Wry Exchange

“No, But” Part 1
07-02-08, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Culture, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: , ,

 Oooh, how I hate that phrase.  “No, but…” and it’s friend “Yes, but…”   This seems to be a *Chilean boy thing.  I know we’ve talked about stereotypes and generalizations, but, in my experience, Chilean and Argentine boys are the only ones who use this argument regularly.

To me, “No” means no.   I’ve read that “No is a complete sentence,” but I always give a reason for saying ‘no’ to the students. For some boys, “no” sometimes means “Give me more information, and I’ll say ‘yes.'”  But I think in most cases it means “I’ll whine and wear you down until you say ‘yes’ just to get rid of me.”  Hah!  I’m stronger! 

The last really annoying ‘No, but’ was last month.   Some of the students stayed overnight together in one of their host family’s houses.  It was very nice of the host family to permit several of them to get together and watch them overnight.   It’s tiring chaperoning a group of exchange students,  they always think of some way to escape the adults.  Anyway, my two local students had a ride home. 

One of the students had her hostmom drive them to the party, and then pick them up the next afternoon.  She was a new hostparent, and didn’t want to look like the ‘mean old lady’ to tell them that an hour each way to a party was unreasonable.   The woman was sitting in the driveway, and the phone calls BEGAN.   A more experienced hostmom would’ve marched in the house, and told them to get in the car.  Again, she didn’t want to seem too strict.  The kids started calling me. 

 “Can we go to AWP?” 
“What’s AWP? (Awesome Water Park)
“We don’t know, but Maria’s family is going today, and Maria said we could go, too.”  (Note Maria’s hostmom’s permission or invitation isn’t mentioned.)
 “No, you just spent all night with the family, it’s time to come home.  Ana’s hostmom is waiting in the car.”
“But Maria invited us.”
“NO, get in the car.”
Maria gets on the phone.  “Can they please come with us?” 
“Where are you going?” 
“AWP!  We’re only calling to ask for permission since it’s out of state.”
“Um, no, AWP is in the state.  Why did they put you on the phone?  I told them to get in the car.”
“They thought my English was better. So can they go?”
“No. Tell them TO GET IN THE CAR.”
Maria’s hostbrother gets on the phone.  “Can they go with us?  We’re going to AWP2.”  (AWP is not in the state.  Actually, one of the water parks is 100 miles East of us, and the other one is 100 miles West of us.)
“No, please tell them to get in the car NOW.”
This goes on for 3 or 4 phone calls.  They kept putting other people on the phone. The kids still had no idea where they were going, just that they wanted to go.
Maria’s hostmom finally calls, asking me what’s going on. I explained that the girls didn’t have permission to go to AWP, and they were supposed to get in the car.   That made her happy, because it was a school trip, and the kids weren’t invited. 

That poor hostmom sat in the driveway for half an hour, then she waited in the house for another half hour before all of the phone calls were done.

Oh hell, I just typed out that long story, and it didn’t have any of the ‘yes, but’ or ‘no, but’s in it.  That’s for tomorrow then.  We’ll just make this part one.

*I have to clarify on behalf of P and Chef that not all Chilenos say “No, but.”


Skin Color-Pale is Preferable?
04-07-08, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: , ,

 I read a horrible story today about a man sentenced to two years for driving wife to suicide over her dark skin.  It reminded me of how many of my former South American and Asian exchange students prize pale complexions.  The students grow up learning that ‘pale is best.’  They come here to the states for a year where boys tan for the prom, and students vie to see who can develop the darkest tan.  Within a short period of time, the FESs join in, and are proud of their darker skin.  They all compare arms to see who ‘wins.’
Then, they return home.  Their friends laugh at them.  Their moms are horrified.  More than a few of the girls have been forced to take skin bleaching pills.  I had heard of skin lightening/brightening/bleaching creams, but PILLS?  ew!  There are complete product lines, including soap and cosmetics.
This is from the website ‘Race and Gender‘ about why women want to lighten their skin. There are so many things at work here: an ancient idea that says that women with very pale skin are not laborers; that those with darker skin have native blood, and that those who are dark are low-class.
Read this New York Times article from last May about skin lightening products.  It’s interesting for many reasons including Unilever selling lightening products.  You know Unilever, they own Dove-the brand that uses ‘real women’ in their advertising.  Hypocritical much?  “Fair & Lovely” is for women, while “Fair & Handsome” is the men’s line.
 I also recommend a blog post from Sapna Magazine online written by a Bangladeshi woman.  Check out this Pakistani website for ‘Fair & Lovely.’  

Morning After Pill Banned in Chile
04-05-08, 1:45 pm
Filed under: Culture, Home | Tags: , , ,

  Abortion is illegal in Chile FOR ANY REASON.  It doesn’t mean abortions don’t happen in Chile.  (See my 3 posts on abortion in Chile. 123. )  Do these judges and congressmen realize “Plan B” helps to prevent abortion, preserve future fertility, and saves lives?  

