Wry Exchange

Thanks, Aspect & Bob Casey
05-28-09, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program, hosting, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: , ,

  Dear Aspect Foundation and Senator Bob Casey,  

Thanks for making all of our jobs a little tougher today.

Do we think it’s a coincidence that Bob is from Scranton?

Dear Secretary Clinton,
I am writing you today out of concern for foreign exchange students who were placed in unsanitary homes in Pennsylvania and what it means for the welfare of our nation’s youth exchange programs.  It has recently come to my attention that nine foreign exchange students between the ages of 15 and 18 are now in the care of the Department of Human Services in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania because they were placed with unsuitable host families.  According to Lackawanna County officials, some children were in need of medical attention due to malnutrition and dehydration while others were living in unsanitary conditions and in a home recently condemned. 
The stories from these children are disturbing.  One story was of a 15 year-old girl from Nigeria who was living in a house surrounded by dog feces.   According to news reports, this exchange student was living with the Area Coordinator of the sponsoring organization, the same person responsible for ensuring that other host families were living up to their obligations. The investigative reporter visited the house and confirmed the exchange student’s allegations and found dirt and feces throughout the house.  The situation this student found herself in is simply unacceptable.
It is my understanding that both the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), under the Department of Homeland Security, share responsibility for overseeing and implementing youth exchange programs.  Through an independent third party – the Council on Standards for International Education Travel – the State Department provides accreditation and audits for private and non-profit international educational travel and youth exchange programs (also referred to as sponsors) on an annual basis.  The USCIS Student and Exchange Visitor Program is responsible for tracking and monitoring foreign exchange students, schools and programs as long as they reside in America.  When allegations of abuse arise, according to the secondary school student guidelines issued by the State Department, it is the sponsor’s responsibility to report and notify the incidents directly to the Department of State.
I am concerned that the current oversight system is reactive not proactive and permits the ongoing abuse of foreign students without any effective intervention until the situation is dire.  The situation these students found themselves in only came to attention once teachers voiced their concerns.  Therefore, I request answers to the following questions:
•           The Council on Standards for International Education Travel (CSIET) is the independent nonprofit organization that reviews sponsors on an annual basis and provides a public list of those who have received accreditation.  How does the Department of State determine whether the audits performed by CSIET meet agency regulations?  How often, if at all, does the Department of State perform checks on the various sponsors approved by CSIET?
•           Sponsors are required to “exercise due diligence” to ensure that the host families are screened properly and are found satisfactory. The Department of State has previously stated that “a mere superficial compliance with this regulatory requirement will not be tolerated.”  If it is determined that an approved sponsor has failed to demonstrate due diligence in their host family selection process, what are the consequences for that sponsor?
•           How much contact, if any, does the State Department have with sponsors?  With CSIET?
•           Are sponsors required to make home visits with students and their host families?  If so, how many times must a sponsor visit the home during a student’s stay? 
•           If a sponsor loses its accreditation, is the sponsor allowed to reapply for accreditation the following year, if at all?  If so, what steps must a sponsor take to have its accreditation restored?
•           How many Department of State employees work on youth exchange programs?
I am supportive of the cultural and educational exchange programs the Department of State promotes and funds.  Such exchange opportunities assist in dispelling negative images of the United States and helps convey our nation’s best attributes.  It is for these reasons that I am deeply concerned about allegations of abuse and mistreatment of foreign exchange students.  Stories like those emanating from Lackawanna County tarnish our reputation and undermine the mission of youth exchange programs.  I look forward to hearing your responses and working with you on guaranteeing the safety and welfare of foreign exchange students in the United States.

                                                                        Robert P. Casey, Jr.


Doggy Update
05-21-09, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Home

  The official diagnosis is a brain tumor in GoodDobie.  The diabetes is completely unrelated.  The tumor is squishing his brain as it grows, so that’s why he’s had seizures.    He was doing so well last week, but had a seizure over the weekend.

He’s still active and eating well.  He doesn’t seem to be in pain.   He’s gained 5 pounds back on a lovely homemade diet of hamburger, chicken, and hard boiled eggs for protein, with rice, barley, or lentils for carbs, and various vegetables.    I don’t mind cooking for him, but hate all the dirty pots and pans.

Say What?
05-21-09, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Exchange Students

  Two questions.  How did this kid get to a third family?  Why is it even a question?

