Category Archives: EF Foundation

7 homes/3 states/3 schools

Exchange organisation US: EF Foundation – 3 states (Oregon/Washington/Idaho)

Exchange families: 7 families – temporary and so-called permanent

My exchange year was 06/07. I had been looking forward to my exchange experience for many years. Like many here I trusted that EF was a good and trustworthy organisation – something that later turned out to be a naive expectation.

Like many others I was told by EF that it was not unusual to not have a permanent exchange family by the time I left my home country. I had been given a welcome-family that would also function as my IEC representatives.

EF told me many times that a welcome-family was plus in that it created a larger network in the US. So I felt this was the least of my problems.

I chose to attend EF’s Language and Culture Camp at Rhode Island and the friendships I found here turned out to be the only support I felt I had during my stay in the US. EF say to proudly that this will be “the best year of your life” and that they have a great support network for you, 24 hours a week. I might have been blind to this network but am afraid that it was non-existent rather than a real thing. Unfortunately I was not alone in experiencing this. At camp we were told to make certain of the subjects at the schools we were being placed at. The state I was going to was Orgeon – and I knew I could end up at three schools: McMinnville, Sheridan and Willamina. It turned out only McMinnville was a school that offered a certain spectrum of subjects – the other two were more limited. They did not offer French – something I accepted – and hardly any math classes.

I contacted my present IEC and asked if they could try to place med at McMinnville. I was told I’d been placed with a family in Sheridan – and that this was where I was supposed to live! This family was excited about having me come live with them. I felt reassured.

At the airport in Portland I was met by what I thought was to be my future exchange family and my IECs. I remember the first thing my IEC’s said to me was: “Isn’t this weird XXXX, this is going to be your family for a whole year…” The family itself was really nice, and I have nothing to say against them. The strange thing was the family situation when I got to their home. Exchange mother’s mother was dying from cancer and a lot of time was spent with her. Exchange father was a police officer who had recently been in a shooting incident where he had been the shooter. This made XXXX wonder why the family would take in a permant exchange student? I had been given the youngest daughter’s room… But this was really strange. She slept in the middle child’s room on an air mattress. This couldn’t be right? XXXX’s suspicions were confirmed when friends of the family came to visit. They asked a lot of questions about schools and other things. I think they suspected I was a bit confused – when exchange dad later talked to me about how much he liked me, and that I would have been a great fit, but that he hoped that it wouldn’t be fair for them to keep her. That they were only a welcome-family was not meant as an insult. I told him what my family and I had been told – that this was to be my permanent family!

Exchange father was extremely provoked at my IEC who had called and nagged them over a longer period. After a lot of pressure they had agreed that I could live there temporarily – max 3 weeks, while they were looking for another family. When I tried to confront my IEC with this – he told me further lies about exchange mother phoning him stating that she wanted me to stay, but not exchange father. And he did not have time to talk with me about this. Exchange father became even more provoked over these continued lies – and phoned my IEC again and told him that exchange mother had NEVER spoken with him.

EF later accused me for having complained to the exchange family that I had to attend school in Sheridan (never happened) and for me making such a mess I was practically thrown out of the family. This was not true either as I had asked to not go on a camping trip with the family and move out earlier instead, because I was at that time incredibly upset, angry and worried with EF. Therefore I did not want to join them camping because I was afraid I would ruin the experience because of the situation I was in. This led to me moving in with the RC of the area. I was supposed to live temporarily with them until something else turned up. EF has yelled at me repeatedly because I have called both of these exchange families as they were only temporary families. I realise this is correct – but they were still families I had to adjust to.  This was an elderly couple – where the days were spent with the exchange father watching sports on TV. I had little or nothing to do. I got breakfast when I rose around 9 am (i.e. cereal and milk) and there was little chance of other meals between breakfast and dinner. I did not dare to ask. Dinner was not until 8 pm. So long days, with little food.

After this I was moved to a very lovely couple. They tried to help me as much as possible. Unfortunately I was unable to stay with them as they were not able to find a school to take me in.

