Category Archives: Organizations

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.

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

Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory loses accreditation

In 2005, Tri-Valley Learning Corporation (TVLC) in California established  charter schools ranging from elementary school to high school. The high school is Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory (LVCP). About 90 foreign exchange students attend the school. Investigations into irregularities (see below) started February 2016. As a result of these investigations, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) withdrew LVCP’s accreditation*. The school district denied LVCP’s petition of charter renewal December 2016. LVCP is no longer listed as having SEVIS F-1 certification. The school has said that they will stop their student exchange program from July 2017.

3rd February 2016 Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District (LVJUSD) sent the Governing Board of the TVLC a Notice of Violation (NOV). Among other things, the NOV concerns the below violations with regards to LVCP’s exchange students.**  Media got hold of the information and several in-depth articles about this issue can be found on the net.

16th February 2016 two students were involuntarily transferred to a school in Stockton. Livermore Police Department and Stockton Police Department intervene. As more information comes to light the police begin investigating matters at LVPC. Alameda County District Attorney began investigations into allegations of fraud, mismanagement of its foreign exchange program and child endangerment.

Based on the Governing Board, Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District  Board‘s findings, LVCP’s accreditation as a foreign student exchange institution was not renewed for the school-year 2016/2017.

  • TVLC/LVCP charged illegal tuition/overreporting per – pupil expenses to Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS).
  • TVLC/LVCP attempted to transfer exchange students against their will to a school in Stockton.
  • TVLC/LVCP endangered the health and welfare of its students
  • TVLC/LVCP was dishonest in representing the scope and size of its foreign exchange program to the District.
  • TVLC/LVCP sought to obtain, through coerced written signature, an agreement from minor students to give up their legal educational rights without consulting their parents or guardians.
  • TVLC/LVCP established a charter school in China without
    notifying authorities or requesting revisions to its charter.
  • Fraud.

LVCP’s accreditation is not renewed. November 2016 TVLC file for bankruptcy at the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California (Oakland).


  • LVCP still lists itself as WASC accredited on its website.

** Copies of correspondence and reports between the parties can be found on LVJUSD’s site

2016 Aug 25: Livermore charter school officials face charges tied to child cruelty

Angela Ruggiero writes about allegations of child cruelty at Livermore Charter School:

LIVERMORE — The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office on Thursday filed misdemeanor charges of assault and battery, child cruelty and failure to report child abuse against three employees connected to two Livermore charter schools in a case of abuse against a foreign exchange student in January.

Prosecutors charged then-principal of Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory Eric Dillie, who is now the principal of Livermore Valley Charter School and then-vice principal Randy Taylor, who is said to have resigned this week, with a misdemeanor charge each of failing to report the alleged child abuse.

Brock Van Wey, 42, of Livermore, who worked for California Preparatory Academies, was charged with misdemeanor assault and child cruelty, said Livermore police Officer Cynthia White in court documents.

The allegations against them arrive the same week more than 400 students fled the two Livermore charters the first week of school and enrolled in district schools instead.

The charters are run by Tri-Valley Learning Corporation, which has been under the district attorney’s investigation since February after allegations that two Chinese students were transported against their will to a sister charter school in Stockton in a separate incident.

The corporation also has been under fire for allegations related to financial mismanagement, illegally charging foreign exchange students tuition, not paying teachers on time, and a slew of other complaints by parents, community members and the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District.

Chris Van Schaack, assistant superintendent of the school district, said he expects more students to transfer out of the charters and into local public schools given Thursday’s charges.

Although Van Wey wasn’t employed by the charter school, he worked for California Preparatory Academies, which has been helping the charter school with its foreign exchange program. California Preparatory Academies, headed by Bill Batchelor, is now the Squaw Valley Academy, a private school sharing a campus with Livermore Valley Charter Prep at 3090 Independence Drive.

According to the court documents:

On Jan. 28, the 14-year-old student was in an after-school tutoring session at the charter school when Van Wey accused him of copying homework and humiliated him in front of others. The student got upset and left but was found by Van Wey behind a grocery store and told to get into Van Wey’s car and go back to campus.

“Van Wey forcefully grabbed (John) Doe by his arms, picked Doe up and held him in a cradle position,” White said.

The student tried to get away but Van Wey’s grip “was too tight.” Van Wey reportedly cussed at the student and shoved him headfirst into the car, White said. The student was then driven back to the school.

The student had a laceration to his shin and complained of pain to his knees as a result of the incident. Van Wey reportedly told Taylor, who then told Dillie of the incident the next morning. Both Dillie and Taylor are legally bound to report instances or suspected instances of child abuse to law enforcement. The two allegedly never did, the documents state….

Read more at The Mercury News

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.

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.

2015 Dec 4: CIEE lacked housing for their summer workers on Outer Cape

Provincetown | 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