 From Yahoo news: SANTIAGO, Chile – Chile’s Constitutional Court halted a government program Friday that provided the contraceptive known as the “morning-after” pill free to women and girls as young as 14.
The court voted 5-4 to effectively ban the distribution of the pill by the government’s health services, according to a court communique, after a request by 31 congressmen who claimed the emergency contraceptive constitutes abortion.
The government program, started by President Michelle Bachelet, a pediatrician and the country’s first woman chief executive, had been the subject of heated legal battle.
It was approved by the Supreme Court in February. But congressmen backed by conservative groups took the case to the Constitutional Court. Friday’s ruling, which was leaked to the media while still being written, cannot be appealed.
Bachelet said free distribution of the pill at public health centers was aimed at bringing equality to Chilean women.
“Poor women will not have access to the pill now,” said presidential spokesman Francisco Vidal.

Differences Between USA & Chile-Community
10-25-07, 7:20 pm
Filed under: Culture, Home, hosting | Tags: , ,

  Living Differences Between USA and Chile-In the Community
Time-Time is money, we say in the states. We expect people to be on time, not waste time, and respect other people’s time. Time in Chile is more relaxed. In the states, ‘a few minutes’ means less than 5 minutes. I think in Chile ‘a few minutes’ is anything less than an hour. In my state ‘after lunch’ means after you’re done eating, we’ll leave. In Chile ‘after lunch’ can be anytime before dinner. In the states, morning is until noon, afternoon is between 12:00 and 6:00, and evening is after 6:00pm. be on time for school, work, and dr. appointments. The being late thing is for friends and casual plans. Chileans are on time for appointments. It is a formal society. Be respectful.
School-You’ll all attend public school in the states. Most communities have one high school, and all local teens attend. In Chile, most of you will attend a private school. School is a privilege in Chile, and it is up to you to take advantage of the teacher’s lessons and attend daily. In Chile, you’ll have a uniform. In America, you wear casual clothing. You may not wear whatever you wish, there is a dress code. You might go to a school in chile and the school won’t be closed. like its open. kind of like a motel set up. and its very very cold in the morning, and bring a few extra layers wouldn’t be a bad idea at all. (In Chile, the teachers change classrooms, not the students. You’ll be with the same kids all day, all year.) also lunch in Chile during the school year is usually eaten after school when you get home.
Sports– The schools in the US sponsor sports. Sports are an important part of high school in the US Sports participation in Chile is done on your own time, usually with a club or group.
Evening activities -In the states, you’ll have a curfew of between 10:00pm-1:00am depending on if it’s a school night or not. Families are free to set the curfews for you. In Chile, teens stay out much later, you may not leave your house until 9 or 10 at night.
Greeting/good-byes -When you walk into a room in Chile, you greet each person individually with a hug or cheek kiss. You do the same when you leave. In America, a group ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye’ is sufficient. I don’t think we Americans are colder than Chileans, we are more reserved. It’s uncomfortable for us to touch people we don’t know well.
Transportation-American teens rely on cars for transportation. Many students have their own cars. You can’t drive, so you’ll need friends with cars, or ask your host parents for a ride. Don’t hesitate to ask for a ride, host parents are used to driving kids around, it’s not a problem. In Chile, students rely on public transportation. Most of our communities in this area do not have public transportation.
Grocery stores-In Chile, Jumbo is the best! Everyone makes fun of me about my love for Jumbo. I love Jumbo the way other people love Wal-Mart. The Jumbo chain carries just about everything you’d find in a grocery store here. They even carry items from small companies from Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. I couldn’t find Rice Krispies, but they had Cocoa Krispies. You will find Mountain Dew in a few grocery stores finally. The produce selection is huge, they have fruits and veggies we don’t have. In the US, the Chileans will just die at the price of fruits and vegetables. If your hostmom asks what you prefer, please tell her. We are used to these prices. Most of us don’t realize that you can buy a kilo of avocados for less than we pay for one avocado/palta.
Ice creamIce Cream in Chile is almost always gelato. (Jumbo carries Breyer’s.) Gelato is low-fat and tastes better than ice cream from  Ben & Jerry. You’ll fall in love with it. In my area, gelato is 2 or 3 times as expensive as ice cream. It’s not easy to locate, and we don’t have nearly the selection of flavors as in Chile
Other Stores -When you purchase something in the states, you pick it up, take it to the clerk at the register, the clerk rings it up, you pay the clerk, they put it in a bag, and you leave. Or you tell the clerk what kind of ice cream cone you want, the clerk makes it, hands it to you, then you pay. In Chile, you go to the clerk at the register, pay that person, take the receipt to the ice cream counter, give it to the clerk there who will make your cone and hand it to you. Chilean stores seem to have more people working in them than in America stores.
Money-Many US students work, and have their own money to spend as they wish. You all will have program stipends and money from your parents this year. In Chile, going to school is a student’s job and high school students don’t have much spending money. This affects manners as well as other aspects of life. For example, in my area, if you are out with friends and are thirsty, you buy a bottle of Coke and drink it. You assume if anyone else wanted a drink, they’d also purchase a bottle. Many people in the states don’t like to drink after other people. In Chile, when you buy ‘una bebida’ you individually ask each person in the group if they’d like a drink before you drink. You share the entire bottle.
Dogs-It’s rare in my state to see stray dogs. There are ‘street dogs’ all over Chile. Talk to your host families about how to treat the pets-if they’re permitted in your room or bed, if you can feed them people food, etc.
Parking -In Chile, you often give a few coins to a man or boy to help guide you into a parking place and to watch your car while you are gone. We don’t have that in our country.
“American”-We live in The United States of America. We call ourselves ‘Americans’. We call the people who live in Estados Unidos Mexicanos, Mexicans. Chileans live in the Republic of Chile. People from the states don’t mean North America when we say ‘Americans.’ We know Chileans are Americans, the same as people living in Europe are Europeans. We are using the word ‘American’ in a different way. We mean no disrespect to the people of other American countries.

