Thinking About Hosting a Foreign Exchange Student

Originally published: 09/2006 by J Wynia

As most people who read this site or know me personally know, I'm not having children. However, that doesn't mean that I'm not open to alternate forms of family that might include people under the age of 18.

One of those ideas that's come up a few times is of hosting a foreign exchange student: a 4.5 or 9 month, temporary expansion of our family to include someone from outside the United States while they study in an American school.

When I was in high school, the foreign exchange students who studied in our school were some of my favorite people (of course there were exceptions). I enjoyed spending time with them, getting to know their culture, helping them understand American culture and norms better, helping with their English, get out into our own community more (showing it to someone else gets you more familiar with it), etc. I would love to help a student get the best possible experience coming here to learn.

Now that we own a bigger house, with a guest bedroom, inviting a student to stay with us for a school year is more feasible, which has gotten me interested in looking further into it.

Unfortunately, it seems that there is a whole mess of information and, since the repurcussions of doing this impact other people's lives, I'd like to know what is going on before I move forward on it.

There are clearly tons of organizations through which you can host a foreign exchange student. Are the big ones (the ones at the top of Google, for instance), better at setting things up and managing the whole process? Are some of these agencies complete, logistical nightmares? Have any of you hosted a student or had first hand experience with which one of these organizations I should inquire through?

Comments

Rachel on 9/15/2006
J- I was an exchange student for a summer through AFS (American Field Service). And my family hosted an exchange student my junior year of high school. I found it to be a pretty good organization - they've been around for a long time. I don't know what the AFS chapters are like around the metro, but the one I was with in Mankato was decent. I'd say go with AFS. You will have to fill out your share of paperwork, of course. And make sure you find some kids in your neighborhood to introduce your student to. It's sometimes hard for a student to live with a family with no kids. Any more questions? Email me...
Vic on 9/21/2006
My husband and I have hosted several high school exchange students. We don't have children. The students rather enjoyed being only children-we had more time and money to spend, they didn't have to share the computer, phone, or tv, and there wasn't any sibling rivalry. We are active in our local Rotary International Youth Exchange Program now, and have been for several years. Our students often have problems with host brothers and sisters being jealous-they sometimes don't want to share their friends, sports teammates, or senior year. We volunteered for another program before Rotary, and like Rotary much better. For one thing, our program is a true one-to-one exchange. We send out a student for every student we receive. Many other programs just receive students. Everyone is Rotary is a volunteer; we don't receive free trips or payment. Each Rotary student has a counselor from their local Rotary club as a liason between the club, school, and family. That's important, some programs just dump the student, and the family and student are on their own. If the family or student are unhappy, we remove the student from the home. Rotary kids also receive a monthly stipend from their local club for pocket money. They also have their own health insurance, and money from home.
J Wynia on 9/22/2006
Thanks, both of you for good information. It's given me a lot to think about. I think that the issue of no other kids in the home is probably highly variable. I can see both sides of it and it's probably good to be aware of it and to have a plan to deal with it either way. I'll look into both programs you mentioned. On the Rotary one, I'm curious because I saw mention about how students stay with 2-3 families over the course of the year. Is that the way it's done normally for them? How exactly does that work?
h sue on 9/26/2006
Hi! My husband and I don't have kids and we have just started our ten months with our foreign exchange student from Japan. Check out the blog for more info. we are having a great time. She is with the AFS program.
Jan Scherrer on 9/29/2006
J - Please give this much more thought before you decide to host a student through any particular agency. We did this last year and the agency - from their local and regional representatives all the way to their VP were nothing less than lying bullies They placed an atheist student from China into our home (she was wonderful and we loved her dearly). The agency rep. placed her into a conservative Christian school and told us to force her to go to church with us. This rep. stated that this is her Christian mission (to convert non-christian foreign exchange students to Christianity while they're here). Our student understood that she was to go to a private school and her parents paid the tuition to do so. They had no idea this would be a religious school. We realized that when our exchange daughter asked who Christian was. She was absolutely miserable in school as she was expected to stand and pledge to the "Christian flag" and memorize and recite scripture. It was nothing short of religious oppression. The area rep. refused to put her into a public school. I contacted the agency's corporate office in San Francisco and each time was told that someone would call me back. No one ever did. The local rep. refused to help with a transfer to the public school and kept telling us to force her to go to church with us and get her a bible tutor. Absolute hogwash! Our exchange daughter became increasingly unhappy and we changed her to the public school ourselves. We notified the corporate office the day of the transfer. When the news trickled down to the local yokels, the cover up began. We also contacted the Department of State, Office of educational and cultural affairs. They are supposed to be the regulating body for these exchange agencies. The DOS notified the agency and the agency responded by having their VP call me and threaten to take our exchange daughter out of our home. I called the DOS for help and their response was to tell me that they would not allow the agency to take our exchange daughter as long we "cooperated". The message was, if you shut up and you can keep your student. It became very clear that these agencies and the DOS share a very mutually beneficial relationship. Why else would a U.S. government funded and regulated agency (this agency receives millions in federal funding each year) act with such a sense of impunity? Our exchange daughter's parents paid this agency $10,000. to send her to the U.S. They did not send her here for religious conversion but for education and cultural exchange. We had already contacted the newspaper and they were ready to do a story. The newspaper agreed to drop the story when they learned that losing our exchange daughter was at stake. We were able to keep our student for the rest of the year but we were not able to erase the impression she was left with by her "Christian" agency representative. During our ordeal, the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students was very helpful. I quickly learned that abuses of foreign exchange students are not isolated incidences. I then became a proud member of CSFES. I recommend that anyone considering hosting a foreign exchange student visit our website first at www.csfes.org. Be sure to visit the ABUSE section. If the behavior of these exchange agency representatives doesn't outrage you, you might be a good candidate to become one of them. The money is good, the hours are easy. You just have to know how to turn a deaf ear to children crying for help.
J Wynia on 9/29/2006
First, the situation you went through is appalling and should not have happened. That said, I don't think it's fair to paint all exchange agency representatives as greedy, lazy religious nuts, hellbent on abusing exchange students is just as unfair as using the "abuse" page on that site to say that all host families are living in rat-infested houses and intend to starve and molest the students they host. Clearly, that isn't the case. Most of the horror stories listed on that site were of *host families* doing horrible things (and I've personally seen a lot of extremely religious families hosting students as their form of "missionary work"), not the agents. As I know that we have a clean house, aren't deviant perverts, provide enough food that everyone eats more than they should and are otherwise decent human beings (at least that's what people say to our faces), those issues are rendered moot in my situation. I think that these kinds of situations are reasons to be diligent in making sure things are set up properly before the student ever arrives. There were patterns in the reports on the sites and the repeated agency entries were places not on my list or mentioned by anyone here.
Joyce on 9/29/2006
J. Wynia certainly sumed it up perfectly when saying, "I think that these kinds of situations are reasons to be diligent in making sure things are set up properly before the student ever arrives." Man, if that were the case, there truly wouldn't be any problems. But let me tell you why there are these problems by asking this message board a few questions, of which I bet a majority will not be able to answer: 1) Why is it when high schools are filled to capacity, they are still harassed by these student agencies to still take in 15-20 exchange students? Answer: Exchange agencies repeatedly accept more students that there are host families available. 2) Why do students arrive without properly screened host families and the securing of high school placement prior to the student leaving their home countries? Answer: Pressure, pressure, pressure!! It's a numbers game, you have to understand. These student's (parents) pay these student agencies between $5,000 to up to $20,000 for their sons/daughters to study abroad on a J1 visa. Rarely, if ever, are students denied acceptance. This then results in Regional Directors having a large number of students that their area represenatives MUST place; no ifs ands or buts about it. 3) How much to these Local Coordinators make for placing each student? Answer: Big bucks, a lot of "points" towards travel incentives, sometimes even bonus money if a certain amount of students are placed by a certain day. Pressure...pressure...pressure. No wonder students have been found in the homes of convicted sex offenders... 5) Have up to 15 exchange students been found living in an Area Representatives home at a time? If so, why? Answer: You bet. They've also been found crammed in hotels and motels for weeks at a time. Why in motels/hotels? The agency has yet to find a host family, that's wy. Doing the math on 120 students living in a hotel room multiplied by $12,000 -- now you see where the pressure is coming from? The agency already has the natural parents money; therefore, the agency's area representative MUST secure a home -- come hell or high water. 7) Is it true that exchange students must sign an agreement to essentially report to their Area Representative first in the event there is a problem? Answer: This is where it gets sad. Yes. They are forced into silence by their area representative to go to THEM first...so they can quickly shuffle the student around and run away from the problem. And listen, if the student wimpers that he doesn't like something...anything, he's automatically labeled as "not adjusting" or "homesick" or "too hard to please" and the next thing the student knows...they're on a plane back home. 8) Are the student's parents refunded the money when sent home early? Answer: No. Never. 9) Are the students forced to sign probation agreements if they, for example, tell a trusted friend or high school counselor that they're having concerns? Answer: Absolutely. It's the agencies way of keeping track that the student is impossible to please, so when they kick them out of our country, it is proof for their files that the student basically had it coming to them. 10) How much are these student exchange agencies worth? Answer: Must be answered with a question. How much do you THINK these agencies are worth? Would you believe millions? The executive directors, etc., oftentimes make six figures -- no, I'm not kidding. 11) Up to how many students at a time do the Regional Directors oversee? Answer: Hundreds. So many student's simply give up because not only do their area representatives not care (afterall, they've already been paid to get the student here...and what loss is there when sending a student home early) that the student gets lost in the shuffle. When placed with a sex offender is when it is beyond sad. Now you may have a clear picture and be able to resolve for yourself why so many students are abused and neglected. Those who have a vested interest in these students take the time to find properly screened homes and properly supervise them. Those who are in it to win at the number crunching game could care less how the student feels; again, the area rep has their money for placing the student...so really, who cares? Finally -- how much do the area reps make? You can do the math, but rest assured they are NOT volunteers and if their agency is worth millions, and if their agency spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on conventions...and if the executive directors are making six figures...then I now believe you have clear insight on not only how the exchange industry operates, but why. Money, money, money!! Money!
Randy on 10/11/2006
I have hosted nine exchange students in the past three years. Yes there have been problems, but I am sure every family has problems. That's life. Over all I has been a fantastic experience for both the students and myself. I do feel that the orginzations could be a little better organized, but considering all it has been a good relationship. Sometimes there are problems caused by the students, sometimes by the organization, sometimes by the host family and sometimes by the exchange students parents back home. I am sure there are abuses, but I feel the good far out weighs the bad. I had two three month students the first time to see if I would like the experience. Now I take full year students. I have also had the opportunity of personally meet most of their parents. They are all wonderful people. I would recommend you do it, but like everything in life there are suprises, but that is what makes life interesting.
