Hosting an exchange student should be a rewarding experience for all involved. The trouble is that the kids are not screened well and the problems accumulate quickly and the option of a student being sent home happens after too much damage is done. The students who can afford to do the program come from middle class families (with the exception of YES students). Too many of them think that this is just one big shopping experience and they get to have all the “parent free” fun they want. There is no screening process to ensure that the students are ready for the immense responsibility of managing finances, going to school, adapting to culture shock, and building relationships. Bottom line is they are immature. So how did this affect me specifically? Well, a student who was spending money like crazy and who was very self-absorbed (took a million selfie photos and posted to social media) had horrible grades and we notified her that she could not go to the mall. She had a tantrum, faked passing out in school, stuck me with a medical bill and told the medical staff that I had assaulted her. I was visited by child protective services. You can imagine all the drama. Additional issues included horrible housekeeping of her room, developing a habit of overeating sweets, poor language skills, and a bad attitude towards adults. This student was removed from my home. She continued to have problems in mutliple homes, Exacerbated by a father who would not put his foot down. Of course, AYUSA was not trying to send her home because they won’t offer a refund. They send “letters of encouragement”. She continued to get failing grades which is clearly a breech of the contract on her part. When she finally went home (after 5 months of horrible behavior) she was ruined. She had no friends to return to. Whatever she had been doing on social media ostracized her further. This is not my only student who had these kinds of problems. Maybe it is the new generation, I just feel like the organization is no help. The letter the students write is a canned product intended to sell the family on a student. There is no objective way of knowing if the student is right for this experience. AMBER was right. There is NO SUPPORT. They treat it like a business. My representative was roped into handling a larger area because they are constantly losing good people. I have watched no less than 4 people manage my region in 3 years. They offer cool incentives like an I-pad or a trip and then figure out a way to wiggle out of the offer. The relationship with the foreign organizations is a joke. They are all happy to take the family’s money and make all these amazing promises but it is never in the best interest of the student. In the real world there are consequences for bad behavior. I did witness a really great girl get sent home for drinking alcohol one time. Granted she broke the rule, but no one knew the truth about how common it is for some of these kids to drink in their home nation, and no one took into account that this was an isolated event. She was sent home in less than a week. Yet, the other girl practically ruined our lives with her lies…but that was OK, just a adolescent behavior. I have had some great kids. This has come with an open and honest relationship with the natural family (which is not encouraged). The bottom line is that there is a real risk to benefit ratio of hosting in general; but this organization really slants it toward risk for all involved.
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