Wry Exchange

They Know Everything!
03-20-08, 12:11 am
Filed under: Exchange Students, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: , ,

 Nothing amuses me as much as brand new exchange students.   No creature is more delusional hopeful or self-confident.   They haven’t left the country yet, and They. Know. Every. Freaking. Thing.  

They each have to research their new countries, and present their findings to the people who are intimately familiar with the assigned country.  The kids going to my countries did not contact me, the US kids currently in the countries, or the inbounds from the countries.  They were given the CIA fact-sheet website, and that’s about all they researched.  One had the wrong president, even the gender.  One FES told me “I am confident I know all I need to know.” 

We have exchanges with a few countries that aren’t strong.  Our program is a true exchange; one kid goes out, one kid comes in.  Those 2 countries exchange with us solely so their students can come here.  They really don’t care about our kids.  We put up with it because they’re important countries, let’s say Australia and France. (not really) We warn the students, and we only send one student to each of those countries.  The student must be a graduating Senior, 18 years old, and very independent.   We warn students and parents that FES will be on his own, without much of a support system over there.  Basically, we try to talk them out of it.   We ensure FES knows that host family or school problems will have to be handled from here or by the student, and if the student wants to go on any end of the year trips, she’ll have to book them herself with another country’s group.   It’s not the way we like to run our program, but every year we have takers for “Australia” and “France.”  This year, “France’s” mom is upset that Snowflake was just dumped, and left to fend for herself.  “We told you this.”  “But I didn’t think you meant it.  It’s not like here at all.”  “We warned you.”  (We don’t hear from Snowflake directly, just Mom.)  The program will help them in an emergency, or if we ask for their help.  We just try not to ask too often.

They know which country they’ll be in, what area, and in a few cases the city, but that’s it.  It’s too early to have details.  They tell me “I want to be in Paris because my teacher told me it was fantastic,  then in a few weeks it’s ” I must be in Lyon, the other exchange students said it’s the best.  After that, it’s “I simply have to be in Bordeaux, I met some cool people on Facebook.”  I can’t tell the French people where to place the kids, it’s up to them.  They will decide over there, and we decide here.

I have to say that I am thrilled later on when the kids tell us “You were right.  I didn’t think you knew what you were talking about, but you do.” 


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