Category Archives: EF Education First

Schüleraustausch: Wenn das Auslandsjahr zum Albtraum wird

Published by Bayerischer Rundfunk on Mar 22, 2017

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2014 May 04: The Californian nightmare of an exchange student / Der kalifornische Albtraum eines Austauschschülers

Von: Andreas Leisi | 04.05.2014

Bei der Gastfamilie unerwünscht, von der Koordinatorin als «Dreckskerl» bezeichnet: Der 16-jährige Konstantin wurde bei einer Schüleraustausch-Organisation zum Spielball von Geldinteressen.

Die Abschlussfeier an einer Highschool ist ein Höhepunkt – Konstantin hatte an seiner Schule nur Ärger. Foto: S. Demiroz (Getty Images)
Die Abschlussfeier an einer Highschool ist ein Höhepunkt – Konstantin hatte an seiner Schule nur Ärger. Foto: S. Demiroz (Getty Images)

Mit der Firma EF Education First reisen jährlich Millionen von jungen Erwachsenen ins Ausland. Die Angebote von EF verheissen unter anderem das hautnahe Kennenlernen anderer Länder und Kulturen, kombiniert mit dem Erlernen der Sprache. Beworben wird beispielsweise das zehn Monate dauernde High School Year in den USA von EF so: «Bist du bereit für das grosse Abenteuer? Während deines EF High School Years hast du die einmalige Chance neue Herausforderungen anzunehmen, viele nette Menschen kennen zu lernen, eine Fremdsprache zu erlernen und erwachsen zu werden.»

Ein Abenteuer und viele Herausforderungen hat zwischen September 2012 und Juni 2013 der damals 16-jährige Austauschschüler Konstantin im nordamerikanischen Kalifornien tatsächlich erlebt. «Es begann mit Verzögerungen, obwohl bei der Buchung bei EF Schweiz für den August ein Platz in einer Gastfamilie garantiert war», sagt die Mutter Franziska Stöcklin, die in Zürich lebt und für den USA-Aufenthalt ihres Sohnes 13’500 Franken bezahlte. «Konstantin konnte dann erst im September, drei Wochen nachdem die Schule bereits begonnen hatte, nach Kalifornien reisen. EF sagte uns, man habe früher keine Gastfamilie gefunden.»

Das Zuhause als Kontrollhölle

Die Probleme hielten an. Konstantin war in seinem neuen Zuhause von Beginn weg mit Vorwürfen konfrontiert: «Meine Gastmutter baute ein Kontrollsystem auf, verbot mir auszugehen, drohte mir mit Konsequenzen bei Alkoholkonsum und nahm mir mein Laptop und mein Handy weg», so der Austauschschüler im Rückblick. «Zudem behandelte sie mich kalt, und ich hatte nie das Gefühl, willkommen zu sein. Später erfuhr ich auch, dass sie mich beschuldigte, 500 Dollar von ihr gestohlen zu haben.»

Die Gastmutter und die Hauptkoordinatorin von EF in Kalifornien, Sandra Woods, standen dabei in permanentem Kontakt miteinander. Nach diversen Vorwürfen an die Adresse des Schweizer Austauschschülers drohte die Kündigung des EF-Programms und die frühzeitige Heimreise. Mutter Stöcklin sagt über ihr einziges Telefonat mit Woods: «Sie sagte mir, in Amerika würden Kinder nicht selbstständig Entscheide treffen. Hintergrund war, dass er nicht sofort gemeldet hatte, dass Konstantin nach der Schule nicht umgehend nach Hause ging.»

«She is very driven by money»

Es kam der Verdacht auf, dass die Hauptkoordinatorin von EF sehr daran interessiert war, Konstantin wegen Regelverstössen frühzeitig nach Hause schicken zu können, um einen anderen Schüler in der Gastfamilie platzieren zu können und mehrfache Provisionen einzustreichen. Diese Vorgehensweise wird durch den Ex-EF-Koordinator William Alexander bestätigt, der sich nach seiner Kündigung an das Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in Washington wandte.

Alexander wies darauf hin, dass Sandra Woods aus Profitgründen mehr Austauschschüler ins Land geholte hatte, als Plätze in Familien zur Verfügung standen. Sandra Woods sei eine «sehr unethische Person», die nicht mit jungen Austauschschülern arbeiten sollte. Und: «She is very driven by money.»

