Wry Exchange

Das Bus
03-27-09, 2:04 am
Filed under: Exchange Students | Tags:

 We’re preparing for our weekend bus trip.  The kids are all excited to go.  Many want to see Broadway shows.  The Circus is at Madison Square Garden, too, and their tickets begin at $15.oo   It’s always difficult to find something for minors to do from about 8:00pm until 11:00pm. The adults will be looking for alcohol to ease their aching knees and feet.

We’ve been promoting the trip since January.  They all know about it, Incoming and Outgoing students.  It’s dirt cheap, and they could make payments.  Soooo, today I got a text asking if a student from another program can go.  A text.   Tonight, one of the students emailed me asking if 2 of her friends can go.  If the groups were filled up, they can just be on their own for the day.  They are Freshman.   Yeah, that’s so gonna happen.  I’ll have to rejigger the groups around to accommodate the kids.

The latest weather report is 70% rain with a high of 53°.   I hope they dress for the weather.  I know they are planning to wear their best, hippest, trendiest non-Appalachian clothes.   Ed Hardy hoodies look quite absorbant to me.

My group really wants to spend a lot of time in Chinatown and Little Italy.  Husband will load up on ‘Fauxklys’  at 4 for $20.00 and fake Tag Heuer watches.   I want a new Kipling bag, and if Husband wants to spoil me, a new Tiffany purse pen to replace the one I lost.    Wish us luck, and next week I’ll tell you about the boy who ran away in Chinatown.


Bus Trip to Manhattan
03-26-09, 12:20 am
Filed under: Exchange Students, Inbounds Inbounds
 I’ve been busy this week finalizing plans for our bustripalooza this weekend.   I am losing and gaining chaperones and students almost daily.   The best way for us is to divide everyone into small groups for the day, and let them decide their own agendas.   1 chaperone is responsible for 3 or 4 students, while 2 chaperone groups have 4-6 students.   I try to put chaperones and students together with thought.  Walkers and shoppers don’t get along.  The kids who want to go to exclusive stores isn’t going to have a good day with the kid who wants to take the ferry to see the Statue of Libery.
This is what I usually do with students on one-day trips.   Each group will do different things. 
Battery Park-This is where the bus drops us off.  It is at the Southern tip of Manhattan.  If the day is clear, you will be able to see the Statue of Libery.   If you want to buy fake designer watches, sunglasses, or purses, they are very inexpensive here.  As you go North to Times Square, the prices go up.  We will for the next few hours.
Wall Street Bull.  Giant bronze statue, has been in many movies.  We’ll walk past it.  Wall st.  is the financial area.
Ground Zero/World Trade Center site-We’ll walk to herre so you can see the hole in the ground and construction area.
Chinatown-We will walk over to and through Chinatown.
Little Italy-As we go through Little Italy, we will stop for a hot chocolate/rest break.
SoHo-We will walk through Soho.  This is a trendy area.  
Then we take the subway or taxi and head North to The Empire State Building,  then we walk to
Macy’s-The world’s largest department store.  It takes up an entire city block.
Back to the Subway going North.
From there, we will probably go up to the bottom edge of Central Park.  We will stop at FAO Schwarz, the famous toy store if you want.  The Apple store is in front of it, underground.  Across the street is the Plaza hotel.  It has been in many movies.  We won’t be going in though.
We will walk South on 5th ave where there are many famous stores. 
We will walk past Rockefeller Center where you can see the ice rink, again famous from many movies.
We will end up in Times Square, probably as it is getting dark.
What would you like to do in the evening?  see a Broadway show? go to see the circus at Madison Square Garden?   (please not the circus. pleeeeeaassee.)
It’s even funner.  We leave about midnight,  ‘sleep’ in the bus, spend about 15 hours walking around, then reboard the bus to ‘sleep’ all the way home.
Funnerer-It’s supposed to rain Saturday. 