At this time I was given my 4th – yet first permanent family. I was told that I was to live with a German exchange student. EF once again broke their rules. They were supposed to ask my parents if it was OK for me to live with another exchange student. This never happened. From the first time I met my exchange mother I felt this would never work. This was a woman who smelled strongly of sweat – covered with strong perfume. She was very direct – and several uncomfortable episodes happened around her. When we were in a store and a guy sat selling cell-phones the woman would go up to the guy and tell him I was from Norway and interested in getting to know him. She would then laugh and walk away. The other thing she asked me about from the first days was: “XXXX, do you need any tampex or anything? Because you know, if you were my daughter, I wouldn’t let you use that stuff, it is not good for you… But I guess since you’re not my daughter I can’t control whether you use that stuff or not… But to put it plain – there’s only one thing you put up there, anyway, you’re not doing any of that while you’re here”… and looked at me angrily. This was the second day – 2 hours after we had spoken properly… The house was about 2.3 metric miles from other civilisation. It was large – but extremely dilapitated and gross. They had 10 cats and 2 dogs. One of the dogs was very unstable. It would bark and bite… The animals urinated and defecated several times in the hallway and basement and bath rooms. All exchange mother would do would be to throw sand over it all – some that led to a strong smell all over the house. The large amount of dust often led to me having problems breathing. The bath room was practically a hole in the wall – with cement floor. The house and bath-room were not washed in the nearly 3 months I lived with the family. One window was taped over with a piece of cardboard – as it was broken. It was not fixed for the longest time. The exchange family did not only live in a gross house. They were also (as several people in the neighborhood said) mentally unstable. I can tell of several episodes, but here are some of the worst.

The first episode was at the dinner table where I was doing my home-work. Exchange mother explaimed: “XXXX, do you want to see my mother?” I said, “huh?” She then said, “Yes, do you want to see my mother? I have her ashes in my closet. Do you want to see?” I said no. For an outsider this might sound like a joke – but unfortunately it was anything but. Another time she phoned a friend of mine and yelled at her because I’d not been able to get in touch with her one day. My friend thought I was very angry with her – something that wasn’t cleared up until later. When I confronted exchange mother with this, she stated that she could do anything she wanted even if it did created intrigue and misunderstandings. The day I left, I turned around and there she was with a scissor. She then said: “Come on XXXX, give me some of your hair?” “No, why should I?” I answered. She then said: “Sure, come on – I want it as a souvenir.” With a strange look in her eyes. I refused. Later she held my hand in a hard grip and said strictly: “look me in the eyes; will you miss me? ANSWER me.” While I was in that home I went to be at 6 pm every day to get through the days.

The German boy and I did not get along very well – in the beginning I blamed him too much for that. Mostly because I wasn’t possible to talk about our experiences with EF. Later on we became better friends when we realised that we only had each other. The situation in the house – plus its location which led to my driving the bus about 2 hours every day to get to and from schoo, made it a difficult situation. Only seldom was I allowed to speak with my parent and then only for 10 minutes. She could not have her telephone line held up. On her own part she spoke with her own daughter almost every day. There was no coverage for cell-phones or TV. The area was dangerous to go for walks in because of traffic. We could not go online – because of keeping the phone line busy. Fortunately I was able to speak with my parents via my Norwegian cell phone every day. I brought it with me to school and texted them. Those texts kept me going.

My IEC was extremely disrespectful. She spoke to me as if I could not understand what she said. She spoke to me as if I was a baby and it was difficult not to answer back in the same manner. On several occasions she would phone me and scream into the phone – just to yell. Everything I did was wrong. All I did was complain, try to get people to feel sorry for me etc. She never listened to what I had to say and interrupted me in the middle of any sentence. She made me cry and then called me a drama queen that would never get anywhere in life because I cried all of the time. And so on.

Today I realise that this was psychological abuse. Because how vulnerable is a 16/17 year old all alone in another country without a network. But EF would not listen to me. They refused to move me. I was desperate and talked to my Norwegian friend. She spoke with her exchange mother who reacted and demanded that EF move me there and then. This was not a great move on my part.

I was made to speak with EF in front of my exchange family. How easy is it to explain how bad the situation is then? While they were all listening in? Of course, I wasn’t able to say how I felt at that time. That was impossible. What I had thought was confidential between myself and EF was served up on a platter in for the rest of them. EF placed me on a behavioral agreement because I had broken “the chain of communication”. It stated that I should respect the family and computer and telephone usage (something I did, but OK) and I was also told that I should sign this and agree that this was the best family I could get and best school I could attend. Not only that, but I needed to treat everyone with respect etc. I refused to sign – I was not about to stay here the rest of the exchange year. I would rather end the year. I could not take any more time there. Apparently the agreement was supposed to be valid even without my signature.

