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OT- Monologue on a Foreign Exhchange Student Experience


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#1 weave

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 11:25 AM

On the afternoon of Aug 27, 2012 my small family sat anxiously in the very small arrival area of the Elmira-Corning Regional Airport holding a “Welcome to America” sign, waiting for the arrival of our new house member.  That we were sitting there, almost 2hrs from home, instead of Buffalo or Rochester’s airport was the first of many details that went awry during the stay of our exchange student from China.  His chosen American name is Jason.  Jason is a 15 year old high school sophomore.

In the weeks leading up to Jason’s arrival we had tried to communicate with Jason via email.  He responded to our first email, mostly describing what he can expect climate-wise and asking him what sorts of foods and entertainment he liked, with a short Thank-you-I-like-most-anything-type response.  Subsequent emails were largely ignored.

The week before Jasons’ arrival we met one last time with the agency that arranged his stay.  The meeting covered some what to expect subjects including cultural and political differences and what to expect from the child.  It also covered rules of engagement, ie.  What we could and could not do.  Example- we could not cross state lines, we could not visit Canada with him, etc.  I noted with not enough foreboding at the time that the agency admitted that although 99% of the kids that come over are outgoing, ambitious, and fluent in English, there is some fraud in the program and occasionally kids slip through that probably shouldn’t be selected for foreign exchange.  I recalled having the thought at the time that if our school gets one of these kids my luck would be that it will be the one assigned to us.

So, we enthusiastically greet Jason in Elmira-Corning.  We are met by a teen who appeared to have been recently crying and barely acknowledged our greeting.  Well, he’s a long way from home and had been in-transit for about 20 hours so he may just be emotionally and physically spent.  We retrieved his luggage (one bag, one very, very large bag.  I have never seen a piece of luggage so big) and headed to the car.  We asked him if he was hungry and what he wanted for dinner and he replied that he ate in NYC and wasn’t hungry.  So, off to home we go.  He appeared to fall asleep within minutes of getting in the car.  Wow.  In a strange country with complete strangers and he was able to sleep.  No way I could have if I were in his shoes.

Over his first few days we let him sleep rather late assuming he was still on China time.  He rarely spoke and usually answered with nothing but yes, no, maybe.  Attempts at conversation were not very successful.

He was scheduled to attend a private school and like all private schools, they have a uniform.  When we went out to get school clothes for him we met our first resistance.  He wouldn’t pick out shoes or a belt (he arrived with sneakers and no belt) so we had to pick them out for him.  At this point we were unsure of how much of the language he understood.

The school was getting a total of 6 exchange students from China so the school held a picnic 3 days before school started so that all of the new kids could meet the rest of the school.  All of the kids divided into several large groups and got to know the Chinese kids.  I was really impressed with how outgoing and friendly these Chines kids were.  They were laughing and joking and fitting right in.  All except Jason.  He skirted the edges of the groups and tended to wander off on his own.  Us, and other kids would get him and re-engage the groups but he would always work his way out of the group and go somewhere else.  This kid seemed painfully shy.

We learned just a little about Jason’s family.  We know his parents are Chinese 1%ers.  They live in the top 2 floors of a 36 floor high rise along the oceanfront in Shenzhen.  They have servants.  His father owns a business, although even today it is a little unclear to us just what exactly that business is.  Coming to live with us was a definite step down in status for Jason.

School started and issues cropped up immediately.  Jason wouldn’t go to school in uniform.  We’d get him to wear it to school but he hid sneakers in his locker and would remove his shoes and belt in school and put on sneakers and untuck his shirt.  And he refused to change into gym clothes for gym class.  During lunch he would sneak out of the cafeteria and go into the gym and eat lunch by himself.  This was not going well at all.  We were receiving these reports from school and my son was being pressured by teachers to “work with Jason”.  Well, Jason turned out to be an incredibly stubborn child and nothing seemed to get him to dress appropriately, use gym clothes, or socialize with the other children.  He even ignored the other Chinese kids.   All of us (my wife, son, me, Jason, school admin) were becoming increasingly frustrated.  And he wasn’t ambitious at school either.  We got reports of homework not turned in and refusal to participate in group projects.  And he wasn’t spending very much time studying or doing homework either.   His first report card was mediocre at best with a few grades nearing failing but a Geometry grade in the mid 90’s.  Comments by teachers in EVERY subject indicated a child who wouldn’t participate in classroom discussion or activities.

