a comment.  We’ve tried restoring items in the recycle bin, system restore, and several other things with no luck.   EDITED TO ADD: Fixed it! I rock!  I love my Ipod and Santa rocks!

So, you Googled What to Get Here?
12-23-07, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Home | Tags: , ,

I like seeing what people type into search engines to get to my site.  Below are some of the search terms for the last week or so.  Most of them show up multiple times.   I get the normal ones such as : bolivia sucks, what clothes should I bring to Tenerife,  husbands with dissociative disorder, , hoo is the president or leader in Bolivia, or how to tell a student she smells.   I think people would have better results if they spelled better.  “Who” is better than “hoo.”
GAY-gay people and exchange students, gay host parents exchange student, gay exchange students, gay foreign exchange students, gay foreign exchange program
SEX-nude exchange students, 15 years old girli porn, porn Exchange Students 4, dating exchange student who has girlfriend, exchange Students 4 porn
DUH-exchange student wont obey rules, what we call the people from chile, can i use my american coffee maker in chile, how to discuss hygiene husband
WTF-can a black person travel to south america,  palta marijuana argentina, grandma died, grandma pissy, mule coasters
And about once a day: who maked my water hard.  Funny picture - Who maked my water go hard?  From I can has Cheezburger.com

EDITED TO ADD: christmas gift for a spoiled bitch   Is that just the best Christmas Eve search ever!?

*I Don’t Like Children
12-22-07, 12:34 am
Filed under: Home | Tags: , , ,

 I don’t like babies, toddlers, kids, or babysitting.  There I said it.  I never wanted children, and don’t regret not having them.   I didn’t play with dolls, and didn’t even like kids when I was a kid.  I was the quiet girl reading in a nook, or riding my bike alone all over town.  

Ironically, I’ve chosen to devote a lot of my life working with exchange students.  I love exchange students, and volunteering to help them.  Most normal people would see these two views as impossible to reconcile.  Maybe it’s because I’m disassociative, but I can justify my position in my own mind at least.  I’ll help any exchange student who asks, or looks like he needs assistance.   
The ones I truly like personally are the oddball and/or devilish ones.  These are the kids we spend time with or invite to stay with us. I enjoy FES’s who are bright, honest with me, quirky, sarcastic, have absolutely no common sense, creative, sweet, and get into good natured trouble.  They’re also 16-17 when we first meet, so to me, they’re young adults.  If I don’t like them too much, I don’t have to spend money or extra time with them.  I’m an extra person in their lives.  They’re brave for being young and venturing so far from their own culture, and I respect that.  I want to help them along the way.  

*Husband likes them grilled with roasted asparagus, and a good bottle of wine.  He says they’re very tender.  🙂  We discussed having children before we married, and we reopened the discussion once a year for many years.   Whenever we were asked about not having children, we’d just ask people to imagine a child that is half like Husband, and half like my brother.  That shut up every.  single. person. every. time.  Husband and I both have interesting families.

Edited to add:  OK, I admit there have been a few little kids through the years I’ve really liked.  Our favorite young girl was described as ‘somewhat surly’ by her teacher during her elementary years.  My kind of kid.

No Surprise
12-21-07, 12:29 am
Filed under: Home | Tags: ,

cash advance  I’ve spent so long using ‘small words, short sentences’ that it’s a habit now.   I speak and write in ‘exchanglish.’   I know words over 2 syllables!  I are edumacated!!  ~sigh~