A student in another country is exhibiting bizarre behavior, and  the volunteers in the other country want to know if the student should be shipped home.  

The little freak is cutting himself and licking the blood.  He’s popping zits and eating the pus, and eating boogers.    He’s also checking out depraved websites, not just the typical teenage porn.

That’s a new one for me, and I’m quite relieved he’s not one of my kids.    I don’t know how the boy got this far, poor thing.

Pre-Owned Dobermans are Tough
05-11-09, 12:40 am
Filed under: Home | Tags: ,

 GoodDobie is a good, used Doberman.   We adopted him from Hand Me Down Dobes out of Columbus, Ohio.  They have volunteers all throughout Ohio and nearby states.   The dogs range from puppies to senior dogs.   The dogs live with foster families, and tested for behavior with small children, cats, and other dogs.

GoodDobie is between 10 and 12.  Our 5 other Dobies have lived to age 10.  We’ve only had him three years.  He didn’t recognize us last night, and backed away when we came toward him to bring him in the house after peeing.  Husband grabbed him and carried him in.  We think he was remembering his old families, and was afraid.  He had a good, strong day today.  We’ve upped the insulin to 12 units, and lowered the phenobarbital to ¾ of a tablet.  We didn’t have anything to lose by playing with the dosages.  We don’t want seizures, or a zombie.

I made doggy food for him yesterday.  5lbs of hamburger, box of barley, half a box of rice, frozen asparagas, and frozen broccoli all cooked.  He enjoyed it all but the broccoli, but BadLab loves broccoli.  He also has hardboiled eggs for treats.

More Living Differences Between Chile & USA
05-07-09, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Culture, Home

 I wrote this while I was in Chile last week.   It goes well with my earlier ‘living differences’ posts.

More random differences:
Cutting sandwiches with knife and fork; then eating with a fork. 
Peeling tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, and de-stringing celery.  (Peeling tomatoes just kills me.  I love tomato peels.)
Using good china daily.  Using chargers under dinner plates.  No paper plates,  ever.
Place mats under everything.  Place mats removed and put away after each meal.
Putting chips in a china bowl, and dip in another bowl for 2 people casually snacking in a kitchen. 
Glass glasses, not plastic glasses unless for a small child.
Beef tastes different to me.  It’s tough, chewy, and tastes strong.  The cuts are completely different, to me it looks like random chunks are hacked off.  It seems a lot closer to nature than to a supermarket.
Filling glasses between 1/3 to 1/2 full.   no free refills.  
order water, and you will be asked ‘con gas’, ‘light gas,’ or ‘sin gas.’   Sin gas is regular water, bottled water
No pepper on the table, just salt, at home and in most restaurants.  salty salt.
Starbucks are easily found, as are local cafes and coffee shops.   My Starbucks name is really funny and creative. I should’ve just said ‘Gringa.’
Good thing I slurped my Te Verde Frappaccinno quickly.  We had a secondary baggage check on the jet-way.  All liquids were confiscated.  I had a little left, but I was dehydrated and they took my 2 bottles of water I bought after the security checkpoint.  I couldn’t read much of the sign, but it started ‘Effective immediately no liquids may be brought on-board.’
Real coffee can now be easily purchased in Chile, but Nescafe is still the typical Chilean choice.
All cakes are called ‘torta’ not just tortes.
Chile has 6 or 7 different types of avocado.  They each taste different.  All I ever see are the Haas ones, and the smooth, shiny ones.  We’ll have an avocado taste test sometime.
Salt over everything.  lots of it.  
Milk and cream are sold in aseptic, shelf stable packaging.
All over Chile, in new and old homes and departementos, all TP went into the  T.  Annually, returning Outbounds tell me they flushed tp everywhere all year.  Either they clogged pipes all year, or held it. 🙂
Bathtubs are smaller, and higher off the floor.  After showering, I always am afraid of skidding with my first foot on the tile and doing a face plant.  Most tubs have adhesive appliques on the bottom so people don’t slide while showering.   Oh, no washcloths.  I looked at department, grocery, and home stores, no washcloths.  I found buffing gloves, net scrub puffs, and best of all, a nylon scrubby.  The same ones I use to wash dishes at home.  One side is a sponge, the other side has the scratchier, pot-scrubber material.  I had to buy it.  It was only about a quarter. It made me giggle.
Elite brand purse pack facial tissues are scented.  Cool scents, not like the menthol ones here.  I bought Cucumber Melon, Coconut Lime, Lavender, and ?   Other scents included Grape, Vanilla, Watermelon, Apple,  and
Aloe Vera.  
Chocolate is a popular choice for shampoo, conditioner, soaps, and bath gel.  Each brand smells a bit different.
Chile still has pharmacies separated out from other stores.  All drugs are kept behind the counter,  including Advil.  You can’t buy OTC pills on supermarket shelves.  You must tell the pharmacy clerk what you want, or what symptoms you have, and they go get it.  I wanted sore throat drops.  I was given some with honey. 
They soothed my throat, but didn’t/t help the cough.  The first 3 ingredients were sugar, sugar, honey.  I saw no ‘medical’ ingredients.  I asked about Hall’s brand, and was told it’s just candy.  Um, yeah, but so’s the honey stuff.  Hall’s are available at candy counters and grocery stores in a myriad of flavors.  I prefer creamy strawberry, creamy berry, and morell.
I didn’t see any curling irons, but lots of flat irons.
Schoolgirls no longer wear Doc Martens with their uniforms. Black Mary Janes with a crepe sole seem to be popular.  They’re worn with tights and matching knee socks. 