In the period after this my parents were called up by EF Oslo who told them that I had been thrown out of the family and was now living with my IEC because of my behavior. My parents became terribly worried – until they were able to speak with me. These were untrue rumours – nothing even close had happened. I was in town with the other exchange student and nothing even similar had happened. I still don’t understand where that information came from. I visited my Norwegian friend and exchange mother. When they drove me home again the exchange mother entered the house because she claimed she needed to use the bath-room (probably an excuse to see my living conditions). Both she and my friend told me later that they had not realised that my situation was as bad as it was and that they were shocked. My friend exclaimed that she would not have stayed there even a day. It was simply too awful… And it probably was.

My dad phoned EF Oslo and told them what he had learned. He phoned several times. Finally he said that either you move her to a better home or you send her home. First then EF reacted. What I said meant little – only the exchange families’ versions count. To me it is incredibly that my exchange family could ever have been approved – and even more amazing that my IEC was allowed to be an IEC. I was then moved to another temporary family. But there was not space for me at a school.

I enjoyed myself there – but was of course worried because I could not go for too long without attending school. I needed my year approved.

I was moved to another state – Washington. EF called this another temporary solution. But I could stay if I liked it. I started my second school. I lived with an elderly couple. She was 86 years old and both were German. They spoke more German to me than English. He was very poorly. He used a walking frame and barely managed to get from his chair to the dinner table about a meter away. One time he fell over on the bath-room floor and I had to pick him up. During my stay there I was afraid of coming home one day finding one of them dead. I was supposed to have been included and invited by her daughter who was an IEC – and lived about 50 meters away. But was was kept alone there too. Long days filled with fear. Until I was finally told – after staying with the couple about 1.5 month – that EF had found me a permanent family. At this point my 7th family.

This family lived in Idaho – my third state. The problem was – as I discovered when I got there – that the school did not have room for me. None of the schools (three of them) wanted to take in another student until the trimester was finished. EF then decided that I could attend a private school for “problem children” – something I was fine with because it was a temporary solution. The problem was that this school was less than an hour from Idaho Falls – and that meant that it too was impossible. Later on EF talked about me home-schooling myself for 1.5 months. The did not even know if I could live there because they could not find a school. I liked the family a lot and would not agree to another move.

Even though EF said it was impossible to get into a school – my exchange mother and I want to Idaho Falls High School and asked to talk to the principal. Idaho is a gathering spot for mormons, so to speak – and the assistant principal had been on a mission to Norway and was fascinated with the country. He managed to convince the principal to admit another student in the middle of the trimester – even though they weren’t accepting any more exchange student for that school year. So I was really lucky. Who knows what would have happened if this problem had not been solved.

After getting back to Norway I sent a letter of complaint to EF – one that was somewhat like this, except this is a much less detailed one. I was recompensed – but never really apologised to. That is what I would like. Money can never make up for my being sent from one family to the other – and for experiencing one lie after the other. I never got a network in the US – and the rest of my time there was nice – but I was often home-sick because of my experiences. Sure, all organisations can make mistakes – but for me it seems as if EF are really good at making them. What kind of organisation allows such things to happen? How can they place students in such families? This is what I wonder… But a proper apology? An answer to my complaint and questions? Nah, I don’t see that coming …

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Christian fundamentalist host-family

(by Ragni Trotta)

While the U.S. Department of State actually had the power to investigate the student exchange companies, little seems to happen with the continued violations of several sponsoring organizations. In an interview with the Arkansas Democratic Gazette in December 2007, Stanley Colvin commented on complaints about EF Education and its Fayetteville coordinators, Gerald D. and Sherry A. Drummond. The U.S. State Department began an investigation after Arkansas State Senator Sue Madison, D-Fayetteville, received complaints from host families and foreign-exchange students about EF Foundation and the Drummonds. The students and their current host families in Northwest Arkansas told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette how foreign-exchange students lived in what they considered unclean, unsafe homes and how they felt disliked by Sherry Drummond when they stayed with her. They also complained that the Drummonds improperly served the dual role of host family and organization representative for several students, making it awkward for the students to voice their concerns. Rikke Stoyva, a Fayetteville High School student from Norway, didn’t care for emphasis on religion by her host family, John and Jill Foster. The family attended nondenominational church services three times a week in West Fork. Stoyva, who is Lutheran, lived with the Fosters for three months, then was moved to Camden, where she’s attending Camden Fairview High School.


