Wry Exchange

Welcome Gifts for Exchange Students
07-31-08, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Exchange Students, hosting, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: ,

From an old post: Have you thought of a welcome gift?  I like to buy a few plain, neutral Old Navy t-shirts, travel toothbrush and toothpaste, small sizes of shampoo, soap, bath gel, razor, deodorant, and sunscreen.  She may be too shy the first few days to use the family’s products.  I get an assortment of gum, chocolate, and gummi candy, as well as a few school supplies.  And of course, a small-as-possible dictionary to carry in his pocket.
Buy a phone card so your student can call to let her family know she arrived safely.  I like buying these online. www.nobelcom.com 
  And this year’s update:  I’m picking up  small gifts for my seven students a little at a time.  I stopped at Target last week and grabbed 7 Spanish-English dictionaries from the dollar bins.  Today I picked up 7 clear plastic folders/envelopes in the dollar section.  The smaller ones are used to store checks, and the full-size ones are for bills.  Anyway, the point is for the students to keep their return plane ticket, insurance information, passport, any notarized letters from their parents, and all other important papers in this clear folder with IMPORTANT or DOCUMENTS written with a thick black marker so it doesn’t get lost.

I’m not using Nobel for phone calls as much as I used to.  I still like it, but I like Rebtel.com much better.  I can use Rebtel to call from my cellphone to cellphones in other countries.  I can automatically add $10.00 to my account anytime I get below $2.00.  I call a local (to me) number, and magically, I’m speaking with someone in Chile or Germany.  Cheap international mobile calls – Rebtel  It’s good for calling from other countries, too.  It’s an European based company.  Check them out.

For Host Families: When I host, I’ll buy a few larger items.  A full-size US flag is nice; throughout the year the students have people they meet sign them.  A pretty journal or a business card case is nice.  A teddy bear is good to hold on to for the first week; everyone needs a friend.  A tshirt or hoodie from the local high school is a great gift.


Brazil Saudade
07-30-08, 1:05 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students | Tags:

 I think the first step to understanding Brasilians is the Portuguese word “saudade.”  We don’t have an English translation for the word or concept.   It’s longing, yearning, nostalgia, and much more.  I think it’s a romantic word, but I don’t mean that in a man/woman romantic way.  It’s emotional, not stoic or practical.

From Wiki-feeling of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one was fond of and which is lost. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might really never return.

 The most widespread, famous definition is from an 1912 book called In Portugal. authored by AFG Bell.  The famous saudade of the Portuguese is a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness.

Here’s a great blog post about saudade. Although in those sources that I pointed the sad aspect seems to arise more relevant in the concept of saudades, in my perspective, this feeling encompasses a balance of negative and positive aspect.

I’m probably completely wrong, but to me it’s a ‘past, present, future’ type of word.  Wry’s def “something was wonderful, now it’s missing, and I hope/need to see it again, even though I know I might not, and it’s ok because I have wonderful memories.”

Europeans, Asians, and Latinos
07-28-08, 7:38 pm
Filed under: Culture, hosting | Tags: , , ,

 This post went in a different way, so I have fodder for another about who I like to host later this week. 🙂  This post is about who gets placed when and sometimes why.  (As always, these are just my impressions.)

First, girls are much easier to place than boys.  People thinkgirls are easy and sweet.  Hah!  Once a boy is placed, that’s usually it.  They are generally fine and easy going.  Our problems are easily 10-1 girls vs. boys.  Girls are fighters, and stronger willed.  Most of the boys are more like “f*ck it, whatever.” 
 The students from Western Europe tend to be placed first.  I think it’s because everyone ‘knows’  France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.  The countries are familiar to people.  I believe people think “They’re just like us.”  Counselors will say they want a student from Italy or Spain, and they don’t care if it’s a boy or girl, or anything but the country.  Some will ask a year in advance to ‘host the Italian.’  These kids are hot commodities.

