Wry Exchange


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.

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2 Comments so far
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I agree on people not knowing anthing about eastern europe. I am leaving for Hungary with Rotary in a few weeks (I can’t wait!) and when people ask where I am going and I say Budapest I sometimes get reponses like “Budapest, where’s that? China?” I also got one response that went like this “Hungary, why Hungary, I would have wanted to go to Europe”…… “Um Dutch, Hungary is in Europe”….. “Oh I thought it was in South America, I guess I was thinking of Chile”

Anyway, wonderful blog, I love reading it, it makes me laugh and think. It also make me want to be extra nice to all our volunteers. Thanks for what you do!

Comment by Nicole

Thanks, Nicole. Best of luck on your year. May I add your blog to my blogroll?
I heard of a girl getting off the plane in Argentina several years ago and was quite surprised to find it wasn’t in Europe. DUH

Comment by Wry




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