Jane on 10/18/2006
I would consider the issue carefully and be well-versed in cultural issues. We have 2 small children and took in a student from Thailand this year... it has been a bad experience and although overall I think we would be willing to chalk this up to compatibility issues, we have received little or no support from our program's reps. We requested our student be moved to a new family over 1-1/2 mos. ago, and he is still with us. The stress this has caused our family is immeasureable, and yet we still wait, with no assurance that he will be "transitioned" soon or that anything is happening. We are at the point where we are considering saying "he goes on this date or else" because we have no other recourse. The disorganization seems to be a main factor, our organization seems to be unprepared for the event of a student needing to be moved. We understand they are looking out for his best interests, but it seems that we are not being considered at all - we are volunteers, doing this out of the "goodness of our heart", and we are now feeling like we are trapped in our own home and situation. If things were taken care of within a shorter period of time, or we received more communication from our organization, we would absolutely consider doing this again. However, we are now swearing off participating in the future because we have no assurances that, given the possibility of future problems, the issues will be dealt with in a timely manner. Best of luck on your search, many people have done it and found it to be a wonderful experience. But that will not be something you will hear from us!
Jan Scherrer on 10/19/2006
Jane, Your situation is not at all uncommon. Host family complaints fall on deaf ears and placements that might have worked with some intervention become untenable for some families. Your idea to give the agency a deadline is a good one. Don't be surprised if your representative calls you at the last minute of your deadline with some excuse to leave the student with you longer. They've already had 6+ weeks to find another family. Their hope is that you'll just give in and keep this student. They might also come up with a reason to repatriate the student so they won't have to deal with him at all. Of course, his family will never be reimbursed for the money they spent to send him here. If you need any help with this, please contact the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students at www.csfes.org. We're here for host families as well as for the students. Jan M. Scherrer
Ann on 10/19/2006
We agreed to take a French foreign exchange student because we have no kids and we had an extra room. The advertisement said these kids are the cream of the crop, intelligent, socialable and with good English skills and that all of the students have been screened with this in mind and to make sure they can adapt. The deal was you provide room and board and they teach you about their culture. I am keeping up my end of the deal, the exchange program is not keeping theirs. It's been about 8 weeks and this boy cannot seem to grasp our house rules. In fact, he was so upset that we asked him not to set his dirty underwear on our clean clothes in the laundry room, to be sure to flush the toilet when he has a bowel movement and to take off his shoes when he walks on our white carpet, that he has involved his school and his exchange advisor and asked to be removed from our home. We say, "Good riddance!" The first two weeks, he did nothing but go to school, come home, flop on the couch and watch TV. He literally went through every DVD we owned,sorted them out, and watched them back to back. We figured he was stressed by school and let him kick back at the beginning. Apparently this was his routine at home. School, TV, bed. Yesterday, he told the social worker at school that he was fine for the first two weeks but it went down hill with him when we started asking him to help with dinner, pick up after himself and turn off appliances that he uses. He has no problem figuring out the DVD player, universal remote and surround sound, but he can't grasp whether the dishwasher and coffee pot are on. He puts dirty dishes in with the clean and leaves the pot on and we wake up to the smell of burning coffee. We followed the Exchange program's rules of telling the student the rules of our house, we told him again several times, we wrote them out and gave them to him and went over them, we gave them again, we had them translated into French. None of this worked. He says there are too many rules in our house and he is not comfortable but our rules are things like clean up after yourself and lock the door when you go out. This is not pickiness or rocket science. I let him use my computer a few times and told him he should always ask before using it. I was out one Saturday and my husband admits he wasn't watching our French boy and he went on my computer and downloaded quite a few French shareware programs. When I got home, I couldn't start my computer. I got a blue screen. I started it up in safe mode and then kept getting all sorts of pop ups in French and demands to insert disk. It took me three hours to get all of it off my computer because there were almost 2 gigs worth. I have several cats that we got from a rescue shelter. I told him to be considerate because they were ill treated and are still jumpy even though we have had them for a few years. He yells BOO! at them when they come around and he deliberately hit one in the head with a cat toy. My cats will not come out when he is home. I am glad others had a good experience but we now have this moody kid who doesn't know much about his culture or even how to function in the world in our house who won't follow simple rules of an American home. We found out that his parents immediately separated when he left because he was the youngest and they didn't want to stay together so he also has some emotional issues. I should have done more research before we agreed to take him. Hopefully my post will help others think carefully before allowing a disruptive stranger like this into your home who gives nothing back in the way of friendship, culture exchange or even basic human decency.
Carol on 10/22/2006
I had a terrible experience with a foreign exchange student. Like the host parent above, as soon as our student realized that she had rules to follow, she could not understand English or what we were saying. The agency was not helpful and has the girl in another home in our neighborhood. Our foreign exchange student is telling stories about us, stole things from our house and continues to spread lies about my family but yet, the agency allows her to live in a house in our neighborhood, with a family who was not even in the program and will not even answer my phone calls. Any help out there for host families who have been abused? Lots for the sutdents but what about the families who provide money, home and the like but are treated like they don't matter? Carol
Randy on 10/22/2006
I have been following this since I first posted on the 11th of October. It looks like this is turning into a list of horror stories about hosting exchange students. I really do not feel this is a fair representation of the exchange student program. Yes there are problems, there are problems in everything you do in life, but I feel the good of the program far out weighs the bad. In the three years I have hosted exchange students I have hosted nine exchange students. In the same period of time there were approximately 100 exchange students placed in our community. I would say about 10% of those placed had problems where the student had to change host famlies. In some of these cases it was the students fault, sometimes it was the host family and sometimes they were both at fault. When you consider the divorce rate in this country I think the foreign exchange program is doing fantastic in comparison. Yes there are also problems with the orginizations who make the arrangements for students and host parents. My only advise is to get references from other famlies in your community. Talk to the schools about these representatives. Just do a little research before you make the decision. I agree that some of the negative experiences mentioned above are not pleasant for the people involved at the time. I have have also had a couple of difficult moments with a couple of my students, but in the long run they all turned out positive. When you have lemons, make lemonade. I just hope that the people who are reading these comments are not getting turned off on the whold concept of exchange students. I would recommend you talk with many other host parents in your area to get a more balanced view of the whole exchange program. I am currently looking forward to selecting my two new exchange students for next year. There is one complaint I do have about my organization and that is that we as host parents get quite a lot of information about a student to make a decision and I do not feel the parents of the exchange students get adequate information about the host parent their child is going to live with for ten months. I usually get about 10 to 15 pages of information and pictures about the student and their parents only get a sentance or two about their future host parent. Put yourself in the shoes of those parents, would you like your child going off to live with a complete stranger for 10 months.
angrymidwest on 11/1/2006
I just have to add that there is no money for the community reps in these agencies. I am a CR for AYUSA and I make about 200 dollars a month. Some of Joyce's other criticisms are valid, but at least in my region we would never let an unhappy family or student languish. I think the organization and responsiveness of the program depend more on the region than the agency. If they don't have good local CR's then how can you get anything done? I would suggest talking with your school about what program they already work with (some only work with such and such)and call your local rep and speak with them. Ask them to put you in touch with other local families (many are happy to speak with prospective families). I think it is more of a local thing than not. A corporate office can't do much for you, but a good CR can.
Debbie on 11/2/2006
For those of you that have been/are happy with your exchange student, how did you find such a great fit for your family? We thought we had done enough research & discussion before deciding on an exchange student, but we ended up with one who is totally opposite us. We are noisy, humorous people who have a very quite, introverted student who doesn't understand our "simple" American humor. For those of you that were/are unhappy about getting a student that gets under your skin or you can't force into a conversation, what/whom have you done/talked to about it? What's been the best solution for you? Our Japanese exchange student is a delightful child in a one-on-one situation, but is a NIGHTMARE when in a group...even in our small family of 4. I have reminded her numerous times that we need her to speak up & out when at home with us...for practice in English and practice in becoming a vocal & outgoing "American". On days when I remind her, she does fine...on consequent days, we are irritated that we have a stranger in our home that just stares at us at dinner. It is a very eerie feeling for us & we don't know how to deal with that irritating feeling of talking to/with someone who doesn't answer us & won't ask questions when she doesn't understand. Do any of you have suggestions for what WE can do to make this easier for the exchange student? My son may have said it best..."I think we have a DEFECTIVE exchange student!" When I mentioned this to my mother, she said that it could very well be true...she is probably a "weirdo" in her own country.
Paula on 11/8/2006
to angrymidwest Joyce is part of the committee for safety of foreign exchange students, if you look up csfes, you will find out how amny times she says CR for placement agencies make all kinds of money, and that Area Reps are not allowed to host. I think they have attacked about every placement agency out there, including the one you work for.
DeeDee on 11/8/2006
We are currently hosting a 16 yr old Japanese exhange student (girl) and I think we must have the "sister" to the previous commentor (Debbie). We "think" we have truly tried hard as a family to be good hosts. We have allowed her to participate in after-school activities, private dance lessons and "hang-out" with friends from school. All of her friends from school are of Asian descent. She is not friendly or receptive to the white students or african american students. She doesn't want to do anything or go anywhere with our family (except eat). And at meals, she simply eats and stares at her plate. She doesn't participate in conversation unless a question is specifically and precisely directed to her. Then she gives a bare minimum answer. She says she is car-sick and always rides with her eyes closed and her chin on her chest. This is her excuse for not wanting to go anywhere with our family (grocery store, sports events, etc.) But she is FINE to ride when she wants us to take her to a party or the mall or somewhere she wants to go. And she doesn't mind asking us to take her places even when it means 2-3 hours of travel on our part to take her, leave her and then go back and pick her up. For the first 6-8 weeks, we thought she was shy or having difficulty understanding what she was asked. Now we think she is just an extremely self-centered person and untruthful as well. When at "home", she spends ALL of her time on her computer, on the internet or in her room. She only comes out to eat meals. And can she eat. She normally eats more at each meal than a grown man or a 17 year old boy. And when we go out to restaurants, she always wants to order the most expensive items on the menu. We no longer feel we can afford to go out to dinner. We reached our LIMIT last week when she let our 70 lb. dog out the front door and then calmly shut the door and walked away. When we missed the dog, we asked her if she accidentally let him out. She said NO! When we couldn't find him inside and went outside and started calling he came home (thank goodness!). We have now asked the program coordinator to find a new host family. And needless to stay, tension is high in our home right now. She has stopped any pretense of being nice. She is bordering on rude and insolent to family members. Hopefully the coordinator will soon find her a new home.
Jan Scherrer on 11/8/2006
Dear Angry Paula, Department of State Regulations for Secondary School Student Exchange Programs 22 CFR Part 62 Section 62.25 (3) Ensure that no organizational representative act as both host family and area supervisor(Community Rep. or Area Rep.) for any exchange student participant; It's not an attack, Angry Paula, it's a fact. If this regulation were followed, CSFES would likely receive fewer calls from exchange students or their parents to say that they didn't sign up to come to the United States and sleep on the basement floor of their agency's Community Rep.