Is This a Joke?
03-20-09, 1:45 am
Filed under: Exchange Program | Tags: ,

 A girl emailed me last night asking for help.  She lives nearby, and wants to be an exchange student next year.  

 She’s late, we are too far along in the process.   She completed her application in December, and sent it to Fearless Leader.  Fearless Leader acknowledged receipt, and told the girl she’d let her know where and when to go for her interview.  She’s still waiting.  She’s called a few times, and has been told ‘soon.’

We can go a few ways here.  It’s a prank to see what I’ll do.  It’s a trap for me somehow.   Ms. Fearless Leader is losing it, or just wants to kill the program.

Husband and others say it’s too late.  I’m inclined to say it’s not her fault.  The student did what she was supposed to do.  She has missed important training sessions.  I would be willing to train her one-to-one.  She shouldn’t be penalized just because ‘we’ screwed up.  We need more information.

Every time I think we hit bottom, we find another level.  I’ll see China by the time this year is over.   Another outgoing student is coming home for family illness reasons.  

And people wonder why I just like to hide in bed with BadLab and GoodDobie.    They both puked this morning.  We think I walked them too far yesterday.  GoodDobie is probably 12, and BadLab is 8½.  At least they didn’t barf in bed.

Push, Push, Push
03-18-09, 2:07 am
Filed under: hosting, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: ,

 My phone was off, Husband fielded the first call from an unhappy hostparent, FT.  FT left a message on my phone telling me to call IMMEDIATELY.  I shook off the sleep, and called.  He immediately started in on me.  Let’s remember, I am a volunteer.  I don’t work for him.   FT used to be a volunteer, on the committee.  These days, he is a counselor and host father.   We’ve known him for years.    

He complained ab0ut his exchange son a few weeks ago.  He didn’t want FES’s parents or counselor back in FESland notified.  Husband was just supposed to have a Come to Jesus meeting with the kid.  Typical stuff, too much time on the computer, on the couch, with the girlfriend, and sleeping.  Not enough time spent with the family.  Problem with one teacher.   We told FT to get the kid out of the one class, sit him down, go over your family’s expectations, and have him sign a contract.

Back to yesterday,  I call FT, and can’t say much for the first several minutes.  He went on about not getting calls returned.  I apologized, said I had my phone off, and was sick.  Still yapping.  Said the kid was going to be there in an hour, ‘What should I tell him?’  “I don’t want to see him.”  “I want him out of here now.”  “I could stay with friends, HE doesn’t have friends.”  “I want him gone.”  “I don’t want to see another exchange student.”  “I want him out of my home, my school, my  area.” “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?”  

I have to call the school to see what they think of the kid’s attidude, behavior, and grades.  I need to contact the Inbound student chair and set up a meeting with us, family, and FES.   FT didn’t like that.  He told me everything I needed to know.  Now WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

What happened?  FES doesn’t get along with one teacher.  She’s been sending the kid to the library during her class with an assignment.   He disrupts the class.  Not in a bad way, but in a bored way.  He had a substitute teacher who let him stay in class on Friday; he acted up.  Teacher came back, read note, called hostdad.  (wouldn’t the principal or guidance office call the counselor or family?)  Kid had to wait until principal agreed to dropping the class.  He was given permission yesterday.

“WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? I want him sent home.”   I said let me make some phone calls, and I will call you in an hour.  Called the kid, ask him what’s going on, told him to find a place to stay tonight and for a few days with friends.  Tell him there’s a good chance he’s going home.   Call Inbound student coordinator, no answer.  Call my counterpart in FESlandia, leave a message.  IM someone in FESlandia, tells my counterpart to call me immediately.  I call back within the hour, tell him what I’ve learned.  He’s   pushing hard “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?”  I say “I’m not coming to get him.   I’m sick and dizzy.  I only called back to tell you what I’ve done in an hour, and will keep you informed.  You know me, and know I will take care of the situation.”

