My exchange student has gone to a new home. After a month of sending almost daily pleading emails to the American Councils, a new host family appeared at my door and took her and her luggage away.

I hope her new family can handle her better than I could.

Perhaps she’ll show up for meals at their home.

Perhaps she’ll accompany their family to cultural events instead of claiming she can’t go because she has to study. The new family has two teenagers who attend the same school, one of whom is in some of her classes.

Perhaps they’ll be able to get her out of her room where she watches Turkish YouTube shows. (The exchange program requires that exchange students get private bedrooms. It also requires that the exchange students spend time in family areas of the house.)

Perhaps they’ll be able to get her to help with making salads, clearing the table, and even walking the dog. I could barely get her to wash her own clothes. Not her sheets. Not replace the toilet paper, or clean her hair out of the sink.

We were her 2nd American family. She is now on her third.

My life is returning to peace.

I can lie in bed past 6 AM, because I don’t need to make the hot breakfast that she won’t show up to eat. I can serve dinner without calling her several times. She never responded to my calls, but sometimes she deigned to join us about 15 minutes later. If I want to serve dessert, there will be some in my freezer. She wasn’t here to take them all for lunch and midnight snacks, to feed that sweet tooth she was so proud of. I can go to the museum when I want. I don’t have to clear my plans with her in case they might interfere with hers.

I feel like a freed kidnap victim. Or a freed prisoner. I was her servant and I had to pay her expenses.

It jars my sensibilities to get stuck with food, transportation,

entertainment, water and utility bills for someone who won’t even try to be a guest, let alone a part of the family.

I’d like to forget I ever met her. But she mail-ordered stuff and she didn’t give us her forwarding address. She also didn’t bother to tell the post office. So I have to run her packages over to her school when they arrive. But she was only here 6 weeks. This will come to an end.

I’ve ordered some gadgets that are supposed to get her hair out of my now clogged drains. I put a screen over the shower drain and explained why it was there. But she kept kicking it aside. I asked her to limit her showers to 10 minutes. But my monster water bill says she ignored this request, too. Eventually everything she broke will be fixed or replaced or we’ll be fine without it.

She’s gone!

While I’m relieved, I’m also sad. I had such good fantasies about exploring my city with a teenager from another country who was eager to see and do everything. I was going to discuss world events with somebody who had a unique point of view. She was from Kazakhstan. She was here during Putin’s capture of Crimea. All she said was “Crimea has always been part of Russia.” It was as if she had memorized this one untrue line, and had no other thoughts on the subject. I was going to cook new dishes with someone from another country. Watch movies with someone from another culture.

Her goal was to study hard and get into a US College because that would give her prestige back home. She said that US Education is inferior to Kazakhstan education and her favorite teacher told her not to believe anything that is taught in US Schools. So she was just memorizing to pass the tests.

At least she’s gone!

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Comment by Lynne G. on April 18, 2014 at 12:35pm

My very best wishes to you Chuck, I am sure your students will have an extremely rewarding experience, as well as the hosts.


It's unfortunate that Geez had such a terrible experience, because with her and hubby's background, any student would be VERY LUCKY to score a stay at their place.  A lottery win!


I can certainly understand how disappointed and disillusioned they are.

Comment by Chuck McCrossan on April 18, 2014 at 11:46am

Yes, Lynne, it sure would have turned me off from being a homestay forever.  But with my great experience with homestay, I would hate to see anyone discouraged.  As I sit here preparing for a group of 90 Japanese students from Toyota Academy to arrive in May for 1 week, and needing 27 more families, my focus is on all of my signed-up homestays and how they will be having a wonderful experience. Geez needs to feel that too.

Comment by Chuck McCrossan on April 18, 2014 at 11:31am

In most homestays you do get paid to cover the extra expenses of having another person in your home. It still turns out to be more of a volunteer position and not one to make money. That is how we see it here with our homestays.  I forgot to add in my message that with the Japanese culture, it is almost the same experience whether having a male or female student.  Males in Japan are very different from the typical North American male.  It is their honourable lifestyle.

Comment by Geezerchick on April 18, 2014 at 10:47am

Chuck, I'll show the link to my husband. FYI, the State Dept program doesn't pay the host family. We paid for her food, utilities, entertainment, cab rides, school field trip expenses -- in other words we paid for the honor of being her servants. She was expensive in every sense of the word.

Comment by Lynne G. on April 18, 2014 at 10:47am

Chuck, you should have been a car salesman...ha ha...

After what Geez went through with that young woman, she would have to be one step off nuts to give it another try.  I wouldn't have persevered anywhere near as long as Geez.  :-)

Comment by Chuck McCrossan on April 18, 2014 at 10:38am

Hello again.  I have a solution for you if you care to explore it.  Go here and click on "Guests List". Where it says "Select Value", select Japan and then gender.  You can get a student directly from Japan or one that is already in USA. My preference would be from Japan.    If you pursue this, I would love to hear how your experience is progressing.  :)

Comment by Geezerchick on April 16, 2014 at 7:41pm

Chuck, thanks for your persistence and optimism.

Comment by Chuck McCrossan on April 16, 2014 at 5:35pm

That is very unfortunate for you...and her. She will likely regret, when she matures, missing such a great opportunity!  Your experience tells me that we do not want to deal with that kind of country with that kind of ideology (if that is really what her teacher said and not just her friends).   I can assure you that getting a student from a different part of the world could be a totally different experience.  Japan, of course, is everyone's favourite here.  I will look to see if there are any Japanese short term tours coming to your city and if so, I'll give you an opportunity to connect with them.  I would hate to see you miss out and have a discouraged view of hosting international students.

Comment by Geezerchick on April 16, 2014 at 5:13pm

Chuck, the State Department paid all of our student's expenses. Her family paid nothing. She said the only reason she came was because she thought it would help her get into an American Ivy League University with a full scholarship. She had no interest in the USA, or in education. But she thought she could get a high-paying job in Kazakhstan if she had such a degree. She said her favorite teacher in Kazakhstan told her not to believe anything they teach in America because it is all lies. We were her 2nd hosts. We learned later that her first host family, which had had 3 other students in previous years, asked that she be removed from their home for the same reasons we asked that she be removed. I never want to do this again.  Six weeks of being servants to an uncooperative teenager was not an experience I ever want to repeat.

Comment by Chuck McCrossan on April 16, 2014 at 4:58pm

It could very well be that the student really did not want to be on the exchange. If that is the case, then it won't work out no matter where she goes. We have longterm students usually from China who come here to go to high school for the year and if we have to move them twice, they are on notice that the next move is back to China. That usually changes them as, I am sure, their parents would be furious after spending a lot of money on tuition.  On the other hand, it could be just a human interaction thing where personalities clash for a million reasons and the next home they go to everything is ok. It is wise not to take things too personally in such a case as no one is at fault for being human. We have had families devastated when a student has to move and mostly it is no one's fault or just a communication problem.  We have also had families who have never hosted again because of one bad experience.... don't let that be you.  :)


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