Debbie on 11/8/2006
To DeeDee, You might have the girl that was on the plane with my exchange student. When my student first got here, she said there was a girl on the plane that was very unsociable. Even the other Japanese students didn't like her...she only seemed to want to talk to the Korean students (VERY unusual for Japanese!). I wish exchange agencies would interview these kids a little deeper to see if they would actually fit into our society. My student also eats more than I expected. She slowed down considerably after she was weighed here at the high school & discovered she had gained 16 pounds in 6 weeks!! After a weekend stay with 2 other exchange students, she came back a different girl. I think she had been thinking she got the short end of the stick with us, but after seeing the other 2 families & their homes, I think she realizes that it's not so bad at my house. Who knows?...maybe she just needed a break from us...maybe we get on her nerves also! She still stares at her plate while we eat, but she says it's because she can't understand what we are saying (I guess the conversation goes too fast for her). The internet has got to go. I've given her a 30-minute time limit because my kids & I want our time also. The hour- or 2- long phone calls from other Japanese exchange students have also been limited to 30-minutes ONLY. When she asked me "why?" I told her because it's MY home phone & WE pay the bill & WE should get some use out of it. I told her that if she didn't warn her friends, they were going to get her in trouble. I think I came across loud & clear. The next thing to happen will be her time alone in her room will be gone...even if it means that I take the TV, phone, & computer out of it!(she has my old craft room). She did good Monday night...she did her homework at the table with my daughter & I could here them talking, which doesn't happen often. I think she needs more of that to feel more like the family & to get more practice with English. I've had problems with my student and my dachshund just like you have had with your dog. I think she has gotten the picture lately because I correct her whenever she feels the need to "taunt" him. When I get stern & hold my ground, she knows I'm serious. She also knows that her mother has asked me to let her know if I have any trouble with her. Wish me luck! Debbie from Texas
Jenny on 11/8/2006
Paula: Wow -- after taking a look see at that committee for safety for exchange students, I had no clue about the reports of abuse. I did not see though how csfes is attacking any one agency at all. This organization is making it known to the public that these situations actually happen. Some people don't like knowing the facts. Perhaps you are one of them? Everything I read is public information. I had no idea but do hope the abuse stops. Dee Dee -- I'd like to be wrong; but don't hold your breath waiting for your agency to find a new host family for your student. Here is what is going on behind closed doors: the agency's area rep is crossing his/her fingers that you'll just adjust. In other words, your agency does not have an alternative family for your student. You can be guaranteed your headaches are going to turn into migraines. That is, of course, unless you become very specific with your agency. I'd give that csfes outfit a call. From what I read, they help not only students, but host afmilies also. I want to be wrong here, but my bet is that your student will still be be sitting pretty in your home come November 20. You'll see. Good luck, though.
Ann on 11/8/2006
The more I think about our foreign exchange student, the more I think he wanted to get out of his house and his parents wanted to get rid of him and spending a few thousand dollars to send him over to the USA was worth it. I wouldn't doubt that is why quite a lot of them want to send their kids to these programs. Easy way to get rid of their obnoxious teens and hope that others can discipline them or live with their rudeness and laziness. Our student said he wanted to get out because no one in his small town liked him. His parents immediately split after he left. He had no interest in seeing the country or learning about our culture. He wanted to lie on the couch and watch TV all day.
Paula on 11/8/2006
i'm not angry paula, i was addressing angryinmidwest, I to, have been burned on both sides of the fence, and will never host again. Most of it was the exchange placements fault, in 2004-2005, I had a wonderful girl from Japan, then I found out another girl from japan was having trouble, and I called the AR and like always nothing was done, it short, the other student ended up living with us for the last 3 months of her stay, I did my best to make it a memorable one. Then just 6 weeks before they were due to leave, The AR wanted to move her to a different area and a different school, I raised cane with the main office and they allowed her to stay. Ar do have students staying with them. I did not know this was not allowed.
DeeDee on 11/9/2006
As horrible as it sounds, I guess I'm a little glad to hear that there are other host families having issues with their exchange students. We chalked the first 4 weeks up to "culture shock" and then we were beginning to wonder if it was our family and our home and our high level of activity (2 sports, lots of homework and class projects, family social events, etc). But the issues that have occurred in the last 4 weeks along with some similar issues I have read about, make it obvious that it is more likely an individual / personality issue. Fortunately, the program rep we have been communicating with is wonderful and there is also a teacher liason at the school. The teacher liason is the primarly one responsible for finding another host family. He doesn't seem to think it will be a problem; I'm not holding my breath. But we will be following up weekly until something is done! Our student seems to have confidence that he will find her a "new home" as she has already started packing. Interesting comment on the Korean "friendships" because our exchange student says she is Korean - she says both of her parents are Korean but live in Japan. Not sure I really believe her, the individual and family names are more Japanese than Korean. As to the "conversations" with other exchange students, the information we received from the program said that was NOT ALLOWED. It was occurring regularly (long emails and long internet chats) the first 6 weeks, but after several conversations with the student, the program rep, the teacher and her aunt (her mother and father do not speak enough English to converse with) it finally slowed down as did the excessive time on the internet. We never really gave her much option for "phone time" and she has only had / made a few phone calls. She does have computer speaker, microphone and camera and she does "internet conversations" with her family. Those are either getting more infrequent or she is "doing it" when we are not at home. Since she refuses to go to sports activities, grocery shopping, grandparent visits with us - she is spending a LOT of time at home alone. I have no idea how much weight she has gained, but I did notice that her parents mailed her a "health scale" so that she could weigh herself. She must not think her weight gain is significant because she hasn't changed her eating. I was initially afraid that it would be difficult to find things she would eat, so I guess the fact that she will eat anything and everything is a good thing. She did spend a weekend with two different friends from school (two nights with one, one night with the other) but I think that because they were both Asian families she was "happy" with them (they took her shopping, did nails and bleached and dyed and highlighted her hair) and it was probably after that weekend that things started getting worse in our home. Maybe she thinks one of them will be her new host family. It won't really help her English, but at this point, I don't really care. Good luck with your student! Sounds like you do manage to get some results when you put your foot down. I feel like the only result we get when we try to "enforce" rules is insolence and poutiness. It was great to find this website / posting and I will check back in to see how other people are handling their exchanges. Right now our family is feeling somewhat like a "failure" and wondering what we could have / should have done differently. Unfortunately, I just don't think we were a good fit from the beginning. I'm not sure more in-depth interviews would have helped because I'm not sure the student(s) are completely honest with their responses. The information we received on our student was that she was an active, artistic, out-going, happy child with lots of friends and lots of energy and interest in sports. I have seen the "out-going" and "friendly" only with the other Asian students at the school but even then it seems reserved (but that could be cultural). I have been taking her to dance classes (she wrote that she LOVED to dance and dancing made her HAPPY!) on her application. I watch the dance classes and she is the only one in the studio who doesn't seem to be having fun. The other girls are laughing and "jiggling" and dancing around while she simply follows the instructor's directions. She has never made an attempt to talk with any of the other girls in her dance class. I offered to take her to the store to buy art supplies (she said she liked to draw) but when we got to the art store, she only bought paint to "paint" her fingernails. Guess that was my misunderstanding. I expected "artistic" to mean drawing, sketching, painting, photography, etc. and not "decorated fingernails and toenails. Hoping to hear from the teacher liason this afternoon! No school tomorrow so it would be a great day to pack!
emily on 11/9/2006
what about boyfriends? Our German exchange student has a boyfriend who seems to have another girlfriend and she is MISERABLE and has become the morose, silent student many of you talk about. She was charming and happy and easy to be with and now it is like living with the plague. Help!
Mag on 11/9/2006
Hello to all... I have been an exchange student in the States five years ago (I am 22 now and from Germany). It was the best experience ever!!! Here´s something you should all be aware of: - exchange students are not some aliens - nor they should be treated like some 11 year old - you should think about the rules some organizations set for exchange students : you may not have a boyfriend, you may not go to parties etc. -->excuse me but hosting an exchange student means hosting a teenager... and this teenager is not that different from the teenagers in your community. They are as likely to fall in love for example. Especially Europeans have a hard time adjusting to all the strict rules in the United States, the fairly conservative lifestyle and the tight group/church activity schedule. I remember this one time when a friend (male)of mine came over to my host-home and we went into my room (in Germany it is usual that you go with your friends into your room and YES also close the door!) but in this case I had even left the door opened because my organization (EF) has told us in all those previous meetings that the doors are usally all open in American homes and that it´s also unusual to lock the doors (except the bathroom door). My host-dad walked by my room like 20.000 times!!!! Later when my friend (and he was indeed only a high school buddy) had left my host-dad asked me if I could invited my friends to the living room next time. I thought it was funny... but also shocking... and that was the last time I invited someone over. You all have to keep in mind that your children (if you have any) are probably also not perfect and you cannot expect from an exchange student to be the perfect child more perfect than your own. Besides there are also many factors that need to be considered and add up to a more isolated exchange student... I also had a time when I did not want to speak anyone and only got out of my room in order to go to school or have dinner with my host-parents. First month: Everything is wonderful, it seams to all be perfect- you meet new people constantly and are very talkative! You are very busy with school and all the new vocab, drivers license etc.. It seams as if many things are better than in your home country. Second month: You notice that your pants don´t fit you that well anymore... You are gaining weight even though you are participating in high school sports. That is frustrating!!!(90% of all female exchange students have this problem) In this period many are dreaming in English already. Third/fourth month: You are homesick. You want to be alone. Finally you understand everyone and your English is fluent. Now it´s fun to watch some TV... so spending hours in front of the TV in this period of time is normal. You are going to the movies with friends etc. as well... but you are thinking of your friends at home a lot. Fifth month: Christmas time!!! Now you are seriously missing your own family back home... you are calling home more often and spend hours chatting and writing emails to friends and family. Though, you are enjoying to get to know a new way of celebrating Christmas... getting presents for everyone... sending cards etc. Sixth/seventh/eighth month: Your grades in school are good... but the level is lower than at home and now that you are not busy with this entire vocab and the language anymore you feel bored at school. At home ... calling, chatting, watching TV, going to Church, going out for dinner... but it´s all no fun... you want to finally go home. Ninth and last month: Wow, it´s about time to leave. But your English seams to be perfect now and you fit in so perfectly... you realize that your time is almost over... you have to leave your new friends and family behind now. You start thinking... Why did I not spend my time more wisely? Actually, the time was great... my host-parents were super-patient with me... the high school was cool... AND NOW I HAVE TO GO! Back at home... most exchange students experience the same culture shock again... I even called my host-parents (and sisters that were already in college) to tell them how much I missed then and the snowy weather (South Dakota)... I hated the rain in Germany... wanted to go back to the States. However... the experience is one for life! Not only for the exchange student but also for the family... you learn a lot from each other when you are patient enough to cope with the bitchy moods and expect the fact that your exchange student might like something more at home than at your home. ONE MAIN ADVICE: Try to think through the eyes of your exchange student... what if you were away from home ... in a country far away from yours? ---Hope to have helped some of you with this--- Oh yeah... one more thing... I am studying in the Netherlands at the moment... and have many fellow students from Asia... they don´t don´t like it to hang out with other Dutch or German students... maybe 5 % but not more... and they´ve even chosen the Netherlands as country to spend their entire study (4-5 years). Nevertheless... never take it personally if your exchange student is home sick... I was living in a lovely home and could not prevent it either. Greetings!!!!
