​Photo of ACES student from Thailand placed in Ohio

I am reminded of an article released in India some years ago that I would like to share with you.  Notice how little has changed over the years to further protect foreign exchange students. 

Just this past week, CSFES sent a complaint and a copy of a police report to the U.S. Department of State.  In the police report, it read, "A convicted felon was able to get custody of a foreign exchange student" dated August 02, 2021. You may read the police report here.  

The name of State's sponsor responsible for this placement of a teenage, female foreign exchange student from Germany is International Experience, Inc..  International Experience, Inc., is a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State as well as appears on CSIET's 2021-2022 Advisory List.  

It means nothing to be a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State when State's sponsors repeatedly ignore the Federal Regulations that were written to protect exchange students.

What does it mean to be on CSIET's Advisory List?  Absolutely nothing.  CSIET is a trade organization where membership is paid for and not earned.  CSIET is the fox watching the hen house.  When it comes to oversight and student safety, being on CSIET's list is as meaningless as being designated by the Department of State.  Neither of these organizations gets involved when students are placed in inappropriate or dangerous homes and their respective logos aren't worth the glossy brochures they're printed on.

Are foreign students regularly sexually abused by the hosting American families? America promises to check 
By Sonia Joshi 
India Daily, August 13, 2005

It is a serious matter and subject of shame for a nation like America. In the wake of several cases of sexual abuse of foreign students staying with local families in the US, the government is proposing new rules to screen host families and regulate agencies that sponsor students. 

According to media reports, although foreign students have been coming to the country under the formal exchange programmes for more than half a century, no sponsor has been required to keep figures on sexual abuse or report molestation cases to the government. 
The proposed rules were published in the Federal Register, which are likely to go into effect after 30 days of public comment, The Washington Post reported. 

Under the proposed rules, all adult members of host families and personnel in sponsoring groups will have to be vetted through the sex offender registry and for criminal history, it said. 

Sponsors will have to report any allegation of sexual misconduct to local authorities and the state department. "If they don't report, we'll close their programme," the report quoted Stanley Colvin, director of the state department office of exchange coordination as saying. 

Foreign students are among the most vulnerable minors because they usually do not know US laws, are unfamiliar with customs, are dependent on host families or sponsors, don''t know what to do when abused or are afraid to act, according to Lt. Frank Baker of the Allegan county sheriff's office, who has been involved in the Michigan case. 

In their orientation, all foreign students also will be advised on inappropriate sexual contact and what they can do if anyone makes an abusive overture. "We want to be able to resolve any suggestions that this has been underreported," Colvin added. 
Some 28,000 high school exchange students, almost all minors, come to the United States every year. 

The state department was of the view that publishing the regulations was worthwhile even if they do not eliminate the problem. 
"We have had a lot of interest in this from concerned citizens. We heard their concerns, examined the situation fully and decided that if we can build in one extra bit of protection, it would behoove us to do it," Colvin said. 

Concerned parents and others have even formed a committee for safety of foreign exchange students to provide guidance and protection against "a pattern of abuse that is making headlines around the world," the report said.

June 30, 2021     Blog Entry #5

I have been asked a lot over the years about which cases stand out the most to me.  In no particular order, I will share with you the emails I've received from students and their parent's since the formation of CSFES.  Permission has been given by the student and the parent to provide their emails that were sent to CSFES.  I have changed the student's name for privacy reasons.  

I will call her Anna.  She was 16 years old from Italy.  Anna was placed in Texas by Ms. Leigh Ann Gregg of ASSE.  ASSE is a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State and listed on CSIET’s Advisory List.

Anna felt highly uncomfortable in the home she was placed because there were sex toys strewn about the home.  Her host mother sold sex toys.  It was reported they were even in the host mother’s car.  They were everywhere!  

