Thinking of Hosting An Exchange Student? Don't use ISE International Student Exchange
Feb 12, 201706:53PM
UPDATE AT END
Correspondence with the people running that show, regarding our home:
Mike and Jessica,
I was contacted a couple of days ago by Carrie, the woman who does 2nd home visits for ISE. She was very concerned about the disarray of your home. I explained to her that you both are very busy individuals who have a small child in the home (who I'm sure makes messes faster than one can pick up) and that I would feel comfortable living in your home, even if it were a bit untidy (as is everyone's at times). However, she was so concerned that she recommended to the ISE district manager, Pauline Pipkins, that Boris be found a different home. I contacted Boris (I didn't mention what Carrie had said, just checking in with him to see how he was doing) and he said that he really likes you all and enjoys spending time with your family. He also said he was making friends and likes school. I spoke with Pauline and asked her to please give you guys a chance to tidy up a bit before making a final decision of having Boris removed, since he likes you guys and is happy in your home. She informed me that if the home tidiness situation improves, then Boris can continue to live with you all for the duration of his time here. Carrie Roberts will be making another home visit in the near future to see if the situation has improved. I'm sure that she'll call a day or so ahead of time to make sure that you all will be available. Boris seems to be a nice kid and I hope your family is enjoying hosting him. I look forward to seeing him on Sunday for skiing!
Thanks for hosting,
Jessica Schlenker said:
As I was obviously not here when this visit occurred or aware that it was scheduled, I am unsure what “disarray” is the cause of the concern.
Clarification as to what caused her concern would be helpful. I have been ill the last few weeks with an on-going migraine, and my routine has been scrambled accordingly. However, I will note that none of Cassandra’s weekly in-home therapists, who are mandatory reporters, have expressed any concerns, quite the opposite.
I believe Mike said this occurred on Wednesday, and no mention was made at the time of any concerns. I do know that I received several boxes that day, household goods (Amazon), which were in the living-room when I got home. Mike believes it was neater than when you were last inside, as well.
And, yes, Cassandra actively takes things off shelves and out of boxes at every opportunity. It’s a full time job to keep her toys in one area only. We endeavor to keep her out of the office (non-living area) of the building. However, thanks to things like having to replace the furnace, we have not yet purchased and installed the planned separating doors between the “house” and “office” area. The office is not, however, “living” space.
We have enjoyed having Boris here, and believe it would be detrimental to him to move him for concerns neither he (nor his family, who have had a couple of video “tours” when Boris has Facetime’d them while walking around) have expressed.
Since this is our first time hosting, and we are still settling into the house from moving in (and combining two households), we would appreciate the guidance and clarification first rather than overreaction.
Mike Williamson said
In fact, given that statement, I would appreciate if Pauline came and saw for herself.
Jan 31 (12 days ago)
Is there any further information or follow up?
We're all rather fretful, as you might expect.
On Jan 29, 2017 6:57 PM, Janel wrote:
I can understand your frustration. I think you all have a beautiful home and saw no problems while I was there. I would feel very comfortable with my own child living there. I forwarded your email to Pauline and told her the same. I also explained to Carrie when she called me that the office wasn't living space and you all were still getting settled in from the move. I'm fighting for you guys because I believe that you're an awesome host family and that Boris really enjoys being there. I hope that you're feeling better. Moms don't have time to be sick.
I'll let you know what I find out.
Melissa Plunkett says:
5:31 PM (47 minutes ago)
Hello. Sorry for the delay. I have a day job and was gone for training all weekend plus I've been having conversations with my manager about your particular situation. I am sorry to say that we are going to need to move Boris. Due to the report coming back as it did and your surprise at the report, it seems we may have different standards of a clean and tidy host environment. I had asked janel to speak with you and wanted to set up a second visit but there is concern that you don't see it as a problem and unfortunately Boris does see it as a concern for him as well. He would never say that to you guys, as he does think you are very nice and would not want to hurt your feelings or make you angry with him. He appreciates all that you've done and we do as well, but we do have state standards that we have to meet (different than what the department of state for child welfare ) and our standards are very rigid for exchange students. I am sorry to have to send this to you and please know that we all know that you are good people who really wanted to host a student as we know many others who do and are unable to for many different reasons and situations. I encourage you to consider trying again with a student next year if you are willing/able to tidy and keep tidy your home. I can share our definition of that if you'd like. Again I am sorry and I will keep you advised of a move date but I expect it would be before the end of the week.
Per Janel's below instructions, I am contacting you. If you have any information regarding when a second visit will happen, that would be appreciated. We have not had any contact regarding it.
We are still pending a response to our original questions regarding clarification as to what caused the "concern" about "disarray," as well as the request for clearer guidelines. I have looked through everything possible on the ISE website and handbooks, and found nothing specific or clear. As noted to Janel previously, we have two mandatory reporters -- my 2 year old's speech and occupational therapists, via the state's First Steps program -- in the house weekly, and they have not voiced concerns. (Three different individuals now, as one of her regular therapists is on maternity leave, and there is a substitute therapist here on a different schedule than before until she's back.)
I am bothered by the vacuum that appears to have happened in regards to information. Mike and I are absolutely willing to follow guidance insofar as possible and reasonable, but that guidance has not been made available.