Home-Differences between USA & Chile
10-24-07, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Culture, Home, hosting | Tags: , , , , ,

 The differences between living in Chile and living in the USA-In the Home

Heating/Cooling-in the states, all homes have furnaces with whole house heating. Many homes have whole-house air conditioning or room air conditioners for the hot, humid summer weather. In central Chile, homes will have a space heater or 2 to burn off the chill. It rarely goes below 32/0 degrees. Houses are kept ‘room temperature’ year round in the In Chile, you keep warm, not the house. Wear warm socks and sweaters. a warm robe is a wonderful thing to have, especially south of Santiago. It’s bad manners to walk around in your bare feet in the house. In the states, some people prefer that everyone take shoes off before entering. Ask
Plumbing-In Chile, make sure the califont is on before you get in the shower. A califont is a tankless water heater. Cold water goes through it and is instantly heated. In the states, all sinks, showers, and bathtubs have hot water almost all the time from a hot water tank. Almost’ because if you’re the last person in the house to take a shower, the tank may be emptied and have to re-fill. Be considerate. Your host family will show you the furnace and water tank.
Toilet-In the states, the toilet paper always goes in the toilet. Never place it in the garbage can in the bathroom. Do not flush feminine products in the toilet. In Chile, almost all tp goes in the little garbage can next to the toilet. If you aren’t sure, ask.
Towels-Chileans, please do NOT bring bath towels with you. We don’t think it’s polite, we think it’s odd that you wasted packing space on towels. We don’t have our own towels here. We use any clean one. Ohioans, bring a few bath towels with you. Polite people bring their own towels. If your hostmom thinks you’re strange, give them as a gift ‘por la casa.’ If they’re new, and they match. Chileans don’t use washcloths, if you use them, please take several with you. Yep, they’ll make fun of your ‘little towels’.
Water-It’s perfectly fine to drink the water in both countries. Both countries also have lots of bottled water. In Chile, bottled water comes either ‘con gas’ or ‘sin gas’. In the states, it’s either ‘still’ or regular water or carbonated water. Seltzer water is a good substitute for con gas, as is Perrier. Ask about drinking the water too. Occasionally I’d go to a restaurant close to the coast and my host parents would tell me to get bottled water instead. If people drink water, which will look really strange to Chileans, the waiter may even say whether it’s potable or not.
Kitchen-Some USA kitchens have a garbage disposal in the sink. It’s a way of getting rid of food, ask your host family about how and when to use it. You’ll find a lot of frozen food in US refrigerators/freezers. Chileans go to the grocery store more often for fresh food and bread. The bread in Chile is very good, and Wonder bread  will be an unhappy surprise. The food in Chile is fresher and much less processed. Chileans eat a lot more seafood than we do in the States.
Bedroom/Living roomIn the states, the family watches TV together in the living room or family room. The living room is used for sitting and talking in Chile. Families will watch TV in the bedroom, it’s OK to lie on the bed with other family members. Chilean students generally take naps after lunch. In the states,ask your host parents if they mind if you take a nap. Many people here think naps are just laziness, and you aren’t getting enough sleep at night.
Doors-There are more doors in Chilean homes. Doors may be between the kitchen and the rest of the house. The dining room may have doors. A door may be in the hallway to the bedrooms (private part of the home vs. public part.) Most US homes have wide doorways and no doors except for bedrooms and bathrooms.
Dining room/Meals-Polite behavior in the US requires you to pass the servings of food around the table before you begin eating so everyone’s plate is full. In Chile, the food is placed in the center of the table, and you reach to serve yourself. In Chile, you keep your hands above the table in sight, in the US, you are supposed to keep your elbows off the table, and one hand in your lap. In the states, you place your napkin in your lap when you sit down. Napkins in Chile are smaller, so this isn’t done. In Chile, the salt is saltier, and the sugar is sweeter. In Chile, you sit at the table after meals, chatting with the others. You don’t leave the table as soon as you are finished eating. Don’t ask to be excused. In Chile it’s rude to pass the salt into someone’s hand. They’re very superstitious about it and it’s a table manner’s no-no.