This is the email CSFES received from a concerned party that was sent to ASSE, Ms. Robin Lerner and Mr. James Alexander of the U.S. Department of State, as well as the Consulate General of Italy:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Anna
From: CSFES protect
Date: Thu, January 31, 2013 7:11 pm
To: "pete@asse.com" <pete@asse.com>
Cc: "ce@asse.com" <ce@asse.com>, "elliot@asse.co" <elliot@asse.co>,
"bill@asse.com" <bill@asse.com>, "DGrijalva@csfes.org"
<DGrijalva@csfes.org>, "lernerrj@state.gov" <lernerrj@state.gov>,
"alexanderjt@state.gov" <alexanderjt@state.gov>,
"scuola.washington@esteri.it" <scuola.washington@esteri.it>

Dear ladies and gentlemen
I am very concerned about the welfare of Anna from Italy who is currently under the J1 VISA for the ASSE organization.  I was contacted 3 days ago by a third party from the high school reporting that the student was having serious issues and that ASSE was threatening to move her to a new school in Waco, Texas because she complained about the host mother having sex toys in the house which made her very uncomfortable.  The current host mother sells the items as a business and the student was notified that while this is not illegal it is not appropriate to expose a 16 year old girl to these items.  The student was begging for anyone to listen to hear since she felt that her local coordinator (who is over an hour away) and her organization was not talking to her.  According to the student her natural family and her Italian organization said that if she could find a family in the Joshua ISD she could move to a new family and still remain at Joshua High School until the end of school.  It is already hard for an exchange student to fit in at an American high school and to yank Anna out without considering other possibilities is unacceptable.  I have worked in the exchange student business for the last 20 years and I am very familiar with acceptable practices.  I have a lot of connections in the Joshua community so I made some phone calls and was able to immediately find a family that is very excited to host Anna.  I tried numerous times to contact ms Gregg about this family and was told repeatedly in text messages that it was out of her hands and that there will be no discussion - Anna will be moving to Waco on Saturday, February 2nd.  I heard today that Anna went and spoke the Joshua High School principal Mick Cochran today and he tried to contact someone at organization and he could not get anyone to take his call.  According Anna - she tried to call Ms. Gregg's supervisor and was yelled out and told that there would be no discussion.  I have received numerous text messages from Anna because she is so scared and upset because she does not want to change schools.  Tonight I received a message from Anna stated that Ms. Gregg is picking her up at 10:00 pm tonight and taking her back to her house where she is going to do some work for her until she can be brought to Waco on Saturday.  So now Anna will not be able to say goodbye to her teachers or friends or even clean out her locker.  I think that every situation has to be looked at on an individual basis and I even offered to volunteer and work with Anna to help her complete the program on a successful note. What about the best interest of the student - for whatever reason this student's welfare is not being considered. 
I can be reached at (CSFES deleted telephone number.)  The family in Joshua is STILL willing to host Anna and I am STILL willing to help her in the transition.
*** end of email ***
Response from Mr. James Alexander of the U.S. Department of State:
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: "Alexander, James T" <AlexanderJT@state.gov>
To: Concerned Citizen
Sent: Friday, February 1, 2013 7:45 AM
Subject: RE: Anna
Dear (CSFES deleted name of reporting party,) 
Thank you for contacting us.  We will be in contact with the sponsor to investigate.
James Alexander
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs  (ECA/EC/D/PS)
U.S. Department of State
Ph: (202) 203-7794
Fax: (202) 203-7000 (not yet operational)
E-mail: alexanderjt@state.gov
*** end of email ***
CSFES was contacted by Anna’s father in Italy who also wanted his daughter out of the home.  Would you believe that Anna was asked by ASSE Area Representative Leigh Ann Gregg to write an apology letter to her host mom for being rude or else Anna will be sent back home to Italy if she doesn't write these letters!  The dear girl is simply uncomfortable being surrounded by sex toys. and Leigh Ann Gregg of ASSE asks her to write apology letters for expressing her discomfort as you will read here:

