Category Archives: Host Family

Japanese exchange student finds her host-parents dead

There are situations that no exchange student should need to face. Finding host-parents who have died in a murder-suicide crime is obviously one of those. Exchange organizations often deny any responsibility in cases like this. In this case, the domestic turbulence seems to have been an ongoing problem. What happened during the background check? Carol Hopkins at The Oakland Press reported on the findings in this case April 2, 2016.

Pictured is the home on Kelsey Boulevard where an Orion Township couple was found dead in a suspected murder-suicide. Carol Hopkins-The Oakland Press
Pictured is the home on Kelsey Boulevard where an Orion Township couple was found dead in a suspected murder-suicide. Carol Hopkins-The Oakland Press

Mark and Maria-Aurora Renusch were found inside the home, dead from fatal gunshot wounds in what Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies are calling murder-suicide.

The Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the names…..

A 17-year-old Japanese exchange student who lived at the home found the couple dead, authorities said. Both the man and the woman suffered fatal gunshot wounds.

The girl, who was uninjured, told investigators she heard the couple arguing Thursday night — a situation that had happened before, she told officials…..

2009 Jun 3: Host-mother fights AFS to keep exchange student in USA

While details vary from exchange student to exchange student, many students are sent home even though the host-family wishes them to stay. That can happen any time from the very beginning to the very end of the exchange. In this case, Gail Rosenblum speaks of how AFS tried to send the student home a month before graduation.

Star Tribune

By Gail Rosenblum | June 3, 2009 — 9:38pm

… Abdullah arrived in Minnesota last summer with an AFS-affiliated program called YES (Youth Exchange and Study). …

Abdullah’s stay got off to a bumpy start. He smoked cigarettes (but has since quit), and bought knives for target practice, neither of which sat well with his first host mother. …

Abdullah was removed from his first home in the fall (which happens with 25-30 percent of exchange students) and was placed briefly with Noel Evans, an Eagan attorney, before moving in with Mullaley and her family. …

Evans and Abdullah got along so well that, when Evans returned to Saudi Arabia in March, she contacted Abdullah’s mother, Seham Farah, and they became friends. Evans invited Seham to visit Minnesota as soon as she could secure a visa, …

Evans was unaware that the AFS handbook requires that parental visits be approved ahead of time. Last Friday, an AFS spokeswoman called Mullaley to tell her that Abdullah would be shipped home a month early — missing graduation. … Evans called AFS to say that Seham’s visit was her idea. Besides, as she and others noted, Abdullah … was picked as Unsung Hero for helping a teacher, volunteered with elderly neighbors, and spoke to younger students about Saudi life. He also brought up his algebra grade from an F to a B. …

Late Tuesday, an AFS spokeswoman called Mullaley with the news that Abdullah could stay through the weekend. …

Evans is now working on behalf of Abdullah’s 16-year-old sister, who has been barred from the program because of her brother’s case. …

The entire article can be read at Star Tribune

2015 Aug 28: Rape charges dropped against former Butte High exchange student

Further investigation, victim’s family’s desire for privacy lead to rape charges being dropped

August 28, 2015 10:15 pm | Kathleen J. Bryan kathleen.bryan@mtstandard.com

Further investigation and the victim’s family’s desire for closure contributed to charges being dismissed against a 19-year-old Belgian man accused of sexual assault, the Jefferson County attorney said Friday.

Still, Laurent Dhondt, a former Butte High foreign exchange student, must comply with the terms of an agreement reached in Boulder district court on Tuesday, Mathew Johnson said.

In the deferred prosecution agreement filed Tuesday, Dhondt is required to “conduct himself as a law-abiding individual and will not commit any criminal offense” for a period of one year, Johnson said.

“Technically the charges are dismissed; however, the defendant must still abide by the terms” of the agreement, he said.

Johnson said Dhondt was formally charged based on investigative reports from law enforcement officers, adding that the “charges were necessary” at the time. Further investigation, coupled with the victim’s family and her desire for privacy, led to an agreement between the county attorney’s office, Dhondt and his attorney, he said.

“Part of the nature of why there is an agreement in this case is because the victim’s family is quite sensitive over this matter and wishes to have privacy and closure. And I believe this resolution at least provides closure as long as the defendant abides by the terms of the deferred prosecution agreement,” Johnson said.

Dhondt will return to Belgium to finish school Sept. 5, his attorney Herman “Chuck” Watson III of Bozeman, said Wednesday.

Dhondt was charged in July with sexual intercourse without consent, a felony, after a 17-year-old girl reported the alleged assault took place at the Headwaters Country Jam near Three Forks on June 26.

As part of the agreement, Dhondt underwent a psychosexual evaluation that came back as normal, Watson said.

Dhondt also agreed to pay restitution to the 17-year-old victim for any medical or counseling expenses and to provide a written apology to be forwarded to her by the county attorney.


2015 July 07: Former Butte High exchange student from Belgium charged in sex assault

ASSE: Thai student arrived in the US without a school or a permanent host family

Dear Ms. Melofchik, Ms. Dickerson, Ms. Findlay, Ms. Martin and Ms. Lawrence:

Please be advised that ASSE International participant Ravee Suksawat remains in Tennessee without a permanent host family; and remains without a high school to attend.