Home life was challenging too.  If left to his own devices he would spend all day (literally) in his room with the door closed.  We did our best to not allow him to spend too much time in his room.  And we tried to get him to socialize with us by playing board games and video games.  He participated reluctantly and did not communicate any more than absolutely necessary.  And when we weren’t actively doing something with him he sat in a corner and watch videos on his iPhone or laptop.  He would go hours on end without acknowledging or engaging anyone.  When we visited family he would not talk to them either.  Like at home, he would sit in a corner and focus on his iPhone.  I strongly suspected some sort of social development problem like high functioning autism.  But all too often we would also get the impression that he just plain didn’t like us.  He did seem to express a level of contempt from time to time, as if we were servants.  And he had some odd habits.  He occasionally sat downstairs on the couch with a blanket over him, like a small child playing tent would do.  He liked to go into our attic and take some of Sean’s old toys from when he was in elementary school and hide them under his bed.  He would then play with them at night.  He also had a bad habit that we never broke of staying up well past midnight even on school nights.  As I write this I am working 2nd shift and get home around 1am.  He was often still awake when I got home.  He would quickly turn off his room light when he heard me in the hallway.  The only thing in our house that he genuinely enjoyed doing was playing Call of Duty, and he developed a difficult to control obsession with the game, specifically the zombie portions of it.  All of these behaviors continued right up until his last days with us.

I tried twice in the 1st two months to contact Jason’s father via email to try to get some information about Jason and relay some of our concerns regarding his inability to fit in.  I was told his father does not speak English very well but can read and write it.  He never replied to my emails so I gave up.

Just before Christmas I received an Email from Jason’s sister Sandy, a sophomore at San Fransisco University.  She asked if she could come and visit during the week between Christmas and New Year.  We gladly granted permission.  We wanted to get more info on Jason, and frankly, we hoped she could get him out of his shell.  We met her at the airport and were shocked by the lack of enthusiasm Jason showed for his sisters’ visit.  Not even a “hello” or a wave.   She seems genuinely happy to see him but he was stoic and silent.  Hmmm…  Her visit lasted a few days.  During that time he said very little to her.  She was very engaging and a joy to speak with.  We liked her a lot.  We did learn that both kids were sent off to boarding schools in cities far away starting in Kindergarten!  Wow.  We also learned that Sandy did not like her family very much.  Unfortunately her visit did nothing to bring Jason out of his shell or shed any light on how we may better socialize or communicate with him.  By New Year we had about given up on getting him to speak with us.  At that point we had a grand total of one conversation lasting more than 3 sentences with him, and he had never, NEVER, initiated any communication with us.  If we didn’t speak first, he didn’t speak at all.

He never argued with my son but he did develop a passive-aggressive streak towards him.  He would rush eating dinner and hide game controllers so he could control what was being played and when.  He had a habit of taking some of Seans’ things (like a laser pointer) and putting them in his room so he had control of it.  And he never showed any empathy, or any other emotion for that matter.  He got on a friend of Seans’ Xbox live account and made changes to the account.  Seans’ friend got mad (understandably), but he got mad a t Sean.  When we talked to Jason about it there was no apology, no empathy.  In fact, I cannot think of a single instance where he showed any empathy during his visit.

Mid Term began a period of worsening relationships with Jason.  He was failing a number of classes badly.  The school principle informed him, his parents, and us that he needed to have passing grades in every class by the end of the 3rd quarter or he would not be able to finish out the school year.  They were threatening him with expulsion.  Given his unwillingness to follow school rules and not do the work they assigned, I completely understood.  The school was letting him get away with stuff no one else could get away with and focusing on more important battles with him.  They were compromising their rules as it was.  At home we worked harder to try to get him to do his school projects and homework.  It resulted in frustration on everyone’s part.  Jason was a very stubborn individual and if he didn’t want to do something it wasn’t going to happen.  We decided that we were not going to argue with him.  We would remind him of his work due, and would turn off the TV, but if he didn’t do the work, well…… that’s up to him.  There were many meetings with the School Principal during this time.  None of them resulted in Jason changing his behavior or improving his grades.  He spent his time at home playing Call of Duty, watching anime from home on his iPhone, or sitting in his room with the door closed.  And still he would not communicate with me, my wife, or or son.