Paula on 11/9/2006
Boyfriends are a no-no, parties are out of the question, I hope Dee finds a answer to her problem, because waiting for a AR to do something is like waiting for santa to come down the Chimney. Not going to happen. Like in my case, I should have been the AR because all the students came to me for help after they found out I help another student, and it was me who pushed the main office to get things done for these students. And believe or not I get emails and letters from them all the time, still thanking me for what I tried to do for them. Not all of these Students are bad, they just have a hard time adjusting. I was just blessed for the first two years I hosted to have such wonderful students, my 3rd, she was a nightmare from day one, but i stuck it out till the end. Especially when i found out how she was treated in her home country. Good luck to you all
Debbie on 11/10/2006
to Mag, Thanks so much for taking the time to write here. It's nice to have a different perspective on things. Yes, I do try to look through my student's eyes. I went to Japan this March for 12 days. Even though I had a year to prepare & learned quite a bit of Japanese before I went, it was still difficult to be in a foreign country where I couldn't explain things to others except in my "baby" Japanese! When I went to Japan, I stayed with my Japanese cousin, which made things a LOT easier for me than you exchange students have it. But still, it wasn't exactly easy. My cousin's English was only as good as what she could remember from high school (19 years ago) & my Japanese only covered *some* areas that she had difficulty in. When we left her house, we (my mother, me, & my 2 kids) stayed in Tokyo for a few days alone...and I was inches away from being thrown in jail in the Tokyo train station! Yes, when in a foreign country, it's all great for awhile, but then you realize that even the American food there tastes different, & you long to be back to your hometown McDonald's! (Did you know that McDonald's in Japan offers SHRIMP burgers????!!!!) I often put myself in my student's shoes, but sometimes it gets difficult. I want her to like it here so badly, but sometimes I think she is totally miserable. After your comments here, I asked my student if she felt the way you have posted for months 3 & 4. She said "No, I still don't understand English well enough." I told her "Honestly, I thought you wanted to go home about 2 weeks ago." She said, "Honestly, I did. But I want to stay." ...I like the word *honestly*...she uses it before she says something that she knows is not allowed in Japan or if she thinks it will hurt my feelings (a no-no in Japan). Again last night, I had the discussion with my student that we like her downstairs to talk with or to play games with. I told her we understand the need for her privacy & that she will need alone time (see Mag's paragraph before month 1), but we really want her to feel like part of the family & we **really** like it when she tries to talk to us. ...worked like a charm! BUT, how many times do you think I will have to repeat myself on this matter??? As for her hanging with other Asians, it doesn't happen. Our town has fewer than 1% Asian in our population & there are no other Asian exchange students here. She likes to "hang" with 2 exchange students here...1 from Portugal & 1 from Germany (who went home yesterday after completing her 3-month stay). She is terribly afraid that people won't talk to her because she thinks they can't understand her English. She says that many kids give up trying to make her understand. How do I explain RUDE Americans to a child whose society doesn't "do" rude???? Thanks, Mag, for your last sentence...I guess I have been taking some of this too personally, not realizing that my student can't help what she's going through either. I just have to get a handle on the amount of time she uses my internet & my phone (my husband is often on-call for work). She is free to send faxes as she chooses...she has her own calling card...and she can still use the phone with the 30-minute limits. Debbie in Texas
DeeDee on 11/12/2006
Great perspective from the other side. I think I could learn to "live" with the exchange student spending all over time in her room, if she even made a 1/2 attempt to do something with the family. She has spent the last two FULL days in her room, coming out only to eat and go online. She does not want to go with us to run errands, buy groceries, see grandparents, watch sporting events, etc. She will only go with us if the trip involves the opportunity to eat out. This is getting very frustrating and difficult for us for two reasons. We don't always "plan" so carefully. We might go out to run errands in the morning and end up going to 3 or 4 different places and then it's lunchtime or dinnertime and we're near our favorite restaurant so why not stop for dinner. If we leave the exchange student at home we feel guilty or don't stop to eat as we would like to do and then have to go home to cook and clean up. Some of our weekends involve short 2-3 hour trips to attend our children's sporting events. That's a minimum of 6-8 hour day and we usually eat meals on the road. If our exchange student agrees to go with us, it's obvious it's only for the "meals" because when we get where we are going she either sits in the car or sits at the field with her eyes closed and her chin on her chest. No one will even approach her to be friendly with this attitude. Second, we are concerned about leaving her at home alone because of her lack of awareness of what is going on around her. She will not answer the phone even though I have told her many times that she must answer the phone when she is alone because I may need to communicate with her. She will not answer the door when it is the neighborhood children looking for my children. I am afraid that she will either let the dog out the wrong door as she did on Halloween (deliberately, as she makes it obvious she does not like him) or will not let him out when he asks to go out to potty. He is well trained to ring the bell when he wants out, but she has never ever opened the door to let him in or out when we are at home. It is difficult to explain to a dog that even though there is a human in the house, that human isn't kind or considerate enough to let him out when he asks. Debbie, when you talk directly to your student, do you get responses? It sounds like you get some response but then have to repeat yourself to have the actions continue. I feel like when I address an issue directly there is a wall that comes down and I get no response or a "strange" response. I know that we are probably not being direct enough or forceful enough, but I guess that is why we need to find another host family. We are lucky in that we have never had discipline problems with our own children. They are not perfect. They do not always do as they are told. But for the most part they are kind and considerate and make an attempt to involve others in their world. Our exchange student is like a cold fish - she shows NO EMOTION ever, except when she is with her Asian friends from school or online with her camera and computer and microphone with her family or friends from home. And then she is plenty animated. On her application she mentioned art and dancing as two of her "loves." I take her to dance class every week (when she doesn't decide to stay home because has the sniffles) and I watch her in the class. And she is emotionless. I have never seen her sketch, draw or paint anything other than her nails or face. When we told her we were going to ask for another host family, she simply started packing. No questions, no comments, no happy face, no sad face. I realize that as a culture, the Japanese are taught to be polite. But this seems beyond polite.
Jan Scherrer on 11/12/2006
Hello DeeDee, Wow. You've been through it with this poor girl. I can understand the guilt about being out and about with your family and feeling guilty for stopping for a bite to eat as you normally would. During the second semester of our former student's visit, I finally learned to tell her that if we'd didn't make it home for dinner, to help herself to the fridge, stove, etc... That took care of some of the guilt but, being a mom, certainly not all of it. I know your student's problems are much bigger than that. You have every right to stop this placement on your terms. However, it is not your job to find this girl a new host family. It is the job of her AR or CR. She was paid for placing this student in your home and receives a monthly stipend to "supervise" her. Finding a host family is very difficult. Please don't put that on yourself and your family. You're already supporting the student, let the agency do their job. They are her legal guardians while she is here in the U.S. If you are definite about her need to leave, give the agency notice that they need to find her a new host family. Also, give them a date as they have been known to do nothing and hope that you'll somehow give in and tolerate the situation. Good luck.
Ann on 11/12/2006
Hello DeeDee, I agree that you have been through a lot. I had the same experience with my student. All he wanted to do was lie on the couch and watch DVDs or stay in his room. He is no longer with us. He didn't want to be part of the family and he didn't want to follow our rules so he asked to be moved. We had been trying to work with him but he chose to move. He thought when he asked to be moved that we would forget the rules. Boy, was he surprised! We increased the expectations of adherence to our rules. We gave him more chores and made sure the TV was never available. We made him come out with us. He complained bitterly. We told him if you want no rules then you better keep calling your AR to get you a new place because at our house, we have rules. We also kept up our calls to the AR, one every few days. We also called the 800 numbers several times, talked to managers, left frequent messages. They took him out of our home just to shut us up. The squeaky wheel gets rid of the bratty exchange student. It is amazing how much nicer our home is now that he is not stretched out on our family room couch with his feet up watching the blaring TV. No messes to clean, no one to torture our pets, and no disgruntled stranger wandering around our house at midnight. (Yes, he would often refuse to eat dinner with us and then wait until everyone was in bed before going downstairs to raid the fridge and pantry.) Keep the faith. You have a right to have rules and expectations in your home. These exchange students agreed to abide by the host's rules in order to learn the language and the culture. If they are so homesick or culturally closed, they shouldn't have left their country. I believe Mark Twain said it best, "if you expect things to be like home, then you should stay home."
Kari on 11/13/2006
"Section 62.25 (3) Ensure that no organizational representative act as both host family and area supervisor(Community Rep. or Area Rep.) for any exchange student participant;" I have to speak to this. This does not mean that a agency rep can not host. It means that they can not host and be the rep for the same student. I am a local rep and a host family, but there is another rep in the area that is the rep for my student, so if he has problems, he can go to her. I simply don't have time right now to address every item on Paula's gripe list one-by-one, but it most definitely is not accurate. Local reps do NOT get paid big money, especially when you consider that we do not get reimbursed for our expenses (mileage, phone, etc). People that take the job thinking it will be easy money quit after the first year. The staff that stick around are the ones that care about the kids and enjoy working with them. I will try to return when I have more time to address some of the other inaccuracies on your list.
Paula on 11/13/2006
Kari- I never said reps get paid big money, read up and you'll see who said that, also I never said a rep can not host, A member of csfes says that, I was just going by what they have said, please rad what I said before anything else, My ONLY gripe is the way the AR handled things in my situation. Read entry 16. then the response I got from entry 18 ( Jan) you'll see. Sorry if you misunderstood what i was trying to say. I was only talking about the AR here. I know they don't make alot of money as some people claim on there postings that they do.
Jenny on 11/13/2006
Kari: Therein lies the problem: if your student, for example, has serious concerns about you...who does he go to? Another representative within the organization. Where is the neutrality?! Now I'm certain you and family are one of the healthier host families, but let's get serious. What about the reps who accept more students than there are host families, resulting in these students having to live in the area reps home (basement/garage/four students to a bedroom) "until permanent homes can be found." Oh, sure, these students have a "different" area rep representing them. So student #4 goes to his/her area rep with a valid concern about his/her host family who also happens to be Area Rep #1. This causes his/her rep to go Area Rep #1 to say, "hey, one of your students is complaining." Oh, yes, this really opens up the channels of communication. This is a regulation that the Department of State needs to stick with, and not fall prey to the ways in which its sponsors want to "interpret" this regulation to the betterment of it's pocketbook. More soon...
Kari on 11/13/2006
Paula, I'm so sorry I misquoted you. It was Joyce's post I was referring to with all the inaccuracies.
Kari on 11/13/2006
Jenny: I see what you're saying, and I think we are in agreement for the most part. There is a rep for a different agency in my area who brings over many kids each year without host families, and it infuriates me. She puts a lot of pressure on families by giving them sob stories about this poor kid that doesn't have a family. However, I don't agree that the solution is to keep reps from hosting. That would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I understand what you're saying about nutrality...but taking that a step farther, does that mean I can not place students with my friends? I live in a very small town where everyone knows everyone. Even host families that are strangers to me when they sign up usually become my friends by the end of the school year. The key is to hire and train quality staff that have the well-being of the students in mind. All the reps that I know in my agency (AYUSA) truly care about the kids and work hard to help them resolve any difficulties that come up. Also, there are times when it is necessary for staff to host a student. This fall I had a student arrive to his pre-arranged host family, and after one week they decided hosting wasn't for them and asked me to come get the student. If I were unable to host, what am I supposed to do with him? I kept him in my home for a week while I found a replacement family. (Note: the student was/is not a behavior problem. This was a personality clash.) In your example above, the problem is not a rep being able to host; it is a rep bringing over unplaced students. There is a huge difference. Also remember that the local rep is not the last line of defense. Students who feel they are not getting the help they need go to their natural parents, the agency office in their home country, teachers & staff in their host country, etc. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the rules that are already in place are sufficient. The problem is that some reps and agencies simply don't abide by them.