Feeling it fair to Boris, we apprised him of the information that there was an issue when we were informed (which surprised and flabbergasted him), and he has asked a few times if we have any further information as to what would happen. I would like to be able to reassure him, but so far all I've been able to do is say "I don't know."
Sorry it took so long getting back to you. I usually try to return emails in a timely manner. I was attempting to get a definite answer from someone about what exactly is going on. Melissa Plunkett, my supervisor, has been speaking to Pauline about when a second visit would happen. It would be best for you to contact Melissa. Her email is [redacted]. I'm sorry that I can't be more help.
Jessica Schlenker says:
5:58 PM (20 minutes ago)
Yes, obviously, which is why I requested standards and information, because I could not find anything when the concern came up.
It seems that Boris suddenly became okay with moving into a new location after finding out he'd be moving in with a friend.
When Janel contacted him originally, without any discussion about why she was, he had nothing bad to say. When we told him there was a concern, he was shocked, surprised, and immediately said he has no issues or worries. We *asked*. All that Janel would say is that there would be another inspection.
I am sorry that my desire to be cooperative and helpful has been found to be offensive. I requested guidance as to how to meet these undocumented standards, so that there wouldn't be a misunderstanding.
Unfortunately, as these standards are apparently beyond what daily vacuuming, cleaning, and general pickup can accomplish, I believe we will not ever be "fit" for this program.
My apologies for our efforts.
Mike Williamson says:
I just spoke to Boris, politely. He was very embarrassed about all of this. He also seemed very unsure, as if he'd been told it was "for the best," not given a choice, and was trying to convince himself it was of benefit.
It seems he was told he was moving, and in with a friend, and felt that would be more fun. He did express that the 2 year old makes a bit more mess than he is comfortable with. We do clean regularly. We have vacuumed three times this week. Had he ever mentioned this, and I asked frequently, we would have made additional cleanup efforts, though it appears you're not actually aware of what a 2 year old can do in a half hour.
Pauline [actually, Carrie. I have trouble keeping track of all the voices in this, one of whom I met for two minutes, most of whom never even spoke to me directly] deceitfully did not express any concerns at all during her visit. If she had an issue, that would be the time to tell us. She failed to do so.
It's been three weeks since then. Clearly, urgency in this case was lacking.
It's been three weeks. You still have failed to provide guidelines on what is considered acceptable. It seems one person's word with no criteria or photos is enough to cause all this uproar. BTW, yes, the outside of the house was a bit disorganized. It's called a "windstorm" and my industrial stuff from my former office is not yet fully situated in the garage. It in no way affected liveability, and again, if that was a concern, it would be both polite and professional to make mention at the time.
Carrie didn't even actually enter any room other than Boris' and the living room. It appears she entered the house, decided she was done, and left in about two minutes.
As mentioned before, our daughter has a speech therapist and a occupational therapist in the house weekly. They have mandatory reporting guidelines to the State of Indiana for any issues they see. When queried, they informed me our house is far above average and they have zero concerns.
Carrie's complete failure to act in a courteous and professional manner, and her deceitfulness.
The inability of the rest of your organization to provide any sort of examples or guidelines as to what was deemed wrong, suggesting that they are arbitrary and capricious.
Your refusal to follow through with the re-inspection you promised, even without furnishing more criteria.
Your apparent dishonesty in promising the above, then refusing to do so.
Your inability to follow through in a timely manner, regarding this alleged problem.
Your complaint that our inability to understand and comply with mysterious guidelines IN ADDITION to the written guidelines, that you cannot provide in this timeframe.
The stress Boris is undergoing, after settling in, and now being moved, and without any real feedback we are aware of.
It appears your organization does not meet the standards I require, in terms of maintaining standards, communication, and professionalism.
Accordingly, we most certainly will not involve ourselves with you again.
I feel sorry for Boris, the victim in all of this. I wish him well and hope the rest of his stay is positive. It's a shame he won't get to see Chicago, Columbus OH, Nashville and Louisville, as we had planned with my professional appearance schedule. Hopefully his other hosts can offer him some travel opportunities.
Our thanks to Janel for being the only professional voice in this discourse.
By the way, this is how Boris got the money for his New York, DC and skiing trips: https://www.gofundme.com/send-boris-to-new-york-and-dc
UPDATE 13 Feb. 17: Melissa informed Boris via text that he was moving today. He told me, I explained the concerns, he texted her to phone me. She refused. I contacted ISE headquarters at 1620, who said they were unaware of the issue, and are investigating. The rep on the phone agreed the procedure sounds nonstandard, but didn't say more, pending investigation.
At 1815 Melissa showed up with a police officer (for which I'm actually grateful--at least there was some sort of official logging. She brought no documentation. I invited her into the house to see it and offer feedback if she had any complaints. She refused. The officer came in at my request and said he saw nothing out of the ordinary or of concern, and that he would ensure to log the fact that she did not have documentation with her.
In case you were wondering, this is what our house looks like after dinner. This was 12 Feb. The areas you see are all the inspector saw, plus the kitchen which she did not actually look at. https://www.dropbox.com/s/23phczjfx24b0lp/20170212_232157.mp4?dl=0