Zudem bestätigt Alexander, dass Woods gegenüber Konstantin eine persönliche Aversion hatte. Das ging gemäss Alexander so weit, dass sie einen anderen Schüler anstiftete, den Schweizer Schüler an eine Party mit Alkoholausschank einzuladen, um dann die Polizei anzurufen, den 16-Jährigen anzeigen zu lassen und ihn wegen dieses Vergehens nach Hause schicken zu können. William Alexander war es schliesslich, der für Konstantin eine neue Gastfamilie fand, in der er – diesmal glücklich und durchaus anpassungsfähig – sein EF Highschool Year zu Ende bringen konnte.

«He’s a punk»

Hinter den Kulissen erreichte der Fall nach verschiedenen Interventionen der Mutter eine höhere bürokratische Ebene. Danielle Grijalva, Direktorin des Komitees für Sicherheit der ausländischen Studenten in Kalifornien, wandte sich im Mai 2013 ebenfalls an das Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in Washington mit einer Beschwerde gegen Sandra Woods. Darin wird neben der allgemeinen Bemerkung, dass ausländische Austauschschüler immer wieder ausgenützt und schlecht behandelt würden («Abuse of foreign exchange students remains rampant») aus der SMS-Kommunikation zwischen Sandra Woods und William Alexander betreffend Konstantin zitiert. Darin äussert sich Woods unflätig über Konstantin: «I wish we could just send his ass home.» («Ich wünschte mir, wir könnten diesen A… einfach heimschicken. Er wird mir das ganze Jahr Probleme machen.») Oder: «He’s a punk.» («Er ist ein Dreckskerl.»)

In einem Artikel des «K-Tipps» gibt Grijalva zudem Folgendes zu Protokoll: «Das Problem von EF und ähnlichen Organisationen ist, dass sie nicht genug passende Gastfamilien finden. Deshalb werden die Kinder ständig hin- und ­hergeschoben.» Und: «Wenn es zu Problemen kommt, heisst es immer, die Schüler seien selber schuld – aber nie die Gastfamilie, der Betreuer vor Ort oder die Vermittlerorganisation.»

Grijalva kritisiert zudem das Besoldungssystem für EF-Betreuer, die auf Provisionsbasis arbeiteten. Pro Austauschschüler gebe es mindestens 300 Dollar. Je mehr Schüler EF-Betreuer unterbringen würden, desto mehr Boni bekämen sie. Und desto höher wird auch der Bonus pro Schüler.

Keine finanzielle Entschädigung

Zwischen der Mutter Franziska Stöcklin und der Zürcher Stelle von EF gab es am 19. März 2013 – ebenfalls erst nach diversen Interventionen der Mutter – ein Gespräch, bei dem EF Schweiz gemäss Stöcklin eingesehen habe, dass im Fall von Konstantin die einem von EF vermittelten Schüler zustehende Betreuung nicht funktionierte. «Zuvor wurde ich von EF Schweiz immer als Mutter behandelt, die einfach nicht einsehen will, dass sich ihr Sohn nicht an die Regeln hält. Eine tatsächliche Überprüfung vieler klarer Falschinformationen aus den USA machte EF nicht.» EF Schweiz habe bei dem besagten Gespräch auch akzeptiert, dass ihr Dienstleistungsversprechen nicht eingehalten wurde und die Kommunikation von Sandra Woods inakzeptabel sei. EF Schweiz hat in der Folge jedoch weder auf die Forderung der Mutter nach einer offiziellen Entschuldigung vor Konstantin reagiert, noch offerierte die Firma eine finanzielle Entschädigung.

EF schweigt

Im Rahmen der Recherche für diesen ­Artikel nahm Mario Tschopp, Programmleiter EF High School Exchange Year, folgendermassen Stellung: «Der Fall ist uns bekannt, und wir haben die angezeigten internen Schritte unternommen. Wir bitten Sie jedoch um Verständnis dafür, dass wir aus Gründen des Persönlichkeitsschutzes zu Angelegenheiten, welche individuelle Kunden- und Arbeitsverhältnisse betreffen, in der Öffentlichkeit keine Stellung nehmen.» Damit bleibt unklar, ob Sandra Woods weiterhin in Kalifornien als Hauptkoordinatorin von EF tätig ist und Schweizer Austauschschüler betreut.

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Google translation:

With the host family undesirable designated by the coordinator as a “bastard”: The 16-year-old Constantine was at a student exchange organization at the mercy of money interests.

