Wry Exchange

I’m Alive. Happy Thanksgiving
11-28-08, 12:18 am
Filed under: Culture, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: ,

  Hi.  Miss me?  I was appointed as our outgoing students’ coordinator last month.  We held their interviews this weekend. We interviewed 30, and I think all but 3 will be accepted.   In that month, I set a date, time, and location for interviews.  I rounded up 35 people to interview the potentials, and a few other people to assist with registration.  I had to set up an email list for the volunteers from scratch, and try to help our current students abroad.  All without losing my sanity.

I’m out of the habit of writing now.  I must start again.  I’ve been answering emails from students around the world.  This is a hard time of year for FESs.   In the Southern Hemisphere, students are graduating, and they’re on Summer break.   Up North, the days are short.  Most students are homesick and a bit lost this time of year.  If you know a FES, give her a hug.

I sent quick notes to my kids.  One was watching the Macy’s parade on her laptop.  Her family turned their webcam to the TV.  Several shopped for traditional Thanksgiving ingredients to cook for their host families.  In many places, that’s not an easy task.  Some of the lucky ones went to group Thanksgiving dinners for FESs and expats.  Last year, I had to buy a pyrex pie plate to make pumpkin pie.  I brought the canned pumpkin with me to Bolivia.  In the past, I’ve made chocolate chip cookies without a cookie sheet-we used some type of drip pan for the broiler.  We’ve made brownies in iron skillets.   They may not be pretty, but when you’re far from home, chocolate tastes GOOD.


How Not to Write an Application
11-14-08, 3:01 am
Filed under: Outbounds Outbounds | Tags:

  Do you smoke, drink, or do drugs?: “Yes.”
Do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend? “Yes.”
Describe your weak points:  “I really can’t think of any.”
Describe your classes: “I’m taking Algebra one because I failed the 9th grade state graduation test.”
Describe your strengths: “I’m a leader.” (When the rest of the application shows absolutely no leadership qualities or positions.)  “Languages.” (So why did you receive C’s in foreign languages the last 3 years?)
Have you ever travelled outside the US?: “One weekend 2 Summers ago, my Uncle Floyd took me, my Grandma J, my cousin Jethro, and my little brother Bodine to Niagara Falls in his red Ford truck.  It was really fun!  We spent the whole weekend in Canada, and on and on.”
Why do you want to be an exchange student?:  “I want to teach people in other countries about the best country in the world.”  “I want to share my religion.”
Where do you want to go and why?-“England, because I know the language.”  “Germany-they have castles.”
What is your favorite book?-“I don’t like books.”  “I only read comic books. “Manga.”
What do you enjoy?-“Sleeping.”
What bothers you?-“Little kids.”  “Meateaters.” “People telling me what to do.”
What are your hobbies? “I love to play WoW for hours and hours.”

11-14-08, 2:30 am
Filed under: Home | Tags:

 If you left a comment in the last 3-4 days, I may have deleted it.   I had 577 Spam comments, and just deleted all of them.  It’s never happened before with WordPress, and I hope it’s a one time only problem.

Joe the Predator
11-10-08, 1:09 am
Filed under: hosting | Tags: ,

   I didn’t include “Joe the Predator” last week because we don’t have problems with host fathers very often.   The ones I’m aware of seem to fall into two categories.   “My wife doesn’t understand me.” or “I’m still a 20 year old stud. in my mind.” 

Several years ago, Joe liked to walked around with a towel wrapped around his waist with nothing underneath.  The family had a backyard pool, and Joe liked swimming nekkid.   Especially when his exchange daughter was home, and more so when she had friends over.  She mentioned it to me after a few months, she thought maybe it was normal US behavior.   Aw, hell no.  The worst part?  She was the third girl the family hosted.    I can think of a few Feslandia Joes wearing Speedos while lounging in a bedroom talking to their host daughters.  The girls were creeped out by the host fathers visible excitement in talking with them.

