Wry Exchange

Advanced Money Skills
02-26-09, 4:35 am
Filed under: Culture, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: , ,

 I’m collecting money from the students.  Some of the money is for outgoing students fees, and the rest is for a trip.   The outgoing students send their payment in a sealed envelope with return address.  They fold a piece of notebook paper around the check with a note to me.

The trip payments are evenly divided between inbounds and outbounds.  I can tell if the payment is from an American  or foreign student by the back of the envelope.  Inbounds will use odd size envelopes, taped the flap closed, staple the envelope closed, or just not seal it at all.    The return address is either missing or on the back.   My name and address is typically spelled wrong, placed oddly, or missing words.

Most of the inbound students don’t have checking accounts.  I recommend they either buy a money order at the post office or 7-11.    They can give their hostparents money, and have them write a check.  Sounds  reasonable?  More like rare. They refuse to buy money orders.  They just don’t understand them.   I get cash stuffed in an unsealed envelope with no note.  If I’m lucky, I’ll get a return address on the envelope.  No name.   Today I received $100.00 stuffed in a flimsy envelope with no name.   I think 700 or 800 was the most cash one of them ever mailed to me.    

 I can’t believe the money arrives here safely.  One good think about living in the boonies.    The postal carriers all know us,   Wry nolastname,  no street address, Town, and  State get to us.

One of the inbounds was paying online for the big bus trip.  3 emails back and forth about ‘What is my expiration date of my card?’  ‘Where is it?’  ‘What and where is the 3 digit verification code on the back?’  I felt like a human Google.

ETA:  It’s not just them.  Once kids gave checks and cash at an event.  I stuffed them all in my back pocket.  Threw the jeans in the wash without emptying the pockets.  They were packed so tightly that they didn’t shred or fade.


My Little Window Lickers
02-24-09, 12:59 am
Filed under: Exchange Students, Inbounds Inbounds, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: ,

  Exchange students typically have an opportunity to go on a 2-3 week sightseeing trip during their Summer vacation.    If they’re lucky, they’ll go on a few trips. 

The students in Santiago,  Chile have great trips.  They get to go to the South; down to Punta Arenas.  They go North to Arica, and they can go on a third trip to Easter Island.    Students in Europe do something like 10 countries in 15 days.    Students in the USA go to the East or West coasts.

The students know about the trips even before they arrive in country.  Former exchange students tell them about the wild times great scenery.    Volunteers tell them about the trips upon arrival at orientation meetings.

The bus trips may not make money, but you can’t run them at a deficit.  The buses must be filled.  Students have to make reservations, and then pay deposits.  My kids were supposed to pay their deposits by December 31.  

I’ve been talking about the trip and showing photos since August.   I set up a Facebook group with all the info.    I’ve answered questions, and reminded them repeatedly about the deadline.

There were 10 seats open as of February 1.   I asked for a few to be held for my children.  (children is about the nicest word I could use.)   Since yesterday, FOUR of them asked me “How do I sign up for the trip?”   The directions on the website are written in exchange studentese-small words, short sentences. 

They all wanted to know when they had to make the deposit.  I told ’em December 31st.  No one would blame me if I left them somewhere in the Mojave desert.   Yepper, I am chaperoning again.

The Odd Couple
06-24-08, 2:02 pm
Filed under: Inbounds Inbounds | Tags:

 Female version.  Think Martha and Rosie.  I wasn’t Martha.  I was the Appalachian hick to her Eastern elitist.   I have no idea how she put up with me.  Poor woman.

I had another chaperone for a roommate.  I’ve never had a roommate before.  Typically when I enter a hotel room, I unpack, put away, hang, and iron.  For these last two weeks, I just worked out of the suitcase.   Roommate “Ro” unpacked, ironed, and hung up her clothes. 
Ro-Changed jewelry to match outfit.  Wry-Wore the same jewelry for two weeks.
Ro-Wore shoes appropriate to the activity.  Wry-Havaianas for everything!
Ro-Brought several nice outfits.  Wry-Didn’t bring any dressy clothing.
Ro-Ironed everything before wearing it. Wry-I thinkI ironed a top once, and Ro ironed a sweater for me.
Ro-Brought a robe and cute jammies.  Wry-Wore whatever t-shirt I had on with jammie pants.
Ro-Used hair products, blow dried and styled hair.  Wry-I let my hair grow out before the trip so I could skim it into a ponytail, and let it air dry.
Ro-Full makeup. Wry-Sunscreen and lipgloss.
Ro-Brought books to read.  Wry-People and Vanity Fair.
Ro-Took 90 minutes to get ready in the morning.  Wry-Tried to sleep as long as possible, needed about 20 minutes to shower and stuff everything back in the suitcase.
Ro-Got a manicure during the trip.  Wry-Clipped all my nails short, and had pale polish on my toes so the chips weren’t too noticeable.
Ro-Grabbed a massage.  Wry-Turned the shower on high.
Ro-Brought ‘nice’ clothing.  Wry-Brought sturdy clothing that I didn’t care if it was ruined.

We also had the ‘too hot/too cold’ problem.   Neither one of us realized for the first week that since I was the cold one, I probably shouldn’t have the bed next to the air conditioner.   Does that tell you how tired we were?