I’ll note that during this entire time Jason had few phone calls from home.  He spoke with is mother maybe once every three weeks and his father even less often.  He was on an island by himself.  It broke our heart to see so little interest by his parents on his well being.

At the beginning of March the Principal sent a letter telling Jason’s parents that he was still failing in a number of classes and if it didn’t change by March 22 (end of 3rd quarter) he was going to be expelled and needed to go home ASAP afterwards.  The parents replied with an email that said they have purchased tickets for him to go home on June 27.  Wait…. What?  Maybe it was optimism for their child on their part?   Maybe it was denial?  Maybe it was a tactic meant to communicate that he can’t come home early?
On March 15 the Principal sent a letter stating that a review of Jason’s grades indicated no chance that he will be passing on March 22 and that the parents should make arrangements to send him home on the weekend of March 23-24.  The email sparked a round of defiance out of Jason.  He bacame openly critical of us personally and the school, calling us stupid and proclaiming how lazy Americans are, among other things.  It was the first time he had showed any hostility.

March 22 arrived and there was no communication re: tickets home.  At 8am on Mar 22 the Principal sent out a 3rd letter and email indicating that Jason was officially expelled from school and needed to be sent home immediately.  We received a reply that the family was trying to get him a ticket and he may be able to go home Easter weekend.  During the afternoon on Friday March 22, we inquired to the agency that placed Jason as to what his travel plans are.  No tickets had been purchased yet.  We had a gut feeling that the family wasn’t going to cooperate and we might be stuck with an uncooperative teen child who can’t go to school and isn’t being sent home by his parents.  We expressed our concerns to the agency and demanded that tickets be purchased immediately.  The school expressed the same in writing to the agency and Jason’s family.  On Saturday morning we received a call from the agency stating that Jason would be flying home Monday at 8:15pm.  Almost immediately after the call Jason came downstairs and said he is going home on Tuesday at 8:15am.  You gotta be kidding me.  Which one is correct?  I called the agency back to confirm.  The agency did not have his itinerary and would get back to us as soon as they had info.  By Saturday evening we still did not know if tickets had actually been purchased.  On Sunday moring Jason informed us that his parents do not have tickets for him to go home.  He claimed that the flight he was going to take to China was overbooked.  We called the agency and they confirmed the story.  Now, why would you not buy tickets for another flight?  Even a flight on another day?  The one they wanted was overbooked so they didn’t book a flight at all.  Makes no sense to me unless you are stalling.  This wasn’t going well.  There was another round of communication among all of the players, our side demanding ticket purchase ASAP.  Monday morning comes and we get a phone call from the agency.  No tickets purchased.  It is now Tuesday evening in China (12 time zones ahead of us).  The family is asking for another day to get tickets.  I contact school administration to see what we can do.  I am having visions of being stuck with a child that can’t go to school and can’t go home.  I find out that the school has an unused portion of tuition that is getting refunded to the family.  I inquire about using that money to purchase the plane ticket home for Jason.  The school agrees to this as a last resort.  With that info I contact the agency and tell them that if we do not have a ticket purchase and itinerary when I wake up tomorrow AM (Tues our time/Wed night China) we are going to purchase a flight for Jason with the unused school money.  He is going home very soon.

Shortly after this telephone conversation Jason asks me why he has to go home so soon.  I resist the urge to tell him what I really feel (that he has become unpleasant guest and I don’t trust his parents to get him home in a timely fashion) and tell him simply, “Jason, you are here with the permission of the government on a student visa.  You are not a student here any longer.  You have to go home”.  He mumbled something in his native language.  I told him that if he has any thoughts he wants to get off his chest now is the right time to express them.  He tells me “nevermind”, and walks away.  It is the most he’s said to me in one “conversation” in weeks.

On Monday evening we get a phone call and email from the agency.  Jason’s flight is scheduled for 8:15am Tuesday morning.  I guess the parents needed prodding to do the right thing.