Paula on 11/13/2006
No problem Kari, I'm on your side
Kari on 11/13/2006
Joyce: Here are the answers to your questions. I tried to make my responses appear in color so it would be easier to distinguish them from yours, but I lost the formatting when publishing. All of my replies start with "My Response". 1) Why is it when high schools are filled to capacity, they are still harassed by these student agencies to still take in 15-20 exchange students? My Response: Schools determine the number of students they will accept each year and are not forced to take more than they want. 2) Why do students arrive without properly screened host families and the securing of high school placement prior to the student leaving their home countries? My Response: Exchange agencies must provide written permission from the school AND a host family (a temp family is accepted) before the student can leave their home country. Agencies that do otherwise are breaking the rules. 3) How much to these Local Coordinators make for placing each student? My Response: Very little compared to the amount of work involved, and there is no reimbursement for mileage, phone, and other expenses. 5) Have up to 15 exchange students been found living in an Area Representatives home at a time? If so, why? My Response: "Up to" is the key phrase here. This sounds like something that happened once with one agency, and now it's being made to sound like the norm. I've never heard of this happening. I have heard of local reps having more than one student in the home when host families back out at the last minute. 7) Is it true that exchange students must sign an agreement to essentially report to their Area Representative first in the event there is a problem? Answer: This is where it gets sad. Yes. They are forced into silence by their area representative to go to THEM first…so they can quickly shuffle the student around and run away from the problem. And listen, if the student wimpers that he doesn't like something…anything, he's automatically labeled as "not adjusting" or "homesick" or "too hard to please" and the next thing the student knows…they're on a plane back home. My Response: The above answer is just plain ridiculous. Yes, the students are told to come to the local rep if they have a problem. That is what we are here for! In one breath you complain that we do not provide support, and in the next you complain that we ask the students to come to us. I can only speak for myself and other staff I know personally, and I know we go to great lengths to advise, mediate, and help in any way we can. First, we try to help the student resolve the problem. If there is a concern with the student's safety or well-being, we move the student immediately for their protection. No student is "automatically" labeled as "not adjusting", etc., although some students are deservingly described this way. Just read some of the above posts for examples! 8) Are the student's parents refunded the money when sent home early? Answer: No. Never. My Response: False. Refunds are based on how long the student has been in the country and the reason for an early return. 9) Are the students forced to sign probation agreements if they, for example, tell a trusted friend or high school counselor that they're having concerns? Answer: Absolutely. It's the agencies way of keeping track that the student is impossible to please, so when they kick them out of our country, it is proof for their files that the student basically had it coming to them. My Response: Absolutely NOT. I have never heard of this! A student might receive a warning or probation letter for a behavior or academic issue, but not for talking to a friend or counselor. Quite honestly, I find it hard to believe that any program does this, but even if they do, it is very unfair of you to make it sound like ALL programs operate this way. 10) How much are these student exchange agencies worth? Answer: Must be answered with a question. How much do you THINK these agencies are worth? Would you believe millions? The executive directors, etc., oftentimes make six figures — no, I'm not kidding. My Response: I have no idea about this. All I know is that MY pay is certainly not excessive! 11) Up to how many students at a time do the Regional Directors oversee? Answer: Hundreds. So many student's simply give up because not only do their area representatives not care (afterall, they've already been paid to get the student here…and what loss is there when sending a student home early) that the student gets lost in the shuffle. When placed with a sex offender is when it is beyond sad. My Response: Your reply is misleading. While titles vary from one organization to another, in my organization we have Community Reps, Regional Directors, and Regional Managers. CRs place and oversee students directly. RDs oversee CRs (and may also act as a CR) and RMs manage the region. The Regional Manager may INDIRECTLY oversee several hundred students, but the CRs are the ones with direct contact with the students. Only serious cases are referred to the RM to handle directly. CRs usually oversee 5-10 students. A very ambitious CR may oversee 20 students. By Department of State standards, a CR can only oversee students within 120 mile radius of their home, so placing "hundreds" of students would by physically impossible.
Paula on 11/13/2006
Finally, someone to set the record straight, kudos to you Kari. It seems that Joyce likes to twist things around some. Thanks for the insight.
Jean on 11/13/2006
Kari hit the nail right on the head! It seems like this Joyce is someone who thinks she knows it all, could it be because she to, is apart of this Csfes, I went to there website, I've read some of stories and it seems that your organization was mention alot, I don't know what to believe on that website. Good Luck Kari
Paula on 11/13/2006
Kari, Is there anyway I can contact you, I have a few questions I really need answers to, and you seem just the right person who can help me. These are questions I wish not to post on here. Thanks!
Kari on 11/13/2006
Sure, you can email me at: BradKariNKids@msn.com. I'd be happy to help if I can. :-)
Stacey on 11/14/2006
Wow! So much info, so little time! I was looking for a support group for my first year as a host parent. I am a single persone with a wonderful exchange student, but the honeymoon is over and things are having to be defined more than usual. Like mot people, I didn't research my organization but trusted in friends who are also hosting and had done so before. So here is my question - My student is 18 and having some issues with health and eating. I am insisting she go to the doc, even though she doesn't want to. At what point do you just insist, for her own good, depsite her age? Also, since I'm single, I have onley one organized meal a day (evening) and sometimes we have other things going on, so meals are not that consistent. That said, there's always food here and she won't starve. Instead, she eats junk food (that I don't provide) and has put on weight. Do I make this into an "issue" as well? So does anyone else have the experience of being a single host parent? I wish I had "back up" at times! Thanks...
Paula on 11/14/2006
Stacey, Call your Area Rep for the placement agency your student is with. They Should be able to help you.
Kari on 11/15/2006
Hi Paula, If you have emailed me, I didn't get it. I'm looking forward to hearing from you. BradKariNKids@msn.com.
Paula on 11/15/2006
Kari, I'll email you later this evening Thanks
Jan Scherrer on 11/15/2006
Oh my. What began as an intelligent exchange of information seems to have dwindled to girlfriends club. The DOS regulations are what they are. If you're hosting and representing, you're breaking regulations. You can play musical representatives/host families all you want, but you are breaking regs and the kids suffer. If you bring a student over here without a home, you're breaking regulations. No way around it. FYI The Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange students is for the protection of students. If you feel attacked because we insist that DOS regulations in place to protect children be followed by sponsoring agencies, then who is the guilty party here? I guess that about wraps it up. Good luck to all the brave souls who continue to host. Please contact us at www.csfes.org if you ever need any help for your family or your student. Signing off. Jan Scherrer Member, www.csfes.org
Paula on 11/15/2006
Kari- Can a area rep host an exchange student? Since we made this into a girlfriends club, please do tell!
Kari on 11/16/2006
Yes reps can absolutely host...as long as the host parent is not also acting as an agency rep FOR THEIR OWN STUDENT. The student must have a different local rep that he/she can go to for help. I'm a bit baffled about what exactly what it is Jan and Joyce want. They say reps are "only in it for the money", but they also say reps shouldn't be allowed to host. This doesn't make sense to me for two reasons: 1) Since a rep can not oversee the student she hosts, she does not get paid for the student, so it is certainly not about the money--there is no monetary benefit to hosting. In fact, just the opposite is true, as the host family provides the student with room & board. 2) If these ladies had their way and reps were prohibited from hosting, it seems to me that would make it much more likely to have reps that are doing it "only for the money". As it is currently, organizations find their best staff by asking enthusiastic, caring host parents if they'd be interesed in working as a local rep. I'd also like to add that being a host family makes me a better rep because when a host family calls me with a concern, I can relate. I was an exchange student in high school, and I find this to be a huge help when I help the students deal with their challenges because they know I've been there and really do understand. I've read the cfies website, and I find the language they use to be misleading and somewhat inflammatory. If you have a problem with your student, go to your local rep. If your local rep doesn't help you, call the head office. If you still are not receiving support, contact CSIET (www.csiet.org) or the U.S. Department of State. both of these agencies work to make student exchange safe, and they have the authority to penalize agencies that are not complient. I assure you they do take action on complaints they receive, and they do it in a professional way.
Edward on 11/16/2006
Kari: Do not be too impressed with CSIET, which is nothing more than a trade organization. The CSIET Board is comprised of employees of the exchange agencies. Do you know how many complaints are reported each year to CSIET? If you contacted CSIET to find out if the agency you chose is reputable, would CSIET tell you? Why not? What about complaints on a specific agency? Does CSIET remove companies from the list? How many complaints does it take before companies are removed? (As if THAT would ever happen.) Who reviews the public's complaints? The CSIET Board does. Now who did I say was on the Board? The pieces of the puzzle are falling into place quite nicely. With the numerous reports that agencies have violated CSIET standards, how is it these exact agencies maintain full CSIET membership status. And you can bet your sweet bippy that these same agencies will also have "full" membership status in the year's ahead. It'd be funny if it weren't for being so sad.
Paula on 11/17/2006
Edward, CSIET is not that only one that reviews public complaints. The State Department has control in that also. Is there a list out there somewhere of who CSIET reviews? I highly doubt that CSIET is made of employees of exchange organizations.
Edward on 11/17/2006
Hi Paula: You are correct; the State Dept. also reviews complaints. You may want to visit CSIET's website to learn the structure. When referencing CSIET, there is no weight there. To prove my point -- contact them and ask the questions I stated earlier. Unfortunately, those who review the complaints sent to CSIET each year, it is true...those of the student exchange organizations are the people who review the complaints. Look for yourself.
