Category Archives: Exchange Students

Another student abused in Arkansas

In 2012 the Brian Williams from NBC wrote an article called Foreign exchange students sexually abused in program overseen by State Department. It was about exchange students who had travelled to the United States with the exchange company ERDT. The three boys in the article had all been sexually abused by people who should have been part of their support network. The article elicited a lot of comments. One of those was the below by Alexia Wilder. You can read the original comment at

Rock Center with Brian Williams

I was an exchange student in Arkansas as well under YFU program. I was from Venezuela an 8 million people city and ended up in Cabot, Arkansas, a town of barely 5K people where half of it were Ku Kux Klan! even my host father!

My host mother was an old lady who lost a child ages ago and she pretended I was that child. She never listened to me and wanted everything her way. She used to dig into my things and tell everyone what I had in my closet, the entire town knew about the kind of underwear I had! seriously even kids at the school. When I tried dating she called the parents of my date and started talking about me and counting every minute. They knew that coming from school took 10 minutes, if it took 15 they asked me why it took so long and they called the people I was with. Total espionage.

I spoke to my field agent but the case was not “a danger” and if I kept complaining I was going back home. For the field agent it was too much trouble finding em a new place. So I had to find one myself.

I manage to speak to my Sunday school teacher who was willing to take me. And I do not even remember what happened that I finally moved to my second family but my first host mother called them and spoke to his wife telling her loads of things about me and when I got to my second family there was a big fight between my new host mother and my new host father. I stayed any way and everything went fine until I went back home.

But trust me… things can get very traumatic and when I went back to Venezuela the other people that came back had similar experiences, we became good supportive friends after that and I started to work for YFU as a counselor for the kids that were living or arriving to Venezuela.

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.

Radtke sentenced for sexual abuse

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

2015 Feb 21: Suomalaistytön vaihto-oppilasvuosi Yhdysvalloisa tyssäsi “paljastavaan” somekuvaan

Julkaistu: 21.2.2015 20:34

Vaihto-oppilasmatkan järjestäjän mukaan tyttö ei noudattanut vaihto-oppilasohjelman sääntöjä ja rikkoi koulun pukeutumissääntöjä Yhdysvalloissa.

Suomalaistytön vaihto-oppilasvuosi Yhdysvalloissa keskeytyi vain reilun kuukauden jälkeen, koska tyttö ei matkanjärjestäjän mukaan noudattanut vaihto-oppilasohjelman sääntöjä ja rikkoi lisäksi koulun pukeutumissääntöjä, selviää tammikuussa Kuluttajariitalautakunnan sivuilla julkaistusta ratkaisusta.

Tyttö käytti koulussa pitkiä housuja, paitapuseroita ja takkia. Lisäksi tytön isäntäperheen äiti työskenteli samassa koulussa opettajana ja tarkasti vaihto-oppilaan vaatetuksen aamuisin. Suomalaistytön vaatetus ei silti kelvannut koulun rehtorille, eikä edes isäntäperheen äiti osannut selittää, mikä tytön pukeutumisessa oli vikana.

Tyttö sai koulusta moitteita myös puhelimen käyttämisestä, vaikka tyttö noudatti muiden oppilaiden antamaa mallia.

Perhe uskoo, että todellinen syy vaihto-oppilasohjelman keskeyttämiseen ei liity järjestäjän korostamaan pukeutumiskoodin rikkomiseen tai puhelimen käyttöön. Perhe pitää todellisena syynä tytön sosiaaliseen mediaan lataaman kuvan aiheuttama huomiota, jonka isäntäperhe koki kiusalliseksi.

Isäntäperheen isä nosti sähköpostiviestissään suurimmaksi ongelmaksi kuvan, jossa tyttö oli hänen mielestään puolialaston. Isä sai tiedon kuvasta paikallisen kirkon nuorisopastorilta. Tytön perhe pitää isäntäperheen isän luonnehdintaa kuvasta vääränä.

