Wry Exchange

My Host Family Sucks!
10-08-07, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Program, Exchange Students, hosting | Tags: , , , , , ,

I hear ‘My host family sucks.’ often from both inbound and outbound students.   For this post, we’ll assume the host family does suck, and the student’s name is Sinéad.

First-Sinéad MUST tell someone outside of the family that she’s unhappy.  Edited to add:  The student needs an advocate.  The situation will not improve by itself.
Second-Sinéad has to decide the seriousness of the problem.  Is she in danger?  Is she afraid?  If the answer is ‘yes’, she must move immediately. End of discussion.  Edited to add:  If the student feels in danger or sexually uncomfortable, the decision to move is out of his/her control.  The program MUST remove the child from the home immediately.
Third-Sinéad must decide what she wants.  This is HER year.  Edited to add:  She shouldn’t feel guilty.  The counselors and host family should put Sin well-being above all else.

She should go to her counselor.  I understand she doesn’t want to be perceived as a ‘problem student.’  I understand that sometimes the counselor and host family are friends.  The counselor’s responsibility is to the student.  If the student is afraid to tell the counselor, she should contact the person above her counselor.  Sinéad should also tell her counselor in her home country about the problems.  If she can’t contact someone from her program, she should contact her parents.  To be frank, Sin’s parents have purchased an experience for their daughter, and they should be satisfied customers.  Some exchange programs cost a ridiculous amount of money.
 What should a student do?  I think there are 3 choices.  The student stays in the home, the student moves immediately, or the student moves as soon as practical.   She moves immediately if she feels in danger.  If she just doesn’t get along, she discreetly asks for a new family, and moves in 3-5 weeks.  Generally to avoid hurt feelings, the family is told a white lie.  Or she decides to suck it up, and stay put.  The unknown is scary, and sometimes the kids would rather stay with the freaks they know instead of breaking in a new family.

Next post: Why your family sucks.