Wry Exchange

Assimilation Fun
02-10-09, 2:57 am
Filed under: Inbounds Inbounds, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags:

This weekend’s meeting was the first one in 2 months.  Some of the students haven’t seen each other since November.   It was interesting to see the interactions, just like a big cocktail party.   We had Inbounds, Outbounds, students from other exchange programs, and former exchange students, about 60 total.

The Latinos welcomed 3 new guys to their group, the new students blended in well.  A group of 5 new Outbounds cling to each other.   They’re all from different school districts, but spend time with just themselves.   I didn’t notice anyone sitting in a corner alone.   Another group of 6 or 7 all come from the same school are a bit brash and Alpha Senior type. We’ll have to watch them so they don’t try to run over the others.   I like seeing the inbounds and outbounds interacting.   I like when the students move from group to individual and work the room.  

Husband gave me his cold, and I’ve had it all week.  It wasn’t an option for me to stay home.  At least have the kids had colds, and by tomorrow the rest will be sick.  They never think of germs.  They share drinks, kiss and hug often, barely wash their hands, and generally crawl over each other like puppies.   Only a few students slept before dawn.  They had to be ready to leave at 7am.  It’s the same fight each month.  “Get up!  We have to leave.”  “NOOOOOOO. Pleeasseee!”   I stayed awake until I was home in my own bed.   Husband said I snored. loudly.


Outbound Training Session, part 2
02-10-09, 2:28 am
Filed under: Exchange Program, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: ,

  Training was a mix of the students getting to know our program, and us getting to know them.  Each class has a different personality, and we have to adapt to best prepare them.

We told them program details, our terminology,  how to request help,  how the program works, (crap.  we didn’t tell them we’re all volunteers.  i just remembered that.)  how to suck up, be a good student,  who were are, and our positions in the group.

We tried to talk them out of being exchange students.  They defended their choices well.   We told them this would be the most difficult year of their lives, but also a wonderful experience.   We want them to bond, and it seems to be happening.

Next month’s training will consist of them presenting their homework-reports on the culture of their country.  We’ll discuss and analyze the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, current political events, and the new Obama administration.    We’ll break into 3 smaller groups-Americas, Asia, and Europe for more detailed discussion.   

After group training, I took my South Americans to talk to them alone a bit while the other specialists took their kids.   Then we turned them loose to play for the rest of the night.   They learn quickly not to fall asleep until the sun rises.   Other students wrote on the sleepers.

First Outbound Training Session
02-10-09, 1:43 am
Filed under: Exchange Program, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: ,

   Our first training session was Saturday.  The students were so good!  They all remembered paper and pen.  They showed up on time, they were attentive, and they didn’t whisper during training.  I was really impressed.    They had a tough day.  Since last month’s meeting was cancelled due to weather, this was a double session. 

It wasn’t perfect.  One kid didn’t show, call, or email.  I still haven’t heard from him.  He weeded himself out.  I’ve been defriended on Facebook, so I think that’s a clue.  We stressed ‘mandatory’ many times, and the students signed contracts agreeing to the meeting dates.    I’ve heard gossip about the student’s heart not being into exchange.  Better now than later.  He can still go to college in the Fall, hasn’t put much money into the program, and didn’t spend oodles on a plane ticket.  

One of the first questions was “Why do you want to be an exchange student?”  The answers went from ‘learning about myself’ to ‘looking good on applications and resumés.’   Several know this is a great opportunity to travel and become bilingual.  A few students want to study Botany in Brasil, and one wants to study dance.   No one was interested in music, art, interior design, or decorating for the first time in years. 

We’re still trying to get to know the real person behind the groomed interviewee and polished application.  They’re relaxing now, and don’t realize we’re still watching them.  I did warn them at interviews that ‘everything is a test.’

Orientation for Parents, Counselors, and New Kids

Our Orientation was over the weekend.  I love seeing the bright, innocent, hopeful faces on the new host parents and students.  Many of our host parents are older professionals this year, and we have many first-timers.  They were hungry for information.  Husband spent a lot of time talking with the parents after their meeting.  I skipped the meeting and stayed with the kids for 2 hours-like last year, the people in charge didn’t think to chaperone 25 kids who don’t know each other or much English for 2 hours.  Duh.

We have 75% of our kids in country, and hopefully the rest will be here by next week.  So far, we haven’t had any Visa denials like last year’s mess.

EDIT:  Because I hit ‘post’ not ‘save.’