We had a few Joes tell host daughters way too much about the intimate details of their marriages.  One guy scared his host daughter when he told her it’s like “You’re my wife now.”

on to a host father.  The girls feel really betrayed when host fathers hit on them.  They look at those men as their fathers, not as a partner.  It ruins their relationship with their host moms as well.

Pronouncing Names
11-01-08, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Culture | Tags:

 How many times have you wondered “How to say that name?”  I found a website that may help.  It’s stronger on Asian names than South American, but every little bit helps.

If you don’t understand how to pronounce someone’s name, ask and ask again.  Don’t assume it’s pronounced the same way in Feslandia as it is here, either.  “Daniel” can become “Dahn-YELL.”   “Mary” could be “Mar-ree.”

 I’ve volunteered almost 20 years with exchange students.  Every year, I learn new names.

I’ve written several other posts about names.

Jill the Predator
11-01-08, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program, hosting | Tags:

  Jill is more dangerous than Jack.  No one suspects moms of being predators.   Do you think of Stiffler’s mom in American Pie a predator?  Most people think the kid got lucky.   We have more problems with moms in youth exchange than with dads and siblings.  

Jill starts off as the perfect mom.  She’s warm, loving, and a great listener.  She’s very empathetic, and hugs often.   Sometimes she’ll mention how FES understands her more than her husband.  She’ll hug a little more often, and a little longer.  She’ll dote on FES by cooking his favorite meals, buying him gifts, and lavishing attention on him.   She and FES may have private jokes no one else in the family understands.  She’s happy because FES pays attention to her.

As Jill hugs and kisses FES good-night, maybe she ‘accidently’ kisses his mouth instead of cheek.  She’ll hug with her full body, and grind her hips a bit.  She’ll forget he’s home when she darts out of the bathroom with just a towel or less.  She starts slowly, and escalates.  The boy tells himself he’s imagining things, or that this is the way things are done in Feslandia.    Until he stops her, she’ll keep it up.

Many times, she’ll let him drive or drink.  This accomplishes two things-he’s more like an adult to her, and she has a secret to use to keep him quiet.   Many times, boys don’t say anything when hostmoms come on to them.  They think they’re quite lucky.   We had a boy recently who freaked out.   We pulled him from the home immediately.  (We also made a police report.)  She was obsessed with the boy.  He tried to ignore her behavior, but the morning he woke up to her kissing him while lying on his chest really opened his eyes.    Again, just like Jack, Jills are respected professionals in their communities.

Jack the Predator
11-01-08, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program, hosting | Tags:

 Just because a volunteer has passed a background check doesn’t mean s/he is safe around students.  Many experienced predators are smart, and well-respected in their communities.  Let’s look at Jack.  

Jack  is a middle-aged man who lives in the house he grew up in with his father and brother.  His mother died long ago, and nothing much has changed since including Jack’s room.  It still has all the awards and news clippings on the wall from high school.   Jack seems to be stuck in time-even his clothes are from years ago.  

He enjoys volunteering with high school students, but only boys.   Jack  doesn’t seem to have any adult friends.  He spends his money and time taking his ‘sons’ out for day or weekend trips.   He always pays for everything.  He’s even taken boys on longer trips.   The students feel guilty saying ‘no’ to him because he spends so much money on them.

 Jack will drive 90 minutes to pick up a kid, and another hour to pick up another one, then drive 2 hours to whatever attraction/event.  Then he’ll drive them home.  Adults think he’s a saint, just socially awkward.  People agree he’s ‘odd’ and ‘weird’, but they think he’s harmless.  No one would ever suspect sweet Jack of being a predator.  He’s always so helpful!

He seems asexual, except when he hugs the boys ‘bye.  Then he has a creepy smile with his eyes closed. 

Jack goes for the boys that look like easy prey -the poor ones, ones with uncaring families, ones with low self esteem, or compliant boys.   As he progresses in the program, he’s become bolder.  Other volunteers see the position, and not the person.   Jack could be in any youth program-scouts, sports, church group, or exchange.   As we will see with Jill the Predator, these people start with small gestures, then escalate.   By the time a student realizes something is wrong, it may be too late.