Kuluttajariitalautakuntaan valittanut tytön huoltaja katsoo, että järjestön vaihto-oppilasohjelman ehto, jonka mukaan yhdenkin säännön rikkominen voi oikeuttaa matkalta poistamiseen ilman maksun palautusta, on kohtuuton ja ristiriidassa yleisten valmismatkaehtojen kanssa, joiden mukaan matkalta poistamisen edellytyksenä on olennainen laiminlyönti.

”Tytölle annettiin kirjallinen varoitus”

Tytön huoltajan mukaan järjestäjä oli koko prosessin ajan laiminlyönyt avustamisvelvollisuutensa ja pyrkinyt johdonmukaisesti löytämään riittävät syyt ohjelman keskeyttämiselle sen sijaan, että se olisi pyrkinyt löytämään keinoja vaihto-oppilasvuoden toteuttamiseen onnistuneesti.

Järjestäjä ei ole perheen mukaan tukenut tyttöä Yhdysvalloissa lupaamallaan tavalla. Järjestäjän aluevalvoja ei ollut perheen mukaan aktiivinen ongelmien selvittelyssä Yhdysvalloissa. Suomen päässä ongelmia ryhtyi selvittämään nuori, vasta-aloittanut työntekijä, jolla ei perheen mukaan ollut tarvittavaa osaamista tällaisten tilanteiden ratkaisemiseen.

Järjestäjän mukaan tyttö rikkoi toistuvasti vaihto-oppilasohjelman sääntöjä, jotka hän ja hänen perheensä olivat allekirjoituksellaan hyväksyneet ennen vaihto-oppilaaksi hyväksymistä. Hänelle annettiin järjestäjän mukaan mahdollisuus muuttaa käytöstään ja häntä ohjeistettiin vaihdon aikana monin tavoin isäntäperheessä, koulussa ja järjestäjän Suomen toimiston toimesta. Toimiston mukaan aluevalvoja ja aluekoordinaattori auttoivat ja tukivat häntä.

Tytölle annettiin kirjallinen varoitus ja hänet asetettiin koeajalle. Varoituksen ja koeajan yhteydessä hänelle annettiin kirjalliset ohjeet siitä, miten hänen tulisi muuttaa käytöstään. Vaihto-oppilasmatkan järjestäjän mukaan tyttö kuitenkin jatkoi sääntöjen rikkomista, jolloin hänet katsottiin sopimattomaksi vaihto-oppilasohjelmaan ja erotettiin.

Reilun kuukauden kestänyt vaihto maksoi tuhansia euroja

Tytön huoltaja vaati järjestäjää palauttamaan 6 972 euroa, mikä vastaa 80 prosenttia vaihto-oppilasohjelman hinnasta.

Lisäksi hän vaati 880 euron vahingonkorvausta, mikä sisältää tytön viisumin (135 euroa), rokotuksen (150 euroa), paluulennon järjestelyn (300 euroa), SEVIS-maksun (144 euroa), varallisuustodistuksen (30 euroa), valokuvat (20 euroa) sekä tuliaiset isäntäperheelle (100 euroa). Lisäksi huoltaja vaati hinnanalennukselle ja vahingonkorvaukselle viivästyskorkoa.

Huoltaja uskoo, että ohjelman hinnalla katettavien kustannusten voisi olettaa jakautuvan melko tasaisesti koko vaihto-ohjelman ajalle. Tässä tapauksessa ohjelma on jäänyt suurelta osin toteutumatta.

Kuluttajariitalautakunta oli kuitenkin yksimielisesti sitä mieltä, ettei se suosita vaihto-oppilasmatkan järjestäjää maksamaan huoltajan vaatimia korvauksia.

Lautakunta pitää todennäköisenä, että vaihto-oppilasvuoden kustannukset muodostuvat järjestäjän esittämällä tavalla suurimmaksi osaksi toimenpiteistä, jotka tehdään jo ennen kuin oppilas lähtee matkalle. Lautakunta ei tämän vuoksi pidä kohtuuttomana sopimusehtoa, jonka mukaan ohjelmamaksua ei palauteta, kun keskeytys perustuu vaihto-oppilaan puolella oleviin syihin. Lautakunta ei myöskään pitänyt pukeutumista ja puhelimen käyttöä koskevia sääntöjä epäselvinä.