He calls about an hour later  “I do not appreciate you talking to the kid before I was able to speak to him.”  WTF  He pushed hard for me to do ‘something.’   He said he’d talk to me later when his blood pressure went down.  He was nasty, and I couldn’t say more than ‘huh, uh-huh, bye’   He was so demanding that I lost it and started crying really hard,  so hard I dry heaved.

Kid texted me last night; he can stay in the house.  Called the school today.  In the other classes, good grades, good attitude, makes effort, and completes assignments.

Husband told me to give him the phone if FT calls back.  I understand venting, but demanding to ship a kid home immediately without a meeting or confirmation? NO.

Been Gone
03-18-09, 1:35 am
Filed under: Home | Tags: ,

  I was sick yesterday, and didn’t get out of bed until 3:00pm. Husband and I were both run down from a stressful 4 day weekend training seminar. The weekend was a success. My portion of the seminar was hailed as the ‘best ever’ by several people.  Husband was very pleased with his part of the meeting.   I was called to the stage 3 times for recognition.  I normally loathe being under spotlights, but a few people in the audience  were stabbing their hate-filled eyes out with sporks, so it was fun.

CSIET Update
03-09-09, 2:49 am
Filed under: Exchange Program, Exchange Students, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: ,

 I’ve written several posts about CSIET membership.  (Council on Standards for International Educational Travel)  See my ‘What is CSIET’ for background.   

Please don’t comment that CSIET is a false seal of approval.   I DON’T CARE.   In my state, exchange students may play school sports only if their sponsoring organization is listed as an approved program with CSIET.   My program dropped out last year.  (It wasn’t a group decision.)  Our students couldn’t play on sports teams this year.  Not being part of a team greatly impacts their ability to make friends.  It retards it by several months.

 Some of our kids have been on their schools’ sports teams.  I don’t know how or why.  It’s good for the students, so I haven’t asked questions.  The penalties for ineligible players are forfeits if the other team reports it.   If the schools are willing to risk their entire season to let my students play, I won’t stop them.  I assume they are listing the students under other programs, and their teams aren’t going to make playoffs.  Does that make me a bad person? 

Fearful Leader and the CSIET person haven’t done anything useful for 7 months.  We’ve had a few group meetings during this time, and the updates consist of how hard they are working, it’s impossible to do under 10-15,000 dollars, and they don’t have the right information.    Last month, they did a huge push to get all the info together for an audit by the end of February.  Guess what? Accountants are too busy in February to do pro bono work.  Shocking, huh?  No CSIET for us again next year.  The rest of us weren’t surprised a bit.  They are trying to ruin next year for us, and make us look bad.  We have to warn the students that sports aren’t an option.  Let’s hope we get a lot of artists, musicians, martial artists, and computer geeks.


Previous posts on CSIET-Not Important?, Telling people we aren’t certified, and imploding.

Preparing for 09-10
03-03-09, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program, Exchange Students | Tags: ,

    We are chugging along for next year.   All of our new outgoing students are placed.  Hurray!    To have everyone placed by the end of February is wonderful.   They don’t have host families yet, but that won’t happen for many months.  They have all been placed in countries and regions of their country.  

We’ve received 6 or 7 applications from other countries already.  We will start placing them next week.   It takes pressure off when we can place them over 3 or 4 months instead of panicking in August.

I am setting up next year’s schedule.  I am almost finished,  just waiting on a few date confirmations.   We haven’t had a completed schedule for the last few years.  We do the same activities annually, it almost writes itself.   “Someone” just has to do it.    I am also nearly finished with compiling the local volunteers.  The last volunteer list was from 3 years ago when I did it. 

I like it so much better when I’m in charge of paperwork issues like this.  I am not  responsible for the calendar, placing everyone, or setting up the volunteer list.  But I want it done, and it is for next year.  I am quietly working around current uh, leadership.  It’s common sense to take care of as much as possible as early as we can. 

 We have new volunteers who want to help for next year.  I think we are back on track.