Wry Exchange


Updates
07-07-09, 2:08 am
Filed under: Home, hosting | Tags: , ,

  Sorry to everyone who still checks in with me.  Life has interfered with my writing since I’ve been home.  Let’s update:

BadLab:  Losing weight, and not so happy about it.  He’s turned into a picky eater.

GoodDobie:  No seizures, and insulin is up to 20ccs twice daily.  He’s lost his sight completely in the last week-10 days.   He was adjusting well, and BadLab has been fantastic about watching over him and helping.   Last Thursday, I couldn’t find GoodDobies eyeballs.   He was scrunching his eyes shut, and when I pried them open, all I saw was red, yucky, and empty.  (The third eyelid was up. duh.)   The vet saw him Friday morning, and found his eyes.  🙂  GoodDobie has severe conjunctivitis.  The vet said it looked like he was pepper-sprayed.  We think maybe he ran into some poison ivy in the backyard?  He has bacitracin ointment, and amoxicillin.  On the other hand, he’s back up to 84 pounds, and eating well.

Chef and Mrs. Chef:  Chef has car insurance, so they have some independence.  They’re getting better about not cleaning and organizing all.the.time.  The kitchen table has some clutter.  We convinced them we eat pizza in the living room.  The doggy toys are all neatly lined up, and I can’t find a few things that I’m certain are ‘put away.’  Husband likes to tease Mrs. Chef.  I brought back 2 weeks worth of hotel shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, and soap to donate to a local women’s shelter.    I emptied my bag on the bathroom table, and she had everything lined up within 10 minutes.  I put my personal items away, and she re-lined up the travel sizes in order.  Husband moves them around on the table or pulls a few out of line.  They quickly return to formation.  She’s a sweet girl, and they are trying so hard.

WryDad:  Husband and WryDad are very close.  Husband called WryDad a ‘fucktard.’   I spoke with WryDad one night about 10 days ago. He didn’t say anything, WryMom never called.   Husband called WryDad from the hospital (next story) and WryDad said he was in the hospital for a few days, but ‘don’t worry.’   My parents took in a feral cat and her newborn litter around Easter.  They were taking the kittens to get fixed, momma cat didn’t like that.  She scratched and bit my father.  His doctor started him immediately on antibiotics.  The next morning his arms were bruised and swollen, with red streaks running from his fingers up his arms.  He went to the doctor who called the hospital for a bed.  WryDad was in the hospital for 3-4 days getting IV Cipro.  He just finished oral antibiotics.  I still haven’t asked about the cat.

WryMIL:  Husband isn’t close to his family.  He doesn’t see or speak with them.   It used to be because of abuse and hurt feelings, but now it’s indifference.  They will call Husband if they need money or something fixed.  A sibling called to say WryMIL was being lifeflighted from a local hospital to one in the big city.   We’re grateful she called.  Husband has spend much time at the hospital these last 2 weeks.   WryMIL had open heart surgery to implant tubes and wires for 2 mechanical pumps yesterday.  Her heart is quite fragile, and she’ll be sedated for the next few days.   It’s awkward.  Family members are crying, and I sit there trying to be invisible.  Husband sits a little apart from the family, but is cordial to them.

That’s my  update.



Culture Shock in my Home
06-21-09, 12:31 am
Filed under: Culture, Depression, Home, hosting | Tags: , , ,

 I am home.  I love home.  I missed Husband and the doggies.   Husband missed me, GoodDobie looks great, but BadLab is a porker.  I can’t feel his ribs, and he has a little pot belly.  No more rice and hamburger for him.  My baby Dell is here, with new innards.  I’ve been adjusting and installing today.

The other big news?  Chef and Mrs. Chef moved in with us.  They arrived a few days after I left.  Mrs. Chef had never been out of Chile before.  Chef was last here in August, and they married in April.  They’re looking for engineering jobs here.  They have lots of free time.  I thought it would be easier for Mrs. Chef to settle in without me around.  I want her to be comfortable here.  She’s adjusting well, and the dogs love her.

I returned home at 2:30am today.   (GoodDobie jumped all the way up to kiss me.  He hardly ever stood up even when he was healthy and strong.)  I walked in, and the changes were staggering.     The kitchen, and both living rooms.  Our house is over 100 years old, and we have 2 living rooms.  I assume one was once the parlor.   The upstairs bathroom and third bedroom were rearranged, too.   Anyone who knows me in real life knows I am oblivious to a lot.  I don’t notice things.   For me to be exhausted and notice all the changes was a surprise.  I still haven’t been to the basement.  Can’t take the shock.

Husband requested they not ‘clean’ his office, toolbench, our bedroom, and the third bedroom.  I use the third bedroom to keep my clothing and ironing board.   They haven’t touched the first three areas, but ‘my’ room is all rearranged.   I had clothes in different piles on the headboard/bookcase to sell on eBay, donate, or be mended.  They are all ironed, damp, and folded nicely on the bureau.  The shelves were cleared off except for junk, my scarves moved, the ironing board moved, and everything rearranged.  Apparently, she likes to iron.  She irons everything, including washcloths.

