Wry Exchange

Hygiene Machine
08-15-08, 12:32 am
Filed under: Culture, Home | Tags: ,

I should never complain again.  But we all know I’ll be back to bitching soon.  I’m feeling very grateful tonight.
  Look at this site.  Rags To Pads is a website started by two Americans to try to raise $5,000.00 in India.   It will benefit a girls school called Pardada Pardadi and local women.  The goal is to purchase a machine and raw materials to manufacture menstrual pads. 
I feel comfortable sharing this site because I know someone who knows the founder of the school.  She has helped the school in the past.
Why are these Americans trying to raise  money? According to Pardada Pardadi, most rural Indian women and girls catch numerous vaginal infections after attaining puberty. The reason is because they use dirty or unsanitized cloth during menstruation — because they cannot afford hygienically-prepared sanitary pads.   Can you imagine how that would impact your entire life?  Vaginal infections and UTIs often.  I would imagine you could lose fertility, and time off of caring for your family, or work.
Go to the site, and look around.  Go to the school’s site, and thank the deity of your choice that you have so much.  
I found out about this school and the Rags to Pads project because I was asked to help with a project for this school.  The project is making hair ribbons.  I thought it was a stupid ‘feel good’ project, and mentioned it to an Indian acquaintance.  She sent me links to the school.  I would be happy to donate spools of ribbon to the school, but I am donating a gigantic bag full of hygiene products.  I’m not sitting around for an afternoon making scrunchies.  It’s insulting to everyone.  Crap, that sounded like me bitching.  Sorry.


Ear Picks and Tongue Scrapers
02-19-08, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Culture, Home | Tags: , ,

 As Americans, we have a reputation of obsessive hygiene.   We may shower more than some other cultures, but we are behind other cultures.  Do you use a bidet regularly?  Do you have someone clean your ears?  Do you scrape your tongue daily?  Do you wash out your sinuses each morning?
A mimikaki is an ear pick.  From the website: Japanese traditionally clean the wax from the insides of their ears with a small bamboo hook or scoop, called a “mimikaki” — and there’s actually a category of “mimi-kaki fetish,” men who love to have their girlfriends or wives clean their ears. Now you can clean your ears in true Japanese style, with this set of two really cool traditional Japanese mimi-kaki cleaners. One of the cleaners is smaller than the other and has a little wooden “Daruma” figure on it; the end of the longer cleaner has a soft, plush end for gently caressing your ear.  I have seen these with ‘Hello Kitty’ motifs, or made of horn or metal.
  Neti Pot-from the website: The Neti PotTM naturally cleanses, refreshes, and protects the nasal passages, one of our body’s first lines of defense against illness. The goal of nasal irrigation is to clear out excess mucus and particulates and moisturize the nasal cavity.
  Tongue scrapers have been used for thousands of years. Tongue cleaners are  designed to clean the bacterial build-up, food debris, fungi, and dead cells from the surface of the tongue. Fungi? gross!
We’ve all seen bidets.  But how many Americans have used one?  (and not for washing your feets, socks, or dog.)  I found ‘how to use a bidet’ for you to read.

The Hygiene Speech
10-29-07, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students, hosting | Tags: , , ,

 ~Sigh~ I gave the hygiene speech last weekend to one of our students. 
I spoke to the man who should’ve given FES the speech back in August at Orientation, and at the September meeting. (Didn’t want to overstep.) The guy said he held up deodorant, and told the kids ‘You must used this daily.’  Um, yeah, that worked well.  No one thinks he or she smells.  Everyone thinks it’s someone else.
I really like this kid, and pulled FES aside to quickly and quietly say that the deodorant isn’t working, perhaps you need something stronger.  I apologized for bringing it up, but said “I’ve been able to smell you each time I’ve seen you.  Even when I’m not walking too close, I can smell you.’  The poor FES probably wanted to hide, but someone had to tell the student.
If you have to give the speech, do it quietly and privately.  Keep it brief, because the student is going to want to escape before s/he dies of embarrassment.  Be blunt, this isn’t a chat you want to repeat.  You have to tell the student, otherwise the other students won’t want to be friends, or will tease, and your house will start to smell. 
See also: Stinky Exchange Students, Eau d’Exchange Student

Stinky Exchange Students
09-12-07, 11:40 am
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students | Tags: , , , , , ,

