Wry Exchange


I’m Sending You Home
10-12-08, 12:23 am
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Program, Exchange Students, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: ,

 “I’m sending you home tomorrow.”  Because I don’t like FES, and I’m the adult.  It happens.  My last post was about avoiding early termination.  I’m still thinking about it.   

I wrote about my nasty neighbor last Summer.  She was an Area Rep for an exchange program.  No other volunteers lived in a 50-60 mile radius, so she was the only contact her students had.  She was the FES counselor, and sometime host parent.  She had the power to send students home early.  I’ve heard stories about some of her students early returns.  I believe some of her students were unfairly terminated.

Could it happen in my program?  Possibly, if no one knew about it.  I think it probably was much easier to wrongfully terminate a student before the internet and cell phones.  With texting, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and online chatting, students can notify their parents, friends, and other adults immediately.

How could it happen?  Let’s pretend. I live in a small town.  I know most people in town.  I want people to patronize my business.  My wife’s church contacts are very important to her, she doesn’t want her reputation questioned.  My kids go to school with the host family’s children.  My husband’s boss is the host-mom.  The hostfamily lives across the street, and I want to keep the peace in the neighborhood.  

Next, assuming there are legitimate problems between the student and host family, the logical step would be to move the student.   But the host family is very prominent in our small town.  Maybe I have a huge ego.  The student is a reflection of us.  We convince ourselvesdetermine the student is at fault, and she needs to go home.   We don’t want to move the student somewhere else in town.  Oh no, what would people think?  What if the student lied about living with us?  We tried everything.   The student could be moved to a different town, but that doesn’t validate our feelings. 

We KNOW FES is a bad student.  No one should question me.  I’m the adult in charge.   If I move quickly, I can have a kid out of the country within 24 hours.  All I need is her passport and airline tickets.  I also have to notify someone in her program overseas and the parents.  I can do it on the way to the airport if I’m really being a bitch.  It’s easy enough to bully a scared teen into packing.

How can we prevent this travesty?  Our program has always had a committee to discuss possible early terminations.  The committee is the President, VP, the country specialist, the inbound student chairman, and the student’s counselor.  The committee speaks to the host-family, student, school, and the Feslandia counselor.  At the end of fact-finding, we vote.  If the vote isn’t unanimous, the student stays. 

This procedure wasn’t followed in two early termination discussions in my program.  One student stayed, and the other was railroaded sent home.   Take us by surprise once, but never again.    I’ve taken kids to my town that other counselors believed were hopeless.   The kids all flourished.  People need to listen to the students, and remember the students are young, emotional, stressed, scared, and have language and cultural barriers.

ETA: If someone really wants to ship FES home, and no one else agrees, it’s best to move the student to a different town.  The adult may just be waiting for the student to ‘screw up,’ so he can be terminated.  Added bonus?  The adult was right about that horrible exchange student.

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