This morning (Tuesday) was heart-wrenching.  Jason was visibly shaking when he ate breakfast and was holding back tears while standing in line at the ticket counter.  He did not say good bye to us but left us an envelope.  The envelope contained a number of drawings (extremely detailed.  I think he has a future as an illustrator) of anime characters that he wanted to give to a teacher and 2 letters, one written in English for a Korean student and another in Chinese addressed to two of the Chinese girls in school.
We are concerned about what kind of reception he is going to get from his parents when he gets home.  We genuinely hope his family greets him warmly.  He badly needs help that we were not able to give him.  We fear that he has shamed his family and will not be received with the love and support I truly feel he needs.  We have mixed emotions right now.  We are relieved to have this burden lifted but he is a child, a child who I strongly believe has clinical social issues and needs therapy for them.  He isn’t a “bad kid”.  He didn’t break our house rules.  He did not argue with us.  He did not fight with my son.  But he didn’t make any attempt to become part of our lives.  We do not know if it is because he can’t due to social issues, won’t because we weren’t in his social status, or didn’t want to because he didn’t want to be here (something else we had a strong vibe of all along).

The house feels weird today, like we are mourning in some way.  We have pangs of guilt, thoughts that maybe we could have done more.  We quickly grew to care about him and we are concerned about how this plays out for him.  He was a family member whether he wanted to be or not.  And we are hurt in some way because he never acknowledged our care and concern for him.  Not even as he walked away for the last time.

The school has asked us if we want to try it again with a different child next school year.  We politely declined.

#2 X. Benedict

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 11:44 AM

My goodness. What a nightmare......it sounds like his parents have successfully raised a psychopath.
What I find unbelievable is the lack of support from the agency.

Wow.

#3 weave

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 11:46 AM

View PostX. Benedict, on 26 March 2013 - 11:44 AM, said:

My goodness. What a nightmare......it sounds like his parents have successfully raised a psychopath.
What I find unbelievable is the lack of support from the agency.

Wow.

Part of the problem is that the agency isn't local.  Their nearest office is in Miami.  And the agency is a Chinese for-profit company.  I am sure they had a vested interest in him not going home.

#4 shrader

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 11:47 AM

Yeah, he's probably not walking back into a good situation once he gets back.  You did what you could though.  Don't feel too bad on this one.  Some things are just out of your control.

#5 Neuvirths Glove

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 11:49 AM

Ack, what a nightmare.  But geez, what else could you do?  This is pretty much why I hesitate to take in an exchange student, even though I know most people really enjoy the experience.

#6 PASabreFan

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 11:49 AM

Sorry, weave. But I found the story fascinating (almost rubbernecking-an-accident fascinating) and read every word.

#7 Neuvirths Glove

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 11:52 AM

View PostX. Benedict, on 26 March 2013 - 11:44 AM, said:

What I find unbelievable is the lack of support from the agency.

What I find unbelievable is the lack of support from EVERYONE- the agency, the kid's family, the kid himself.  Nothing you did wrong; it's more of a situation that the kid is just a trainwreck.

View Postshrader, on 26 March 2013 - 11:47 AM, said:

Yeah, he's probably not walking back into a good situation once he gets back.

He'll probably be viewed as dishonoring his family, a serious transgression in Asian cultures.  Then again, that was 100% his own doing.

#8 shrader

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 11:54 AM

View PostDoohickie, on 26 March 2013 - 11:52 AM, said:

He'll probably be viewed as dishonoring his family, a serious transgression in Asian cultures.  Then again, that was 100% his own doing.

He's probably already viewed in that way, from the sound of things.  If the family refused to respond to any attempted contact, they already don't think highly of him.

#9 weave

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 11:55 AM

View PostDoohickie, on 26 March 2013 - 11:52 AM, said:

What I find unbelievable is the lack of support from EVERYONE- the agency, the kid's family, the kid himself.  Nothing you did wrong; it's more of a situation that the kid is just a trainwreck.



He'll probably be viewed as dishonoring his family, a serious transgression in Asian cultures.  Then again, that was 100% his own doing.

We were victims of fraud in a very real way.  Jason should have never gotten past the screening process that weeds out kids like him.  I am quite certain there was money passed to make sure Jason got into the program.

Well,  Jason was more the victim than us really.  A young teen uprooted and tossed into a totally differnet culture far separated from his support system (if there is any) is unconscionable to do to a kid with obvious social development issues.  We are angry with his parents for even considering sending him away.

#10 Sabres Fan In NS

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 11:56 AM

Wow!!

