Wry Exchange

GoodDobie Good Update
06-01-09, 1:30 am
Filed under: Home

 GoodDobie is a happy boy.  He’s gaining weight on people food diet.  He’s getting strength back,  and is playing with BadLab.   He hasn’t had a seizure in a long time.   He looks great.  We even took him for a short walk around the block this afternoon.  He pranced.   We’re mixing dog food in with the people food for him.

BadLab refuses to eat his Iams food.  He wants people food, too.  The little guy is spoiled.  BadLab has curly fur, so he can hid a few pounds by appearing fluffy.  I couldn’t get his collar over his head for the walk.  The little porker’s collar had to be let out over an inch.

I can’t take BadLab for a long walk without GoodDobie.  GoodDobie becomes stressed and anxious even with Husband staying with him.  We’ll think of something.

Since I’m going away for 2 weeks, I’ll have to leave lots of Dobie Chow made up in the fridge.


Dell Mini 9 FAIL
06-01-09, 12:45 am
Filed under: Home

  My five month old Dell Mini 9 died Friday night.  I’m mourning.  I love that dinky computer.  It worked fine until then.  I turned it on, and a black screen popped up with the dreaded words “Operating System not Found.”

I chatted online with Dell for an hour trying different fixes.  They’re sending a call tag for it to go back.  At least it’s under warranty.  I can’t be the only one who had a catastrophic failure since they’re discontinued already.  Dell Mini 9 has only been out in the USA since last Fall.

Santa brought it because it’s great for travel. (Santa thinks it’s stupid, and calls it a toy.)  I can carry it in my purse.  It was wonderful on my Chile trip.  Quick to boot up, nice long battery life, too.    It should take 5-8 days to return it to me. 

I’m leaving Saturday on a 2 week business trip.  without my computer.  I’ll be twitching and bitching.   While I’m gone, I found a blog about exchange students for you to read.  The blog is about a bus full of horny howler monkeys travelling in California and Nevada.   It sounds amusing in an “I’m glad that’s not me” kind of way.

30 Days to Go
06-01-09, 12:12 am
Filed under: Exchange Program | Tags: , , ,

 One month to go until my program has a new leader.   I hope we make it.  That’s not hyperbole, either.   Every time I think we hit rock bottom, we go deeper. 

The latest disaster is losing our program’s State Department certification.   I was too upset to write about it, or blog about anything.  It’s taken care of now, but it was a nerve-wracking few weeks.  

Our current President didn’t send in the re-certification paperwork.  It’s the government; how many reminders do they send out?  She’s been trying to kill this program, and almost succeeded this time.  The State Department employee in charge sent out one final reminder that we lost our certification a month earlier to several people, not just our President.  That’s the only way we found out-by accident.

Can you imagine being so vindictive?  We wouldn’t be able to host the 30 incoming exchange students.  The State Department wouldn’t issue DS-2019’s to those kids if they weren’t coming with a ‘real’ program.

The CSIET paperwork wasn’t completed in time, so the kids can’t play sports again this year.  We haven’t had an audit since she took over, either.   She’s not going out gracefully.  She’s not doing anything, not coming to meetings, but not sharing any information.  30 days to go…

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.