The bathroom door was closed, shower curtain closed, handwash in the bathtub, 3 scatter rugs on the floor, tp hung backwards, and blinds slanted differently.   I know it sounds petty, but we’ve lived in this house for 30 years, and Husband grew up in this house.  It’s all different.   I emptied out my travel cosmetic and bathroom bags onto the small table in the bathroom.  She lined everything up in neat rows. 

We’ll skip the kitchen and backyard, but my bookshelves.   My bookshelves.   Husband built a wall of bookshelves in our front room.  I have them arranged just so, and they’re accented with photos and tchochkes picked up from our travels.   I regularly purge books by moving them to the attic or donating.  I’m anal enough about the books that they’re arranged down to Chile-travelogues, Chile-language, and Chile-history.  I have Spanish dictionaries on one shelf, and all other languages on another.  Half of the shelves are nonfiction reference and travel, and the other half is fiction and art books.   The books are now arranged by size.    “Diving in the Caribbean” is now next to a Diane Arbus photography book.    I don’t see my little piece of the Berlin Wall anywhere.   “Lamb” by Christopher Moore is next to “The Book of Nothing.”  The photos, boxes, and decorations are all rearranged. 

Most women would probably feel violated by someone going through their clothes or makeup, but the books are what killed me.    I want to move it all back into place, but it would hurt her feelings.  Thankfully I have an appointment with the wacko doctor on Monday.



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.

                                                                        Sincerely,
                                                                        Robert P. Casey, Jr.



Psycho Hostmoms
04-06-09, 12:49 am
Filed under: Culture, hosting, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: ,

 Lent must be tough this year, or the worldwide recession, or maybe because they can’t find the right color of peeps.   We had a cluster of Psycho Hostmoms™ this week.

One down in Bolivia.  FES has spent all year with HM, and she flipped on him to PHM in the car.   They were driving back from Argentina, and had some problems crossing the border on the Argentine side.  HM mentioned how racist the Argentines are, and it’s just terrible.   FES said well, that Cambas hate Collas, and isn’t that the same?   (Remember, Cambas are the people from Santa Cruz, generally lighter skinned, and with money and education.  Collas are the Indians from La Paz, thought to be poor and not too bright.)   She went into full Psycho, screeching that it was NOT the same,  Bolivians are NOT racist, what is wrong with him? and then she quit talking to him for a few days.  She wants him out of her house.  The kid is actually afraid of her, of what she might do to him.   He is level-headed, with common sense, so I want him moved like yesterday.

Same day, another PHM.   This one made her own problems.   She’s never hosted before, but knew everything.   She started breaking rules immediately.  We had 2 mandatory training sessions for the kids, she didn’t bring, something else was more important-school dance.    She spoiled the kid rotten, making the other FESs jealous.  No, not all host families take the kids to Disney for Christmas, paying for everything, buying all her clothing and shoes, never saying no, giving her everything, while her child had to follow the rules.     Well, the girl had a problem, and PHM screamed to get the kid out of her house.  She was really pissed at me when I said she could NOT put the girl on a plane.  That she is not the legal guardian and doesn’t have the right to ship her home.  The girl did something stupid, but not termination worthy.  She bought a hookah, charcoal, and tobacco while visiting relatives.   Mom called the police to come inspect it because she thought it was drugs.  Didn’t ask the kid, didn’t ask her husband, just the police.   Didn’t just take it away from her,  didn’t pitch the tobacco, called the police because it looked suspicious.  I found another family, and the girl should be able to live out her time here in peace, if not luxury anymore.



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.



Demon Child Update
01-20-09, 2:01 am
Filed under: hosting, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags:

  I love this photo.   Demon Child tried to throw a glass at my student in a restaurant over the weekend.  He was stopped, and held on his father’s lap, but not punished.   His spitting escalated.  My student decided to ask for a new family.  Her counselor there must have talked to the family.  The family has agreed to put a shock collar on control their demon,  he will be punished for destroying items or spitting.  My student will also be permitted more freedom.  We’ll see how it goes for the next few weeks.



Demon Child
01-15-09, 12:53 am
Filed under: hosting, Outbounds Outbounds

 I don’t really like or know anything about little kids.   One of my Outbounds asked for advice concerning her little hostbrother.   She said he pretends he’s a dog.  I suggested she get him a leash and collar and make him sit in the corner.

She is living in a Brasilian apartment high above the city.  DemonChild takes her belongings and tosses them out the window.  If she works on an art project, he trashes it.  Mommy and Daddy don’t discipline him.   He also spits on her and her stuff. 

The easy answer is to move her.  She doesn’t want to move.   She has started locking her bedroom door as much as possible.  The kid listens to the maid.  She’s going to ask the maid for help.   The boy will listen to my student only if she flips out on him.    Ever helpful,  I advised her not to leave any marks on him.

Yet another example of mandatory hosting not being a great idea for anyone.