Ooh, were the parents, counselors, and kids PISSED about the CSIET debacle.  Most of them only found out at the weekend meeting.  All of the students wanted to play sports at some point during the year.  I feel bad for everyone except the people who made the decision to drop out of CSIET.

Other than that, Orientation went well.  Most of the kids seem very nice.  (I think I say that annually.)  We have a few potential sluts.  I had to tell one girl to cover up her thong, but I didn’t have to ask any of them to stop touching.  That was encouraging.  Some of the newbies are fluent enough in English to tease already.  This group will have to speak English early, as we have many languages this year.  We have a lot of singles from several countries.  We also have 9 Spanish speakers.  We’ll have to sit on them, but so many people understand Spanish, it’ll be fine. 

We had several extra students this year.  We had former and potential students, as well as host siblings.  Several gay people attended.  By the time the third or fourth one walked by,  Chef asked if we (or me?) attracted gay students.  I hope so.  I told him we welcome everyone, and he finished the thought by saying exchange is a safe, welcoming place for everyone.   Hurray for Chef!

Outbound Country Assignments

 Well, surprise, surprise.  At our exchange student meeting last Saturday, we (people who set up the exchanges with other countries.)  expected to meet the students who are going to our countries.  The kids didn’t know where they were going!  It’s January! 

The students are usually told to write down their top three country choices, and write a paragraph defending and explaining their choices.  That paper is included with their application.   After interviews, the kids are usually advised to go home, think about it, and let us know your final choices within 2 weeks.   The countries are assigned after the updates are received.  Almost all of the students change at least the country order, and many of them change countries and continents completely.   Two of our committee members speak with each student and family individually on interview day explaining choices and making suggestions.    I’ve said before that a lot of the kids initially want to go to France, Germany, Spain, or Italy because they’ve heard of those countries, or their language teacher suggested it.

This year, the students didn’t email in their final choices.   When we all arrived for the meeting, a paper was passed around with the students’ names, and one, two, or three countries listed.   I walked around looking for the students who wrote any South American country, and each kid changed their answer.  The students near them who heard me ask changed their countries, too.    The students were asked for their final choices three times Saturday night.  What a mess.   (I was just twitching to jump in and fix everything.  Repeat itsnotmyjobitsnotmyjob.)

I left the meeting with applications for seven students.  Four of them have been assigned  a country.  I have three students, and they will be assigned between Argentina and Chile.   I couldn’t make a decision based on who handed their application in fully completed the earliest as suggested.  I have to read the applications, and see who would have the best year in the best country for the student.

New Potential Outbounds
01-10-08, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program, Exchange Students, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: , ,

 Our first meeting with all the new kids was over the weekend.   I loved it because it was so crowded.  We have our smallest group of inbound students ever this year.  We have over 2 dozen new outbound applicants.  Husband and I have looked around saying ‘Where are the rest of them?’ when they’re all right there.  (We have to keep an eye out for ‘culture sharing.’)  This meeting was big, noisy, and chaotic; just the way I like it. 

I have several students assigned to my countries.  I’m happy to say they all mingled well.   A few of the new kids kept to themselves, and didn’t try to integrate or meet new people.  That’s a warning sign for exchange students.  FES’s spend an entire year with new people and situations.   I haven’t read through all their applications yet.  I have concerns about one or two of the students.   I’ll watch them at the next few meetings, and monitor their Facebook and MySpace pages.   The kids don’t understand everything is a test.   I learn a lot from Facebook and MySpace pages.   Even though I’m anonymous,  I don’t have references to hangovers and skanky behavior on here.  (I know, you’re all disappointed.)

FES is Moving on
01-07-08, 7:24 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Program, Home, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: , , ,

 Merry Christmas!  Today is Orthodox Christmas, and I hope those of you celebrating have a great day.  I grew up observing 2 Christmases, and if my mother finds out my tree is down, I’m toast.   Hmm, would it be entirely bad if she disowned me?

FES is moving out tomorrow.  The potential host family gave me a ‘yes’ Saturday morning.   FES has been running around the house taking photos of the dogs, the house, and Husband.   The child is moving a mile away.  Ian is on the shitlist.  FES told Ian the reason for switching towns.  Ian ‘only told one person.’  The entire Senior class knows why, and it’s embarrassing.  FES did nothing wrong, but there are some things you want to keep private.  I gave Ian a new English word to look up today-betray.   Sparky said if he was in that situation, he’d just laugh it off, and say ‘Yep, that’s me.’   Sparky’s scrappy,  Ian’s an idiot, and FES is naive.   I ran to the school to talk to the principal and secretary so they know the story in case they hear rumors.  Ah, life in a small town.