Traveling with the company EF Education First year millions of young adults abroad. Offers by EF promised, among other things, the skin-like learning about other countries and cultures, combined with learning the language. Applied, for example, ten-month high school year in the United States of EF as: “Are you ready for the big adventure? During your EF High School Years you have to accept the new challenges unique opportunity to learn many nice people to learn a foreign language and to grow up. “

An adventure and many challenges has actually experienced between September 2012 and June 2013, the then 16-year-old exchange student Konstantin in North America California. “It started with delays, although when booking at EF Switzerland a place in a host family was guaranteed for August,” the Mother Frances Stöcklin, who lives in Zurich and paid 13,500 francs for the US whereabouts of her son says. “Constantine was then only in September three weeks after the school had already started to travel to California. EF told us that they had earlier found any family. “

The home inspection as hell

The problems continued. Constantine was gone confronted in his new home from the start reproaches: “My host mother built a system of control, forbade me to go out, threatened me with consequences of alcohol consumption and took my laptop and my phone away,” says the exchange student in retrospect. “In addition, she treated me cold, and I have never felt so welcome. Later I learned that she accused me of having stolen $ 500 from her. “

The host mother and the main coordinator of EF in California, Sandra Woods, therefore were in constant contact with each other. After several criticisms of the address of the Swiss exchange student threatened termination of the EF program and the early departure. Stöcklin mother says of her only phone call with Woods: “She told me that in America children would not independently make decisions. The background was that he had not immediately reported that Konstantin not immediately went home after school. “

“She is very driven by money»

It came on the suspicion that the main coordinator of EF was keen to send Konstantin by rule violations home early to place another student in a host family can be brushed and multiple commissions. This approach is confirmed by the ex-EF-coordinator William Alexander, who turned in his resignation to the Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in Washington.

Alexander pointed out that Sandra Woods had brought more exchange students into the country for profit than there were in families. Sandra Woods was a “very unethical person” that should not work with young exchange students. And: “She is very driven by money.”

In addition, Alexander confirmed that Woods against Constantine had a personal aversion. So much so that they instigated another student to invite the Swiss students at a party serving alcohol, then call the police to display the 16-year-olds and to send him home for this offense according to Alexander. William Alexander was finally who found a new host family for Constantine, in which he – could bring his EF High School Year to end – this time happy and quite adaptable.

“He’s a punk»

Behind the scenes, the case reached a higher layer of bureaucracy after various interventions of the mother. Danielle Grijalva, director of the Committee for Safety of foreign students in California, turned in May 2013 also at the Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in Washington with a complaint against Sandra Woods. This is in addition to the general remark that foreign exchange students would always exploited and mistreated (“Abuse of foreign exchange students remains rampant”) quotes from the SMS communication between Sandra Woods and William Alexander concerning Constantine. In it expresses Woods foul-mouthed about Constantine: “I wish We could just send his ass home.” (“I wish we could just send home this A … He will make me all year problems..”) Or, ” He’s a punk. “(” He’s a bastard. “)

In an article in the “K-Tips» Grijalva are also following the record: “The problem of EF and similar organizations, that they can not find enough suitable host families. . Therefore, the children are constantly back and forth “And:” If there is a problem, it always means the students are to blame – but never the host family, the Service Representative or the intermediary organization “.

Grijalva also criticized the system of remuneration for EF-workers, who worked on a commission basis. Per exchange students there were at least 300 dollars. The more students would accommodate EF-workers, the more bonuses they would get. And the higher is also the bonus per student.

No financial compensation

Between the Mother Frances Stocklin and the Zurich office of EF took place on March 19, 2013 – also after the mother various interventions – a conversation in which EF Switzerland according Stöcklin have come to see that in the fall of Constantinople the one mediated by EF students attributable care not work. “Before, I was always treated by EF Switzerland as a mother who just will not accept that her son does not follow the rules. An actual review of many plain misinformation from the United States did not make EF. “EF Switzerland have said at this week accepted that their service promise was not kept and the communication of Sandra Woods was unacceptable. EF Switzerland, however, has reacted subsequently either on the mother’s call for an official apology before Constantine, still offered the company a financial compensation.

EF is silent

As part of the research for this article, Mario Tschopp, program director EF High School Year Exchange, position as follows: “The case is known to us, and we have taken the next internal steps. However, we ask for your understanding that we take for reasons of protection of privacy on matters relating to individual customer and working conditions in the public no comment. “So it remains unclear whether Sandra Woods continues in California has been working as general coordinator of EF and Swiss exchange student care.

2011: Subsidiaries of EF Education First BV

Copied from my site: trygghetforutvekslingseleven.com

Information was found in the Swedish Television program Uppdrag Granskning: Bertil Hult‘s source material list: 2011: Year end financial statement for EF Education BV

EF Education AG - subsidiaries 1

EF Education AG - subsidiaries 2

EF Education AG - subsidiaries 3

EF Education: Erika Travel Insurance / Efekta Insurance / Aetna Insurance

Originally posted on my blog Trygghetforutvekslingseleven. Please remember that Erika Insurance is part of the EF/Hult Empire and that there is a potential danger of a conflict of interest if a problem arises that EF is responsible for.