----- Messaggio inoltrato -----
Da: Leigh Ann Gregg 
A: Anna
Cc: Robin Fruia <robin@asse.com>
Inviato: Martedì 19 Febbraio 2013 22:43
Oggetto: Checking In
Hey Anna,
Just wanted to check in and see how things are going? Haven't heard from you much the last couple of weeks. I hope things are well.
I still need you to change your schedule, and I'd like to see a copy of your new schedule once you've changed it. I'll be calling your counselor this week to confirm this has happened. That was one of the stipulations of you getting to stay with a family in Joshua. YOU MUST get it done.
Also, I think enough time has passed and you've had time to settle in and get re-adjusted, so we need to get to work on the apology letters. You need to write an apology letter to the following people:
Lisa Ries, ASSE Southern Regional Director
Robin, Fruia, ASSE Area Coordinator
Leigh Ann Gregg, ASSE Area Representative
Vessey Family
Marie Holck
All letters should be put in individual envelopes (not sealed) and addressed to the individual people, then mailed to me:
Leigh Ann Gregg
CSFES deleted address
Addison, TX 75001
I will make sure they are given to the appropriate people. I need to receive these letters no later than Monday,February 25.
Leigh Ann Gregg
ASSE Area Representative
*** end of email ***
CSFES received the following email from Anna’s natural father in Italy:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Anna
From: Anna’s natural father
Date: Wed, February 20, 2013 4:08 am
To: "dgrijalva@csfes.org" <dgrijalva@csfes.org>

Dear Mrs Danielle,
My name is (CSFES deleted name) and I am the father of Anna.  I am sorry for my poor English.
We need  your help again.
Anna  received by her representative the email below yesterday in the afternoon.
Asse association asks her to change schedule ( time and of course classroom) and asks her to write a lot of apologies to different people.
Anna now live in a very lovely family . She is very happy but it is not correct asks her to change friends and timetable to follow  new lessons.
About the apologies my wife and me  think it should be Anna to receive an apology by Asse.
Do you think it is an appropriate behavior by Asse association with a young girl who is in a foreign country ?
How can we protect Anna from the odious requests from  Asse please?
I know that is hard but are there  the conditions to take legal steps against the Asse for his behavior ?
Thank you very much for all you can do in order to maintain the actual and happy ( for Anna) situation.
I want to emphasize that Anna has suffered a lot before to find a new family and she  is  not a spoiled girl.
Best regards
Anna’s Natural Father
*** end of email ***

Anna’s story ended on a good note I am happy to report.  In an email from Anna, she sent on February 11, 2013:

Hello Danielle!!

My new family is amazing!  They are super funny and super good with me!  I’m really happy now, and all thanks to you!  I don’t know how I would have done without you!  I give you my mom’s email so you can tell my parents what they do about ASSE!  Again T-H-A-N-K-S

*** end of email ***

And for those of you wondering… no, Anna never did have to write those apology letters!!

The State Department did nothing regarding the complaint and photos below.  Pat Whitfield was the local coordinator with ERDT Share! in the matter which made headlines involving the foreign exchange student placed with Doyle  Meyer some years ago.  Read  Culture shock:  Foreign exchange students claim abuse by U.S. host parents by Rock Center with Brian Williams 03/12/2012.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Photos of Pat Whitfield's residence re Student American
International (SAI) placements
From: <dgrijalva@csfes.org>
Date: Mon, October 19, 2015 8:59 am
To: "Alexander T" <AlexanderJT@state.gov>, "Robin Lerner"
<lernerrj@state.gov>, "Susan Geary" <GearySA@state.gov>, "Brandi Duffy"
<duffyb@state.gov>, "State High School Exchanges Joele"
<highschoolexchanges@state.gov>, "Hawkins S" <hawkinsks@state.gov>,
"Elizabeth Dickerson" <DickersonEB@state.gov>
Cc: kristishoemake@yahoo.com, Pat@tellme1st.net, "Ida Abell"
<AbellIE@state.gov>, "Maha Ammar" <AmmarMG@state.gov>, "State Grace
Cho" <ChoG2@state.gov>, "Stanley Colvin" <Colvinss@state.gov>, "Deena
Cooper (Pinckney)" <CooperPF@state.gov>, "Nicole Deaner"
<DeanerN@state.gov>, "Brian Federico" <FedericoBT@state.gov>, "M. Gant"
<gantma@state.gov>, "Lorraine Hartmann" <HartmannL@state.gov>, "Sabin
Hinton" <Hintonsm@state.gov>, "John Lowrey" <LowreyJX@state.gov>,
"State Jennifer Mazzuchi" <MazzuchiJL@state.gov>, "Rick Ruth"
<RuthRA@state.gov>, "Evan Ryan" <ryanEM@state.gov>, "State Evan Ryan"
<ryane2@state.gov>, "Henry Scott" <ScottHC@state.gov>, "Robin Silver"
<SilverRS@state.gov>, "State Rob Sipe" <siperp@state.gov>

