They don't know how to unload the dishwasher, clean, cook, address a postcard, how much a stamp costs (they know the price of shoes!), how to catch a frog, plant a flower, or what kind of birds are native to their country and region. They don't know we don't speak British and are constantly having a problem with the past perfect tense of verbs. "They taught us that way" they say! We've also been called American Pigs by Australian relatives (young and ignorant relatives, not the wiser and older relatives)
This time, when meeting our Australian daughter, her parents did just that, they paid to have her meet with me and I was escorted to her. The time prior to that I was trying to find out where my host son from Germany was. Nobody would give me any information because his German parents who are a doctor and heathcare sales rep respectively didn't pay the nominal fee to secure his arrival. Despite their ignorance, I found him. The parents sign a waiver that they will not contact their son or daughter while in America. They must abide by the American host parents rules. In theory this is "nice" but in reality they do whatever they want. And as a result this causes many American parents real problems. And thus my statement, "I'm never going to do this again."
I know this is tough on ANY parent so personally I allow emails as often as you'd like and skyping once a month home to share all the exciting things we do in America. We candidly let the Birth parents know that we do however institute a 30-day moratorium of no contact what-so-ever particularly for the non-English speaking students. This assures their total absorption of the English language and forces them to learn quickly. With our Australian daughter, it was the American culture we wanted her to absorb. We as host parents make sure the kids maximize their stay in our lives and in America by teaching them and showing them as much as we can. Places that most Americans have never been cumulatively in a lifetime, they will visit in six to ten months.
|Sam and Steve in Pennsylvania Monument built to honor the highest number of Civil War Casualties|
They test our boundaries, misplace things, break things,etc. just like our own American birth sons and daughters and are typical teenagers. But do they really get it? I've heard many times from other American Host parents that we feel like they treat us as their "hotel." They don't pay rent so maybe we should start charging? It is so rude in our culture to come into our homes and not want to talk to you. Closing their bedroom door and staying in there for hours. Only to tell their friends at home what a great time they are having.
I learned from the German son that technology has put other limitations on what parents can do. With the iPhone once they have your code for your wireless internet, you have no control. They do whatever they want, talk to whomever they want whenever they want. I stopped this with the next host daughter and didn't give the access code. I now monitor the wireless to ensure that the kids don't get sucked into this black hole of Facebook and Facetime and Instant Chat instead of talking to us. It is amazing to me that they will come home and answer the question of "How was your day?" with "OK, normal, etc" only to overhear them tell a friend about a fight that broke out in school and this is Spirit Week, Homecoming, etc. That is NOT a NORMAL, OK Day! The parents back home want to hear all about it but don't realize this interferes with the bonding process with the parents who are kind enough to take them in. It is better for parents to talk to parents during this time. Google Translator and Skype provide this segway and technology is great for this.
|Sam and BJ at Gettysburg above Devil's Den|
|Sam in NY Monument to 2nd most Civil War Soldiers Killed|