2012 Mar 20: Bag Facaden – Misbrugt i værtsfamilien

Skrevet af: Christian Rask

20. marts 2012 kl. 20:00 på DR1  Flere danske unge er blevet misbrugt af deres værtsfar i forbindelse med udvekslingsophold til USA. Det afslører DR-programmet ‘Bag Facaden’.

I Bag Facaden fortæller en række unge om drømmerejser, der udviklede sig til et mareridt. Og sagerne handler ikke kun om sexovergreb. Nogle unge er havnet hos fattige amerikanske familier, der ikke havde råd til mad. Eller hos familier, der slår deres egne børn og undertrykker dem psykisk.

Den seneste og mest alvorlige af sagerne handler om placeringen af en 16-årig dreng hos en amerikansk værtsfar, der efterfølgende blev dømt for gentagne seksuelle overgreb. Sagen blev aldrig indberettet til de danske myndigheder af Interstudies, firmaet bag opholdet.

I en anden af sagerne ville organisationen STS, Student Travel Schools, kun udbetale en delvis godtgørelse til familien og en dengang ligeledes 16-årig dreng, hvis de underskrev en tavshedsklausul. Også han blev placeret hos en enlig mand og udsat for overgreb.

– Jeg er harm over, at de ville have mig til at tie stille om de overgreb, jeg blev udsat for. Folk skal høre om dem, så de ved, hvad de kan risikere, siger Nicklas i dag.

Hemmeligholdelse
Unge danskere kan vælge mellem i alt 10 godkendte udvekslingsorganisationer. De unge placeres hos en værtsfamilie – og betaler typisk 50-60.000 kr. for en samlet pakke mens staten støtter med 10.000 kr. pr. ophold. Hos kontrolmyndigheden, Styrelsen for Uddannelse og Internationalisering, SUI, ser man meget alvorligt på hemmeligholdelsen af sagerne om seksuelle overgreb.

– Vi kan selvfølgelig ikke acceptere, at man hemmeligholder så kritisable forhold, siger Mikkel Buchter, kontorchef i SUI, der nu vil indføre et skærpet tilsyn med Interstudies.

Året efter, at sagen om Nicklas blev lukket ned af STS, blev en 17-årig pige udsat for to grove seksuelle overgreb af sin værtsfar. Her havde STS benyttet samme partner i USA til at finde værtsfamilien. Den nuværende chef for STS beklager sagsforløbet:

– Det var en fejlbeslutning. Vi arbejder ikke længere sammen med den organisation i USA, der stod for anbringelserne, siger John Cedergårdh, general manager i STS.

STS er ikke blevet godkendt i år efter flere kritisable sager, hvor unge blandt andet blev sendt til områder i Sydafrika med høj kriminalitet.

Drømmerejser blev til mareridt
Unge fra hele verden søger hvert år til USA på udvekslingsophold. Det har ifølge Bag Facadens kilder ført til mangel på egnede værtsfamilier – og en utilstrækkelig screening af familierne.

Flere unge, som får problemer under opholdet, har oplevet, at de kun må have begrænset kontakt til familien hjemme. Da 17-årige Stina fik problemer, blandt andet fordi familien slog sine børn, og hun måtte fjernes med hjælp fra politiet, blev hun bedt om at underskrive en kontrakt, der begrænsede hendes kontakt til familien og til dem i USA, der hjalp hende.

– Vi blev svigtet af Interstudies, da der begyndte at opstå problemer, siger Bettina Hjortshøj, mor til Stina.

Direktør i Interstudies, Anette Sørensen, meddeler, at hun ikke ønsker at kommentere de enkelte sager i medierne.

Men Bettina Hjortshøj mener, at firmaet har et alvorligt troværdighedsproblem.

–  Den tillid og det sikkerhedsnet, vi havde betalt for – det var ikke til stede, da vi fik brug for det, siger hun.

Op mod 1000 danske unge rejser hvert år ud som udvekslingsstuderende. Af dem får i gennemsnit 50 så problematisk et ophold, at de rejser hjem før tid.