Randy on 11/18/2006
Meg: Thank you for sharing you point of view. I have been hosting exchange students for three years now and looking back I see the same patterns forming from month to month. Your thoughts gave me a kick in the seat of my pants. These students are not little kids any more and I must not look at them like they are little kids. I normally do not, but on a couple of occasions I have and I was in error. Yes they are teenagers and they do the things that teenagers do, but they are human beings and deserve respect when dealing with them. These students come from cultures that are very different from ours. I have had the good fortune to have traveled in Europe a number of times and also have some good friends in Europe. I have seen many of the cultural differences myself in my travels. That might be a reason that I am a little more open to the behavior of my exchange students. Many of the exchange students have an opinion of America from what they see on TV and the Movies. Both the students and the host parents are learning at the same time. I am 64 years old and they are 16. They have habits that have been established for a few years, and I have habits that have been established for MANY years. It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but I have manage to learn a few. You have to try to see both points of view and sometimes compromise is the answer. I have never been married, single and have definitely an established pattern in life. Three years ago I made big changes in my life – two exchange students moved in my home. I have learned a lot in three years and I have also changed a lot in three years. I learn more every year. This year I feel the relationship with my students if the best ever. And I feel the reason for that is the learning from the two previous years. One things I did this year is prepare a rough outline of items to cover on the initial meeting with the students covering the rules of the house. I think I did a better job this year because I was prepared and did not forget to cover some of the areas. One other thing I did this year is that I decided to be very strict on the rules for the first 30 days. It worked. It takes 30 days to establish a habit. Yes, each new student is going to bring some new challenges, but that’s life. After the first month things at home got to be routine. There was much less confusion and confrontation than the first two years. I had the benefit of two years experience. In the first year as a host family you will just have to live with the learning experience. Yes I guess I have been a little lucky with my 9 exchange students. In my community there have been problems with some. I had a young man from Thailand last year and all my other exchange students before were from Europe. While the one from Thailand was not a problem in my home, he did have some of the problems that some of the other host parents had with their students from Japan. Their culture is so different from ours. I have only had boys, but I have met a few of the female exchange students from Japan and Korea and they were all very quiet. I think there are two reasons for this and one is that their culture is so different and the second is that there language is VERY DIFFERENT from the European countries and ours. When my exchange student from Thailand left in June I would say his level in the use of English was about 40% of my other exchange student from Germany. He had improved considerably over the year and now his English teacher back in Thailand asks him to speak more slowly, but I never experienced the high level of communication with him that I had with my German student. I have decided to take students from Europe and only Western Europe. There is another host mother in our community that had an exchange student from northern Russia last year and it was not a good experience for her. The student was not really a problem, but the cultural differences were drastic. He came from a society that did not show emotion or a positive attitude and disputes were determined on how strong you were physically. I have been told that there seems to be problems with students from Eastern Europe, mainly drinking and smoking and partying to the wee hours of the morning. I have not experienced this myself, but I am hesitant to take a student from that part of the world. Yes there can be some problem students, but there can also be problem host parents. In my first year my exchange student made friends with the other exchange students in the community and they were almost the only friends they had. I have tried to not let that happen since and it has been better. It is easy for them to make these exchange student friends because of the empathy they have for each other sharing the same experience, but they came here to learn and see a new culture. The last two years have gone more smoothly. Not that I do not want them to make friends with the other exchange students, but try to limit the contact so that they can get the full benefit of their year here. Yes there have been their moments, but after you conquer them the value of the whole years experience has increased. I would also recommend communicating with their parents in their home country. By the way, the exchange organization I am with is ASSE International and I do have one gripe with them. When selecting a student we get pages and pages of information and pictures, health information, and past school records to make our decision on., but the exchange students and their parents have next to nothing to make a decision if this is the person they want their child to live with for a year. My current exchange student from Germany was only told where I live, my name, my age and that I lived by myself. I think that is poor to say the least. How would you like to send your child to the other side of the world for a year based on that small bit of information? I will say that hosting exchange students has been one of the most worth while things I have done in my life. Yes it takes work, but the rewards are great.
Debbie on 12/4/2006
Randy, I'm still waiting on the "rewards" of hosting... As you said, my Japanese student is TOO quiet. We finally had a family meeting with her 2 weeks ago. My husband was terribly embarrassed and INFURIATED by her silence when his friends would ask her questions on a recent multi-family camping trip. He told her that she was welcome to stay only if she would participate in our family "happenings" and participate more in conversation. He told her that if she didn't like us or didn't like our rules then maybe she needed to call her local coordinator to be relocated **immediately**. In our family meeting, we allowed her to say what she liked about each person & what she wanted from each one of us or what she would like to see changed. She was reluctant, so we took a turn 1st...each of us told her what we liked about her & what we didn't like. It seems her #1 complaint was that no one gave her feedback except for me. She felt that we needed to speak when she did something that we didn't like. Things have been considerably different since the meeting, but I'm already feeling like we will have to repeat the session before the month is up. Habits...even those of silence...must be truly hard to break. BTW...what she had to say in our meeting leads me to believe that many of our problems are caused from the cultural & language differences. I try really hard to make sure she understands our conversations, but as a Japanese, she feels like she is inconveniencing me for me to always translate for her. What a challenging year for me!!! DebTX
SueIL on 12/16/2006
Deb, our family too has a student from Japan.First of all his essay on the website that we could choose students from was mis-leading. His essay was written in perfect English, that must has been written by his bi-lingual mother. By his info we received, he sounded very out-going. He developed a relationship with another Japanese student, who was only here for 4 weeks My student would call her almost everynight after we had gone to bed.He lied to us about being on the phone. He just doesn't seem interested in learning about our culture. He has not taught our family anything about his. I am tired of having to make conversations with him. I am so ready for him to leave...on June 10th 2007.
Mary Ellen on 12/22/2006
My husband and I are hosting an AFS student for the first time. We have hosted studetns in the past at the college level and through the state governors instiute, from Europe, Russia, China, and Japan. We have 2 college age daughters, so this 17 year old Japanese girls is for the most part our only child at home. We are at the end of of rope with this girl. She makes long distance phone calls after we go to bed. Although she has phone cards and an international cell phone. The monthly phone bills are > $150/month. We also have calls coming in at 1 am , 2pm and we both work. This girl is plargarizing at high school. And just being a self centered kid. AFS is aware of the problems and is been virtually no help. We are actively trying to place her in another home for the rest of the school year. To the person who is interested in hosting an exchange student, this is our first real problem, so I guess statisically we are not doing bad. If you fo with AFS really get to know your local coordinator first and make sure they will be there to help if things go wrong. Good luck! If anyone has any ideas to help us it would be greatly appreciated.
Kari on 12/22/2006
Hi Mary Ellen, I'm so sorry you're having these problems with your student. Your local rep should be mediating to help bring your student to an understanding of what is expected of her and the consequences of not complying. Have you asked the rep to rematch the student? If you are not willing to keep her, you should give the rep a deadline for how long you will host her before she must be rematched. I think AFS generally has a good reputation, so if you're not getting help on a local level, move up the ladder. Reading through the posts on this board, I see that many of the complaints are about Japanese students. I oversee students and other staff, and I'm afraid I have also found that Japanese students have a much higher rate of issues than other nationalities. They tend to be non-communicative with the host family and frequently disregard the rules. There must be some cultural difference coming into play, but I can't figure out exactly what it is nor how to find a solution. As a result, I now refuse to place Japanese students. It's sad...many people host Japanese kids for a week or two during the summer and have a great experience, but long term it exchanges usually have problems. I realize this is a generalization, and not all Japanese kids are problematic. Some are warm, enthusiastic and a complete joy to their host families. But I've had enough bad apples that I steer families to other nationalities.
Mary Ellen on 12/22/2006
Thanks. In response to the above. We had a Japanese boy 2 years ago, and we absolutely loved him. He was quiet at first, but by Christmas time was right in there with all the kids and had a busy socal life. I have found Japanese girls more difficult, not as mature as an American girl of the same age. The German kids & Dutch girl we had were an absolute pleasure. So I would agree in general terms about Japanese girls. I won't take one again. I don't know why they would disrespect their host family rules so easily. Thanks for your suggestion about going up the ladder, I think it's time to get some help at the next level.
Allen on 12/22/2006
Mary Ellen: When you have exhausted your efforts with AFS -- contact the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students at www.csfes.org. Last I seen, there is a place for you to "contact" them via their website. What you're doing now is wasting your time while AFS is 'hoping that you'll adjust' to your student. Once you contact CSFES -- you will then miraculously hear from your AFS representative. It is your responsibility to main all receipt, Mary Ellen, in an effort to be reimbursed. So do so, please. You may face huge liabilities if you attempt to place this student elsewhere on your own. So, be smart and contact www.csfes.org; stop wasting your time and begin enjoying the holidys. Trust me on this.
Vicki Whittiker on 12/27/2006
I began this year with two exchange students: a boy from Germany and a girl from Thailand. My 18, 20, and 23 year old "kids" are also still at home. It has been interesting so far. Yes, these are children from homes with parents who have more money than us, but we are richer in love, time, and understanding. That is why we agreed to host other children to begin with. I don't care about the money or what the financial background of these kids is. Our German student has fit into our family quite well and attempts to be a part of many family activites. Not all, but then my "kids" never did everything either. Our Thailand student was sent away by us a few weeks ago. She was incapable of communicating with us as a family and didn't fit well with us. It wasn't cultural, but a personal thing. She told us that she never wanted to be a part of our family or any other family. She was here to get learn English to pass the SAT for the college she wanted to go to in her country. It had to be taken and passed in English. I finally told the local coordinator to come and get her after school one day and WE packed her things. We are presently "trying" another student from that part of the world for a few weeks during Christmas break to see how she fits into our family. So far it is great and has been a world of difference from our Thai girl. Please, everyone remember WHY you wanted to host kids in the first place. They ARE teenagers with their own dreams, ambitions, hopes, etc. Just like our own children, these kids are all different too. We will host again after this year, I am sure. Your local or community reps make all the difference.
