Wry Exchange

CSIET-Not Important? Grr
04-18-08, 8:28 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: ,

 We’ve dropped out of CSIET.  (Council on Standards for International Educational Travel) CSIET is a nonprofit program that oversees exchange student programs.   My program won’t be listed as an approved program next year.  To me, CSIET is a seal of approval that we meet the standards of a well-run program.  I’m not happy about it.  
In this state, FES programs must be a member of CSIET for FESs to play varsity sports.  The kids almost all play varsity sports in the Fall, it’s a fantastic way for them to make friends.  Sports help our students get exercise, find friends, and give them something to do in the beginning.
Even better, we didn’t discuss the decision.  A few of the older men made the decision, then told the rest of us at a meeting.  It’s too late to do anything about it.  They explained it would cost too much money and time in order to comply.  I realize it’s a lot of work to compile all the information CSIET requests, but we’ve always thought it was very important for our students.   No wonder we argue all the time, we don’t work together as a committee focused on the kids.
This decision will impact our future exchanges.  We’ll lose some exchanges because the kids can’t play varsity sports.  The argument that the kids can play JV or just practice isn’t strong.
 Please see my previous CSIET post.


FES Updates
03-26-08, 11:49 pm
Filed under: Exchange Students, Inbounds Inbounds, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: , ,

 My program has about 40 students this year; half in the states, and half scattered across the world.  (We are a true exchange program.  FES goes out, FES comes in.)   The students have been in their new countries approximately seven months now.  Students choose when they want to return home.   Anytime from May 1st to 364 days from when they entered their host country. 

I want to give a general update without losing my anonymity so I won’t tell  you if the FES’s are inbound or outbound students.   The problems are typically the same all over the world.  They’re kids, and this is an incredibly difficult stressful year.

Two students quit because of homesickness.  One returned home early because of  family illness, and another because of family issues.   We have a few on probation because of alcohol or school problems.   Three of them had serious Visa issues.   Many had severe homesickness, it showed as depression and loneliness.  We have the annual psycho hostmoms and controlling hostdads.  We had a sexual harassment incident.   Some of the kids were asked to move out of their hostfamilies houses.   Some students have changed cities and schools.   Many have travelled far from their hostfamily’s home on vacation.  Students have won awards and been voted school royalty.  Several wisdom teeth have painfully erupted.   Of course, there aren’t any new tattoos or piercings.

I would say almost all of them are NOT experiencing the year as they imagined it.   We try to tell them, former students try to share, but nothing sinks in.  These kids are smart, they know everyfuckingthing.  It’s nice to see them changing, becoming humble, and open to new experiences. They are resilient and maturing.  At this point, many of them are starting to identify with their new countries, and would rather stay than return home.

No one has been arrested, maimed,  pregnant, or kicked out of a country.  Whoohoo!

Icebreakers for Exchange Students
11-03-07, 12:56 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students | Tags: , , , , ,

  When I don’t have an idea for a post, I look through my referrals from search engines.  Someone googled ‘non English icebreaker’ today.  I have a fun one.  

 Build an Alien

  • I like to make the groups small, about 5 or 6 students.  I go around and write a number on their hand as they come in or are sitting around.  That way they’ll be with students they don’t know.  You may end up with 10+ groups, but if there are too many kids in one group, most will sit like lumps as the 3 overachievers do everything.
  • Their goal is to build an alien, and tell it’s story.  Where does it come from? What does it want? Why is it here? What does it eat?
  • Give them 10 minutes to talk and decide on a plan, then 15-20 minutes to build it.
  • Give each group Popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, feathers, modelling clay, straws, etc.
  • Have the group explain to the other groups their alien.  I usually have prizes for the best alien, and group them all together for colorful photos.

We usually do this at our first meeting with the new outbound students after interviews to get them integrated into the group with the inbounds.  We observe who participates, who tries to take over the group, who is embarassed to be playing with feathers, etc.  It hopefully gives them something to think about as an alien far from home.   If you give people clay, pipe cleaners, and other toys to play with, they’ll usually have fun.

 Husband and I used to volunteer as judges for Destination Imagination and Odyssey of the Mind.   The kids used to do different types of games that could be used as icebreakers.  Look up volunteer sites for ideas.

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

Sweet Note from Former Inbound
09-26-07, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students | Tags: , , , ,

 “Thank you for this wonderful year that you have given to us. I look back and I’m just not the same girl who when to the US scared and crying. during this year  I change a lot.  I was a the little daddy girl and now I’m a young lady thanks for every thing i will go back to visit and see you.”

This sweet girl did grow a lot last year.  She has so much more self-confidence.  A big part of the fun for Husband and me is to watch the kids grow, mature, and change throughout the year.  Some of their arcs are amazing to see.

09-18-07, 11:48 am
Filed under: Exchange Students, hosting | Tags: , , , , , ,

A big problem that no one warns families about is jealousy.  We talk about it with our students before they go out, but no one says anything to most of the incoming students.  The inbounds are bewildered when someone in the host family is jealous of them.  The kids want to fit into a family, they need a place where they are accepted and just another kid, not ‘The Exchange Student.’

Who gets jealous and why:

Hostdad-No, not really.  Hostdads are typically easygoing.  They are happy to have a new son or daughter.   If Hostdad had only girls, it’s cool for him to have another guy around.  Hostdads like having someone new to tease.  I really can’t think of any jealous hostfathers.  Edited: Husband reminded me of a few hostfathers who didn’t like to share their hostdaughters with people outside the family.  They wanted the girls to stay home ALL THE TIME with them and hostmom.)

Hostmom-Sometimes-I can think of at least 2 girls who were kicked out of their host family’s house because the hostmoms were so jealous they told hostdad ‘It’s her or me. Get her out NOW.’  The girls were both nice girls, they were not flirting with hostdad.  They were both moved, and had excellent years.  We’ve had hostmoms upset with hostdads because they spent ‘too much boy time’ with the kid.

Host sibling-Yes.  Not all host brothers and sisters have been consulted before a new person moves into the house, and maybe even his/her room.   

  • Be aware of the princess who doesn’t like to share-especially her Senior year when everything is about her.  
  • Be afraid of the 6 year old snot who kicks the exchange student because she dared to change the tv channel while the brat was playing in another room.
  • Hide from the 12 year old who has to share his Playstation or computer time.
  • It’s not pretty when the baby of the family finally gets someone to push around.  Last year, we had a 17 year old boy with several older sisters who enjoyed bullying his hostbrother.
  • Watch out for all the siblings to be angry because the inbound does all his chores, and makes them look lazy.  (or keeps his room clean, has good table manners, etc)

Talk about jealousy and other issues as they arise.   It’s so much easier dealing with small problems immediately, rather than waiting until someone explodes.

Edited to Add:  Treat FES like your own son or daughter.  Don’t treat FES as a guest in your home.  It causes friction when FES doesn’t have to scrub the toilet, when her hostsibling does.  Rotate chores, so there are no favorites or whining about ‘FES always gets the easy ones.’   Don’t have different curfews for kids the same age.  The house rules should be fair to all children.

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.