Stikkordarkiv: #Hushjelp

Vanlige problemer: Religionspress, hushjelp, diskriminering

ladythalia/lillethia skriver:

Jeg ser at EF ikke har  forbedret seg siden 90-tallet.  Jeg var utvekslingselev og bodde hos en mormonerfamilie for noen år siden. (Også kjent som Jesu Kristi kirke av de siste dagers hellige, eller Latter Day saints som de selv foretrekker.)

De tror på bibelen, men er også det de kaller mormons bok som forteller om profeter som valfartet fra midtøsten over til Amerika hvor de etterhvert skrev ned guds ord og tekster på noen gulltavler. Disse tavlene ble gitt av gud til grunnleggeren av sekten, men da han hadde oversatt gulltavlene til moderne engelsk, forsvant de mirakuløst og veldig beleilig nok opp i himmelen igjen;-P

Stort sett er de veeeldig familieorienterte og har ofte mange barn. De er også kjent for å spore opp avdøde slektninger og «frelse» dem så de skal få sjansen på evig liv. Ellers er de ofte totalavholds, i hvertfall om du ikke ender hos noen særs liberale mormonere, så ikke vent deg at de vil tolerere festing røyk eller alkohol (eller kaffe) i det hele tatt. Kroppen skal være et tempel og må derfor holdes rent. Sex før ekteskapet er vederstyggelig, og kanskje du som jeg vil få servert datingboka deres, kalt «på date med den hellige ånd» e.l. (Som skal frelse deg fra syndige tanker om det motsatte kjønn.)

En annen ting jeg raskt kom i opposisjon til var godstjenestene deres. De varer i over 3 timer hver søndag, og er delt opp i flere seminardeler. Det er heller ikke uvanlig at man blir i kirken opptil en time eller mer også etter at gudstjenesten er ferdig. I tillegg vil de fleste ungdommene i familien følge seminarer i kirken før skolen begynner et par ganger i uka. (Hos oss begynte de kl 7.) Selv om misjonering er ulovlig i følge utvekslingselev-vedtektene, vil de nok be deg med i kirken. Selv følte jeg veldig at de prøvde å omvente meg, og etter at jeg 3 måneder ut i oppholdet ikke lenger orket å delta, surnet forholdet mellom familien og meg veldig raskt. Råder deg derfor til å være klar på om du virkelig ønsker å delta fra dag en. En ting er å være med en gang eller to av høflighetsgrunner, noe annet at du jevnlig skal delta.

Appendix F to Part 62

Would you be willing voluntarily to inform the exchange visitor in advance of any religious affiliations of household members? (Y/N)

Would any member of the household have difficulty hosting a student whose religious beliefs were different from their own? (Y/N) Note: A host family may want the exchange visitor to attend one or more religious services or programs with the family. The exchange visitor cannot be required to do so, but may decide to experience this facet of U.S. culture at his or her discretion.

De driver forøvrig med utstrakt misjonering, og guttene er pålagt å være misjonærer i to år fra de er 18. Jenter kan velge det samme, men må vente til de er 20. Du har nok sett dem også i Norge, med sine hvite skjorter, slips og navneskilt…

Ønsker ikke å skremme deg. Kanskje får du et fantastisk år, men mitt var i grunnen ikke verdt verke ntid eller penger. Jeg har ingen kontakt med familien idag, og er sjeleglad for det. Vær klar på hvem du er fra dag en, sånn sett har dere en bedre sjanse for å forstå å godta hverandre særegenheter.

For min del var det veldig implisitt fra dag en at jeg som utvekslingselev skulle lære om kulturen deres, for dem var religionen veldig sentral. Og når man er veldig ny vil man jo gjerne gjøre folk til lags. Etterhvert (dvs veldig tidlig) sluttet de å spørre om jeg ville være med, og de tok det som en selvfølge. Jeg var aldri med på morgenseminarene deres for ungdom (7-8 mandag onsdag og fredag.) siden jeg jo faktisk ikke var mormoner. Synes det er en uting å be med en ikketroende på de seminarene også. Det er tross alt langt over grensen for å lære om kulturen, det blir ren ungdomsforkynnelse, som for de som er medlemmer.