U.S. Department of State
Mr. James Alexander

Dear Mr. Alexander,

Attached please find photos taken of Ms. Pat Whitfield's residence.  It has been reported Ms. Pat Whitfield is a representative with Student American International (SAI) and recently had two SAI exchange students residing with her, which is against the federal regulations.  


Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
P.O. Box 6496 / Oceanside, CA 92052
www.csfes.org / 760-583-9593

Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws--but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted--when we tolerate what we know to be wrong--when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened--when we fail to speak up and speak out--we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.
-- Robert Francis Kennedy

October 20, 2022  Blog entry #39



Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
Danielle Grijalva, Director
660 Joshua Tree Street
Imperial, CA  92251


Exchange Student From Italy to Return to America After Being Wrongfully Accused -- CSFES Approaches U.S. Department of State for Thorough Investigation 

April 5, 2022 --  Lackawanna County Children and Youth Services was instrumental some years ago investigating the matter involving several exchange students from various countries placed in deplorable conditions in Pennsylvania.  The placement agency responsible for these placements was Aspect Foundation which is headquartered in San Francisco, CA.  Aspect Foundation is a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State and appears on the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel's (CSIET) 2021-2022 Advisory List.

On March 24, 2022, the treatment of a 17-year old Aspect Foundation participant from Italy was reported to Western Prairie Human Services in Glenwood, Minnesota.  On March 18, 2022 at around 10:00 am, the Aspect Foundation exchange student from Italy was instructed by his host mother to eat two brownies that she had made.  Little did he know, the brownies were laced with marijuana.  He was then told by his host mother to take a shower and return the baggie that the two brownies were in to his host mother outside of Starbuck, Minnesota.  

Upon showering, the student was met by Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Peterson #610 of Pope County Sheriff's Office.  The host mom called the Sheriff to her residence.  The young man, feeling dazed from the brownies his host mother gave him, learned that he was accused of having marijuana in his back pack.  It has not been determined why the host mom made the brownies laced with marijuana and why she later instructed the Sheriff's to search his back pack and bedroom.  

The U.S. Department of State issued Ticket No.: 427086 on March 25, 2022 after receiving a complaint about this matter from from a concerned citizen, Jennifer Jergenson, and assigned Case No.: 0000168285 on April 1, 2022.  

The Western Prairie Human Services in Glenwood, Minnesota is also investigating the matter and in its correspondence dated March 28, 2022 stated, "The report did meet the definition of child maltreatment:  A Family Assessment has been initiated."  The 17-year old Aspect Foundation exchange student from Italy was returned home in shame being wrongfully accused of possessing marijuana.  He is speaking out and has provided the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students (CSFES) detailed letters describing the events that lead to his repatriation back to Italy in shame.  He has just a couple of months to go to finish his schooling at Minnewaska Area High School located in Glenwood, MN. 

The exchange student's letters have been forwarded to Mark Howard, James Alexander, Elizabeth Dickerson, Karen Hawkins, Maha Ammar and Olga O'Neil of the U.S. Department of State, as well as Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Pope County Sheriff Office attention Sheriff Tim Riley and Deputy Sheriff Andrew Anderson, Western Prairie Human Services, the Office of Inspector General and the FTC.  

Concerned citizens in Minnesota who believe this young man was wrongfully accused of possessing drugs and repatriated through no fault of his own have created a petition called 'Justice for Ivan' which, to date, has 5,628 signatures in the short time it was created.  A 'Go Fund Me' page was also created to help offset the costs to have this Aspect Foundation participant return to America from Italy to have the chance to prove his innocence.  
Aspect Foundation has not responded to the telephone call left for Vivian Fearen at 7:52 pm April 2, 2022, nor the emails CSFES has sent.  
The Italian agency WEP is responsible for sending this Aspect Foundation participant to the United States.  CSFES has sent emails to Veronica Grosso of WEP and has not received any response.  The student and  his parents have not received any word from WEP. 