Consent agenda

2007: Exchange Group Gets Probe After Teens Complain

2008: Agency dumps coordinators of foreign teens

2008: Lawmakers question foreign exchange procedures, legislation in the works

 

“I never felt like part of the family, I felt like a maid”

(Copied with permission from CSFES USA by Ragni Trotta)

Last year, 17-year old Synne Fjellvoll from Norway was one of 28,142 foreign exchange students granted a J-1 VISA to study in the U.S. as a foreign exchange student in 2009. Synne and her parents researched various student exchange programs before settling on the Education Foundation for Foreign Study (EF), which spread glossy brochures around Norway’s many highs schools and held a local EF seminar in their hometown promoting their student exchange program under the slogan “Personal Service”, “Safety”, “Quality”. At a cost of US$6,000, plus an extra US$500 to ensure that she was sent to the “Southern States”, everything seemed set for the experience of a lifetime. Says Synne; “I was so excited to study abroad in the United States of America. It was a dream come true.”

Synne’s dream was soon to turn into a nightmare. Placed in the care of what appeared to be an all-American host family in Branchville, South Carolina, she soon started to have misgivings of the people assigned to care for her wellbeing. In Synne’s case, the failure to do background checks on the host family as well as the local EF representative, both of whom the sponsoring organization had been using for years, were the gravest of several violations of Federal Regulations perpetrated by EF. Background checks would immediately have thrown up several red flags, had they ever been undertaken, as Federal Regulations clearly state. A closer look by a private investigator and ex-FBI agent has showed that the local EF representative assigned to Synne as her 24-hour support person; Linda Davis (or Linda J. Teller), in fact had 10 liens & judgments and 3 criminal convictions against her, as well as a history of using numerous aliases.  Furthermore, 36 judgments and liens are registered against her host mother Gidget Vickers. 

Federal Regulations state that foreign exchange students must be placed within a “nurturing environment” in a “financially stable home”. However, with the host father unemployed for the first 6 months of her stay and the host mother holding down two jobs to support the family’s 5 children, Synne’s chores swiftly added up to include babysitting the two youngest kids every day after school from 3:00 – 6:00 pm and on weekends, mow the lawn, walk the dogs, do the dishes and even wash her host sister’s clothes on Sundays. Explains Synne; “I never felt like part of the family, I felt like a maid. It hurt me when my 16-year old host sister was allowed to hang out with her friends and go to the movies, while I had to stay home to babysit.”

Worse, the home was clearly uninhabitable by most health & hygiene standards. Several untrained dogs were urinating and defecating around the house, which also suffered mould problems. Explains the exchange student; “The stench was disgusting. Several holes in the roof and walls were scantily covered by cardboard and boards, and the window in my room was broken. It was freezing in my room when the frost came”.

Host families are also required to provide meals for the students. However, Synne was quickly also told that she had to buy her own food as well as any other items that she needed. She was not allowed to eat from the family fridge and had to pay for her own food when the family ordered Chinese takeout, which was frequent. Branchville is a town 1,083 people, with 54% white and 43 % African American inhabitants. She was told by her host mother that “black people were a bad influence and would get her involved in drugs.”

Under the constant threat of being sent home, Synne was frequently forced to sign EF “ Success Plan for Student Behaviour” and “Academic Agreements” admitting to her many failures, presented to her by her host mother and local EF representative Linda Davis. Grounded for weeks and isolated in a foreign country far away from home, her telephone was confiscated and her internet access taken away for weeks on end, making it impossible for her to contact her family. Says Synne; “I was threatened by the host mother all the time. I was frequently told “Synne, you are in big trouble” and “if you don’t pull it together we are going to have to send you home early. And you have yourself to blame. You did this to yourself.”