Weave, you and your family did all that you could.  The school seems to have done so, as well.  As for the agency?  Well, I think they dropped the ball somewhat in making sure the child was a suitable candidate for the program.

I understand your concern for Jason and the potential reaction of his family.  My guess is that he is the same child at home in China, as he was in your home.

You and your family did good, but I'm not surprised at your reluctance to *try again*.

#11 Eleven

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 11:57 AM

Something is going on back in Shenzhen and you can't do anything about that. You were able to facilitate him getting out of there for a few months and that is more than commendable.

#12 wjag

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 12:00 PM

I was wondering how it was going.  You were in your own kobayashi maru.  I know other families that have sent theirs and entertained others and by and large their experiences were positive.  So I would chalk this up to one bad apple in a bushell.

I hope writing this monologue was in someway cathartic.

Edited by wjag, 26 March 2013 - 12:05 PM.


#13 weave

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 12:06 PM

View PostEleven, on 26 March 2013 - 11:57 AM, said:

Something is going on back in Shenzhen and you can't do anything about that. You were able to facilitate him getting out of there for a few months and that is more than commendable.

Had it worked out we would have had him until he graduated from high school.

#14 theesir

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 12:07 PM

As I read that I began to hope that it was the lead up to some funny hoax story... by the time I got to the end I was sad it wasn't. That's a rough story. I feel badly for all involved.

#15 IKnowPhysics

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 12:34 PM

View Posttheesir, on 26 March 2013 - 12:07 PM, said:

As I read that I began to hope that it was the lead up to some funny hoax story... by the time I got to the end I was sad it wasn't.

View Postweave, on 26 March 2013 - 11:25 AM, said:

The house feels weird today, like we are mourning in some way.  We have pangs of guilt, thoughts that maybe we could have done more.  We quickly grew to care about him and we are concerned about how this plays out for him.  He was a family member whether he wanted to be or not.  And we are hurt in some way because he never acknowledged our care and concern for him.  Not even as he walked away for the last time.

The school has asked us if we want to try it again with a different child next school year.  We politely declined.

The last time I saw Jason, I had dropped him off at the airport.  When he left the car with his suitcase, he walked away for a moment, turned, and ran back to the car.  He opened the door, got on the floor, everybody walk the dinosaur.


#16 Chris_in_UT

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 12:43 PM

View Postweave, on 26 March 2013 - 11:25 AM, said:

<clip>

This morning (Tuesday) was heart-wrenching.  Jason was visibly shaking when he ate breakfast and was holding back tears while standing in line at the ticket counter.  He did not say good bye to us but left us an envelope.  The envelope contained a number of drawings (extremely detailed.  I think he has a future as an illustrator) of anime characters that he wanted to give to a teacher and 2 letters, one written in English for a Korean student and another in Chinese addressed to two of the Chinese girls in school.
We are concerned about what kind of reception he is going to get from his parents when he gets home.  We genuinely hope his family greets him warmly.  He badly needs help that we were not able to give him.  We fear that he has shamed his family and will not be received with the love and support I truly feel he needs.  We have mixed emotions right now.  We are relieved to have this burden lifted but he is a child, a child who I strongly believe has clinical social issues and needs therapy for them.  He isn’t a “bad kid”.  He didn’t break our house rules.  He did not argue with us.  He did not fight with my son.  But he didn’t make any attempt to become part of our lives.  We do not know if it is because he can’t due to social issues, won’t because we weren’t in his social status, or didn’t want to because he didn’t want to be here (something else we had a strong vibe of all along).

The house feels weird today, like we are mourning in some way.  We have pangs of guilt, thoughts that maybe we could have done more.  We quickly grew to care about him and we are concerned about how this plays out for him.  He was a family member whether he wanted to be or not.  And we are hurt in some way because he never acknowledged our care and concern for him.  Not even as he walked away for the last time.

The school has asked us if we want to try it again with a different child next school year.  We politely declined.

I won't deign to know you personally, but I can tell this much about you just from your posts on this board: you are kind, open-minded, and fair. You tried your hardest, and it wasn't received. That's not your fault. Acceptance is a two-way street. You were perfectly able to give him the help he needs; he didn't accept it, for whatever reason.

It has to suck for that poor kid--being thrust from the only life and people he's ever known, and tossed half-way around the world with no one he's ever known. Some embrace that. Like you said--I would be staring out the window in awe and wonder after my exchange family picked me up from the airport, but that's me.