The following agencies have now been contacted about the Child Maltreatment of this young man:

1)    U.S. Department of State
2)    Minnesota Office of the Attorney General Keith Ellison
3)    Pope County Sheriff Office
4)    Western Prairie Human Services
5)    Office of Inspector General
6)    FTC

All are investigating why this host mother would make him brownies laced with marijuana which resulted in his early return home to Italy in shame.  
CSFES and other concerned citizens in Minnesota are looking to the U.S. Department of State to allow this Aspect Foundation and WEP participant from Italy to return to America to prove his innocence.  

This young man has been wrongfully accused of having marijuana which he vehemently denies.  It is unknown why the host mother would do such a thing, but CSFES looks forward to receiving a response from the U.S. Department of State learning this Aspect Foundation and WEP participant will be able to return to America.  
CSFES is a California-based 501(c)3 non-profit corporation (EIN 43-2100110) advocating the safety, protection and well-being of exchange students around the world and was instrumental in the strengthening of the U.S. Department of State regulations for the protection of these young people.  
CSFES raises public awareness and provides education related to the safety of exchange students to prospective and current, exchange students natural parents and school administrators, with a specific focus on educating exchange organizations and government agencies to ensure the protection of exchange students around the world. 

Presently we are an all-volunteer organization advocating for the safety of foreign exchange students.

CSFES supports cultural exchange and is committed to the idea that every foreign student deserves a safe and memorable exchange experience.  We believe without reservation that while these sons and daughters are studying abroad, they should expect and fully deserve, to be treated as if they are our own.

More at website of CSFES – http://www.csfes.org/

Scroll down to see pictures of the condition of homes that exchange students were placed.  Note that the placement agencies responsible for such a placement are all designated sponsors of the US Department of State and on CSIET's 2021-2022 Advisory List.  

September 3, 2022  Blog Entry #34

July 17, 2021 Blog Entry #7

Within weeks, thousands of foreign exchange students from over 120 countries will soon come to our country to learn more about the American way of life.  They will stay with their host families between five to ten months while they attend high school.  

Now is the time of year when CSFES gets hit pretty hard with emails from parents across the globe saying that a permanent host family has yet to be selected for their son or daughter, and they ask what they should do?  Should they allow their son or daughter to leave for America without the promise of a host family?  The answer is simple:  No.  

Parents and students should be corresponding with their child's host family now.  Families are encouraged to connect with the family that will soon welcome their son or daughter into their home for up to ten months.  If a host family has not been assigned to your son or daughter by the time he or she is scheduled to leave home; it is strongly suggested that you not send your child abroad to study on a cultural exchange.  Save yourself a lot of heartache and headache and do not run the risk of your child being bounced around among temporary homes. 

Parents need to know that it is very stressful on a child who does not have a permanent host family.  And if the student speaks out to the placement agency and expresses any discomfort not having a host family assigned to them yet, the student may face being sent home early by the placement agency.  The child will be labeled as 'fussy' or 'spoiled' 'having an inability to adjust' or is 'homesick.'  Reimbursement of program fees should this happen is unheard of.  

I recall a blonde haired, blue eyed female exchange student from Norway who was asked by her area representative to walk up and down her neighborhood knocking on the doors of complete strangers asking them if they wanted to host her.  In Arkansas, exchange students were found in front of a Wal Mart sitting behind a cardboard table with a sign that stated they were exchange students and would you be willing to host one of the students?  

I also recall being asked by my regional director Connie Dean when I was an area representative with the Center for Cultural Interchange (CCI) currently known as Greenheart Exchange, to make CCI flyers complete with pictures of the exchange students who still needed a host family.  Connie Dean told me I should walk into my local pizza parlor and ask the manager if I could tape the CCI flyers to their pizza boxes.  This way, when a pizza was delivered, they would also be able to learn about hosting an exchange student.  Many of these student placement agencies will place exchange students just about anywhere with anyone.  