 This is a case of ‘My country, my rules.”  You just have to tell the student to bathe daily, and use deoderant. (Yes, this is the counselor’s job, not the host parent, but how long can you go without screeching?)  You may have to tell the student to wear fresh socks and underwear daily.  Some kids will wear the same socks 2-3 days in a row.  We’ve discovered more than one student washing socks and underwear in the shower along themselves.  You may also notice the student is only giving you socks and underwear to wash.  Some people don’t wash their clothing as often as we do.   No one wanted to give the hygiene speech to one boy until his clothes smelled so bad that the stink went through his closet, into the closet of the bedroom next door, and out into the room.  That’s some strong b.o.!  Many of the kids are afraid our washing machines will damage their clothing.  They can either wash their own clothing, or get over it.  Marta the maid isn’t available to handwash their clothes.
It’s embarassing whenever I have to give the hygiene speech, but it’s a kindness.  The student won’t make and keep friends if people think he/she stinks. Be blunt so there is not room for misunderstanding.  Don’t try to outwait the student, you’ll lose.  We hosted a student who didn’t bathe for his first 15 days-he stained the furniture with his greasy hair.  The sheets resembled the Shroud of Turin.  (Think August temperatures.)  He said he ‘wasn’t comfortable’ yet.  Husband finally told him “Either you shower, or I’m tossing you in the pool with a bar of soap.” 
 See also my post Eau d’Exchange Student.  This is my second stinky student post.

Eau d’Exchange Student
08-27-07, 2:42 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Is it a scent or an odor?
  I think Axe body spray is the work of the devil.  Some of the students must use a can a week of that crap.  PUKE.
It’s not uncommon to have a chat with your student about scents….or odors.   Almost annually, I have to say something about the amount of cologne students use.  The conversation is usually held in a car, with the windows down, and my head hanging out the window as discreetly as possible.  I try to tell FES that cologne should only be detected by someone hugging him.  I tell FES many Americans are allergic to perfumes, and we don’t use as much as some other countries.  I also tell FES it’s not necessary to reapply the cologne each time she leaves the house. 
We also have the hygiene speech. It was hot Saturday at Orientation, and some of the kids really smelled. I always talked to the girls at Orientation as a group before bedtime about hygiene, flirty behavior, and appropriate clothing.   The female night chaperone asked me what I used to say to the girls before lights out, but I don’t know if anyone spoke to the boys.   I gave Ian, Mia, and Che travel sized toiletries as part of their welcome gifts.
Have you noticed that your FES smells different from the rest of the family? When the kids first arrive, they smell different to me. I think it has to be diet, because the smell goes away after a bit. I can tell when the kids get sick though, they smell ‘sick’ to me.  I know it’s weird, and I can’t explain it.
Americans just don’t like to smell other people.

More Bathroom Differences
07-26-07, 3:59 pm
Filed under: Culture, Home | Tags: , , ,

Oooh, I forgot a lot yesterday.  How about privacy?  When should the bathroom door be closed and locked?  Is it ok for someone to be in the bathroom when someone is showering?  Should the door be closed or left open when no one is in the room?  
 Many cultures wash with soap only; they don’t use washcloths or net scrubbies.  Ask if your student uses something else, and let the student know where it can be stored.  Some cultures use more products than we do.  How many US families use tongue scrapers daily? 
Is it ok for the student to use the family shampoos, bath gels, soap bars, toothpaste, razor blades, deodorant?  I’ve always supplied the students with personal products unless they use something specific that is super expensive. Sorry, but I’m not supplying Minoxidil for a normal teenage girl. 
Explain everything in detail to the student.  I had a student use ‘Head & Shoulders’ shampoo as bath gel until I noticed the bottle was emptying too quickly.   He had a point; it did state ‘shoulders’.  I think it would’ve been a bit tingly for all-over washing.

Living Differences-in the Bathroom
07-25-07, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students, Home | Tags: , , ,

The new students will be arriving shortly.  To prevent surprises, assume that EVERYTHING is different in the USA for your new student.  Bathrooms can have huge differences.  Show your student how the shower and toilet works in your home.  Toilets look and work differently around the world.  Some cultures do not use toilet paper, they prefer to  cleanse with water.  Some countries sewage systems can’t handle toilet paper, and the tp goes into a small garbage can next to the toilet.   

Some countries don’t use large tank water heaters, instead they may use tankless systems.  Let the student know the hot water could run out if he is the last one in a family of 5 showering before school.  Discuss bathing habits with your student.  Tell the student where she may keep her towel.  Some students will bring towels with them.  They’ll feel uncomfortable sharing towels with the family, at least in the beginning.  Other students will shower twice a day, grabbing a fresh towel each time.

Another 90 miles in the car today, but all the 2019’s and forms are on their way to the students.  Hurray!