Siden de sluttet å spørre om jeg ville være med hver søndag, men bare ropte høyt til meg grytidlig hver søndag at nå måtte jeg stå opp, ga deg meg aldri et forum hvor jeg kunne uttrykke betenkelighetene mine, og jeg merket at den holdningen deres etterhvert gjorde meg både fortvilet og veldig aggressiv. Så jeg begynte å skulke time nr 2 og 3 i kirken, men da ble selvsagt da et samtaleemne også. «We missed you today…» bla bla bla… Snakk om å gi dårlig samvittighet. Kan godt tenke meg de andre i menigheten også merket jeg var borte, og gud vet om vertsfamilien fikk høre det fra de andre igjen også…

Men man skulle jo tro de hadde tatt tegnene på uvilje, spurt om det føltes galt for meg å være med, om jeg ville slutte, men det gjorde de aldri. De ble bare sure da jeg endelig våget å si stopp. Da endte det jo selvfølgelig med en temmelig ubehagelig seanse hvor områderepresentante min skulle støttet meg, men som medlem av mormonerkirken var hun selvsagt på deres side. Har aldri følt meg så rettsløs som det året. Måtte «krype» og unnskylde meg for å forklare meg, mens jeg til denne dag bare uttrykte det man kan forvente av et voksent, myndig menneske som faktisk har rett til å si nei til å ta del i forkynnelsen i familien uten å dømmes for egne meninger. De visste like godt som meg at religiøs forkynnelse overfor utvekslingssudenten ikke er lov og det burde de tatt med i betraktning.

Andre aspekter jeg hadde problemer med var bordbønnen. Alle skulle sitte der med lukkede øyne og be. Men stadig vekk knep jeg faren i å spise mat mens de andre ba, jeg følte ikke for å hykle ved å lukke øynene og be til en gud jeg ikke tror på og da knep jeg han selvfølgelig, selv om jeg aldri sa det til noen. Tror denne oppdagelsen førte til at spesielt faren og jeg fikk et dårlig forhold. Sammen med det faktum at jentene skulle være guttenes tjenere og smøre maten deres for dem mens de så på tv. Godstolen var også forbeholdt pater familias (A.K.A: hustyrannen.) Foreldrene stjal regelmessig vitaminpillene mine (som jeg kjøpte fordi barna i familien og jeg fikk dårligere mat enn de voksne.)

Herregud, ja. Det begynte med at jeg snek meg ut mellom seminarene for i hvertfall å slippe unna en time eller to, men da etterlyste de meg selvfølgelig… Følte meg totalt fanget! Dessuten elsker jeg å sove lenge i helgene, så da passet det i  grunn dårlig å stå opp kl 8 for å høre Mormons (løgnhistorie) ord.

Skulle gjerne byttet selv også, men områderepresentanten var selvsagt også mormoner, så der var det ingen hjelp å få. Eneste valget hun ga meg (som ikke var noe reelt valg) var å sove på sofaen i huset hennes sammen med en baby hun var pleiemor for. (Hun levde av å ta inn barn i alle aldre, 4,5 stk på hvert rom i huset.) Da ble tross alt min gamle familie det minste ondet. Men jeg følte hele tiden at hun, som skulle stille opp ved kriser, valgte å redde kirkens og sin egen stolthet før min.

Det rådet jeg pleier å gi utvekslingselever er å sette krav allerede i søknaden de sender over til statene. Si nei til religion om du ikke er religiøs selv. Be om å komme til en by dersom du ikke er glad i landet. Si du elsker å bade, dersom du ikke vil ende opp langt mot nord osv… Riktignok tar det lenger tid å plassere folk med krav og ønsker, men resultatet er også mindre misnøye når man først har fått familien sin. Og ikke minst: Føler man noe skurrer med familien før man reiser over: Be om å få bytte. Bedre å ta det da enn senere.

Vanlige problemer: Vaskehjelp, ingen hjelp, fratatt elektronikk

I.C.A skriver:

Skummelt å lese at andre har hatt lignende opplevelser. Jeg  dro  selv til USA med EF i 2009 og havnet hos en familie med store ekteskapsproblemer og som behandlet med som en vaskehjelp  i 9 måneder. Prøvde å snakke med koordinatoren min og fikk  beskjed » Det tar lengre en 3 måneder for å finne en ny familie  for deg, og du vil ikke havne i nærheten av der du bor nå osv.» Og jeg ba om å få en ny familie selv fikk jeg aldri det. Koordinatoren min ringte vertsfamilien min og ga beskjed om at jeg hadde sagt  at jeg ville bytte familie selv om jeg hadde fått beskjed at det skulle bli mellom meg og henne. De tok mobilen min, fikk ikke  lov å snakke med foreldrene mine i Norge og ga meg husarrest  i 1 måned med masse oppgaver å gjøre rundt om kring i huset. Fikk ikke snakket med venner eller sagt hadet når jeg skulle  reise hjem til Norge når den tid kom. De behandlet meg virkelig som et dyr, familien ringte politiet i Norge og det ble  stort kaos når de aldri fikk tak i meg.