Erika Försäkringsab (publ) / Erika Travel Insurance and Finance

Erika Försäkringsab (publ) (Org.nr: 516401-8581: 1995): Stureplan 4, Sturegallerian 11A, 114 35 Stockholm / Box 55569, 102 04 Stockholm: Tel: 08-58793220: http://www.erikainsurance.com

  • Student Insurance Information (do’s and don’ts)
  • To find a doctor covered by Erika/Aetna
  • In case of medical emergency:
    • German, Swiss, Austrian or Dutch students should contact AXA Assistance – 1-800-847-3948
    • Italian students should contact Inter Partner Assistance – 1-800-472-6705
    • All other nationalities should contact Falck TravelCare – 1-800-871-9211
Health Claims/Appeals for the Aetna Student Health Travel Insurance-EF (Erika Insurance): Aetna, PO Box 14101, Lexington, KY 40512: Tel: (+1) 781 219 9100 / Fax: (+1) 441 296 0772
Remember that Erika Insurance and Aetna insurance are separate companies; however, Erika works with Aetna and Aetna is the name that healthcare providers will recognize!
  • Manager: Lars Anders Lundquist
    Chairman: Staffan Gunnar Ericsson
    CEO: Bill Erling Andreasson
    Board: Åsa Elisabeth Staffansdotter Blendow
    Board: Karin Maria Elisabeth Ström
    Board: Per Jonas Kjerfve
Erika reports to EF Cultural Tours AB. EF Cultural Tours reports to Universal Care S.a.r.l. Erika Travel Insurance is one of the daughter firms of EF and Bertil Hult’s empire.

EF has worked with Erika Insurance for 17 years – it’s our strong recommendation that all students have the Erika insurance while attending an EF school.

Erika is a tailor-made insurance including everything from medical, property, delay, interruption and liability coverage. (EF)

Hult International Business School

Subject to change. Insurance plans are provided by AETNA for US locations, Erika Medical insurance for London, Dubai, and Shanghai.

Erika insures the following EF programs:

  • Academic Year Abroad
  • Cultural Care – Au Pair
  • EF English First
  • EF High School Exchange Year
  • Language Courses Abroad

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Efekta Insurance International, Ltd.:

(Reg.no: 35879): Bermudiana Arcade – 3rd floor, 27 Queen Street, HM11 Hamilton Bermuda: Tel: +41.41 417 4500 / (+1) 441-296-9080 / Fax: +41.41 417 4671 / (+1) 441-296 0772: http://www.efektainsurance.com/

  • Tobias Sjöberg (Director of Operations)

Health Claims/Appeals for the Aetna Student Health Travel Insurance-EF (Erika Insurance): Aetna, PO Box 14101, Lexington, KY 40512: Tel: (+1) 781 219 9100 / Fax: (+1) 441 296 0772

Efekta’s policies are governed by Bermudian laws. Efekta has listed as their customers:

  • Go Ahead Tours
  • EF Educational Tours – US
  • EF Educational Tours – Canada
  • EF College Break and
  • EF College Study Tours

Emergency Assistance while on tour: AXA Assistance: Garmischer Str 10, D-80339 Munich, Germany: Tel: (+49) 89 500 704 849 (24 hrs) / +1 (800) 847 3948 (24 hrs toll-free, USA and Canada) / Fax: (+49) 89 500 70 394: E-mail: efekta@axa-assistance.de

Efekta Group, Inc (Reg.no.DE: 4838748 – Jun 23, 2010 – Domestic)

  • Efekta Group, Inc (Reg.no.MA: 001031180 – Jun 24, 2010 – Foreign)
    One Education St, Cambridge MA 02141
  • Martha Dolye (President), Bruce Strong (Treasurer/Secretary), Rosa Gyllenhaal (Director), Susanna Pesteny (Director)

Efekta International Language Schools, Inc. (Reg.no.MA: 043078199 – 1989 – Domestic): 1 Memorial Dr., Cambridge, MA 02142

  • Peter Nilsson (President), Robert Tejme (Secretary)

Efekta Institute, Inc. (Reg.no.DE: 043414628 – 1998 – Domestic)

  • (Reg.no.MA: 043414628 – 1999 – Foreign): One Education Street
    Cambridge, MA 02141
  • (Reg.no.FL: F00000007136 – 2000 – Foreign): One Education Street
    Cambridge, MA 02141
  • Jens Appelkvist (Director/President/PD), Louise Hellestam (Director), Rosa Gyllenhaal (Secretary/Treasurer)

