Wry Exchange

Student Update
11-01-07, 8:09 pm
Filed under: Inbounds Inbounds, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: ,

  I haven’t given you all a student update lately.

  • Jen and Jon-The don’t see each other much, but their language is improving.  Jon doesn’t like to talk much, he just listens.  Jon grew up in a chaotic household, and isn’t used to structure.  He and Sparky each have their own circle of friends.  Sparky is trying to finish  up 3 semesters in one in order to graduate with his class. Jen made it through her birthday well.  They love exchange, and have recommended it to their friends.
  • Ian, Eli, and Che-Each is happy, loves his family, family is crazy about him,  popular in school, many friends.  Eli is catching up with the other inbound students, he fits in well.  He’s made many people happy just by being here.  All the aggravation with his Visa was worth it.  He’s a good kid.
  • M-Very happy with his second host family, instead of just being a temp placement, he can stay with them until after the holidays.  He has many friends, and travels a lot.  He’s much less stressed, and having a great time.
  • Mia-The problem child. She hasn’t broken any rules, so there’s no concrete reason to send her home.  She’s just sort of ‘blah.’  She isn’t working hard on her English, and doesn’t make an effort in anything that I can see.  Her host family is tired of trying, she doesn’t get along with her hostmom and hostsister-she just ignores them.  Nothing anyone says to her sinks in.  She seems oblivious to everything.  Her counselor has one week to remove Mia from her host family.  The family can’t stand the stress anymore.   There’s also the money issue.  She still never replaced her emergency money that she used to buy a $300.00 camera.  She wants the best, has no money, and expects the family to buy it for her just because. uh, no.

Inbound Update & Meeting
10-01-07, 7:32 pm
Filed under: Exchange Students, hosting, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: , , ,

We had our second meeting over the weekend.  It was a glorious, sunny day, and we spent much of it outside.  Eli was the final student to arrive, and he fit comfortably into the group.  Eli’s host-mom wants him to be more outgoing, but I didn’t see any shyness in him at all.  He teased and joked around all day.  Che chose not to attend the meeting, preferring to stay here for Homecoming.  (He said he had fun.)  Almost all of the students were at the meeting, including Eli’s host-brother.  Hostbro fit in well, too.  Maybe we’ll get him as an outbound student in a few years.   Ian is doing well, and is very happy with life in the states.  His Homecoming was last week, and he told me he danced the entire time. 
Mia is still a fluff.  She may turn into a problem for me.  I think she’s a problem for her host-parents now, but they are too polite to tell me.  She doesn’t have much money, but likes shopping.  She also wants to buy the best brands.   She bought a super expensive camera, but doesn’t have a winter coat.   I don’t want her to use her host-parents, they’re nice people who don’t deserve a spoiled brat.   Sometimes (bad) former exchange students tell the new ones to ‘let the gringos pay for everything.’  These aren’t the typical exchange student, and it’s an uncomfortable situation.  I hope she’s not like that. 
The kids all have cameras now.  Only a few had cameras at our orientation.  I take tons of photos, and put them on-line so they can share their year with their families and friends back home.  The host-parents and counselors enjoy looking at the photos, too.  I try to take one close-up of each student and many group shots.  Some of the kids don’t share their photos with their host families. They just don’t think anyone would be interested.  The photos go from memory card to pen drive; no one prints photos anymore.  It’s interesting to look at the background action once I put them on my computer.  I can see who is standing alone, who makes bored faces, and a lot I miss in real life.
Modesty seems to be a forgotten virtue.  One of the girls had a short skirt on, and I placed her hand on her leg before I took photos.  She doesn’t understand English well enough yet for me to joke ‘You don’t want a Britney moment.’   A guy had baggy shorts with boxers and accidentally flashed people.  Ick!  I don’t think I’ll stand below anyone while they are on bleachers anymore.  I asked another girl to put on different top or bra, as everyone could look straight down her skimpy, clingy  camisole.  No one wants to tell the kids, so they tell me to tell them, knowing I’ll say “put ’em away,” and give them a little talk.

Visa Denial-End of Story
09-23-07, 7:38 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program, hosting, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: , ,

Happy  Dance
I hugged that boy long and hard. 
He had a huge grin, and his hostfamily is so happy. 

Many people contributed to his successful journey, and I am grateful.

Visa Denial-Final Update
09-14-07, 2:28 pm
Filed under: Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: , ,

He’ll arrive next week.  It’s over, and he even got an apology for the delay and mistakes. 

EDIT: He’ll be here Saturday, September 23rd. 