Breakfastin the US is what you make for yourself-nothing, cold cereal, cold leftover pizza, orange juice, etc. The big American breakfast you see in movies is on the weekends, if at all. In Chile, the family eats together. Breakfast is tea, juice, drinkable yogurt, or Nescafe, bread with either jelly or palta (smushed avocado) and perhaps a slice of ham or cheese. Cereal is popular now, too.
Lunchis the biggest meal of the day in Chile. Typically, the entire family eats lunch together. In the US, you’ll eat lunch in school. On the weekends, usually you just find something in the refrigerator to eat for lunch. You’ll be on your own in the US for many meals. Ask your hostmom what you can and can’t eat in the ‘fridge.
Dinner/Once-In the US, many times families eat in shifts. People work different hours, and kids have after school activities. You’ll learn how to feed yourself this year. ‘Once’ in Chile is about 7:00pm. It’s a lighter meal than lunch, sometimes you’ll have also dinner later at 9:00, and sometimes not.
Coffeein Chile is typically Nescafe. If you want Nescafe in the US, please ask for ‘instant.’ Coffee in the US is usually brewed with the coffee grounds strained out. You host family will show you the coffe-maker. Most homes have a Mr. Coffee coffee maker. Tea is much more popular in Chile as a daily beverage. Most US homes won’t have a tea boiler. Just heat up water in the microwave.
No free refills in Chile! At most US restaurants, your Coke or coffee will be refilled at no charge as often as you wish. Restaurants in the US use a lot more ice in the drinks. In Chile, you sometimes don’t get ice, or you get one cube. (soda will taste different for you in the other country. Each country mixes their product to suit local tastes-sugar, flavoring syrup, carbonation
Basement/Attic-most homes in the Northeast and Midwest have basements and attics. Please ask your family before exploring these floors. Some basements and attics are used for storage, laundry, and utilities, while others are ‘finished’ and used as bedrooms or game rooms. Chilean homes don’t have basements.
Computers-the same in both countries.
Cell phones-get one in your hosting country. Don’t bother trying to change the chip. Both countries, ask your hostparents how the billing works-incoming/outgoing calls to cell phones and to landlines.
Answering machines-not popular in Chile.In the states, everyone has them. Do NOT hang up without leaving a message. I know you don’t like to leave a message. Just say “this is ____, call me.”
Housekeepers -In Chile, it’s common to have a lady help with the housework several times a week for several hours a day, and she may be called a ‘nanny.’ In the US, if someone has help, it’s usually a cleaning lady who comes for 3-4 hours every 2 weeks
Gardens/Back Yards-Homes in Chile are surrounded by a high fence, usually with an iron gate. In the US, the front and sides of the houses aren’t fenced. If a house has the back yard fenced in, it’s for swimming pool privacy, or to keep pets and small children in the yard.

Letter From an Outbound
10-08-07, 6:37 pm
Filed under: Culture, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: , , ,

So cute!  One of our outbound students included this in her latest letter home.   We’re finally getting to the stage where they no longer whisper about me and my being from another country, and some even talk to me…. I almost want to give cookies and chocolate for their progress but think it would only alienate me from the group again.

10-07-07, 11:52 pm
Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , ,

Logo How Many of Me? is a fun site.  How many people in the US have your name?  I entered several exchange student names.  Many first names had 0.  No one is named  Angelin,  Argus, Ceres, Clary, Cleber, Dimas, Eliska, Elodie, Fanette, Frantisek, Jairo, Lais, Manon, Maryse, Milou, Minou,  Ornella,  Palvi,  Quirine, Remy, Segolene, Sinead, Tanguy, Thais, Thiago, Yoanna, Ynaie, or Vikram according to the 1990 census.

EDITED to add: I loathe the new ‘name’ Nevaeh.  Why would anyone name their child ‘Heaven’ spelled backwards? Actually, why would you name a child ‘Heaven?’  All it means is the parents are idiotic trailer trash.  There is a difference between unique and yoo-neek. Learn it.