Efekta Schools, Inc. (Reg.no.MA: 043337221 – 1996 – Domestic): One Education St.
Cambridge, MA 02141

  • Colorado: 17 Chateau Ln, Avon, CO 81620-0000
  • (Reg.no.CA: C1995267 – 1996 – Foreign): 2710 Gateway Oaks Dr Ste 150n, Sacramento, CA 95833: Lawyers Incorporating Service
  • Jens Appelkvist (Director/President), Louise Hellestam (Director), Rosa Gyllenhaal (Secretary/Treasurer)

Efekta Academy, Inc. (Reg.no.DE: 5366655 – 2013 – Domestic)

Efekta House, Inc. (Reg.no.DE: 4838749 – 2010 – Domestic)

  • (Reg.no.MA: 001031175 – 2010 – Foreign)
  • Martha H. Doyle (President), Rosa Gyllenhaal (Director), Bruce Strong (Treasurer)

Efekta Cabrillo, Inc. (Reg.no.DE: 5593695 – 2014 – Domestic)

  • (Reg.no.CA: C3708223 – 2014 – Foreign): 2710 Gateway Oaks Dr Ste 150n, Sacramento CA 95833
  • Lawyers Incorporating Service

Efekta IA, Inc.

  • (Reg.no.NY: 4440109 – 2013 – Foreign): One Education Street
    Cambridge, MA 02141

Reviews:


Aetna Life Insurance Company

All Erika Travel Insurance Claims while in the USA/Canada, regardless of nationality. Health Claims/Appeals for the *Aetna Student Health Travel Insurance-EF (Erika Insurance): Aetna, PO Box 14101, Lexington, KY 40512: Tel: (+1) 781 219 9100 (business hrs) / 800-783-7447 (toll-free in USA and Canada) / Fax: (+1) 859-280-1269 / Fax: (+1) 441 296 0772: erika@aetna.com – https://www.aetnastudenthealth.com

Aetna Student Health Agency, Inc. : (Reg.no.MA: 042708160 – 1980 – Domestic)

Principal address: One Charles Park, Cambridge MA 02142 / 1010 Commonwealth Ave,
Boston MA 02215-1201
Mailing address: 151 Farmington Ave., Hartford CT 06156-0001, USA: Tel: +1 (860) 636 4460 / Fax: +1 (860) 636 2303 / 111 Eight Ave, New York New York 10011

Officers: Chekesha C. Kidd (CEO/President/Director), Scott Albert Champagne (President/Director), Maryellen Pease (Chief Financial Officer/Vice President), Alfred Paul Quirk (Treasurer), Jerry John Bellizzi (Secretary), Edward C. Lee (Secretary), Valerie B. Sideris (Assistant Secretary), Jan Penney (Controller)


AXA Assistance Deutschland GmbH

All emergencies, and all claims (except claims while in USA/Canada) for travelers from Austria, Belgium, Germany, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic while in the USA/Canada are handled by:

*Aetna Student Health
c/o IPAS GmbH, Grosse Scharrnstr. 36, D-15230 Frankfurt/Oder, Germany

AXA Assistance, Asia
All emergencies, and all claims except while in USA/Canada (= Chickering*), for travelers from Asia except Japan and Korea.
4-08 Amoda Building, 22 Jalan Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Tel: (+60) 3-205 357 57 (24 hrs) / Fax: (+60) 3-214 589 89 / Email: erika@axa-assistance.com.my

Inter Partner Assistance S.A., Italy

All emergencies, and claims for travelers from Italy, except for claims while in USA/Canada which are handled by Aetna Student Health for long-term students.
Via Bernardino Alimena 111, I-00173 (RM) Roma, Italy: Tel: (+39) 06-42115 551 (24 hrs) / 1 800 472 6705 (toll-free in US/CA) / Fax: (+39) 06-42115 243 / Email: servizio.erikaef@ip-assistance.com

Falck Travel Care

All emergencies, and claims except for claims while in USA/Canada for travelers from Scandinavia, Latin America, North America, Asia and all other nationalites not specified elsewhere. Claims while the USA/Canada are handled by Aetna Student Health.
P.O. Box 44024, SE-100 73 Stockholm, Sweden: Tel: (+46) 8-501 001 60 (24 hrs) / 800-871 9211 (24 hrs toll-free in USA and Canada) / Fax: (+46) 8-505 939 13 / Email: erika@falcktravelcare.com

*Chickering Claims Administrators, Inc.