Visa Denial, Part 296
09-10-07, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program, Home, Inbounds Inbounds, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: , , , ,

 Good news today.  The consulate phoned Eli, and asked him to express his passport to them for a Visa.  Hurray!  He doesn’t have to go for an interview, so this may finally be over.  I’m afraid to say ‘Mission accomplished.’  (It didn’t end so well for the last guy who made that pronouncement.)
Bad news today.  We’re losing one of our inbound students.  She’s been homesick since arrival.  She hasn’t improved any even with school beginning.  I don’t know if her exchange could’ve be saved or not.  I have had only a few quick internet messages from her since our orientation.  Other adults were in charge of her.  (Her counselor, country person, and the inbound coordinator.)
No news today.   M had dinner with his counselor, but with the time difference, I didn’t get an update tonight.  His country person and outbound coordinator are very hands-off.  It’s not my style to have the students take care of their own problems when they need help.  I think his counselor here will prod the others along.  She’s very worried.  I want to remain in the background for political reasons.  People are backstabbing like this is either high school, a prestigious position, or a well paying career.  I don’t get the people who don’t pour their hearts into the program.  Why bother at all?  Just go away or give up your leadership position.  Gee, bitter much, Wry?
Odd news today.  The garage next door caught fire.  I moved one of our vehicles, but didn’t have to move the Harley, thank Buddha.  Husband was scared when I phoned to ask ‘Which key is for the Harley?’  I hate motorcycles.  All the neighbors from 2 blocks around were watching about a dozen fireman who came in 3 firetrucks.  It was the evening’s entertainment.

Weekly Update & Evicted
08-31-07, 7:49 pm
Filed under: Exchange Students, Home | Tags: , , ,

Eli’s school papers are in the consulate, again.  Now we wait for them to call for another Visa interview.  The poor boy wants to come here so much, even more since he saw the orientation photos.   His host brother has been helping him with his English.  Eli is so ready to be an exchange student. 
Ian, Che, and Mia are all adjusting well. So far. I’m sure I’ll get a phone call when a problem gets big enough it can’t be ignored. The kids all have first-time host families, who are afraid everyone is judging them.  I think they are treating the students as guests.  One of our other kids has moved already. The hostmom decided she really didn’t want to host. 2 weeks isn’t a record. It’s not even close.
Our quickest eviction was 3 days.  The boy had very limited English skills, but was really sweet.  The first-time host parents wanted a soccer-playing boy because their 2 sons lives revolved around soccer.  Our boy wasn’t too good at soccer, but was a superb swimmer.  He beat both host brothers in swim races.  They didn’t like the competition.  I think they also wanted either a soccer coach or a ringer for their team.  The sheriff was called to the house in the middle of the night saying they had a 911 call (from a computer chatroom in another state) that the foreign exchange student was going to stab and kill the father.  Grandma answered the door, and didn’t even bother waking hostdad up.  The next morning, we received a call to come get the kid IMMEDIATELY.  The reason was that the boys were frightened by the crazy exchange student, and the family wanted him shipped back home.  Husband and I go to pick up the boy, and he was happy to see us.  Then we had to tell him he was coming with us, along with his belongings.  It took a while for him to understand.  The host family was rude to us, and the student.  We brought the kid back to our house for a few days, and then he went to his counselor’s home for a week until he could move to his new permanent family.  He was a well-mannered, sweet, kind boy….who just didn’t play soccer well enough for the family.  The parents didn’t believe their sons made the prank 911 call, they insisted our student made the calls.  He couldn’t speak or type English well enough to pass for an American. 
Sparky called last night to bitch. I ‘got him in trouble’ at school.  Classes are usually over by noon, and  I called at 2:00pm.  He was in a special assembly, and his cell phone was confiscated.  He’s doing better, he’s been having reverse culture shock.  We miss each other.  Husband was home, and got to talk and tease him.  Jon and Jen are doing well, and are having fun.  

Visa Denial, part 198
08-29-07, 11:39 am
Filed under: Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: , ,

We have progress!  The consulate sent an email to 2 Congressman, and CALLED Eli.  A third congressional office called the consulate, and received the same information.  Of course, it’s not the consulate’s fault, but I don’t care what their story is as long as the kid gets here.
 Please be advised that Eli was interviewed on August 2.  During his interview he stated twice – first to the interviewing officer and then a native-speaking colleague to make sure he had graduated from high school.  He did not bring any documentation to support otherwise.  Therefore, under FAM 9 FAM 41.62 N4.10-1, this student was refused. Today we have contacted Eli and have requested that he obtain and present proof from his high school that he is still enrolled and in fact, not graduated.  
I hope they schedule his new Visa interview this week, and he arrives in time for the beginning of school.  I’m just never satisfied.