Wry Exchange

Avoiding Wrongful Early Termination
10-10-08, 12:12 am
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Program, Exchange Students, hosting | Tags:

 When students are sent home early, I hope it’s for cause.  Because some students are terminated for ‘being a pain in the ass.’  

Who is a PIA?  It’s the kid who is rude, whiny, bitchy, lazy, sarcastic, or passive aggressive.  It’s the girl who won’t get off the computer, or the boy who won’t get out of bed in the morning for school.   It’s the girl who doesn’t believe in God, or the boy who doesn’t enjoy sports.   It’s the student who doesn’t fit in with the host family.  It’s the student who doesn’t make friends fast enough, who isn’t assimilating.  (I hate that accusation the most. Leave the kid alone.  Not everyone is an extrovert.) 

PIAs are terminated because an adult either gave up or made it personal.  Send-home offenses are usually drinking, driving, drugs, arrest, pregnancy, and physically harming someone.   Everyone is a pain in the ass at some point.  (I keep writing ‘pain in the ass’ because that’s what we call them.)    It’s the kid that the family doesn’t like.  Most times, the family is a first-time host family and hasn’t been trained in cultural differences.  Maybe the student dared to stand up for herself when unfairly treated.   The counselor believes the family, without questioning the student for her side.  The counselor just wants the problem to go away.  That’s when the counselor decides the kid is “a bad kid,” “not ready for exchange,” “won’t try,” or “doesn’t want to be here.”   The counselor’s pride becomes involved.  The family and counselor try to convince everyone the student is bad, and needs to go home.  That they’ve tried ‘everything,’ and the student is hopeless.   Most times, if the student is moved, she’ll go on to have a fantastic year. 

Husband and I believe that if we sent kids home for being PIAs, we wouldn’t have a program.   PIAs don’t violate any rules, but they make people angry.  I’ve only supported one student’s termination for being a pain.  FES was shipped home from Europe for going through eight families before Christmas.  FES didn’t break any rules, but just annoyed people to death.  I wouldn’t have sent the student abroad.

If you are a student reading this, and you are threatened with early termination for no clear rule violation, tell everyone.  Call your parents, and tell other sympathetic adults-perhaps a teacher or coach.  Keep your passport with you, so your counselor can’t take you to the airport before anyone else knows what’s going on.  Offer to get out of the house immediately, stay with a friend.  Ask a friend’s family for help.  Maybe you can temporarily stay with them.  The parents can also call your counselor to advocate for you.


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