Anbefaler virkelig ikke å dra med EF, de velger ikke  vertsfamiliene med omhu.

Trotti, Ragna: Hostage in America (2009)

Used with permission from CSFES

Following the humiliating, early repatriation of 17-year-old exchange student Synne Marie Fjellvoll only 9 weeks prior to the completion of an international exchange program, Norwegian father Per Fjellvoll took matters into his own hands to ensure that his daughter was credited for her Sophomore year at a US High School. Fjellvoll is among a growing number of foreign parents distressed by the US State Department’s failure to supervise organizations sponsoring exchange students and enforce current regulations. Said Fjellvoll, “Students are put at the mercy of the sponsoring organization and the host family from the day they arrive in the U.S., in what can only be described as a hostage situation. Students and schools have no say in their own fates.”

By: Ragni Trotta

Says Synne; “I was so excited to study abroad in the United States of America. It was a dream come true.” Synne’s dream would soon to turn into a nightmare.

The granddaughter of two Norwegian school teachers, Synne’s high school exchange was made through the US with The Education Foundation for Foreign Study (EF), an exchange sponsor designated by the United States Department of State. Under the slogan “Personal Service”, “Safety”, “Quality”, EF charged the natural parents the equivalent of US$12,000 for Synne’s one year “cultural experience” in the U.S.

Placed with Tommy and Gidget Vickers in Branchville, South Carolina, a family made up of a mother, an out-of-work father, 4 children and 2 dogs, Synne’s chores swiftly added up to include daily babysitting for the family’s two youngest children from 3:00 – 6:00 pm, mowing the lawn, walking the dogs, doing the dishes and even washing her host sister’s clothes on Sundays. She was told she would be “on a plane home to Norway” if she refused to perform the many duties assigned to her. Explains Synne; “I never felt like part of the family, I felt like a maid.” Regulations stipulate that exchange students may only take on voluntary, sporadic jobs.

With two untrained dogs urinating and defecating around the mold-ridden Vicker’s home, the host family’s abode was clearly questionable by most health & hygiene standards. Says the exchange student; “The stench was disgusting. Several holes in the roof and walls were scantily covered by cardboard and boards and the window in my room was broken.”

Host families are required to provide meals for students. However, Synne was quickly told that she had to buy her own food. She was not allowed to eat from the family fridge and had to pay for her own meals when the family ordered Chinese takeout, which was frequent.

Grounded for weeks and isolated in a foreign country far away from home, her personal cell phone was confiscated and her internet access revoked by her host mother, making it impossible for her to contact her parents in Norway for help. Synne’s student card did not include the toll free help line of the US Department of State, as required by law.

According to Federal Regulations, foreign exchange students must be placed within a “nurturing environment” in a “financially stable” home and sponsoring organizations must ensure that the host family has adequate financial resources to undertake hosting obligations. EF’s gravest of several violations was the failure to do criminal background checks on the host family and the local EF representative.

36 judgments and liens registered against the Vickers would have thrown up several red flags, had they ever been carried out.

Numerous criminal convictions and judgments would also have turned up against her local EF representative Linda Davis (a.k.a. Linda J. Teller), who ensured a steady flow of exchange students to the Vickers despite repeated complaints from prior students. Local area representatives, who are paid US$ 400-700 to find homes, are required to check in with students at least once a month and must be contactable to the exchange student 24/7. But Davis ignored Synne’s repeated pleas for help for several months and told her to “stop whining” and that “Norwegian students are always the hardest.” Synne’s requests for a new family were also ignored by EF’s Head Office in Boston, MA, who had received reports from teachers at Branchville High School regarding the Vickers’ treatment of a German exchange student staying with them only two years earlier. At that time, teachers had to buy food for the student and place it in the fridge at school to feed her.

Following months of desperate pleas for help, Synne was “removed from the program” in a whirlwind of trumped-up accusations in March 2010. According to EF, she was being repatriated to Norway due to “bad behavior”, “bad grades” and too many “social activities”. While EF maintained that she had been “expelled” from school, a phone call to the Principal at Branchville High School revealed that this was a complete falsehood.

