Monday, April 2, 2012

Foreign Exchange Student Reports.

I may have mentioned that we took on a foreign exchange student. She has been a lovely person, does her chore (dish washing) unfailingly, is available in advance for babysitting, is fun, and loves to play with the kids.

She is however, adventuresome and therefore home very little during waking hours. One week we saw her for 45 seconds, I exaggerate not. That week I really laid down the law that we expect her to be a part of the family, and we wanted to be more than a bed and source of water for her. We came upon a compromise that she would arrange to be home ONE night per week for dinner. Its been that way for about 6 weeks. Everyone seemed happy. Is workin' great from our end...

Since that time, I've been contacted repeatedly and urgently by her supervisor and heads of her program. Even though they say its just routine, requests like insisting that every interaction with them is written and the urgency of me filling out "reports" is weirding me out. Moreover, the "reports" that I must fill out are very pedantic in nature, asking me how I've grown personally from this experience, etc. I'm totally turned off by the program's requirements and am suspicious of what "liability" they are protecting themselves from. Either that, or the whole thing is a goofy, unthinking bureaucracy. And why so urgent that you would insist that I drop what I am doing to fill out your form?

What do you think is going on here? To me it sounds as if everyone has the impression that the situation has failed? Am I over reacting? I asked Stu directly, and she genuinely replied that everything is OK from her end.

Here's a letter:________________________

In communication with Supervisor, I understand that you are having some difficulty in setting up a time to meet together with her and Coordinator. Because I know you are very busy, I thought I might chime in and ask you a few questions to learn more about how things have gone and continue to go from your perspective as you host Studentette.

Based on some of the previous communications we've shared, I recall hearing from both you and Stu at different times and am aware that while there have been some high points in the year there have also been some very difficult times between you and that you've had some pretty intense discussions.

-What more can you share about some of the difficulties you've experienced as you relate to Stu?

-What have been some of the greatest challenges you've experienced this year relating to Stu? Ongoing challenges?

-What are/were your expectations for this hosting situation? Un-met expectations?

-What did you wish you had known going into this experience? How can/could we have done a better job supporting you as Administration and the partner organization?

-What have you learned as result of this experience?

-Are you happy with the current hosting arrangement of having Stu living in your home?

I trust that you know that we value hearing from you, Prof, as we want the best for everyone involved in the program; host, partner organization, Student. Kindly take some time to think about these questions and let us know your thoughts. [I expect this to be returned on Monday.]

ADDED NOTE: Have talked with coordinator. Student FAR UNHAPPIER that she let on, or there is a major drama-amplification process from our home to the program office. In any case, I thought all was good, but alas, apparently not. I really don't like drama, besides the stuff I create in my blog ;)


  1. sounds like the usual program assessment. they no doubt claim to do 360 feedback which means they are also asking studenette too. No worries though as I suspect they just compile into (80% of host families reported x) not that they are correlating or singling out. Did you agree to do this prior to taking stu? i.e. is it condition of program. If not I'd simply reply, thanks for your interest but these are not questions I am interested in answering. Stu and I have worked things out to our satisfaction, and then tell them what you said here. Otherwise if you have to fill them out just write vague shit with buzz words.

  2. I came back -after thinking about this some more- to suggest the girl is unhappy (the time away from home fits this scenario) and noticed your update. The program is trying to assess her one-sided stories, which is why there are so many forms to fill out. Time to start the countdown.

  3. Strange that the student didn't just tell you about how unhappy she was. Sorry it is happening...

  4. Exchange programs may have merit, but I think their merit is far over-rated and they are now really not much more than a vacation time for the kid even if the program says it is a cultural and study exchange. Yeah, nice in theory, but not usually reality. It's even worse now with instant messaging and all of the cyber relationships with hand-held devices. There is no time for you as a host family, so forget about the "exchange" part of it. You are a hotel. Nothing more. A means to an over-privileged rich kid from a foreign country. As a host you have to be informed that 30% of the kdis are placed in a different home because they fail to comply or adapt to their original host family. Raising a teen is brutaly difficult work. One that has been raised by another parent for 16 years and then given to you is an impossible task if the kid is used to coming and going as they please. This is often the case with AFS students as they are very well off financially in the country of their residence. Be warned. I would neither recommend it or encourage it until the kid is grown up a bit. College would be a far better time for someone to travel. If they want a vacation and no time with your family, the parents should save the money and just send them on a summer vacation. It would be cheaper and probably about the same value culturally. If you had a good experience, you are the rarity.