Wry Exchange

Blogroll Addition-Host Family
04-27-08, 2:01 pm
Filed under: hosting, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: ,

 I have a new blogroll addition to share with you.  HostFamily08 will take us through their year as they begin their adventure.  Jessica, 19, is the blog author and a college student.  She lives with her parents, and this is their first hosting experience.  They will be hosting a 15 year old Russian girl through Pacific Intercultural Exchange.  I’m excited to see their perspective on exchanges.


Why I Hate People, Part 49
04-25-08, 12:42 am
Filed under: Exchange Students, hosting, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: ,

 One of my nearby students moved this week.  This is the first time one of the kids moved without me facilitating.  The families worked it out between themselves.  Which means I didn’t know FES moved.  Family #1 must have really wanted the kid out of their house!  I don’t have the paperwork filed from the new family yet.  Dad’s a minister, I know him, but still.   I’m pissed.

The kid was online tonight, and I told him I have a box from home for him.  Many times parents send gifts to our house instead of the host family’s home.  Anyway, FES lets me know he’s home alone.  The family is in another state.  That’s so against the rules.  I just went and brought the kid back here to our house.  It’s 12:15am.  The hostfather asked Husband if it was OK to leave FES alone for the day.  That’s how we found out the move was made.  Husband said ‘Yes, for the day is fine.’  That doesn’t mean overnight.   It’s only 2 blocks away, but still.  I gave them the rules.  New Hostdad has been around the kid since he arrived in August.  I thought he understood how exchange studenting works. I’m really pissed. 

And the house is a huge, honkin’ mess.  I’m moving things around to make office space for Husband in a small room off the living room.   The space was filled with my office stuff, so I am moving it all over-attic, basement, recycle bin, spare bedroom, etc.  I have a sink full of dishes because I cut my thumb while moving crap.   We’re out of milk and bread, too.  I was going to the store tomorrow.  We don’t eat breakfast.   Can ya tell I’m discombobulated?

“Had Sex With My Exchange Student”
03-24-08, 7:45 pm
Filed under: Exchange Students, hosting | Tags: , ,

Dear Person or Persons who searched for links to “had sex with my exchange student” twice today,
  Why?  Why would you google that?  Are you looking for approval?  a support group? advice?  absolution?  ease your guilt?   No reason or excuse would ever be acceptable.
Please do something good and decent.  Let the student go.  Move FES out of your home immediately.   You know it was wrong, immoral, and illegal if the student is a minor.  

6 Host Families-P’s Horror Story
02-29-08, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program, Exchange Students, Home, hosting, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: , , ,

 I’ve written about P a few times before.  It’s time to introduce him.  P was an exchange student several years ago, and is one of our favorite people in the world.   P had a tough year.

Let’s meet the families:

  1. Kicked out of the house after just a few weeks.  His hostsister accused P of trying to rape her.  (If there was ANY truth to the allegation, P would’ve been on the first plane home.)
  2. Counselor’s home until a new permanent family is found.  
  3.  The hostfather wasn’t home much, and hostmom and hostbrother fought loudly all the time.  Hostbrother also had a good part-time job selling weed.   Back to counselor’s house.
  4. The crunchy-granola family.  They were vegetarians who didn’t watch TV, and weren’t interested in eating meals regularly.   No one liked to cook, so they ate pasta 3 times a week.  P was hungry and cold in this house a lot.   Back to the counselor’s home.
  5. Nice family, but too late for P to trust or bond with a family.  The hostbrother blamed P for the gay porn on the computer.
  6. US!   We went and picked up P the day after graduation, brought him home, and kept him.  Husband and I cared much more about him than the people responsible for him.   P wanted to return home so many times, and we wouldn’t let him.  We pulled that boy through the year.

What went wrong? 

  1. I think P should’ve been moved to a different high school after the first family didn’t want to host him.  The sister was popular in school, and I’m sure she ruined his reputation.  P didn’t have any other friends in school except exchange students the rest of the year.
  2. P’s counselor was in her first year, and let pride get in the way.  She didn’t want to be wrong.  Husband and I are younger, what could we possibly know?  She rejected all suggestions.
  3. The families weren’t chosen for P.  I think they just found people to pass the background check who would take a kid.  Some of the families didn’t host for the right reasons.  Exchange students aren’t in the US to teach your family a language or be a live-in babysitter.
  4. Husband and I would take P into our home on weekends.  P’s counselor told us to stop.  The host families liked having him out of the house.  We offered to keep P all year, and weren’t permitted.
  5. At the time, Husband and I didn’t have enough clout to force the issue.  Since then, the counselor apologized to me, but never to P.  We now move students when problems that have the potential to ruin their year come along.

I’ll write more about P in the future.  I last saw him in November, and chat online almost daily.