Paula on 12/30/2006
Mary Ellen. Listen to Kari, she gives great advice. Whatever you do, don't go outside your organization, your local rep will help you. Vicki, kudos to you, you handled your problem the right way, happy to see there are people just like me willing to take students in and give them a chance. God bless you all, & Happy New Year
Joyce Salinis on 1/1/2007
wow I read this whole thing at first I was just on google looking for the site my friend was talking about for this kind of stuff... this site made so many questions in my head i really wanted to go to japan and have someone come here to america in my place for a while but man all this stuff makes me so scared and yet it also makes me want to prove all of this wrong... to find a good family and prove to all of you that not all of us are problem childs... yeah most kids who i have known you go into theese programs use it as a way to get away from there life, & there familys say good ridance.. but for me it just cuz i love the culture, the laguage is beautiful thu i can't speak it and most program require it... i also love the music dir en grey, alice nice, 12012, sadie... im going to see dir en grey in feb here in my home town... but to go over seas and be there to eat pocky and ramune and get the chance of a life time is what i want... yes i'd want to use the computer and watch dvds but i'd love to go out just to walk just to see what it looks like... i'd love to have someone care about me!!! to have a "father" seeing as how mine is dead.. .and yes i have problems but to bring them to someone elses family seeing that they are a kind family taking me in to try to give me the chance i wanted... no i would do what i needed ot be kind...i come from philadelphia... it's not as good as it was before it's a dirty place and just going to school i risk my life... i share a room with my sister and have so many pets i can't take care of them no medical help and such but some how i make it >_
Joyce Salinis on 1/1/2007
sorry for the dubble post thing it gave me issuses lol ...if you give up on theese kids who are testig you yes all of them seem to be testing you and none of you figured that, but for me a 17 year old female from the USA to read this all...wow if someone just wrote me off as someone who wants to get away yes and no like i said before i want a chance of a life time... but also to get a break form the USA and all it's problems today.. i'll prolly never get to do one of theese programs because of my lifestyle and living invironment but if for once something good liek this could happen for me i'd check it, dubble check it i'd want to meet the family and see the house and everything my self with my parinoia and slight ocd and adhd man i'd check the PH level of you water first... i'd have a acward first month or so but i'd try my best to fit... just dont give up... that's all i can say for now DON'T GIVE UP!!! please e-mail me if you know any good orgs that can help me with more info on this or someone who would love to take me if for a while ^__^ krazykornkid2003@yahoo.com
Debbie on 1/2/2007
As for MY Japanese exchange student, I must say that I'm feeling like I've done EVERYTHING possible to help her. But lately, I've been getting fed up with her blatent disregard for my house rules...including excessive internet & telephone usage (with REPEATED warnings), snacking so much before a meal that she won't eat the meal, prowling around my house at night & then taking long naps during the daytime hours, being anti-social & downright RUDE. I got a little verbally rough with her last week, but I spoke only the TRUTH. I told her that I have to go behind her everywhere & apologize for her incorrect representation of her country. Japanese people are really fun-loving, friendly people who respect other people's wishes & possessions, and who also make sure they are always polite. I can prove this with my Japanese-American cousin & her Japanese-raised children. I also told her that the students at our high school were extremely excited that a Japanese exchange student would be here this year, but they absolutely HATE her. She has only ONE friend here, who is an exchange student from Portugal who just moved to the neighboring town with her host family last week, so now my exchange student has NO FRIENDS here at all. She insists on "watching" all of us as we enter her room (& even wants us to take off our shoes in her room...which I obliged until this month, because she doesn't take HER shoes off in the rest of my house), although she NEVER tells anyone when she enters my son's room to find another video to watch. She understands almost every word we say, but always says she doesn't understand...but when pushed on the issue she *suddenly* understands! Reference above statement on "watching" us, but not notifying US when she enters my son's room....when I asked her if that was fair, she said she didn't understand what I was saying, but when I told her that was "bullsh...!"...and did she think that it was fair, she hung her head & said "no". Things are so bad that another host mother AND her German exchange student called my local coordinator to make a formal complaint on my behalf (sweet things that they are!). The German exchange student asked me if I would host again & I told her that my husband threatened me within an inch of my life that we would NOT. She asked me if it was because of my current Japanese exchange student...to which I replied "yes". She then began pleading with me not to shut my door to other exchange students because many of them would be excited to be picked by my family...that my family was friendly, funny, sweet, & caring. She BEGGED me not to say "no" next year! This poor German exchange student does NOT want to come back to my house to visit my exchange student, but has agreed with her host mother to come visit ME & MY FAMILY. She said she would not converse with my exchange student because she is rude & unsociable & very weird. My own local coordinator has filed a formal complaint with our organization because she has seen the anguish that my exchange student has caused me & my family. I'm so lucky to have such a great lady to oversee my area! I have many more horror stories involving this exchange student, but I think I have said enough. I believe this young lady has some emotional problems that need the attention of a professional in her own country. Her OWN MOTHER acknowledges that she is a selfish, cold person. How odd for a Japanese mother to say something derogatory that is the TRUTH about her own child. Usually, something is said derogatory about their own children (so as not to brag), but it is usually far from the DEVASTATING truth. More later... DebTX
Joyce Salinis on 1/2/2007
DebTX do you still alow her to go online? and do you know liek if she uses aim or what not? i'd have no problem talking to "the problem" if any of you on here don't mind... I have no problem seeing as how i have friends liek that...so w/.e later and plz read ym above statement ^
Paula on 1/2/2007
OMG!!! Debbie in TX, My prayers with you. Keep after the organization, hopefully you'll get some relsovement. Your blessed to have such a wonderful area Rep willing to act on your behalf. Good Luck Deb
Paula on 1/2/2007
Sorry for the mis spelling, Keyboard sticking, anyway, good luck Debbie, Keep us posted. Hope something good will happen for you.
Joyce Salinis on 1/2/2007
wow iminvisable just liek when all of u where looking for help fromur reps omg did i just say that O_o
h sue on 1/2/2007
Hi Debbie - so sorry to hear about your difficult time with your Japanese student. We too have a girl from Japan but she is a great kid. We set rules about going online only on the weekends...and she is pretty respectful of us. Now that she understands English a little better and is more comfortable she can be moody and a typical teen. Just wanted to express my sympathy and let you know they aren't all like that! h.sue
Paula on 1/2/2007
Joyce what did u say, your spelling is a little to hard to understand
Joyce Salinis on 1/2/2007
sorry im 17 and typing in the dark right now lol umm well in my first post i was talking about how all of this stuff you guys are saying on here is scary i really wanted to try one of theese programs to see if i could be able to go to japan and switch with a kid for a while but knowing where i live and my background it's not even slim to none it's just none to none now... but on the other hand this info on here also makes me want to be the one to prove you all wrong and prove that we are not all problems and not all un-able to fit in... i'd love to be in japan and actualy go to a gothic lolita shop and get pocky and ramune all the time ( thats a candy and liek fizzy drink ) if i could i would and thats what theese programs are.. a chance for us to exsplore theese such things in other parts of the world... and have the same for someone else... in my opinion the "problem" kid are testing youto see what they can get away with because it's semi-free your " the home opener" is paying pretty much..out of pocket, and they know it...once they know they bent you they will keep doing it I know im 17 i do it to my mom lol... but then there are other who just live that way at home... and i just hope that none of you will give up like debbie please try to look again the one you got out of lenty of others you could of had and still can have shouldn't disable your want to not host again... well I'll look back on this again tommorrow to see if anyone replys... hopefully things will get better for the ones hosting and haveing trouble and I offer if you want i don't care but most kids use aim if they do they can IM me and i'll talk to them see why they are acting up not to rat on them but tell you guys whats going on seeing as how teen to teen is easyer then hosting family to the teen well my aim is " flyfire919 " so whatever but it MAY help... peace joyce
Mary Ellen on 1/3/2007
Our exchange student was given the opportunity to try living with another family, for the second half of the school year. She is moving in with a boyfriend which I think is a liablity but AFS doesn't object, so it's their call. We parted comfortably, but we will never take an AFS student again. Perhaps with college programs. It was an experience :)!
Debbie on 1/3/2007
Joyce, my exchange student does not have/use AIM. She's not real computer-savy even though her plans are to become a graphic artist. I wouldn't exactly encourage her to spend more time on the internet anyway. Joyce, if you want to go to another country to "prove" something to them, then I would NOT encourage you to go. Usually, exchange students have more viable personal reasons to visit a different country. My exchange student's goal was to learn more English. Oddly enough, she spends more time on the phone speaking Japanese & using the internet with Kanji than she does actually trying to learn & practice English with her peers or with us. My exchange student just spent a week-long visit with 2 other Japanese exchange students at the home of one of their host families. It was the perfect break for all of us, but it still hasn't solved our problems. Before I allowed her to go on this trip, I called the host parents where she would be staying...just to ensure her safety & well-being while away from my house. I must say that I had to warn the host father that my exchange student is very unsociable, very rude, & will only talk with other Japanese exchange students, so that they wouldn't expect to be having a good ol' time while the group was together. You know the sad thing about this is that she can't see how wrong she is for doing these things. The other exchange student that met her in San Antonio missed his bus because he had stayed up until 8am the "night" before his bus was to leave at 11am. He slept through his alarm because he too "prowls" around all night. She complained that he was stupid & rude because he didn't apologize for his inconsideration to others. Oh REEEEEALLY????? BTW--Japan IS a beautiful country & the people are usually friendly. They are very slow to warm up to outsiders, but they DO have personalities! While I was there, I had the nicest compliment from a Japanese man that was not kin to me nor did he know my cousin...he called me a *good* foreigner in Japanese! That is a TRUE compliment because they don't always like foreigners! Now if I can just hang on to such memories of Japan, I won't have such a bad taste like my exchange student has given me. Thanks for all of your well-wishes for me. Even though I'm ready for closure & relocation of my exchange student, it will make me sad when it's over. Yes, I understand she is just a teen, but I had many more manners than she has at the same age. I was just hoping for more than a teenager who carried her problems with her to the USA. Will give you updates later... DebTX
Mary Ellen on 1/3/2007
In response to the above...Our AFS coordinator in New England, is too busy with her other commitments i.e. a full time job and family to put the time and effort into helping families when they need help. I did go up to the national level and they were great. I was told the New England Coordinator received no pay for her work with AFS, which is a huge commitement. Our student was placed in another home after ALL the AFS paperwork was filled out and the new home and family interviewed/inspected. On a positive note. The Japanese boy we hosted two years ago is visiting this Spring. And the German girl we had 5 years ago is visiting for 3 weeks this summer. I think our Japanese girl was just a rude rich kid who has a lot of growing up to do, I do think she was very brave to come here in the first place. There are plenty of American kids with no manners, I just don't see any on any regualr basis. I also realize more than ever that my husband & I did a pretty good job raising our girls. They were very patient and kind to Mika during this ordeal, but there does reach a point :). Good luck to all of you. Good-bye.
Joyce Salinis on 1/3/2007
ow debbie that's umm weird lol not to sound rude but if she wants to do that then i'd think she'd look into it more and no i would encourage her to spend more time on the internet either lol... ummm but no i dont want to go to prove something just what most of you are saying on here makes the kids sound bad and i'd like to prove the system wronge that we are not all bad kids... i want to go to japan because of all the stuff i enjoy from there like i said the gothic lolita shops it a type of gohtic clothic style and brand, the food mostly the pocky and ramune ( candy and fizzy drink so my favs lol) the mangas it's a type of cartoon you read from right to left, naruto is my fav anime yaay lol, the music i love the music like dir en grey my fav j-rock band Im lucky enought to be seeing them here in the USA in feb... also i want to try to learn japanese so i can better understand my fav animes and musical j-rock bands... and movies, also to just walk around and see the sites of japan, i hear they are amazing and beautiful... i also love doing yoga and that is one thing i know is over there some being buddist (spelling?) or such things like that, also oragami i know it's a chinese thing but i might be able to better in that as well if went over to japan... well i'll keep checking back on this...
Joyce Salinis on 1/3/2007
i was looking into this jappleng stuff and i hope that it will get up and going again it will help me learn more about japan the lag & the culture of it i hope i get to do it ^_^ http://jappleng.com/
Debbie on 1/7/2007
Hi all.... I hope this is the final chapter in my sufferings with a female Japanese exchange student. With the help of my EXTREMELY wonderful local coordinator and AYA/AIFS's Jabez, my Japanese exchange student has been assigned to a new host family. She is in-flight to their home as I type. AYA was very quick to act on finding a new host family as well as flight details (which I KNOW must have taken 100% of Jabez's time on Thursday!). When I finally gave in & decided that I would NEVER make this girl happy (no matter what I tried), I talked to AYA late Wednesday afternoon. By Friday noon, a new host family was found & by Friday at 2, we had flight arrangements & EVERYTHING!!!! My only regret is that I waited so long to request her removal. I just kept hoping that we could figure out what would make the girl talk to us like family & what we could do to make her feel more comfortable here. I'm sure (hind-sight) that she didn't want to be here all along...but she did try a few times to get along with us. My advice to all of you out there still having problems is to REALLY look at what you are experiencing with your exchange student. Could he/she be trying to tell you with his/her actions that he/she is just as unhappy as you? I almost feel as if my student knew that our personalities weren't compatible, but maybe she felt like her hands were tied & that she COULDN'T complain...and the only way out was to make us as miserable as possible until WE complained. Funny thing is...I gave her the local coordinator's number BEFORE she ever left Japan. I told her she was free to call the LC at ANY time for ANY reason. I even told her that if there was a problem that she didn't feel comfortable talking to us about, or if WE were making her feel uncomfortable or unsafe, then she NEEDED to call the LC. I kept reminding her of this for the first 3 months. The calls were never made. My exchange student & I had a screaming match in my office the day before she left. It was the most reponse I've ever had out of her...too bad it was all derogatory. If theses things would have come out a lot sooner, we could have either understood each other better or split ways sooner...either way, we would have BOTH been a lot happier a LOT sooner. Friday morning I apologized to my student for getting so angry with her in the screaming match the day before. She said, "It's okay. You don't need to apologize." I asked her if she could forgive me for the words that were spoken out of exasperation on Thursday & she said, "I have already forgiven you." ...proof that this is what SHE wanted!!! I doubt we will ever host again. Typical teenager, I can handle. All of these problems & not my child, I can't. DebTX
Mike Rivers on 2/4/2007
I would just like to take the opportunity to introduce a new on line discussion board for anyone who has hosted in the past, the present, or thing about it in the future. It's open to anyone working with foreign exchange students/ www.hostparent.com
Judy on 2/21/2007
Has anyone had any experience with the FLAG Agency (Foreign Links Around the Globe?) A student we became friends with was forced to return home under very unfair circumstances..Agency owners kept the fee his family paid and would not even communicate to the host family and parent about the situation...Be leary of working with this agency.