Please be advised of the recent headlines dated April 14, 2021:
Foreign exchange student suffered sexual abuse from host parent, suit alleges
By Marian Johns, Southeast Texas Record

The student exchange agency responsible for the placement of this student is:  Educational Resource Development Trust, d/b/a SHARE ("ERDT") (based in USA) and Estudiar en USA (based in Spain).

The Petition filed in Harris County, Texas on April 16, 2021 reads:  

"6.5 On numerous occasions between about September 2018 and April 2019, when RAM was 15 and 16 years of age, Cohen subjected RAM to unwanted sexual contact by engaging in at least the following behavior:

a. Forcing RAM to get into Cohen’s bed;
b. Forcing RAM to rub Cohen’s stomach and chest which aroused Cohen;
c. Forcing RAM to touch Cohen’s penis outside of his clothes;
d. Forcing RAM to touch Cohen’s penis inside his clothes; and
e. Forcing RAM to masturbate Cohen until climax." 

ERDT is a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State and is on the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) Advisory List.  

The following recent headlines come to mind:

February 26, 2021

 A 'playground for predators': Iowa sex abuse case shows holes in protections for exchange students
Philip Joens Des, Moines Register

February 11, 2021
Youngsville Police: LPSS employee accused of having sex with exchange student

July 24, 2020
New sex abuse investigation for Bedford man accused of secretly filming exchange student

by Damien Fisher

March 3, 2020
Foreign exchange student coordinator charged with child pornography

December 18, 2019
Marine wife arrested on suspicion of having sex with teen exchange student

By Kristina Davis, The San Diego Union Tribune

October 3, 2019
Host Parent For Foreign Exchange Students Sentenced For Child Sexual Exploitation Violations

CSFES strongly encourages parents and students to get in touch via Skype, email or even a telephone call with their future host family.  This is a perfect time to get to know a little about the family that will be hosting your son or daughter.  And, please, even though your child will be disappointed, please do not allow your son or daughter to leave home and study abroad without a properly screened host family being assigned to your child.  

The title 'A Predator's Playground' was chosen for this blog because exchange students continue to be placed in the homes of hosts with a criminal past.  This is an under-regulated,  (they are regulated, but not enough and the few regulations they do have aren't enforced), unmonitored industry.  Innocent teens are being placed with pedophiles and extortionists courtesy of many among the student exchange industry.  Many exchange students have had host families take their money or force them to pay for household expenses.

Each year, approximately 30,000 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 18 come to the United States.  For many, this is their first time in America.  They are excited to learn about the American way of life.  Their parents have spent thousands to ensure their child has a memorable experience.  

The student will be assigned an area representative when they arrive in America.  Their area representative is supposed to help them, guide them, support them and answer any questions the student has during their stay.  

By visiting the 'News' page on the CSFES website, you will read just how common it is for innocent exchange students to be sexually abused by their host.  Parents are encouraged to do their homework prior to sending their teenage child thousands of miles from home to live with complete strangers.  

Many things can and do go wrong during a cultural exchange.  Many parents think that by paying high program fees to send their child abroad to study will ensure a safe and positive experience, but this is not the case and I will share with you the many cases where a cultural exchange has gone terribly wrong,

Below are questions that have been commonly asked over the years by students, parents, host families and school administrators.  

Common questions from students:

1.  My host father hugs me all the time.  This makes me feel uncomfortable.  Is this typical American behavior?

2.  What happens if there is very little food in the fridge and pantry?  Am I responsible for buying my own food?  I go to bed hungry a lot and only eat when I'm in school.  

3.  I arrived in the United States and I'm asked to live with my area representative until a permanent host family can be found.  Why don't I have a permanent host family?

4.  My area representative is making me look for a host family by having me knock on doors in the neighborhood asking complete strangers if they'd like to host an exchange student.  Can you help me?  

Common questions from parents:

1.  When I Skype my son, his eyes look lifeless.  His face looks different.  Could my son be homesick or is it something else?

2.  I have a daughter placed in Minnesota.  The heating has gone out for four days and she goes to bed cold at night.  What can we do?

3.  My daughter is not allowed to speak to my husband and I in German when we Skype.  Why is this?  Should I be worried?

4.  My son looks like he's lost a substantial amount of weight.  Our German agency says there isn't anything we can do.  Is this right?