Exchange Students cost Money?
02-04-08, 2:27 am
Filed under: Exchange Students, Home, hosting | Tags: , ,

 Husband likes keeping track of our finances online.  He checks daily, which is good.  Last week, he found he was charged for opening a Juno.com account.  He’s already been a victim of identity theft twice in the last 9 months.
He told me something interesting last week, and I’ve been thinking about it since.  He said that he can tell when we are hosting.  (We hosted a FES while the host parents went away for a week recently, and a few weeks over the holidays.)  Husband told me he was tracking household spending, and I spend more when we have a kid in the house.  
At first, I thought it was just food.   FES’s eat a lot.  They can chow down an entire package of Oreos in a day, they eat a lot of fresh fruit and meat, and they drink lots of soda.  I don’t buy soda or Oreos for the two of us.  So I do spend more money on junk food and snacks.  Oh, then I eat more when a student is around.  If I’m by myself, I’ll eat an apple and cheese or cereal to hold me till dinner.  When I have a student, I’ll use leftovers, make sandwiches, or go grab fast food for both of us.  Hmm, so now I’ve added fast food to the list. 
I have to add gas since I’m going to the grocery and fast food stores more often.   Since I’m already out, I might as well stop at Target or Walmart and grab a few things.  A Starbucks stop would be nice.  Oh, look, TJ Maxx is having a sale.  Sometimes, I’ll pay for something FES wants, too.  Five or ten dollars adds up. 
I was quietly defensivewhen Husband pointed the expenses out to me, but damn, he was right.  What should you do?  If the student lives with you,  you should treat him like your own child.  If you would pay for your own child’s razor blades, socks, or notebooks, then you should pay for FES’s.  Perhaps FES could receive an allowance from you to pay for extras like school dances, Itunes cards, or movies.  You could come up with a budgeted amount each month.   FES’s parents should pay for the “P’s” photos, prescriptions, phone calls, and postage.  As for me, we only have FES’s as guests, so  I’m going to be more aware of what I’m spending in the future, and I’ll probably be cooking more.

EDIT:  There is a big difference to me between hosting an exchange student, and inviting a student to live with you and be a permanent part of the family.  The above post is about hosting a kid.  I know we spend money on the people we love, but I wrote about the creeping spending that I didn’t notice for a student. 

Indian Student with Tough Year
01-30-08, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students, hosting, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: ,

 “The Indian male is God’s most superior creature.”  

Oh my, what does an independent woman say to this?  “Husband, talk to him before I deck him.”   I’ve written before how much I love to see the changes and growth in the students during the year.  The boy who made that statement was being counselled for not fitting in-at  high school, with his host family, or with the other exchange students.  

 It was his third month here in the states, and NO ONE liked him.   He was loud, pushed his way into all conversations, was very opinionated, and laughed at his own unfunny observations.  He knew more about everything thn anyone.  He didn’t want to spend his own money, but felt free to ask other people to buy him things.  He also borrowed clothing from other exchange students but would carelessly forget the gloves or sweater behind, and not care.  

It took a lot of effort by many people to get him to assimilate.  He ended up with 5 host families.  They all tried their best.  We were all surprised.  All of our previous students from India have been great kids.  For lack of a better word, this boy was a clod.  He even rebuffed gentle hints about fitting in with his clothing.  (Think black old man dress shoes, white socks, and shorts to play volleyball.  He had tennis shoes, too.)  FES’s are usually pretty good about forming a tight bond within their group, but the kids just rolled their eyes when that boy started talking.

I have no idea what happened that the light finally turned on for him.  He quieted down, quit bragging, and became pleasant.  He thanked Husband and me for ‘putting up with me, and not giving up’ but it wasn’t us.  It was his doing.

By May, he said he loved it in the US, and he didn’t feel Indian anymore.  He finally succeeded, and became one of us.   Then he had to return home, and learn how to put his 2 halves together.  Reverse culture shock is even more difficult than the original culture shock.   We’re still in contact, and he says everything is great.  I think he just finally grew up.

Still a Temp Host Family
01-02-08, 3:04 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program, Exchange Students, Home, hosting, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: , ,

FES1 has been here for 10 days.   I am responsible for finding FES a new host family.  The people who were responsible for FES finally told me Sunday they can’t find a host family, please do it for us.  Not surprising, and I’m happy to have closure.  I handed the phone to FES so the could repeat it.  The man only said we think you should be in a new school.  He didn’t tell the kid ‘………and in a new town/area.’  I had to clarify all of it for the student.  Wusses.   I hope they at least go to the old school to sign the withdrawal papers since it’s over an hour away for me, and I wasn’t the counselor for that area.   Did I write before that no one from the area called to say ‘sorry’ ‘how ya doin’ or ‘Merry Christmas’ to the child?  That’s about the only thing that pissed me off.

The student did nothing wrong, and is a good ambassador.   It just sucks to be uprooted at Christmas time.   We can’t keep the student, as volunteers we shouldn’t host.   It’s ok for us to be a respite or emergency family temporarily.  The student experienced a lot of stress, and it’s a good idea to keep the kid nearby Husband and me.   Truthfully, I’m ready for the student to move to a permanent home.  FES is sweet, quiet, and almost invisible.   I don’t know why, but I’m not sleeping well, and I’m binge eating.  I’ve been so good lately, too.  Boo.