The Fjellvoll family were informed that EF had cancelled Synne’s VISA and that she had to be on a plane back to Norway that very night or she would be deported by US Authorities. In actual fact, foreign nationals who enter the US on a J-VISA have 30 days to leave the country following the cancellation of student sponsorships. Says Synne’s father; “We were shocked. We had just received an email from EF in February 2010 saying that everything was fine and Synne was “doing well in school”.

When the community got wind of Synne’s struggles with the Vickers, three local families volunteered to take her into their homes for the remaining 9 weeks of the school year. However, her host-mother and the local EF representative made it clear to would-be rescuers that anyone taking in the exchange student would be charged with harboring an illegal alien. After verbally attacking Synne at her high school, confiscating her phone and forcing her to leave without saying good-bye to her teachers or friends, Vickers dropped her curbside at the Charleston Airport to fend for herself. Synne’s  parents did not know the details of her ordeal or her whereabouts until she stepped off the plane in Oslo, Norway, where she fell into her father’s arms sobbing.

According to her father, Synne’s premature repatriation was based on minor episodes and lies by EF and her host family. Says her father; “Any accusations used by EF or the Vickers family to expedite the US deportation of Synne have subsequently been proven false by the Principal and teachers at Branchville High School.”  Fjellvoll tried every possible avenue to stop the unjust repatriation of his daughter only 9 weeks prior to the school year’s end. Says the father; “I was horrified to learn that sponsoring organizations have the power to simply withdraw a student’s sponsorship on a whim.” The Norwegian father expressed frustration at the U.S. State Department’s unwillingness to intervene with the EF Foundation on behalf of his daughter.

According to the US Department of State, a sponsor has the power to withdraw their sponsorship “for cause.” However “cause” is determined by the exchange organization itself, without any independent assessments. Said Fjellvoll, “Students are put at the mercy of sponsoring organizations and host families from the day they arrive in the U.S. in what can only be described as a hostage situation. The student is powerless.”

Unable to accept the injustice done to his daughter, Fjellvoll was able to arrange an agreement between Synne’s local high school in Kirkenes, Norway and her exchange school in Branchville, SC.:  Synne would complete her final exams in Norway before returning to the US to attend a 10th grade graduation ceremony at Branchville with her classmates.  There she was awarded a grade level completion certificate as well as two “Certificates of Excellence for Academic Achievement”, not to mention the chance to properly say good-bye to the friends she made during the academic year.

The graduation ceremony stands as a personal victory for the young Norwegian but also prevented a significant financial loss to her family.  The Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund sponsored the equivalent of US$6,000 to Synne for her acceptance into a program for students desiring to complete a study year abroad.  If for some reason the student does not complete their schooling the student is in ‘breach of contract’ and the grant becomes a loan.

Like many others, the Fjellvoll family found Danielle Grijalva, Director of The Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students (CSFES) online and contacted her for help regarding Synne’s unjustified repatriation. A “thorn” in the side of the exchange companies, Grijalva committee is the only independent organization which assists the droves of young students who continue to find themselves stranded and alone in the “land of opportunity”.

Many students participating in foreign exchange student programs have become victims of crimes including abuse and sexual exploitation during their stays in the United States. Grijalva of CSFES stated, «Student placement agencies not interested in the complete health, safety and welfare of its students should not be allowed to place exchange students.»

While the U.S. Department of State claims to investigate approximately 200 complaints per year, The Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students (CSFES) reports between 150 – 200 phone calls per week.  It is thought that only a small fraction of complaints come to the attention of US Authorities, because complaints are typically filed by exchange students upon return to their home countries.

On March 28, 2010, CSFES filed a complaint with U.S. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on behalf of Per Fjellvoll regarding EF Foundation’s failure to adhere to the Federal Regulations in the case of his daughter. Complaints have also been filed with Stanley Colvin; Deputy Secretary of US Department of State, Mark Sanford; Governor of South Carolina, and Lindsey Graham; US Senator South Carolina.

A pattern of ignoring complaints, failing to find appropriate families and repatriating “problem students” early have become the distinguishing trademarks of EF’s operation. Despite stringent admittance procedures to EF’s program in student’s home countries, an increasing amount of foreign exchange students continue to be shipped back to their home country in disgrace and humiliation, prior to the completion of their program. Problems continue because the exchange industry continues to cite these cases as an isolated incident. However, the many similar stories reported by exchange students indicate that problems are caused by a systemic failure.

Synne was one of 925 youngsters to arrive in the US from the Scandinavian country of 4.3 million last year for a high school year abroad. In the last 7 years, Norway has sent 5,016 foreign exchange students to the US.