Federal Regulations state that sponsoring organizations must provide a student card with a telephone number that affords immediate contact with both the program sponsor and the sponsor’s local representativeThe regulations also state that local area representatives must check in with exchange students at least once a month. As early as in October 2009, Synne spent several days unsuccessfully trying to reach her local contact local EF representative Linda Davis on the telephone number written on her student card. Explained Synne; “I tried to call Davis several times. Nobody picked up the phone.” She then dialed the number to EF’s office in Boston and requested a change of family. The phone call was answered by Program Coordinator Claudia Jackson, who told her to call her local representative who according to Jackson was “always available”. Jackson stated that anyway, it was “too late to change family”. Synne’s student card failed to include a toll free phone number to the U.S. State Department, the supervisory body of student exchange programs, which according to Federal Regulations should have been printed on the card. Says Synne’s father Per Fjellvoll; “My daughter was held hostage in a house and with a family who did not want her there as anything other than a housekeeper and a babysitter.”

When Linda Davis finally contacted Synne in late December 2009, and the Norwegian exchange student again requested a change of family, the EF coordinator told her that she was; “always complaining and whining”. According to Davis, the Vicker’s were “a good family and you are the one making all this trouble for us. It is always the Norwegian exchange students that are hardest!” EF representatives also repeatedly turned their back on the 17-year old when she repeatedly turned to them for help via phone and email in January, February and March 2010. She was called a ‘liar”, a “troublemaker” and conveniently ignored. However, she complained one time too many and was “removed from the program” by EF in a whirlwind of accusations in March 2010, after what EF claimed were “a number of chances to improve her behavior”.

According to Toralf Slovik, EF’s Program Coordinator in Oslo, Norway, who contacted her natural parents, Synne was being sent home because she had been expelled by Branchville High School. Says her father; “I called the Principal of Synne’s High School and he told me that he knew nothing about my daughter being expelled.” The “expulsion” later turned out to be an erroneous translation of the word “detention”, but EF was adamant that she still had to be repatriated due to “bad behavior”, “bad grades” and too many “social activities”. Synne in fact had little time to commit to spare time activities due to daily babysitting responsibilities, house chores and two-three weekly Church visits. Says the exchange student; “My host mother told me that I had to take most responsibility since I was the oldest.”

The Principal and teachers at Branchville High School were deliberately kept at an arm’s length and forced to watch from afar, although several posed questions with Synne’s host mother’s demands for her to be enrolled in several too advanced and unnecessary classes, contrary to the curriculum that had been chosen for her in collaboration with her local high school and natural parents prior to her departure from Norway.  While EF maintains that Synne had problems at school, neither the Principal, the school counselors or any of her teachers were at any time made aware of this fact. This highlights the total disconnect between the sponsoring organizations and the U.S. high schools to which they send their participants and one is forced to ask what kind of organization puts an exchange student with a B+ average on “Academic Agreement” without informing the school or any of her teachers. Says Synne’s father Per; “We had just received an email from EF saying that everything was fine and she was doing well in school. Of course, the positive news was sent to us along with the news that Synne had been involved in a car accident. That was probably no coincidence.”

On several occasions, host mother Gidget Vickers acted so threatening and aggressively towards the exchange student that even her teachers became concerned. More than one teacher witnessed Synne’s traumatic last day at Branchville High School; “Gidget Vickers showed up at school, verbally attacked Synne in front of several teachers and students, snatched her handbag and forced her to leave without saying goodbye to her friends and teachers.” After confiscating her phone, Vickers took her home to pack and subsequently drove the 17-year old to Charleston Airport, where the Norwegian exchange student and her luggage were thrown out of the car curbside and left to fend for herself.

According to Synne’s father, her premature repatriation was based on minor episodes and lies by EF and her host family who was just looking for a reason to send her home. “The accusations made against my daughter were subsequently proven false by emails and communications with the Principal and teachers at Branchville High School. Clearly, any serious organization would have taken immediate steps to correct the situation and let her finish the 9 weeks that remained of her school year.”

J-VISA STATUS

On the morning of March 23, Synne was told by EF that she had to be on the plane back to Norway that evening or she would be deported. At the point of her repatriation, three local families were willing to host Synne for the remainder of the school year. Torolf Slovik from EF informed the family by email that she would be in the U.S. illegally if she stayed beyond that evening and that her VISA had been cancelled. However, her host-mother Vickers and local EF representative Davis made it abundantly clear around town that anyone who took her in would be charged with harboring an illegal alien. Says Synne; “They were determined to send me home.”

Says Fjellvoll; “EF has gained a reputation for taking swift action only when it comes to sending students home, as was the case with my daughter. The family contacted the U.S. Embassy in Oslo and the U.S. Department of State in Washington and asked them to intervene so that Synne could complete the 9 weeks that remained to her graduation. The Norwegian Embassy in the U.S. was also contacted. However, the family was told that it was a private issue between the student and EF and that they could not do anything.”