5.  My daughter has asthma and much to my surprise has been placed with a family that smokes and has many dogs and cats in the house.  What can I do to get her out of there?

6.  I've been told my daughter may become homesick if we talk too much, but I just have to make sure she's okay.  Now the host family is keeping us from talking with her on the phone.  I can't get the Italian agency to help me.  

7.  My son's acne is present.  He only gets acne when he's extremely stressed.  Should I ask him what is causing his stress?

8.  It has been six weeks and our son is still living with a Welcome Family.  What can we do?  The sending agency in France never told us there would be a problem in securing a permanent host family.  

9.  My daughter complains that her host mom works all the time and is never home.  This leaves her at home with the host father who is unemployed and drinks alcohol all day.  He makes her feel uncomfortable.  What can we as parents do?

10.  I think my daughter's host father may be an alcoholic.  Who can help me?

11.  My son shares a bunk bed with his host brother who suffers from incontinence.  According to my son, the bedroom smells bad as the host mother rarely changes the sheets.  My son sent pictures of the underside of the bunkbed and we are concerned.

12.  My son's host mother refuses to drive him to school even though it is on her way to work.  This does not make sense to me.  

Common questions from school administrators:

1.  I have an exchange student in my office with failing grades.  When she arrived, she had a 4.0 grade point average.  She reports she has become a live-in babysitter to three minor children in the home.  How can I help this student?  The placement agency won't return my calls.  

2.  How did a foreign exchange student get placed with a family in town known to have run ins with the law?

3.  A foreign exchange student witnessed child abuse in the home and reported it to law enforcement.  Now his placement agency is sending him back to his home country.  Can they do that?  He is cleaning out his locker at school now and won't even be able to say goodbye to his friends.  

Parents:  You are strongly encouraged to take your time and select a reputable placement agency in your home country that partners with an equally reputable placement agency where your child will be placed.  

You are encouraged to ask the placement agency in your country, for example, whether its partner in the United States performs full, FBI-based fingerprint, criminal background checks on the host family.  If they do not, choose a different placement agency.  Too many exchange students are returning home early to their home country in shame.  This blog will allow you to see the many instances this has happened.  You are encouraged to contact CSFES with any questions prior to sending your child abroad on a cultural exchange.

Sadly, by the time most parents and students reach CSFES, it is too late.  The damage has been done.  We do our best to give each student's situation a voice.  I look forward to hearing from you.​

October 20, 2021   Blog Entry #17

I am embarrassed and outraged.  

A growing number of parents overseas are coordinating for groceries to be delivered to their child who is studying in America on a cultural exchange.  

Students continue to be placed in homes where there is barely enough food in the home to feed the host family let alone an exchange student.  

Should the student confide in their area representative about being hungry and there being little food in the home, they are faced with receiving a Behavioral Agreement by the placement agency which states that the student has 'an inability to adjust' in America.  The student then faces being sent home early to their home country.  

One student with little food in the home is also placed in a residence that is infested with cockroaches.  She sleeps on a camping cot with her belongings stored in the garage.  She, too, faces being repatriated if she complains, so she remains silent and her parents in her home country worry.  

So the students endure.  They continue to go hungry and remain silent because they do not want to be sent home early.  

CSFES will share its concerns with Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.  

Photo taken by CETUSA student from Norway placed in Michigan

Dear Parents in Denmark, Italy, France and Germany, I don’t know what more to tell you. You are at your ‘wit’s end’ which is an American expression. You cannot stop crying as you hear the details of your teenage child’s short time spent in America. Your sons and daughters were supposed to be here in America through June, 2022. At least that’s what you had planned when you entered into a contract agreement with the placement agency in your home country where you spent exorbitant program fees thinking this would ensure them a positive stay. I am truly sorry.

Denmark: your daughter couldn’t stand it anymore and she is back home. Same for you, Italy. Your son returned home two weeks ago. You have shared he’s so depressed and distraught over what he experienced in America that he rarely gets out of bed. You have scheduled him to speak with a therapist. You are on the right path. It is very common for exchange students to seek therapy after returning home early from America. Your family is out the equivalent of $18,000 that you spent in program fees. Denmark, you are out $20,000 and your daughter was in the United States for only six days. The circumstances and condition of the home she was placed were just too much for her to handle. The mental games she endured were just too much for your 16-year old to bear.