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2003 Apr 26: Local student exchange group reprimanded

2005 Aug 02: Robert Medley convicted for sexual battery

2013 Mar 19: John E. Hamilton v. Commonwealth of Virginia

2007: CSFES Helps Foreign Exchange Students

by NORTH COUNTRY GAZETTE on MAY 11, 2007
By Danielle Grijalva, CSFES Director

Approximately 30,000 teenage exchange students will return to their home countries next month.

The Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students (CSFES) shares the following true story regarding the treatment of an exchange student by his student exchange company.

Jay’s stomach rumbled as he sat in his counselor’s office. His eyes would move down as he looked at the pencil his counselor held and then he looked up to his counselor’s mouth as he spoke on the phone to the area representative of his student exchange company.

He was exhausted and his energy was lost; this very well may be time for him to give in to returning to Thailand four months early. To return to his family who loved him didn’t sound like such a bad idea.

Mr. Ashurst would shade in the numbers on his desk calendar with his pencil and occasionally look over at Jay who was sitting in front of his desk. Occasionally Jay would see him write something down on a separate notepad, but for the most part, shading in the numbers is what occupied him most as he listened to Mrs. Wallen.

“Now may I say something, Mrs. Wallen?” Mr. Ashurst calmly spoke. “While I am not quite sure if you are interested in hearing what I have to say, I believe I’ve been patient with you and now I would like to ask the same from you. When Jay arrived, he had missed five weeks of school through no fault of his own. He has since maintained a 4.2 GPA and is active in many after school activities. Jay is well liked by anyone who comes into contact with him. Although he is quite shy, he has made friends, many of whom have taken it upon themselves to write letters on his behalf. Not one person wants him to return to Thailand early, Mrs. Wallen. My notes tell me that you have labeled this student as manipulative — please, let me finish. My notes reflect on four separate occasions you have called this young man a liar — please, I’m not done. Essentially you have told me he is nothing more than a spoiled rotten brat who is impossible to please and has been a troublemaker from the beginning.”

Jay was uncomfortable hearing Mr. Ashurst’s conversation, but also liked it at the same time. There was no more shading in the numbers on his desk calendar. Mr. Ashurst was now standing.

“Since I can tell, Mrs. Wallen, that we are not going to have a meeting of the mind about Jay, I prefer to discuss this matter with the State Department —” Mrs. Wallen had heard enough and abruptly ended the call. This was fine by Mr. Ashurst.

Mr. Ashurst reached in his desk and grabbed for his car keys. “Jay, I’m hungry. Grab your backpack, I’m taking you to lunch.”

“Yes, sir.” Jay softly responded.

During lunch, Mr. Ashurst learned from an ever so soft-spoken 16-year-old boy that it had been two days since he had anything to eat.

His last four weeks had been spent sleeping on a mattress in a basement.

The reason he didn’t tell his parents in Thailand is because he didn’t want to cause them to worry.

The reason he missed five weeks of school was because he did not have a host family waiting for him as he and his family were promised.

Against the United States Department of State regulations, he lived in the home of his area representative where he was told that he had better keep his mouth shut about the matter; that if he did complain to anyone, he would be sent home early to Thailand.

His parents in Thailand spent $16,000 for this experience.

It was in the basement of his area representative where he spent his last four weeks.

CSFES is pleased to report Jay was removed from the basement and placed in an actual home where he is thriving.

This is not an isolated incident as the exchange industry would like for you to believe.

CSFES urges all school administrators to report to the CSFES via www.csfes.org  or by calling 866-471-9203 should any students with a similar story appear at their high school.   5-11-07

EF Foundation for Foreign Study: “Agreement”

This is an example of the type of Behavioral Agreement EF Education First / EF High School Year / EF Foundation for Foreign Study operate with. As a rule, we ask that students and parents avoid signing anything once the initial contract has been signed. These types of documents are part of “power games” some representatives like to play.

If you are interested in the background of this Agreement, please feel free to contact Danielle Grijalva at CSFES.org.

EF Foundation for Foreign Study behavioral agreement