People aren’t as well versed on Eastern Europe; some believe Czechoslovakia still exists.  (Not just John McCain, either.)  Those students are the most difficult to place, but they’re  wonderful.  They have great English skills, and do well in US schools.  We’ve never had a single problem with a boy from Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Russia, or Poland, and very few with the girls.  (The problems with the girls are with suggestive clothing. Big whoop.)  The girls are a little bit more open to fun, and the boys are focused on school, not girls or sports. (More likely, they’re just smart enough not to ever be caught.)

  We typically exchange with Taiwan, Japan, India, and Thailand.  We’ve never hosted students from Asia in my town. I generally leave those students to be hosted by larger towns than mine.  Those kids are from heavily populated cities, and I live in a village with less than 400 students in the high school.   My town is lower middle class compared with other cities and towns in my area. The only language taught is Spanish.  (My goal is to inspire students from here to want to go explore the world.)  The Asian students usually are placed quickly.  They have excellent reputations as great youth ambassadors.  

Finally, we have the Americans.  These are the ones tough to place.  Do you know annually the kids are asked-by adults- if they live in trees, have computers, wear shoes, have pet monkeys, etc.?  Once a counselor has hosted a student from a South American country, then it’s fine-for that particular country.  Same with families. Then we start again with the next South American country.   What do people know about Bolivia?  Not much, and probably nothing positive.  What do people think when they hear Colombia or Venezuela?

Dead last are the Mexicans.  People assume the kids are just looking for a way to stay in the states.   It’s so difficult to place Mexican students.  These kids are bright, lively, well brought up teens.  (It’s difficult to interest outbound students in Mexico, too.  “It’s too close.”  We try to tell them it’s an entirely different, large country with a rich, varied culture. 

See also Exchange Students are people, 2 and Exchange students are people too  for more about stereotypes and prejudice.

Blog Tour 15 Era
07-27-08, 11:52 pm
Filed under: Home | Tags:

 Last week’s topic was “If you could live in any time period, which one would it be? And why?”  (We missed the week before.)  Easy one!  Now.  No hesitation.

  1. If I was born any earlier than 100 years ago, I’d probably die young.  My vision is 20/2500.  I can’t see two inches in front of my face.  I’m sure I’d have an accident.
  2. I enjoy electricity and running water.
  3. I prefer to think my chicken comes from the grocery store.  I don’t want to know anymore than that.
  4. No ‘happy pills’ way back when.  I probably would’ve been locked up as a crazy lady.
  5. I’m a feminist.  No way I could’ve been property of a man, or been able to subjugate myself.  See locked up crazy lady.

Look at all the the advances and new inventions in the last 40 years!  This is an exciting time to be alive.

Things that came into common usage after me:  color tv, tv remotes, boomboxes, cassette tapes, 8 track tapes, cds, home video cameras, dvds, ipods, discmans, walkmans, (I used to listen to a little AM transistor radio.) computers, internet, digital anything, microwave ovens, disposable lighters and razors, safety razors, VHS and Betamax tapes, fast food drive-thrus, cell phones, cordless phones, phones in colors other than black or ivory,  food processor,  contraceptive pills, calculators, soft and gas permeable contacts, acrylic paint, cans didn’t have pull tabs to open, plastic bottles, MRIs, barcodes, Sharpies,  calculators instead of adding machines, MS-DOS, Windows, disposable cameras, Nintendo, ATMs, kevlar, permanent pressed fabric. DNA fingerprinting, bread makers, and my beloved laptop!

I’m ba-ack & DS2019
07-27-08, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Exchange Students, Home, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: , ,

 I didn’t go anywhere, I just haven’t had anything to say.  That’s never stopped me in the past, so I’ll discipline myself to write 5 posts a week.  I spent too much time building up my blog to let it slide.  Bad, lazy Wry.   Before I left to chaperone in June, I averaged over 160 daily views.  I’ve lost a lot in this last month, and it ends tonight.  If you’re reading this, THANK YOU for still peeking in on me.