If you find out more about his situation, please ... keep us informed. It's definitely heart-wrenching. I hope there's a happy ending for Jason.

#17 WildCard

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 12:51 PM

Well, now I know not what to do when I'm an exchange student next Fall haha.

But really though that's gotta be horrible, having a kid who's stuck in such a bad place with his parents for that long and not knowing what to do. At least it was an interesting experience. :thumbsup:

#18 Claude_Verret

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 01:01 PM

Wow.  The other night when you hinted that you had a story to tell about the exchange student experience, I said that I was sorry to hear that it hadn't quite worked out like you hoped it would.   Now I see that was the understatement of the year on my part.  I feel bad for all involved.

#19 That Aud Smell

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 01:22 PM

View PostPASabreFan, on 26 March 2013 - 11:49 AM, said:

But I found the story fascinating (almost rubbernecking-an-accident fascinating) and read every word.

to my surprise, i did the same (i kept expecting to start skimming to the end, but didn't).

the old saw about how "no good deeds go unpunished" plays here. sorry for the trouble and anxiety -- don't let it turn you off to doing something along the same lines, once you've recovered from this episode.

#20 sizzlemeister

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 01:56 PM

Good story, but the content, well, I'm sorry you had to go through that, and have to forever have it a part of your lives.  Obviously, you guys did nothing wrong.  There was clearly something going on from the get-go.

I agree that if there is anger it should be directed at Jason's parents...but it seems clear that they do not care in any way we here in the West could appreciate or respect.

#21 Moulson26

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 02:06 PM

wow what an incredible story. Thanks for sharing that with us. You did all you could, and were probably more patient then most would of been in your shoes.

Did you ever find out how come the sister didn't like the parents?

Edited by Vanek-Man, 26 March 2013 - 02:07 PM.


#22 inkman

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 03:38 PM

View PostVanek&#045;Man, on 26 March 2013 - 02:06 PM, said:

Did you ever find out how come the sister didn't like the parents?
I might have also found a way to tactfully ask what the deal is with her bro.

#23 Spndnchz

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 03:44 PM

View Postinkman, on 26 March 2013 - 03:38 PM, said:

I might have also found a way to tactfully ask what the deal is with her bro.

她可租可買計劃“的交易是什麼?

#24 X. Benedict

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 03:51 PM

View Postweave, on 26 March 2013 - 11:46 AM, said:

Part of the problem is that the agency isn't local.  Their nearest office is in Miami.  And the agency is a Chinese for-profit company.  I am sure they had a vested interest in him not going home.

Who was more trapped? You or the kid?

Sounds like the parents dumped a kid with antisocial personality disorder into a system, any system that would take him off their hands.

I don't suspect he'll be dealing with his parents any more in China than he did during his time in the United States.

#25 gomper

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 03:54 PM

It sounds like you did everything you could. Hope the kid gets the help/situation he needs.

#26 BMWR100RT

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 03:59 PM

View PostSpndnchz, on 26 March 2013 - 03:44 PM, said:

她可租可買計劃“的交易是什麼?
Awesome

#27 mrm33064

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 04:01 PM

Thanks for taking time to share your story.

#28 SwampD

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 04:41 PM

The first thing that popped into my head is that this kid falls on the spectrum. The issue with the belt and sneakers sounds all too familiar to me, as well as the blanket thing. It's too bad that the parents are either unable or unwilling to deal with that fact.

View Postweave, on 26 March 2013 - 11:25 AM, said:

The house feels weird today, like we are mourning in some way.  We have pangs of guilt, thoughts that maybe we could have done more.  We quickly grew to care about him and we are concerned about how this plays out for him.  He was a family member whether he wanted to be or not.  And we are hurt in some way because he never acknowledged our care and concern for him.  Not even as he walked away for the last time.
I know many a parent that feels all these things often. Take solace in the fact that you did all you were able to do at the time you did it. And if indeed he is on the spectrum, nothing you could have done would have changed anything in the short time you had him in your life.

#29 wjag

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 04:46 PM

View PostSwampD, on 26 March 2013 - 04:41 PM, said:

The first thing that popped into my head is that this kid falls on the spectrum. The issue with the belt and sneakers sounds all too familiar to me, as well as the blanket thing. It's too bad that the parents are either unable or unwilling to deal with that fact.