Dobie Drugs
05-07-09, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Home | Tags: , ,

Poor GoodDobie is whipped.  He had a seizure yesterday morning and last night after his shots.   With the vet’s blessing, we cut the insulin in half.  This morning he had a seizure before the shot.    It’s taking him longer to become himself each time.  He sleeps long and hard after the seizures.  We got Phenobarbital today for him, and he’s a happy, drunk little monkey.  No seizure tonight, but we think his eyes are going. 

We are not ready to have the ‘quality of life’ discussion, but we are both thinking of it.   He has 20-22 good hours daily, and we’ll see how the Phenobarbital works.   He’s been romping in the house, and running around chasing BadLab outside.  He’s eating and drinking well.

BadLab has been a wonderful protector.  He helps GoodDobie, and alerted Husband to this morning’s seizure.  He goes out with GoodDobie, and stands watch in the backyard.  He sleeps touching him. 

The vet isn’t sure if the diabetes and seizures are related.  He’s asking specialists.  The strangest thing is after the insulin injections,  GoodDobie starts humping BadLab.  He’s not a humpy dog, it’s really out of character, and he’s not good at it.  BadLab doesn’t care.   He’s happy to play.

Whirling Wry, BadLab, & GoodDobie
05-06-09, 12:46 am
Filed under: Culture, Home

I arrived home Friday, and was happy to hug Husband and the dogs.  I flew from Santiago to Miami, Chicago, then final airport.  Many travellers wore masks.  I think they looked ridiculous.  I watched the man in front of me lift his mask to eat and drink. 

I got home, hugged the dogs, and let them sniff through my bags.  It makes them happy.  BadLab is from Chile.  Chef’s family sent him up to us as a puppy.  BadLab is our first-and only-Labrador.   We were used to elegant, dignified, smart Dobermans who amuse themselves.  Labbys require a lot of attention, and are like rotten little kids.  Chef said they sent him up so I could learn patience.  We love him, and he has settled down.  Anyway, Chef’s family still has MomLab, DadLab, and TwinLab.  He sniffs luggage and boxes here, they sniff down there.

GoodDobie looked good, on Saturday he looked sick.  Saturday we had a dear friend’s wedding, and my parents 50th anniversary party.  Sunday was parent orientation for the exchange students.  I got him into the vet’s today.   The blood tests revealed-Diabetes.  Hurray!  No pancreatic tumors.  He’s down to 73 pounds.  That’s about 20 pounds in a month.   He had a seizure in the parking lot, but was up bopping around in less than 10 minutes.  The vet called tonight to check on him.  He said GoodDobie seized because of so much stress, and sugar over 700.  It was scary.

I brought back a good Chilean cold, and shared my US cold with everyone.  Everytime I coughed or blew my nose on the plane or airports, I received dirty looks.   21 hours of fun.   Husband said I should’ve made piggy noises.  Hey, I knew the pilot on my flight from Santiago to Miami.  He was the pilot I had Thanksgiving dinner with in Bolivia 18 months ago.   I was too shy to ask for an upgrade.  I was seated in the middle seat of the middle row.