For a robo-call, it was pretty impressive. Caller ID said Victoria Kennedy. The voice on the other end of the line was human, and sounded both energetic and articulate. It took me a moment to realize it wasn’t a client – I was scrambling to find paperwork for AFS until she told me I was chosen.
The rest of the message was both amusing and horrifying.
We were chosen for the one in a lifetime opportunity to enrich our lives by hosting a foreign exchange student. She went on to explain the positive impact hosting could have on us, and what a unique opportunity it was.
That’s all well and good, and I’m sure we would be enlightened, but, well – I’ll let Helen Lovejoy say it:
Don’t get me wrong – I think my family is awesome, but we’re. . .different.
We are more than slightly neurotic – my husband has a sleep disorder that makes mornings a painful circus. Nighttime can be creepy when you wake to hear him moving stealthily about the house. The uninitiated would fear he was plotting to kill them in their sleep.
And I am socially dysfunctional to the point of being either catatonic or stricken by Tourette’s in social settings.
We speak like we’re applying for jobs on a pirate ship – there is probably no household in the world where expletives precede so many 4 syllable words.
We are struggling to repay an astonishing amount of debt – some days it’s peanut butter on a spoon for dinner, everyone! Yay!
And we are magnets for both weirdos and catastrophe.
If there is a nutjob in a 50 mile radius, they will find me and try to make me their new best friend.
And in just the last 7 weeks alone we have had $7000 worth of unexpected expenses stemming from a random flea infestation (worth EVERY penny to eradicate!!), an air conditioner through my work computer, broken washing machine, rouge garbage dumpster attacking the car, and bank errors not in our favor. And that was just a short sample list.
This is NOT where people want their kids.
Granted, we’re not criminals, but still – this is not the experience those kids are surely promised.
But the call was disturbing, too. Because we could have been criminals. I think it’s scary that the first stage of their vetting process is “Who has a listed phone number?”
I checked out their site, and there is a criminal background check, at stage 3 of the 4-step procedure. But, there are a lot of bad people out in the world that have never been arrested. Sex offenders, in particular are often hard to nail down due to the reluctance of many victims to come forward.
And for people like that, I’d be willing to wager that finding victims that are both vulnerable and utterly dependent on them through the Foreign Student Exchange program hasn’t crossed their minds.
So, score one for the program.
I’m sure it’s difficult to find host families, and it is a great program worth putting effort into. But cold calling is not the way to do it.
But it did solidify my never-before-considered position. My kiddo will not be participating in the program. I shudder at the thought of cold calls to foreign countries to place him.
Why yes, we’d love an American mule for our drug cartel!