Mr. and Mrs. Wilburn of Knoxville, Tennessee have hosted Ravee Suksawat for the ESL program and have grown very fond of him.

ASSE International provided Mrs. Wilburn the contact information for Ravee’s next host family for the academic year; a Larry and Janifer Bell of Penokee, Kansas.

On Sept. 1, 2007, Mrs. Wilburn telephoned Mrs. Bell to introduce herself and confirm that Ravee would be on a flight from Tennessee to Kansas departing at 5:44 am the following morning.

Mrs. Bell responded to Mrs. Wilburn that she didn’t know that she and her husband had been accepted, assigned a student to host – or anything.  This concerned Mrs. Wilburn who contacted her local ASSE coordinator Ms. Amber Wallen.  Ms. Wallen suggested that Mrs. Wilburn of Tennessee telephone CSFES.

Mrs. Wilburn decided against Ravee boarding the flight to Kansas the following morning.

I would like to provide you with the following contact information:

Mrs. Theresa Wilburn:  865-922-1858      Tennessee

Mrs. Janifer Bell:              785-421-4118      Kansas

Mrs. Wilburn spoke with Laura Johnson of ASSE International of California.  Mrs. Johnson’s focus was how long ASSE has been in business.  Mrs. Johnson’s focus was how “very reputable” ASSE is” and finally, Mrs. Johnson’s response to Mrs. Wilburn was, “I don’t know why Mrs. Bell said that.”

Kansas’ ASSE area representative, Mr. Ron Fontenot can be reached at 785-737-4951.  It is Mr. Fontenot whose name is listed at Ravee’s ASSE area representative on the ASSE Host Family Placement Form.

When I spoke with Mr. Fontenot; his response was that ASSE’s Valerie Kampfer (785) 266-2715 tells him that ‘this is the way it is supposed to be done.’

While these ASSE representatives appear to focus the blame on the neighboring ASSE representative, the fact remains that Ravee continues to live in Tennessee without a permanent host family or secured high school to attend.

Ravee has contacted his mother in Thailand.  She paid $300 for Ravee to fly to Kansas and also concerned.

Thank you for your immediate attention that this matter deserves.

Respectfully,

Danielle Grijalva, Director

Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
P.O. Box 6496 / Oceanside, CA 92052
www.csfes.org / 866-471-9203

ASSE: Three students without permanent host-families

Dear Danielle,

I confirmed that the following two Thai students do not have a permanent family as of yet. I am unsure if the third student has a permanent family or not.  I’ve been out of touch with her for a week.  I’m including their ASSE IDs in case they are helpful.

3 thai students

You may also want to talk to Ms. Syracuse and Ms. Costuros.  I have heard that these women have felt pressured into keeping their students beyond the 30 days they agreed to.  In fact, the Donelson’s asked all the host families to sign the attached document without providing them a copy to keep. It was received as attachment by some host families, however, some of the host families were elderly persons and unlikely online or computer literate. I have heard that the Donelson’s then told these women that by signing this paper they agreed to keep the students for as long as it takes to find a host family.  If you read the agreement, it says nothing like that.

ASSE: Host-family and exchange student needs ignored

I am a host parent for a Thai student who has been with us since 8/25/07.  My family and I are new to the exchange program, and this is our first exchange hosting experience.  I can tell you that I have not been pleased with the experience thus far, primarily due to the inadequacy of the agency we hosted through – ASSE.

First, our student arrived on 8/25 and was met at the airport by my family—there was no ASSE rep to be found.  Not only that, we have yet to receive a call, visit, or other communication from a local rep for ASSE.  I have complained to Ms. Helga Brandt (Western Regional person at ASSE), only to be quoted about minimum State Department requirements and that ASSE was not in violation of any of them.  From day one, our student has shown a bare minimum of English speaking and communicating capability. We were told by her high school that unless she raised her ability to a minimum level, she would be removed from school per the school district’s policy.  I voiced our concerns to Ms. Brandt and was told that our student had passed a ESL test (46 scored with 45 being a passing grade) and she sent me a PDF of a scanned test score sheet which had nothing more than multiple choice bubbles filled in.  I explained to her that a multiple choice test answer sheet does not constitute a minimum capability, and she replied that ASSE was not in violation of anything.

I am not happy with the way ASSE has handled our situation thus far.  ASSE tells me that our student has a local rep, though none of us has yet to meet him/her.  Last night our student tells me that there are 5 exchange students in New Mexico that she went to English camp with that do not have host families or a school to attend.  She has been receiving frantic phone calls from them since Saturday to ask for help in locating host families.

I find it appalling that a local rep was not present at the airport when our student arrived, and has yet to call us or our student.  I have spoken to other host families that have hosted through Rotary International, and they tell me a whole different story of what a wonderful experience their hosting is.  One gentleman and his family have hosted 27 kids over the years.  In the span of 4 short weeks,  have been soured by our experience and will not host again

Dr. Peter C. Riley
————————————-