The scaremongering that EF spreads regarding the deportation of students is completely untrue and inaccurate. According to Stanley Colvin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of State and supervisor of the J-VISA student exchange programs, foreign nationals that enter on a J-1 visa are “lawfully present” so long as they are in “valid program status”, meaning that they must be successfully pursuing the activities for which they entered the United States, under the sponsorship of a designated Exchange Visitor Program sponsor. If the sponsor withdraws their sponsorship, for cause, then the participant is no longer lawfully present and has thirty days to leave the country. Says Fjellvoll; “Having to leave in thirty days is vastly different to having to leave in a few hours. One month may have permitted us to seek other alternatives so that Synne could have completed her school year.”

When Synne’s case was brought to the attention of the U.S. State Department, they said they were willing to help her reissue her J-VISA provided EF reinstated Synne’s sponsorship. Alternatively, the State Department said they would accept the sponsorship of another exchange organization. Despite several requests both directly from the family as well as a U.S. lawfirm, EF refused to reinstate the sponsorship and finding another exchange organization 9 weeks prior to graduation proved an impossible task.

COMPLAINTS PROCEDURES

Under the current system, the student is completely powerless. EF will always side with their host family in any dispute, because any acknowledgement of mistakes on their part would make them liable to lawsuits. The student has absolutely no chance from the outset. The bias of local coordinators, who in many cases place young students with friends or relatives, is another issue some students have been faced with. Norwegian exchange student Synne Fjellvoll’s host mother was a friend of the local EF area representative and had a cell number to her that she refused to give the 17 year old exchange student. The local coordinator consistently ignored Synne’s requests for help.

6 U.S. student exchange companies have been approved by the Norwegian Government’s loan association (Statens Laanekasse) for the purposes of student grant and loans to study abroad. Aside from having to redo a lost year of studies, Norwegian exchange students who are sent home early without graduating, must fully repay all grants they received from Statens Laanekasse. Says Fjellvoll; “Synne’s student exchange and unnecessary repatriation has cost the family at least US$20,000.”

Perks for host families of exchange students include free babysitting and housekeeping services, although foreign exchange students are only permitted to take sporadic jobs. When you call EF’s office in Boston and enquire about taking in a foreign exchange student, they will tell you that the issue of babysitting is “tricky” and that host families are not allowed to force exchange students to babysit. This was certainly not the case with Synne, whose far from sporadic babysitting job was performed under the threat of being sent home.


2007/2008: Three students living with the Vicker family

2008/2009: EF threatens student with jail

Extract of the story of one Pedro Acevedo of Venezuela and his experiences with EF Foundation. The entire exchange may be read here

My name is Pedro Acevedo, I’m from Caracas, Venezuela, and I’m currently an exchange student in Southaven, Mississippi, with the company EF, also known as the Education First. During this year, I have been target of several irregularities and injustices from EF part, making this year extremely hard to endure. At the moment, i find myself in a hurry, and i dire need of help. …

… Tonight I was approached by Emily Force, my area representative, from the EF company, and i was told that tomorrow, Wednesday may 13th, i was scheduled to leave at noon, and that she was to pick me up at 9 am. She said that the department of state had “said” that i had to go home no matter what, and that otherwise i was going to get in “big trouble”. She put me on the phone with a woman named Susan, “a lady” from EF, and i was told by her that my requests of staying longer were just going to be ignored, and that i shouln’t keep asking for it, and that they didnt needed “valid reasons” to send me home. I was told that if i don’t get on a plane tomorrow morning, my j1 visa was going to be removed and i was gonna be forced to leave, no matter what. I was told that i could be “Taken” to the airport without my things if necessary, like some kind of criminal. My constant requests for reasons from them to want my early depart, are ignored. …

This is coming to me as a shock since i wasnt informed of a time, i wasnt given a ticket, they kept me in the shadows until hours before the supposed leaving time. … my natural parents, not only they dont want me to leave, but they don’t even know if they could pick me up at any random time, given the short notice. My host family have approved my stay, and they want me to stay the remaining 2 weeks. … I’m being told that if i refuse to leave at the time they want me to, i could even go to jail. I don’t understand how this can be possible. Please, any assistance on this matter will be greatly appreciated.