I have seven students coming from Bolivia and Chile that I’ll be responsible for this year.  They should be here in two weeks, but won’t.  All of their paperwork is late.  Only one 2019 has been mailed. (Actually FedEx’d, over $50.00)  The kids need their 2019’s entered into the system to even set an appointment at the US Consulate in La Paz or Santiago.  They must appear in person in the capital city for an interview.  The interview is typically a formality for well-qualified students, but longtime readers will remember the nightmare I had last year with the ‘soft refusal.’   Suffice to say, if a student is denied a Visa, start contacting both of your Senators, and as many House Reps as possible.  (Check out posts marked ‘Eli’ or ‘Visa denial.’)   Besides my students, we have an additional 20 students from around the world this year, including five Brasilians.  That means twelve Latinos.  It’ll be a fun year.   The last of this year’s students left today.

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07-18-08, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Home | Tags: ,

Adopt one today!Maybe you’ve noticed the “Adopt a Dragon” headline to the left?   It’s from a site called “Dragon Cave.”   I’m not certain whether it’s a game, but it’s quite addicting.  It has NOTHING to do with exchange students or the rest of Wry Exchange.  It’s just simply fun for me.

My eggs, hatchlings, and eventually adults are sometimes visible, and sometimes obscured by grey ‘fog.’  If one is hidden, it’s sick.  Hiding it keeps it from getting viewed, and apparently it helps.  They hatch, grow, and mature based on the number of page views, first time viewers, and direct clicks.  Too many or too few, and they can die.  They also can breed.

Eggs are released on the hour, and then a few more each five minutes.  There are cheat sheets widely available if you don’t want to be surprised when you choose one.  I like the weird ones, so some of my eggs were tagged “This egg looks like it doesn’t belong.”  The tiny one is a chicken, and the larger ones are dinosaurs.    They are rare, since it’s a dragon game.  

The green one that looks like an earwig?  I ‘adopted’ it as an abandoned egg with less than a day to go before it ‘died’ unhatched because I felt sorry it would die alone.  It hatched within 2 hours because it received a lot of love views from other dragon fans.  (I can’t wait until Husband reads this post.  He doesn’t know anything about my new obsession.)

07-16-08, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Home | Tags:

“Verbal Shrug” “Indifference” “I don’t care.” “Whatever”

That’s what I feel about this past year.  Last year’s students are mostly gone, and the new ones won’t arrive for another month or so.  Meh.   Last year’s inbound students were perfectly nice FESs, bland and boring to me.   I don’t think I know any of them well.  Not even the one who stayed with us part-time, or the other nearby ones.  Not the ones on the trip I chaperoned, either.  I’m quite certain if I knew some of them better, I’d find them to be vibrant, interesting people.   I don’t even feel regret or sadness, I simply don’t care.   I wish them well, but I probably won’t keep in touch with any of them.  Each class is different.  This was a quiet year.  It was also the smallest group we’ve ever had, they were about half the size as we usually host.

I can’t think of anything to write this week.  I’ve just been thinking ‘meh’ to each potential topic.  

Home update:

  • I’ve been busy around the house, faux-painting a ceiling, and helping Husband sand and finish hardwood floors.  
  • Husband was identity-thefted again, a card that hasn’t ever been used online.  This is the 4th time in a year, but the first time it was a credit card instead of a debit card.  The company froze the account, but didn’t notify Husband.  He found out the embarrassing way when he tried to use it.  The company apologized, and gave him $25.00 for not calling.
  • Our oldest Chilean son, Chef, will be here next month.  We’re excited to see him.  It’s been probably  4 years since he’s been here.  I was able to spend time with him in November.  He was an exchange student 10 years ago.
  • Zoloft and Effexor seem to be a great mix.  I don’t have to see my therapist for 8 weeks!  Pretty cool, huh?  I like her, but sometimes I need to go biweekly.  I always do better in Summer.