Wry Exchange

Host Family Gifts-09 Update
08-08-09, 1:09 am
Filed under: Exchange Students, Outbounds Outbounds

 Last year’s host family gift post is here.   As luggage requirements tighten, gift selection becomes more difficult.   If you must take coffee table books, put them in your carry-on or laptop bag.  Take a big bag of penny candy or DumDums suckers for token gifts.
Look for gifts specific to you, your family, and your immediate area. Don’t take anything USA themed, but pack a tshirt from your high school. Do you have local postcards in your area? Bring them.


System Works
04-07-09, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program, Exchange Students, Outbounds Outbounds

  We’ve gone back to the old new-way of training our outgoing students.   (rigorous and without romance.)  The students have been encouraged to drop out now if they have doubts, rather than terminating early during the year abroad.    A record number of students have returned early this year, and we still have 3 months left.   A good American exchange student should want this year more than anything.

One of the new students withdrew this week.  He did it right.  He talked with his parents and other current and former exchange students.  He took a few months to make certain this was the right decision for him.   He should remember this time fondly, without regrets.  He met and made good friends through the program.

The exchange is already agreed upon, we will honor our commitment to hosting the other student.   It’s not FES’s fault our student resigned.  FES is already placed, just this morning actually.

I Forgot to Share Happy News
03-03-09, 3:37 am
Filed under: Exchange Program, Exchange Students, Outbounds Outbounds

  Remember I wrote about the former volunteer who set up an exchange for some twisted reason?   I was so worried about placing the disappointed student that I FORGOT TO TELL MY OTHER STUDENT SHE WAS ACCEPTED.  For over a week.  That was embarassing.

I got the student in a nearby country with the same language (think Belgium instead of France.) 

Husband asked Ex-Vol’s spouse if he set up any more exchanges, and the reply was “Not to my knowledge.”   That’s not a ‘no.’  The games aren’t ending until they go away at the end of this year.   I don’t want to be responsible for illegal, backdoor exchanges.  We could lose our certification to operate.  They’ve already blown through all of our savings, we haven’t had a budget since they came on board.  We’re counting down the days.

Spring Homesickness
03-03-09, 1:34 am
Filed under: Depression, Exchange Students, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: ,

  Another student is homesick.

I’m a 17 year old girl, have been in France for 6 months, but I had to take a trip back to the states for University visits. My friends here have gone back to their respective countries, and while I have French friends, it’s not the same. Since I have come back from the US, I have been so so so homesick and I feel numb. I can’t eat and I have cried myself to sleep. I try to convince myself just to take it a week at a time, seeing as I only have 14 left, but it’s so hard. My teachers hate me because school is not my top priority seeing as I’m finished with it and they’re all mean to me. I don’t know if I can make it to the end. I don’t know what to do..
I feel strange about this one.  I am usually on the student’s side and feel empathy.  Maybe it’s because I’ve never known a student to return home for college visits.   Students in my program only go home for compassionate leave.     Maybe it’s because she feels the teachers hate her and are mean.  My snarky self thinks  ‘No,  they’re just being French.’   I’ve thought about this all day before writing.   Maybe it’s just because I forgot to take my happy pills 2 days last week.  We’ll go with that explanation.
Honestly, why wouldn’t she be homesick?  She was just home, and has to go through leaving a second time.  Her mid-year friends are gone.  It’s the middle of Winter.
Students from the Southern Hemisphere often go on January-January exchanges.  We don’t do January exchanges in my program.  It interupts the flow of the year.  We used to have 2-3 annually.  It’s hard on the mid-years.  They don’t fit in at school if they aren’t Juniors.  They don’t fit in with the other students who have been together since August for several months, and then the other kids go h0me.  They also teach the August newbies all the bad habits so they get a head start on rule breaking.
What advice can we give to this girl?  She doesn’t say anything about her host family.  Are they supportive and caring?  Would it help if she were to mentor the new arrivals?   What about her French?  Is it improving?  Doesn’t attending school help with language?  What about the parents and friends at home?  Are they encouraging her to come back home or be strong?
My best advice is to take one day at a time.  Think of something good each day.  Try to get some physical exercise to exhause your body so you can sleep.  Take naps after school if you can’t sleep at night.  2 years from now, this time will seem to have gone by in a snap.  You can do this.

My Little Window Lickers
02-24-09, 12:59 am
Filed under: Exchange Students, Inbounds Inbounds, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: ,

  Exchange students typically have an opportunity to go on a 2-3 week sightseeing trip during their Summer vacation.    If they’re lucky, they’ll go on a few trips. 

The students in Santiago,  Chile have great trips.  They get to go to the South; down to Punta Arenas.  They go North to Arica, and they can go on a third trip to Easter Island.    Students in Europe do something like 10 countries in 15 days.    Students in the USA go to the East or West coasts.

The students know about the trips even before they arrive in country.  Former exchange students tell them about the wild times great scenery.    Volunteers tell them about the trips upon arrival at orientation meetings.

The bus trips may not make money, but you can’t run them at a deficit.  The buses must be filled.  Students have to make reservations, and then pay deposits.  My kids were supposed to pay their deposits by December 31.  

I’ve been talking about the trip and showing photos since August.   I set up a Facebook group with all the info.    I’ve answered questions, and reminded them repeatedly about the deadline.

There were 10 seats open as of February 1.   I asked for a few to be held for my children.  (children is about the nicest word I could use.)   Since yesterday, FOUR of them asked me “How do I sign up for the trip?”   The directions on the website are written in exchange studentese-small words, short sentences. 

They all wanted to know when they had to make the deposit.  I told ’em December 31st.  No one would blame me if I left them somewhere in the Mojave desert.   Yepper, I am chaperoning again.

Today Was a Success
02-19-09, 2:53 am
Filed under: Exchange Students, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: , ,

 I rock!  I never say that, I usually bitch and moan.  But today was a great day.   I placed a student in his first choice country.  Sounds like something I do several times a year, no big deal.  

It was special for several reasons.  “Fesland” is super popular, and they typically set their exchanges by January 1.   Fesland isn’t one of my countries;  I don’t know anything about the culture, and have no interest in ever visiting.   Fesland is someone else’s responsibility.   I respected the other volunteer, and trusted her for many years.   She never told me she couldn’t get the kid in, but just assumed the student wouldn’t mind going to Feslandia instead of Fesland.   It’s like if I couldn’t get someone into Mexico, but Canada is still North America, you don’t mind, do you? 

This student is exceptionally well suited for Fesland.   The exchange could’ve been set up in November.  Something seemed ‘off’ to me.  I stepped in to try to place FES.  There are 35 separate programs in Fesland, and I contacted every.single.one.  Today one agreed to host my FES.   I let someone else tell the student. 

Hardly anyone will ever know what I did, or how much work it was.  Husband joked FES better not complain about anything next year.  Hah.  He’s a kid, there will be problems.  But not today.

Exchange Year is Half Over

 Post Suggestion: exchange students time is 1/2 over. or just begining?Comment by tina