I know many a parent that feels all these things often. Take solace in the fact that you did all you were able to do at the time you did it. And if indeed he is on the spectrum, nothing you could have done would have changed anything in the short time you had him in your life.

I'm with you.  I know more about this than I want to or should have to.  I recognize enough of the behaviors to agree with Swamp's assessment and Weave's gut.

#30 Taro T

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 04:51 PM

That sucks.

Take heart in knowing you did what you could.  Sounds (reads, whatever) like a lousy situation all around.

#31 Ghost of Dwight Drane

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 04:58 PM

Interesting stuff....

What made you decide to go this route in the first place? Why an exchange student....a Chinese one, with an agency down in Miami, that you'd take in for 3-4 years? That's a lot of hoops.

Did you guys think of being a foster parent to someone local?

You're a pretty sharp dude and I assume you wanted to do something rewarding. In all honesty, when you first told the story of him ready to come here, I envisioned a guy copying and sending files from your work computers back home. It sounds like you just got a bad draw if you met the other kids and they were more adjusted. The whole process is just red flag city. It's admirable you guys gave it your all though.

#32 d4rksabre

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 05:02 PM

You're a good man weave, but you already knew that.

Did the sister come to America by the same route?

#33 Ghost of Dwight Drane

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 05:15 PM

View Postd4rksabre, on 26 March 2013 - 05:02 PM, said:

You're a good man weave, but you already knew that.

Did the sister come to America by the same route?

Oh yeah.....where is the obligitory "Pics of the Sister?" post? :P

#34 Arcsabresfan41

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 06:24 PM

Something similar happened to a friend of mine down the road. It was a very upsetting experience to everyone, and I'm sorry for everyone involved in your situation.

#35 biodork

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 10:47 PM

Wow... that's just crazy.  I don't know how you kept it together that entire time, but sorry you and your family had to go through that ordeal.  Hopefully Jason at least has friends back home, since it seems like his parents aren't particularly interested in taking care of him.

#36 TrueBluePhD

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 01:45 AM

View PostX. Benedict, on 26 March 2013 - 03:51 PM, said:

Who was more trapped? You or the kid?

Sounds like the parents dumped a kid with antisocial personality disorder into a system, any system that would take him off their hands.

I don't suspect he'll be dealing with his parents any more in China than he did during his time in the United States.

This was my thought as well. Add in the fact that the sister wasn't thrilled with the parents, and it definitely seems they knew he had issues and didn't make any real attempt to help him.

As others have said, you did all you could. My emotions probably range from sympathy for you and you family, concern for Jason, and anger at the parents. I'm just glad the parents finally bought him a flight home--this could have gotten even uglier pretty quickly.

#37 shrader

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 07:18 AM

On a side note, why do they have to choose an american name?  Are we too dumb to use their real names?

#38 Claude_Verret

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 07:31 AM

View Postshrader, on 27 March 2013 - 07:18 AM, said:

On a side note, why do they have to choose an american name? Are we too dumb to use their real names?

Kind of. I work with plenty of foreigners, and it's probably because we just mangle their names horribly.

#39 ChileanSeaBass

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 08:59 AM

I know one family here who took in a kid from Denmark and that ended horribly as well (he was an alcoholic), and I knew a girl from Poland who came and was basically brought in to babysit 3 little kids while the rich parents went out to party.  My cousin went to Austria and that didn't end well either.  Being/hosting an exchange student should be such an awesome experience, unfortunately all the experiences I personally know of have been anything but.  Sorry to hear about this one, weave.

#40 weave

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 09:05 AM

Wow! Lots to respond to.  Thanks to all for the positive thoughts.


View PostChris_in_UT, on 26 March 2013 - 12:43 PM, said:

I won't deign to know you personally, but I can tell this much about you just from your posts on this board: you are kind, open-minded, and fair. You tried your hardest, and it wasn't received. That's not your fault. Acceptance is a two-way street. You were perfectly able to give him the help he needs; he didn't accept it, for whatever reason.

It has to suck for that poor kid--being thrust from the only life and people he's ever known, and tossed half-way around the world with no one he's ever known. Some embrace that. Like you said--I would be staring out the window in awe and wonder after my exchange family picked me up from the airport, but that's me.