Chaperone Wry
06-05-08, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Exchange Students, Home, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: ,

  Husband and I discussed putting my adventures as a bus chaperone on Wry Exchange.  I really don’t want to give up my anonymity.    I’m leaving this weekend for 2 weeks as an exchange student chaperone.   You all know I’m crazy.  Would a sane person do this? 
I set up a separate blog just for the trip.  For my loyal readers, leave a comment, and I will send you the link for the trip blog.   I don’t want to be presumptuous, and send it out now.    Oh God, I hope someone asks for it!
Anyway, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to keep up with both blogs for the next 2 weeks.

End of The Year Trips
06-03-08, 11:36 am
Filed under: Exchange Students, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: , ,

 Ah, the favorite part of the year.  The end of the year trip with all of your co-inbounds.  The FES rite of passage.  The trips last from 10-31 days, most of the US ones are two weeks.  The West coast students go East to see Boston, New York, Niagara Falls, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.    The East coast students go West to see San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.  The ones in the center of the states can go either way.  The month-long trips include all of the above cities, as well as Orlando, Chicago, New Orleans, Mt. Rushmore, etc.

Typically, half to 2/3 of the students go on an end of the year trip.  The trips are so important that students will ask if one is offered before committing to go with a program.    The students don’t realize until they are on a two-week bus trip how much they’ve bonded with each other.   I’ve often said the bus could drive around in a tight circle for two weeks, and the kids wouldn’t care.   I’ve seen so many trip photos with NO recognizable landmark in any of FES’s photos.  They take photos of each other, over and over.  It’s cute.

The largest South American trips are usually in January and February,  since that’s when the weather is the best.  They’ll still have a Spring trip, too.   The European trips (Eurotrip) go through different countries.   All the trips are slightly different, some will miss Amsterdam, but include Rome.   I believe the Eurotrips are the only ones to go outside the host country’s borders.

This year, my kids are going to Disneyland, Universal Studios, Hollywood, San Francisco, Death Valley, Lake Tahoe, and Las Vegas.   Did I mention my laptop and I will be joining them?  We leave Saturday.   Wish me luck, and pray to the deity of your choice.  

Thursday in Chile
11-15-07, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Home | Tags: , ,

 I still can´t connect to the Internet with my laptop. I must have really screwed something up when I was mashing buttons in Dallas. One of the boys will have to fix it. They all love to play with computers. I have a post about Wednesday that I´ll retype and put up. I spent all day Wednesday flying down to Chile.

So, on to Thursday. I woke up in Santiago. Chef, Daughter, and I stayed at their brother´s apartment in Los Condes. It´s a very nice area of Santiago, and it´s close to a good mall. Sadly, I have almost no room for shopping. We went for lunch and shopping, then drove South to Rancagua. I´m so happy to see my family here. I also have currently have one exchange student in Rancagua that I´ll try to see, and the parents of a student up in the states, too. We went to see Daughter´s new house, and it´s gorgeous. A lot of work was done, the house was so bad before Husband and I thought they should´ve just demolished it and started over. It wasn´t as bad as we thought, but it´s beautiful now. And, I needed a doggy hug, and the dogs remembered me. I took a nap this afternoon with a Lab, so it´s all good.

One of the Bolivians didn´t read any of my emails, and went to the airport to pick me up today. She assumed American would put me on a plane and send me a day late. In South America, everyone goes to the airport to say hi and bye. I feel bad, but I¨couldn´t call yesterday, and Sparky and someone else in Bolivia knew I wasn´t arriving.

Chef and Daughter were bad today. Chef loves to make sushi, and I hate it. He knows not to make it for me, and it just kills him. I told them Sparky´s favorite food was ceviche, and I was afraid he was going to make it, and ask me to eat it. I don´t like it, and don´t want to eat it. Us hillbillies don´t like raw fish, even if it´s ‘cooked’ in lime juice. Anyway, Chef said ´Where´s he get the fish?` Bolivian is landlocked since they lost the war with Chile over a hundred years ago. Bolivians and Chileans still hold a grudge, and tend not to like each other.

Excuse the typos, I´m typing on a Chilean keyboard.

Preparing for Bolivia Trip
11-06-07, 12:29 am
Filed under: Culture, Home | Tags: , , ,

 I’ve decided not to obtain a Yellow fever inoculation.  If you get a reaction, it comes 5-10 days after the injection. I’m leaving on the 13th.  I’m not taking any anti-malarial medicine, either.  I will be in areas where mosquitoes carry malaria and Yellow fever.  I tell my exchange students they should take precautions before they go.  I should be fine as long as I avoid mosquito bites.   So my plan is…hope? Avon’s Skin so Soft?
I’m supposed to bring tennis shoes and a swimsuit.  Sparky told me I’ll be doing ‘activities.’  I teased that I don’t do activities.  He told me I will, because I’ll be in Bolivia, and he’s in charge now.  I’ll miss his graduation party.  The party is on the evening I return home.  The party begins at 10:00pm, and my flight leaves at midnight.  I’m sad.  But, I’ll be there for his 18th birthday, and graduation.  (I bought the most gorgeous formal gown, too. Damn.) I called the airline, and the next available return flight isnt until 10 days later. 
 Oh well, more room to pack gifts.  I have another huge list of beauty products from Victoria’s Secret to buy, a car radio, digital camera, Reeses cups, DumDums, 2 books about my state, a bi-lingual visual dictionary, and candy bars made by a local manufacturer.
I’ll make presentations about our program to three different groups.  I’ll look for a service project that we can help with as a joint project between our two groups.  I’ll make a few speeches once I return home, too.