Chickering Claims Administrators, Inc. operates as a subsidiary of Aetna Health Holdings, LLC.: 25 First Street, Cambridge MA 02141, United States / : Telephone: 617-679-9768, Founded 1991,  Frederick H Chicos, president

Chickering Claims Administrators, Inc.: P.O. Box 15708, Boston, MA 02215 / 1 Charles Park, Cambridge, MA 02142-1254: Medical Providers Call: +1 (866) 639-1334 [Toll Free] / Insureds Call:  +1(888) 308-7320 [Toll Free] / +1 (817) 809-4700 [DFW Metroplex] / +1 (817) 479-2155 [Fax].

Call anytime (United States only). Nurses are available 24-hours a day. To reach a nurse, call 1-800-556-1555. TDD for hearing and speech-impaired people only: 1-800-270-238, (619)298-7575 / Email: erikasvc@chickering.com / Website: http://www.chickering.com takes you to Aetna Student Health

Officers (see Aetna’s): Katharine Begley (President), Alfred Quirk (Treasurer), Edward Lee (Secretary), Maryellen Pease (CFO), Jan Penney (Controller), Katharine Begley (Director)

Articles and reviews:

2004: «Since the divestment of third party business in 2003, there has been a significant increase in the credit and liquidity risk associated with Erika as it cedes 85% of the gross premiums written to Efekta, (EF’s reinsurance captive based in Bermuda). Credit and liquidity risk is further exacerbated by a non-callable loan arrangement between Efekta and an EF group subsidiary.»

2008 Jun 03: Agency dumps coordinators of foreign teens

FAYETTEVILLE : Agency dumps coordinators of foreign teens

BY ROBERT J. SMITH, Northwest Arkansas’ News Source, June 3, 2008

http://www.nwanews.com/adg/News/227602/

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-179680062.html

“State Department investigators learned that EF Foundation failed to ensure that foreign exchange students had appropriate host families and homes before they arrived in the U. S.  The foundation also allowed some students to live in the Drummond home, a violation of federal regulations that forbid company representatives from serving as a student’s host family, State Department officials said.”

Complete story:

Education First Foundation of Foreign Study on Monday fired a Fayetteville couple in charge of finding host families for foreign exchange students arriving in Arkansas.

EF Foundation’s decision to fire Gerald and Sherry Drummond came hours after Fayetteville High School said that it will no longer accept foreign students brought to Arkansas by the Cambridge, Mass.-based company.

“They called us this morning and told us with the decision of Fayetteville High School that they were going to ask us to not work with them anymore,” Gerald Drummond said Monday. “I go with what they ask.

” We’re just ordinary nobodies, but I enjoy life and I enjoy meeting people. We get things written about us like we’re trying to take advantage of exchange students instead of it being a positive thing.”

Alan Wilbourn, the Fayetteville School District spokesman, said high school counselors spent too much time resolving difficulties encountered by EF Foundation students. That led to the decision to stop working with the company, he said.

“They’ve spent days handling living situations, and that’s supposed to be taken care of before they get here,” Wilbourn said.

The school district’s ban of EF Foundation students comes five months after the U. S. State Department began investigating EF Foundation’s Arkansas operation. The Drummonds accepted their first foreign exchange student as a host family eight years ago and eventually became the company’s Arkansas coordinators.

State Department investigators learned that EF Foundation failed to ensure that foreign exchange students had appropriate host families and homes before they arrived in the U. S. The foundation also allowed some students to live in the Drummond home, a violation of federal regulations that forbid company representatives from serving as a student’s host family, State Department officials said.

The findings in the State Department’s investigation, which involved six students at Fayetteville High School and one each at Fayetteville Christian School and Missouri Boulevard Baptist School, have not been made public.

Counselors and school administrators in Fayetteville interviewed by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in December said foreign students associated with EF Foundation felt isolated, scared and appeared to be malnourished.

Those characterizations are unfair, Gerald Drummond said Monday. He said there are students who lived in his home who remain in contact with him. Over the eight years, 14 foreign exchange students lived with the Drummonds, he said.

“I’m just sad to see it come to a crashing end,” he said. “We’re not the terrible people the world thinks we are.”

EF Foundation spokesman Ellen Manz wouldn’t say why the Drummonds were let go. A replacement hasn’t been selected. The company knew the Fayetteville school was considering banning EF Foundation students from enrolling, Manz said.

“Although this is a disappointing decision, it will not have a material impact on our program either in Arkansas or nationwide,” Manz writes in an e-mail. “We will certainly visit Fayetteville High School in the fall to discuss their experiences with EF, and see if we can give them the confidence in our program to consider accepting our students in 2009-10.”