If you find out more about his situation, please ... keep us informed. It's definitely heart-wrenching. I hope there's a happy ending for Jason.

Thanks for the extremely kind words.  I'd love to keep in touch with Jason somehow but I doubt it is likely.

View PostVanek-Man, on 26 March 2013 - 02:06 PM, said:

wow what an incredible story. Thanks for sharing that with us. You did all you could, and were probably more patient then most would of been in your shoes.

Did you ever find out how come the sister didn't like the parents?

She described domineering parents.  Her dad is very mad at her because he wanted her to go to school for buisness so she could help run his business but she didn't want to.  She is working towards an Environmental Sciences degree.  She said she does not want to go back to China when finished.

View Postinkman, on 26 March 2013 - 03:38 PM, said:

I might have also found a way to tactfully ask what the deal is with her bro.

We talked at great length about her brother.  He was a good student, but not great, at home but was also very withdrawn at home too.  I suspect that the familiar routines at home helped him succeed there.

View PostX. Benedict, on 26 March 2013 - 03:51 PM, said:

Who was more trapped? You or the kid?

Sounds like the parents dumped a kid with antisocial personality disorder into a system, any system that would take him off their hands.

I don't suspect he'll be dealing with his parents any more in China than he did during his time in the United States.

Given what I believe to be a social disorder, I'd call jason the more trapped.  I always had the out of giving up and asking him to be sent home if I wanted it.  I didn't want it.  I wanted his stay to become successful for all.  After the holidays it became pretty apparent to all that he wasn't going to succeed here and this year was becoming a lost year for him and it was time to draw a line in the sand and prepare for his leaving.

View PostGhost of Dwight Drane, on 26 March 2013 - 04:58 PM, said:

Interesting stuff....

What made you decide to go this route in the first place? Why an exchange student....a Chinese one, with an agency down in Miami, that you'd take in for 3-4 years? That's a lot of hoops.

Did you guys think of being a foster parent to someone local?

You're a pretty sharp dude and I assume you wanted to do something rewarding. In all honesty, when you first told the story of him ready to come here, I envisioned a guy copying and sending files from your work computers back home. It sounds like you just got a bad draw if you met the other kids and they were more adjusted. The whole process is just red flag city. It's admirable you guys gave it your all though.

This post requires a long response with more info than I am willing to put in a public forum, but I'll give some tidbits.  We were blessed with one child.  We always wanted more but circumstances dictated otherwise.  We looked into adoption and fostering.  For a few key reasons fostering in particular isn't for us.  And if we had the resources then that we have now we probably would have adopted at least once.  Now we are closer to 50 than 40 and don't feel like we have the energy and enthusiasm to really wnat to consider adopting or fostering small children.

As for why hosting a child through this particular agency? We didn't seek it out, it found us.  Our sons' school arranged the program and reached out to us to see if we would be interested.  Frankly, we felt honored to be considered.  We did our reseach and knew the risks but felt confident that it would be a rewarding experience.  I suppose it still was, but not nearly as rewarding as hoped.

The 3-4 stay only came in to play if all sides felt that the situation was a good one.  Everyone had the right of first refusal for subsequent years.  I always felt confident that we could abort if needed.

View Postd4rksabre, on 26 March 2013 - 05:02 PM, said:

You're a good man weave, but you already knew that.

Did the sister come to America by the same route?

Thank you.  Sis went to high school in the UK, and enrolled in college here.  She said her and her brother have been going to school sin far away places since kindergarten!   How effed up is that?

View PostGhost of Dwight Drane, on 26 March 2013 - 05:15 PM, said:

Oh yeah.....where is the obligitory "Pics of the Sister?" post? :P

I have a couple.  You degenerates won't see them. :P   I will say that I find Asian girls to be either very attractive or very unattractive with no middle ground.  His sister is very much the former.

View Postshrader, on 27 March 2013 - 07:18 AM, said:

On a side note, why do they have to choose an american name?  Are we too dumb to use their real names?

I don't know, but they all do.  I assumed it was to more readily blend in but that is a guess on my part.

Thanks again folks.  I could have tied up every Thursday complaint thread but you folks seemed to have more pressing matters.  I did volunteer to take this on after all.  It's been trying but our family is likely stronger for it, so there is a silver lining.