Update: There were such a great comments on this story that I just had to repost this story for you to read. I really like it when someone wants to seriously discuss a social issue. What comes out of any good discussion is more understanding and some new facts to investigate. I have an inkling that this story is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Time will tell as more reporters look into the veracity of the experts and the accusers.
Federal Agents Investigate Burger Kings Treatment of Foreign Students - An excerpt: "RIVERTON, Wyo. – Federal agents from the Department of Immigrations are expected to arrive in Riverton today to investigate a possible indentured service case involving foreign students. Five university students working in the states through an exchange program said they were fired from the local Burger King and evicted from squalid living quarters provided by the company after they complained about the conditions.
They described the 15x15-foot house as a boiler room prison, because the windows wouldn’t open, bunkbeds with air mattresses were the beds, a hot-plate on a counter sufficed for a kitchen stove and the toilet and shower stall were unsanitary due to corrosion.
Riverton police, who executed the eviction notice over the weekend, were appalled at the conditions found and reported the situation to immigrations and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Local Burger King management has refused comment and corporate officials in Florida say they were unaware of the situation. The students were matched with the local Burger King through the work/travel programs of Worldwide International Student Exchange (WISE) and Aspire Worldwide. They paid $3,500 to $5,000 each to participate, and were told adequate housing would be provided at an affordable fee.
They said rent for the house was $1,800 a month, paid to Burger King District Manager Peggy Handran. Her phone number listed on the work agreement is no longer in service.
The university students are all men, ages 18-21, coming from Turkey, Mongolia, Azerbaijan and the Ukraine. They have found temporary sanctuary with a neighbor, Donna Michel."
Click on the title link for the rest of the story.
This case is unfortunate and I feel bad for the kids, but the vast majority (95%) of exchanges are positive for the students and the families and communities which host them. I urge the press to investigate Danielle Grijalva, director of Committee for Safety and Chris Gould, a retired British police investigator and PURPORTED consultant to foreign exchange programs worldwide. They say mistreatment of foreign students is significantly underreported. What basis do they use to show underreporting? What is the board make up of the committee for safety? What foreign exchange programs is Chris Gould a consultant for? You will find these two people have NO basis for their setting themselves up as experts, and that they are acting together, but essentially alone (no real committee, no board oversight of organization, restraining order against Danielle...), just trolling the internet for sensationalized cases of exchange student abuse and posting them on one website repeatedly.
16 July, 2009 22:21
Denny Lyon said...
Hi, smbpott, thanks for visiting and leaving your comment!
As with most stories like this, it isn't about how well the majority has been treated but rather about the abused minority that went unreported or not investigated.
This story is really not about the concept of foreign exchange students as it is a great idea culturally. It isn't about the whole organization either.
What this story is about is the fact that nothing was done to address these problems, not enough or perhaps any oversight on the part of our government - most likely the vast majority of issues happened during the Bush years of "non-doing."
It was foolish for our current State Dept. not to fine tooth comb every project they had in operation during the Bush years looking for this kind of thing. As it was the GAO was prevented from investigating AND reporting by Bush and Cheney. Normally, they handle these kinds of investigations as these problems always follow one culprit: follow the money. Most likely, Bush and Cheney cut the funds for oversight and hired outside political cronies as payback for campaign funds.
BTW, do you have proof to back up the stats you give that 95% of the foreign exchange students do not encounter any problem? If there was no oversight, no reporting, no surveys, where did you get this stat?
In the end, we are both coming at this problem from different sides and meeting in the middle in complete agreement: not enough oversight to prove either the good or the bad satisfactorily!
I'm glad these people have finally gotten the courage to speak up and speak out about their abuse. It went pretty much the same in the religious community, especially Catholic, when for decades people complained about sexual abuse. The same arguments abounded that it wasn't that bad, it wasn't true, that 95% etc., etc. Since then the abused began to speak up and the whole truth came out: there were thousands worldwide who were badly abused for decades.
My policy is never to deny a listen to anyone who has been abused, especially when it was as a result of an institutional entity for which as part of the public I am partly responsible.
17 July, 2009 08:57
From Denny: This is a video story I tried to put up yesterday but CNN did not yet have it up on its site until today. Unbelievable what foreign exchange students have lived through when visiting the United States during the Bush years and recently. The truth is just now coming out.
It's a real horror story that our own government funded this abuse and did not take the interest to regulate these agencies that promote and place these students in American homes. Some of those homes were convicted felons, students were raped, starved, forced to live in filthy situations, even placed with known and registered sex offenders! How perverted can you get?
Politics foreign exchange students rape sex offenders starvation abuse America United States State Department investigation