Heather Slinkard, a Bella Vista woman who is area manager for a foreign exchange student company called Peace 4 Kids Inc., said EF Foundation’s troubles in Arkansas hurt the overall image of foreign exchange programs.

“They did give us all a black eye, but more than that, they hurt students,” Slinkard said.

State Sen. Sue Madison, DFayetteville, who wants the state to more closely monitor the placement of foreign exchange students at high schools, said she was pleased to hear the company fired the Drummonds.

“I’m happy to see EF take some firm action,” Madison said. “Maybe they’ll get somebody good.”

Copyright (c) 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Student Exchange Agency:  Education First Foundation of Foreign Study (EF)

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2007: Exchange Group Gets Probe After Teens Complain

2014 May 05: Exchange year in the US was a nightmare / Austauschjahr in den USA wurde zum Albtraum

From 20 Minuten – Germany
Austauschjahr in den USA wurde zum Albtraum
«Dreckskerl» nannte die EF-Koordinatorin den 16-Jährigen, und seine Gastfamilie kontrollierte ihn von A bis Z. Wie das Austauschjahr eines Zürchers in Kalifornien zum Horror wurde.

storybild
Für den 16-jährigen Konstantin begann das Austauschjahr in Kalifornien – hier die Golden-Gate-Brücke in San Francisco – unschön. (Bild: Keystone/AP/Eric Risberg)

 

«Bist Du bereit für das grosse Abenteuer?», fragt die Firma EF Education First in ihrer Werbung. «Während deines EF High School Years hast du die einmalige Chance, neue Herausforderungen anzunehmen, viele nette Menschen kennen zu lernen, eine Fremdsprache zu erlernen und erwachsen zu werden.» Klingt gut, doch der 16-jährige Konstantin aus Zürich hat keine guten Erinnerungen an den Beginn seines Austauschjahres 2012 in Kalifornien.

Von Beginn sei er in seinem neuen Zuhause mit Vorwürfen konfrontiert gewesen: «Meine Gastmutter baute ein Kontrollsystem auf, verbot mir auszugehen, drohte mir mit Konsequenzen bei Alkoholkonsum und nahm mir meinen Laptop und mein Handy weg», sagte Konstantin dem «Tages-Anzeiger». Sie solle ihn sogar beschuldigt haben, 500 Dollar von ihr gestohlen zu haben. Die Gastmutter und die EF-Hauptkoordinatorin Sandra Woods sollen dabei in permanentem Kontakt gestanden haben. Nach diversen Vorwürfen drohte Konstantin die Kündigung und die frühzeitige Heimreise.

Mehr Provisionen einstreichen

Es kam gemäss «Tages-Anzeiger» der Verdacht auf, dass die Hauptkoordinatorin sehr daran interessiert war, Konstantin frühzeitig nach Hause zu schicken. So könnte sie einen anderen Schüler in der Gastfamilie platzieren und mehrfach Provisionen einstreichen. Diese Vorgehensweise wird im Bericht durch den Ex-EF-Koordinator William Alexander bestätigt, der sich nach seiner Kündigung an das Departement of State in Washington wandte. Zudem bestätigte Alexander laut «Tages-Anzeiger», dass Woods eine persönliche Aversion gegen Konstantin hatte. Alexander suchte für Konstantin schliesslich eine neue Familie, wo er sein EF Highschool Year zu Ende bringen konnte.

Der Fall war aber deswegen noch nicht abgeschlossen. Konstantins Mutter wehrte sich weiter und erreichte schliesslich, dass Danielle Grijalva, Direktorin der ausländischen Studenten in Kalifornien, beim Departement of State eine Beschwerde gegen Woods einreichte. Dabei wurde auch aus dem SMS-Verkehr zwischen Woods und Alexander betreffend dem Austauschschüler Konstantin zitiert. Demnach schrieb Woods Dinge wie «I wish we could just send his ass home.» (Ich wünschte mir, wir könnten diesen A… einfach heimschicken) oder «He’s a punk.» (Er ist ein Dreckskerl).

«Kinder werden hin- und hergeschoben»

Grijalva sagte dem «K-Tipp»: «Das Problem von EF und ähnlichen Organisationen ist, dass sie nicht genug passende Gastfamilien finden. Deshalb werden die Kinder ständig hin- und hergeschoben.» Sie kritisierte auch das Besoldungssystem für EF-Betreuer, die auf Provisionsbasis arbeiteten. Pro Austauschschüler gebe es mindestens 300 Dollar. Je mehr Schüler EF-Betreuer unterbringen würden, desto mehr Boni bekämen sie.

