Wry Exchange

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.


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.

Snarky Blog
01-23-09, 2:28 am
Filed under: Culture | Tags: ,

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.accentscrapbooking.ca/images/green-flower.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.accentscrapbooking.ca/accueil_en.php&h=302&w=300&sz=24&hl=en&start=6&tbnid=MuyDkAYq_UxLGM:&tbnh=116&tbnw=115&prev=/images?q=green+flower&gbv=2&hl=en&ie=UTF-8 This is a blog you may enjoy.  or not.

Sarah Palin’s Clothing
10-21-08, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Home | Tags: ,

 The Republican National Committee spent over $150,000 on clothing, makeup, and accessories for Sarah Palin and her family.  They must not have used a personal shopper.  I can’t see a professional stylist choosing that trashy red leather jacket or the black patent hooker boots.  

I want to see outrage from people who donated to the RNC and from the people who yapped about Democrats’ haircuts and clothing.

Watch What You Ask For
10-18-08, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: ,

 I complained earlier this week about my exchange program.   Many of our concerns were answered with “Oh,” “uh-huh,” and “I’ll look into it.”  Yikes.  Um, I thought you wrote the report.  I’m not certain now.

We do have a new outbound student coordinator.  Me.  Anyone surprised?   I think it killed a bit of our Chairman’s soul to appoint me to the position.  I wasn’t going to ask for it.  Again.  

I set up outgoing student interviews the next day.  I’m gathering interviewers, and trying to squish three months of preparation into four weeks.   It’s a bit of a challenge because the Chairman won’t help me by giving me contact information on our current students abroad, or our volunteer counselors.  He’ll quietly screw me as much as possible.   This program has always put the students first, so I don’t understand why someone with different goals is part of student exchange.   I like a challenge.  I know I can pull it off despite the faux obstacles.

We’re Imploding
10-15-08, 12:29 am
Filed under: Exchange Program | Tags: ,

 We will have a meeting this week for the first time in six months.  Six months.  In a program that deals with teenagers coming and going overseas.  This program is held together with duct tape and dental floss.  I think we’ve used up all residual good will from people in the last 2 years. 

  • We dropped out of CSIET without discussion or a vote.  
  • We’ve lost the members who take care of Fesgium, Fessia, Feserlands, Fence, and Fitaly.  We have students to and from all of those countries.
  • We don’t have anyone in charge of our students abroad.  What’s worse, no one told the students the previous person resigned.  I try to keep up with as many of them as possible to help.
  • We don’t have an 08-09 budget yet.
  • The members don’t have the 07-08 final treasurer’s report yet.
  • A few people tried to terminate a student secretly.  Thank dog we were able to stop it.
  • Interviews for the new outbound students should be next month.  No one has done any recruiting.  We don’t have an interview date, time, or location.   We don’t have an Outbound Student Chairman.
  • We have missing money, probably not with evil intentions, more like lazy and clueless.
  • We don’t communicate.  Everything used to be transparent, and everyone was up-to-date.  Now, it’s all ‘need to know’ and only 3 or 4 people know.
  • We have a person who doesn’t understand the “appearance of impropriety” is to be avoided.

Doesn’t this seem like it’s going to involve a foodfight?  I better get something fun out of this damn meeting.  The last Outbound person announced his resignation in January.  I asked for the position then. (I’ve done it before.)  Nope.  The prez doesn’t like me.  10 months later, and he still can’t find someone else to do it.  Ninny.  Give me free rein, and I’ll whip this back into shape quickly.  It’s appalling, sad, and embarassing how they’ve turned this jewel of an exchange program into a piece of mud.

The program is salvageable, we just have to last until the end of this fiscal year.   The kids are fine, most of them don’t know we’re in a completely unnecessary mess.  The kids just know the adults aren’t very friendly with each other.

I’m feeling better.  I know it’s not a smooth climb, but I blame myself when I go downhill.  Meh.

Foreign Exchange Student Blogging
10-01-08, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Program | Tags: , , ,

 I love FES blogs.  It’s amazing that I can keep up with students in almost real time.  It’s incredible reading about Bolivia, France, or Korea.  The descriptions of daily life aren’t available anyplace else.  I think the small insignificant details are what I most enjoy.

When I first started volunteering, students wrote home.  I’d get a letter 3 or 4 times during their year.  Kids phoned home on Christmas and Mother’s Day or in case of a disaster.  Exchange program rules and advice haven’t changed quickly enough to keep up with technology.

Students can now publicly share their experiences with the world.  I don’t think the students realize everyone has access to the internet.  They seem to think only friends and family back home will read their blogs.  That misperception causes problems.  Problems for me, them, and the program.

“They can’t read English.”  “She doesn’t know how to use a computer.”  “He doesn’t have internet access.” “How could they ever find it?” “They’ll never find it.”  All false.  Host families and counselors find the blogs.  If they can’t read English, they’ll find someone to translate for them.  Sometimes they don’t like what they read.   Can we say “causing an international incident?”  We had a student in Asia write (mildly) about how boring school was to him.  You would have thought he wrote his family was sacrificing goats in the living room and virgins in the garden.  His host parents, school, program chairman, country chairman, and counselor all complained to our country chairman here.  Many people were involved, trying to smooth things over.  The student was close to termination.   We’ve had problems with devious hostfathers.  Some of them spend hours looking for their student’s blog.  Then they complain when they find it.  It happens more often than you’d imagine.

Feelings get hurt.  People become angry.  I get bitched at.  It could all be avoided if the students would just follow my advice.   I don’t want to hear “I’m just being honest.”  That’s fine, but you don’t have to tell everything.   I believe you can either be honest with your writing, or honest about your identity. 

  • Don’t blog under your real name. 
  • Change the name of your school.  People here in the states don’t know or care about the school’s name.  
  • If you’re the only student in your town, change the name slightly.  
  • Change the state where you’re from online.  Your friends at home know you’re from Illinois, not Indiana. 
  • Someone ‘knowing’ you write a blog, and proving you’re the author are very different. 
  • Never name your program.   “Don’t bite that hand that feeds you” comes to mind.  The program sent you abroad.  In return, you have to put up with rules and boring inconvenient meetings.  
  • Don’t write about your wild night making a porn movie while you were drunk, and how difficult it was to drive without dropping your bong. 

I’ve written about anonymity before.