Mike Rivers on 2/21/2007
Judy, I would say that is a very rare situation. Are you saying the agency just came in and removed the kid and sent him home without advising the Host Parents or Natural Parents of any reason? There has to be a reason. Not giving a refund, I wouold say is pretty standard if something is the kids fault. Mike Join more discussion at www.hostparent.com
Sandy Eads on 2/25/2007
Has anyone had to deal with an exchange student who is sexually active? What are the organizations rules?
Kari on 2/25/2007
Hi Sandy, AYUSA's rules state that a student may NOT be sexually active during their exchange. If they are, disciplinary action is taken. Depending on the situation, a warning letter might be issued or the student might be put on probation. Warning and probation letters outline the infraction(s) and list the changes that need to be made. A copy of the letter is sent to the overseas office and to the student's natural parents. If the student's behavior does not change, they are sent home. I believe most organizations have similar policies, although how well they are enforced may depend on your local representative. AYUSA's first rule is "Abide by the rules of your host family", so for many of the students I work with, the restrictions are tighter. I have host families that will not allow single dating and/or exclusive relationships, riding in cars with boys, etc., and AYUSA supports the host families. When I do orientation with my students, I strongly discourage them from having boy/girlfriends, as it almost always creates problems. Coming into a new culture, it can be hard for exchange students to accurately judge the character of the person they want to date so they can unknowingly earn themselves a bad reputation by dating the wrong person. Standards of behavior in a relationship vary greatly from one culture to another, and this can create lots of problems too. Perhaps the biggest problem I have is that when an exchange student dates, they usually do so at the expense of developing good friendships with other people and with their host family. Hope this helps. Feel free to contact me if you have questions.
Mike Rivers on 2/25/2007
I think every organization has the same view on the subject of sex activity. Like Kari said, even the policy of abide by host family rules covers that. The first kid I had was a boy from Germany. He came with a jumbo box of condoms that his Mother packed! Views on sex are definitely more liberal in some European countries. I have a clear cut rule that my kids will not have sex. I am the parent and that is what I say. There is no room for discussion and I don't care how it is at their home. Now, that being said, can I guarantee that it does not happen? No, I really doubt any of us can, just as we really can't with our own kids. We are parents and we do the best job we can to guide these kids. Mike Join more discussion at www.hostparent.com
Dee on 2/26/2007
Dear Judy: Sadly, early repatriation of an exchange student is extremely common. What were FLAG's reasons for sending the student you became friends with home? FLAG has been known to repatriate a student at the drop of a hat. FLAG is not alone. Many student exchange agencies send students home early for very silly reasons. It is devastating for the student, as well as those he/she made friends with during their stay. Their parents become broken hearted when they receive the news that they're to pick up their son or daughter the next day at the airport. Language barriers oftentimes prevent these parents from pursuing with legal action to seek reimbursement. Many agencies are starting to wake up, however, because not all parents take this news lightly and once they become aware that the agency has breached the contract -- the parents will seek legal action. I look forward to knowing if you're aware of the reasons this FLAG participant was returned home early. Thank you!!
Anna on 4/17/2007
I'm not crying. I'm just giving fair warning to the blogger who asked the original question. (Thinking of hosting a foreign exchange student--should I?) This is a significant investment of time and money on the part of the host family. I totally understand that these students come from a different culture, but since when is it appropriate in ANY culture to accept such a huge gift from anyone and not say a simple "Thank you" or express in any other way how much you appreciate what they've done? My children are "typical teens" too, but when someone does something nice for them, even small things, they say thank you, and if one of my kids was living with a host family overseas (which they will never do now, having seen what kind of crappy screening these agencies do), I would be ending every communication to them with a reminder to be sure to say thank you. My only other intent in posting was to warn folks about Korean students specifically, as their only agenda seems to be an entree into the US educational system. This has been confirmed for me by several host families and some Korean-Americans that I know. My Korean friend, who has been taking this girl to church with her twice a week, is completely exasperated with her also. In her desperate quest to return to the US, she has caused the pastor of this church to alienate the entire congregation (long story). I realize that I volunteered for this, and that is why I am posting, so that others considering doing the same thing will think twice before they volunteer.
snowy on 4/16/2007
i am still not over the horrible year we had with a finnish student. No concrete problems like drugs, school performance, etc. BUT mind games, she really hated us...we heard thru the grapevine she thought we were ugly and stupid. it really hurt. I tried to be so sweet and we were so accomodating and she was hateful and mean. it ruined our daughters senior year, (it was her idea at first too!) She was on some kind of mission to prove that finns are superior to all other humans. So be careful, it is disruptive and not always fun. I have traveled all over the world, teenagers love me, and me them, and this situation was the not good. YFU no help. i dread to think what would have happened if we had had serious problems. Yes. i am venting, but i can't be alone. (did we even get a thank you for hosting letter or anything at the end of the year>>>>>NO!)
Anna on 4/16/2007
Just got back from a spring break trip to NYC with daughter and Korean student who has been with us for 8 months. Returning from this trip has just crystalized what I have been feeling more and more all along. Currently, I feel used and cannot wai til we put our student on a plane back to Korea. As it turns out, the number one mission of Korean students is to use the foreign exchange program as an entree into the US and then use contacts here to find a place to stay for the next year, and the next, until they graduate from high school so they can go to college here. I just took her on an all-expenses paid trip to NYC, including tickets to TWO broadway musicals, and she not only did NOT even say thank-you, she made it very clear through her body language (heavy sighs, rolled eyes, etc) that she was bored in the Metropolitan museum, the MOMA, and Ellis Island. The only things she seemed to enjoy were the shopping and the shows, but apparently not enough to say a simple thank-you. For the past couple of months she has pretty much been shut up in her room on her sigle-minded quest for a place to stay next year. I get the feeling that she resents us for not being willing to take her back and not being willing to help her find a new place. I really do not feel that she came here to participate in any sort of cultural exchange. I have had to pry out of her any information about how things are in Korea, and she doesn't seem to be interested in any American experiences except shopping and eating. I would also never send one of my children to a foreign country through an exchange program agency after the experience we had. They never did a home inspection of our house, wanted us to do all their paperwork for them for the school (we refused), and did not notify us of our student's arrival time until 5 hours after her plane landed (fortunately, she had alerted us ahead of time). About a month after she arrived, she gave us a name and an 800 number to call and said that the agency had just e-mailed her and asked her to have us call and confirm that she had arrived safely. I wondered where they thought she had been all that time. If I ever sent a child to a foreign country, it would be to the home of a trusted relative, or only after they were over 21 and could handle legal issues themselves. I don't mean to sour you on the whole exchange student thing, but we do NOT plan to do this again, and if you decide to do it, I would recommend against hosting a Korean student.
snowy on 4/16/2007
oh anna! i understand...USED. that describes it totally. i know it is different with different kids, but our student was not at all interested in us. We were so manipulated! I am shocked that i still feel so much resentment and she left last July. Never again, and I tell everyone that. Everyone thought our house, the teen hangout where everyone feels comfortable was the perfect place for an exchange student. Both of my daughters had gone toa program and I thought i should give back. In retrospect, I would never send my girls knowing what i know now!
Kelley on 4/17/2007
Quit your crying, people. You are the ones who wanted to host a student. Now that you've "opened your hearts and homes" to a student and they don't proudly display a halo -- you begin to whimper. These are teenagers from a different culture from our own. The parents of your visitng "teen" spent thousands of dollars for you to host their child. You've done just that. The "non-profit" organization that is more than likely worth millions (check it out for yourself: www.guidestar.org) is the place you should complain to. They're the ones taking the natural parent's fat checks to the bank while they're holding their sides laughing that you've committed to "hosting" the teen for almost a year -- for FREE no less!!!!! Wake up and smell the coffee and stop your crying that your "typical teenager" is not a "model teen."
snowy on 4/17/2007
kelly etc: I am not crying or whining, i am DAMAGED by this experience, and of course questioning myself constantly about how I/WE could have made it better for all...the help i got from YFU was inane...stupid get to know you games, pat answers.. the pre arrival orientation for host families took place two months after she arrived. PUHLEASE. I went into it expecting my finn to want a family experience with us and that i would have support of YFU. I also expected a young person from another country to put their best foot forward, just because they are teenagers we can't assume they will be brats. Teenagers are fun! She was just sullen and spoiled and it was not at all interested in us or our lives... she came from one of the most advance western countries, and spoke perfect english. Her parents did not have to send her, and i feel bad they spent the money for the ridiculous support from YFU. I also must say, we met several other host families at events and thought many were quite strange. Elderly couples, families with young children, that seemed to have the students as helpers. One ancient couple has had 15 students and told me they were addicted to teenagers. CREEPY. Their student seemed fine, but it was quite strange.
Kelley on 4/17/2007
I hear you, Anna. I also couldn't agree with you more. And what's with this "volunteering?" Especially when there are many Independent Area Coordinators (IAC) who are getting paid about $800 - $1,200 on a stipened basis for each student placed. What gets me, is the lack of proper training of these IACs. You hit it right on when you said 'crappy screening' methods. Some Joe Schmoe thinks by calling up the family's three personal references, that he's performed a background check. Now that's bad! Then you have the exchange company standing behind their IAC saying, "yep, we've performed a full background check..." And, while I'm at it, whats with this CSIET? Council on Standards for International Educational Travel? Absolute joke, I tell you, absolute joke!! Former State Department employee now running some joke of a trade organization. How come no one can get concrete answers out of CSIET? I called up to ask if any complaints were filed on a particular organization. Couldn't get one concrete answer out of the guy. Sure, he talked and talked -- no questions answered. Does anyone know where to call to find out if any complaints have been filed on OCEAN? Has OCEAN ever been sanctioned by the State Department? An agency as such is much needed and loooooooong overdue. Do you know, Anna?
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