Zwischen der Mutter von Konstantin und dem Zürcher Büro von EF gab es zwar nach diversen Anläufen der Mutter ein Gespräch. Dabei habe EF zwar zugegeben, dass nicht alles optimal gelaufen sei, doch erhielt sie weder eine Entschuldigung noch eine finanzielle Entschädigung. Gegenüber dem «Tages-Anzeiger» äusserte sich EF-Programmleiter Mario Tschopp schriftlich: «Der Fall ist uns bekannt, und wir haben die angezeigten internen Schritte unternommen (…).» Unklar bleibt, ob Woods weiterhin bei EF tätig ist – dazu will man sich aus «Gründen des Persönlichkeitsschutzes» nicht äussern.


Google translation:
He had from the beginning been confronted in his new home with allegations: “My host mother built a system of control, forbade me to go out, threatened me with consequences of alcohol consumption and took my laptop and my phone away,” Constantine said the Tages-Anzeiger, She should have even accused him of having stolen $ 500 from her. The host mother and the EFmain coordinator Sandra Woods should it have been in constant contact. After various allegations Constantine threatened termination and early departure.

Reap more commissionsIt came under “Tages-Anzeiger” suspected that the main coordinator was very interested in Constantinople to send home early. So they could place another student in the host family and multiple reap commissions. This approach is confirmed in the report by the ex-EFcoordinator William Alexander, who turned in his resignation to the Department of State in Washington. In addition, according to Alexander confirmed “Tages-Anzeiger” that Woods had a personal aversion to Constantine. Alexander was looking for Constantine finally a new family where he EF High School Year could be put to an end.The case was therefore but not yet completed. Constantine’s mother struggled further, and finally reached that Danielle Grijalva, director of foreign students in California, the Department of State filed a complaint against Woods. Here the exchange student Konstantin was also quoted on the SMS traffic between Woods and Alexander. According to Woods wrote things like I wish We could just send his ass home.” (I wish we could this A … simply send home) or He’s a punk.” (He’s a bastard).“Children are pushed back and forthGrijalva said the “K-Tip“: “The problem of EF and similar organizations, that they can not find enough suitable host families. Therefore, the children are constantly being pushed around. “She also criticized the system of remuneration for EFworkers, who worked on a commission basis. Per exchange students there were at least 300 dollars. The more students would accommodate EFworkers, the more bonuses they would get.

Between the mother of Constantine and the Zurich office of EF although there were various attempts by the mother a call. This EF had indeed admitted that not everything was done perfectly, but received neither an apology nor a financial compensation. Compared to the “Tages-Anzeiger” is EF program director Mario Tschopp expressed written: The case is known to us, and we have the next internal steps taken (…).” It is unclear whether Woods continues to work with EF – to if one is not comment of privacy protection reasons”.

2013 April: 20 more years for ‘host father’ serial sex abuser

April 2013

Takashi Kajiwara, who was taught by Ricks in Japan, told the Washington Post that, on a 1994 US road trip Ricks plied him with tequila in a hotel room until he passed out and then molested him and took nude photos. The following year Ricks was accused of shoplifting and returned to the US, where this pattern of behaviour – plying teenage boys with alcohol until they passed out before being molested – continued.

In the mid-1990s two international students hosted by Ricks and his wife in Georgia found pornographic photographs of themselves and burned them, according to the Post. Local police were alerted but the students did not press charges. Shortly afterwards Ricks was fired from the exchange programme for allegedly stealing $2,000 from a Brazilian student. He moved across the state border to Maryland, where he taught in local high schools and began to host students for another agency.

Ricks’s contract to teach in Maryland expired in 2003 after parents’ concerns were passed to child protection services, but he continued to host students. In his next teaching job, in Virginia, parents alerted his school principal of an inappropriate online message, and he was later denied a full teaching licence. Facebook exchanges between Ricks and a former student led to a 2010 police raid which uncovered numerous journals, videotapes and photos documenting decades of abuse by Ricks, including those of the German victim.

Under 2005 US law all families hosting the 30,000 foreign exchange students who study at US high schools each year must have criminal record checks. But since sex offender registers are kept by individual states, abusers can avoid detection by crossing state lines. Last year the US State Department turned down requests for host families to be vetted by the FBI, a system used for Scout masters, among others.

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2010 Jul 27: Former Danville teacher arrested for sexual assault
2010 Jul 28: Manassas Teacher Charged with Child Pornography Offenses
2010 December: North Carolina revokes Kevin Garfield Ricks’ teacher’s license
2011 Mar 08: FBI victim declaration for victims of Kevin Garfield Ricks