Review of CIEE, Portland USA

This review of CIEE, Portland, USA, was originally posted on March 12, 2016 on yelp.ch by Claudia P.

I’ll be honest and say that if you want to spend a year abroad, for your own sake DO NOT trust this awful organization. I’ll tell you my story and I’ll try to describe what I went through when two years ago I decided to do an exchange year in high school in the US (I’m Italian).

I applied with an organization from my country called youabroad (they were seriously amazing, helpful and cared about the students); the problem here was that for the exchange in the United States they had CIEE as a partner and they were responsible for almost everything, families included.
I lived a nightmare and seriously thought more than once to go back home like my German and Norwegian friends did, because they couldn’t handle the shit CIEE was putting them through. I (and most of my exchange students friends there) had to change family THREE TIMES because of really serious reasons and every single time CIEE not only didn’t help, but made the situation worse. I ended up in North Texas and had to live in a family who’s house was dirtier than any place I’ve ever seen, they didn’t care if we (I shared the room with a german exchange student) ate or not, they didn’t take us anywhere and their 13 y old kid was aggressive and violent among other things. Basically they wanted us to stay with them only to clean everything and babysit their four kids. When we finally managed to change family CIEE made it look like it was our fault and sent us a ”warning letter” saying that if we ever did anything wrong again (what?) they would have sent us to our home country.

After that we lived with the local coordinator for a while who was everything but nice, obviously pissed she had to take care of us. School wasn’t even started yet so we could’ve moved anywhere in the country to a nice family that really cared to live this experience; INSTEAD, she wanted to keep us in the same town so she would’ve got paid. Then, I ended up in a family where the host father was always either drunk or mean to the host mum (or both). The school bus didn’t come where they lived so every morning they would give me a ride at 5.30 am to go to school and I had to ask around random people for a ride home. I don’t even know why the hell they wanted to host someone. A norwegian girl lived with them and had just changed family, they sent me there anyway.

Went back to live with the local coordinator who was seriously having problems with all the students that needed to change families because she found shitty ones. Lived with her for a while and then found a family myself asking around in school (that’s what they told us to do, because they were not capable of finding A SINGLE decent family). I lived with my friend’s family for the rest of the year and slept on a couch in a little room but at least they were nice and treated me like a human being.

In all this mess CIEE never really helped only made things worse, they always blamed you for not trying hard enough to make something work but the truth is that I know too many people that lived a nightmare because of them. Seriously would not recommend them to my worst enemy. After all I still enjoyed my year abroad because I was like enough to meet really nice people and great friends, some people that had nothing but still tried to help me in every way they could. It’s one of the most amazing experience you can do even tho it’s never easy, it makes you grow up and learn a lot from yourself and others. BUT do not trust this organization because it’s seriously one of the worst.

USA: Secondary School Student

1-866-283-9090 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) The Department of State activated the helpline to ensure the health and safety of its exchange participants. Students have a right to be treated fairly and to report abuse without retaliation or threat of program cancellation. (Dep of State)

Request for information about Charles T. Ritz III, California

CSFES has just received information that the police are investigating Charles T. Ritz III (65), better known as Chuck Ritz, for sexual misconduct that goes as far back as 1975 and may have continued up until recently. We have been told that some of his victims may have been earlier exchange students from at least Austria, Finland and Germany.

The first allegations against Mr. Ritz came from people who had been his students in Lake Bluff School District, Chicago, Illinois, during the period of 1975-1985. In June 2016, they contacted the Lake Bluff Police Department.

At the time of the alleged abuse, the students informed school authorities of the matter. The school superintendent, Edward Noyes, chose to not contact police or prosecutors. Instead, the school district consulted their insurance company and attorneys. Nor did he disclose this information when he was contacted by other school districts. According to ABC7, Chuck Ritz “was allowed to resign and even paid more than $22,000 on the way out of the door.”

During this period, another allegation of sexual misconduct was brought against Mr. Ritz in Florida by two teenagers. One of the alleged victims was a student of Mr. Ritz and the other was the boy’s girl-friend.

When he left Illinois for more attractive fields, Mr. Ritz went to Orange County, California. He worked in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District at La Habra High School until May 2016, when this case was brought to light. The number of allegations against Charles Ritz indicate a serial abuser. Such abusers seldom stop. Experience teaches which victim will keep quiet.

If you have information about Mr. Charles (Chuck) T. Ritz III, please contact the Committee for the Safety of Foreign Exchange Students through Lise Lotte M Almenningen at margarethesdatter (at) csfes.org or the CEO of CSFES, Danielle Grijalva, at dgrijalva (at) csfes.org or the police in California through Detective Forgash of the La Habra Police Department at JForgash (at) lahabraca.gov


Media links:


Copied, with permission, from CSFES Finland

2016: STS: Orlando, Florida, USA

Chaotic room 2
Chaotic room 2

When exchange students have had a wonderful or decent time during their language course or exchange semester/year, it can be difficult for them to accept that there are many students who have poor or horrible experiences. Very few students find out about the organizations (like CSFES) that are willing to help them find a way to solve their problems when their exchange agency fails them. Students are even told by some exchange firms that CSFES is not a serious organization.

Most youth who go on some form of language travel have a decent time. Sadly, many do not. They are placed in homes that aren’t prepared to take care of them. One such student is a 14 year old Finnish boy who went on a language trip to Orlando, Florida with STS. Considering the state of the host-house we are shown, CSFES is troubled, once again, by the apparent lack of background checks. It is obvious from the state of the house, that the owner had been struggling for quite some time. However, many students are placed in such homes. Thankfully, the Finnish language student took pictures and filmed the state of the host-house. He, and the the other three students living in the home, had to pay for food that the host-mother was supposed to provide. When he bought food, the host-mother ate most of it. You will see that sleeping space was tight. The rule that most exchange/language organizations follow is no more than two students per room unless the room is very spacious.

Laundry pile in host home
Laundry pile in host home

In addition to problems with the host family, the organization did not keep its promises regarding activities the students had been promised. This student found out that other students in other places and homes had completely different and safer homes and representatives. From the video, pictures and post, what this student went through was a clear case of neglect by the host family and STS.

Finland’s country manager, Mira Silvonen, tried to claim that the boy had not gone on a trip this year. This is how most of the organizations respond to complaints, by denial. That is what frustrates parents, students and helpers most: The complete inability to admit that the exchange service is at fault for choosing the wrong host family.

Towards the end of his recollection, the former Finnish language student informs us that a Swedish student, who had written a poor review, was offered money by STS to remove his review.

Daniel Edwin Radtke found guilty

David Edwin Radtke deemed sexual predator

Pastor charged with sexual assault of exchange student
By Paul Walsh Star Tribune | May 27, 2011 — 9:00pm

A 52-year-old Lutheran minister has been charged in Sibley County with fondling a high school foreign exchange student as he massaged her while she nodded off in the family’s home.

The Rev. David E. Radtke of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Gibbon, Minn., posted bond Thursday after being jailed and charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Radtke was arrested Monday while working at a Lutheran church in Clyman, Wis., about 50 miles northeast of Madison, and was returned to Minnesota. Assistant County Attorney Don Lannoye said Radtke was not trying to flee prosecution, but was in Wisconsin on business.

“I just can’t handle this,” the student, a 16-year-old from Madrid, said in a text message to the minister’s wife, according to the charges. “What happened is not legal in any place of the world and you know what I mean!”

Radtke, his wife and their son all approached the girl at various times, acknowledged the molestation earlier this month and asked her to forgive him, the charges added.

The girl moved in with the Radtkes in August 2010, upon the departure of an exchange student from Finland, the complaint read.

According to the charges:

The girl told a sheriff’s deputy that Radtke gave her back massages once every two weeks or so between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. At times, she would fall asleep.

On May 17, as she lay on the couch, Radtke rubbed her legs until she fell asleep. She awoke to find him molesting her inside her underwear. …”

The rest of the article may be read at Star Tribune

Japanese high-school students

This article talks about the break-through Japanese high-school students made in hatching eggs. I include it on this blog, because the article and the video both give insight into what living in Japan as an exchange student might entail. Plus it is amazingly cool.

The article explaining the video is written by Fiona MacDonald at Science Alert and may be read in its entirety there.

 

The video doesn’t come with subtitles, so it unfortunately doesn’t give us many clues. But with the help of Sarah Caroline Bell over at The Huffington Post, we’ve done some digging, and it turns out the experiment is demonstration of technique developed in Japan a few years ago.

More on how that works later – but first, let’s get to the “why?” For years, scientists have been trying to find a way to gain access to baby chicks during development, not only to learn about the growth process, but also to study new regenerative medicine techniques, such as genetic engineering.

This would also be really important for the conservation of endangered birds. Not only could it allow researchers to save chicks when their eggs have been damaged, it could also lead to new options for bird IVF, or even growing vulnerable species inside surrogate eggs.

Although teams have successfully managed to create see-through eggs in the past, the hatching rates using those techniques has generally remained below 50 percent.

As make-shift as it sounds, it turns out that simply growing the eggs without a shell in plastic film has better a better success rate, with scientists able to hatch almost 60 percent of chicks using this technique, as Japanese researchers reported in The Journal of Poultry Science back in 2014.….

… Secondly, this segment was made for TV, so we have no guarantees that the chick at the end is the one we see developing in the egg (or even that the developing shots weren’t edited together from multiple egg samples). But research on the technique shows that the odds are in the chick’s favour.

Lack of housing for summer workers on Outer Cape raises alarm

By Peter J. Brown | Banner Staff

Posted Dec. 3, 2015 at 10:01 AM | Updated Dec 4, 2015 at 3:09 PM

PROVINCETOWN — The stream of foreign students with J-1 visas coming to the Outer Cape for summer jobs could be cut, a major sponsor of the program has warned local officials. The reason is the lack of adequate housing.

The nonprofit Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), based in Portland, Maine, contacted Provincetown community housing specialist Michelle Jarusiewicz in mid-October to convey its unease, she told the Community Housing Council two weeks ago. “CIEE is concerned about the limited housing available, and apparently the U.S. State Dept. is concerned, too,” she said. Unless something is done, Jarusiewicz told the council, “they are not going to deem this as an appropriate place for J-1 students. They will be directed elsewhere and employers here would not be able to hire them.”

On Nov. 23 the Provincetown selectmen met with Jarusiewicz and agreed to sponsor a roundtable to discuss the gravity of the situation and what might be done about it. It will take place in mid-December.

The J-1 or “summer work travel” visas are issued to full-time college students from abroad “to share their culture and ideas with people of the United States through temporary work and travel opportunities,” according to the State Dept. (They are not to be confused with H-2B or other temporary visas.) …………….

The rest of the article may be read on Provincetown

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