Germany: you fought the good fight. And your parents advocated to give you a voice, too. But nobody in America would listen to your valid concerns. The American agency pointed their finger towards the Germany agency saying the final decision was up to them, and the Germany agency did the same thing; pointing their finger to the American agency stating they trusted the American agency’s decision. This is a vicious game many student placement agencies and their partners play and the exchange student and their parents always lose. How I wish you would have taken the contract home you entered upon when you signed up your teenage child to study abroad in America on a cultural exchange. I would have encouraged you to read the fine print and ask some hard-hitting questions before paying exorbitant program fees.

France: you were presented with a ‘Program Release’ form and received much pressure by the sending agency to sign this document which basically protects the exchange agency and releases them from any wrongdoing. It is called a “release” (because it is releasing the company from civil liability), and it is also a form of settlement agreement. The clause that says the family cannot speak ill of the agency is called a “non-disparagement clause.” The part that says they can’t talk about what their son or daughter endured is called a “gag provision” because it “gags” someone. These agreements are awful, one-sided, and some states (including California) have banned gag-provisions in settlement agreements arising from child sexual abuse. You were smart for not buckling under pressure and signing away your rights. Now you may very well have to retain a lawyer and pay costly lawyer’s fees to determine whether you will get your money back.

And dear Italy, you certainly did all within your power to keep your son in the United States, but finally it was agreed that this was not the place for him to be. His host parents were not equipped to host an exchange student. This became most apparent when your son confided in his area representative about the lack of food in the home. He was tired of always being hungry and having to endure an hour and twenty minute ride to school each way. This began to wear on him. His area representative ended up calling your son’s host father and telling him what your son said. Your son was laughed at and nothing was done. In my opinion, your dear son never should have been placed with this host family that certainly didn’t open their hearts and home to your son as you were promised at time of signing the contract in Italy. Your son was a burden and no one including his area representative would come to his aid. He’s home now where he is safe. You, too, were pressured to sign a release form that totally protects the placement agency and at the same time silences your voice.

I encourage parents who are contemplating sending their teenage child abroad to study on a cultural exchange to take the contract issued by the placement agency in their home town and familiarize yourself with the fine print. Don’t be so quick to sign on the dotted line and think by way of paying huge program fees that it will ensure your child a positive stay in America. Read the contract word for word and ask questions like what if your child has valid concerns? He or she should be able to go to their area representative and be met by a caring and compassionate person who is familiar with working with teenagers from different countries. But for you, Denmark, Italy, France and Germany that wasn’t the case for you, was it?

Italy, you were reprimanded by the Italian agency for calling your son frequently. You were told this would interfere with his ability to adjust with his host family. But your instincts told you otherwise. You could see it in your son’s gentle eyes that something was wrong and you were right. There was little food in the home and you and your husband discovered he had lost 16 pounds the short time he was in America. And, to make matters worse, your son was presented with a ‘Behavioral Agreement’ by the American agency to sign that stated if your son continued to talk with you and share his concerns that he would be sent home early in shame. And, you too, were later presented with the same ‘Program Release’ form that stated you would not be reimbursed program fees and you were accused as being the reason for the placement breakdown. I am so sorry, dear families. You are still hurting and feel confused. It is my strongest desire that future parents take the contract home, read it thoroughly and ask about these ‘Behavioral Agreements’ and ‘Program Releases’ that basically take away all of your rights. Doing so will save future families a lot of heartache and money.

Top Ten Worst Student Placement Agencies:

Based on quantity and severity of complaints.  

1)     EF Foundation for Foreign Study (EF)*

2)     ASSE/World Heritage*

3)     Greenheart Exchange* (Formerly known as Center for Cultural Interchange)

4)     CETUSA*

5)     AISE

6)     CIEE

7)     AYUSA*

8)     ISE*

9)     ERDT/Share!*

10)   YFU USA

*  U.S. Department of State should shut down completely.

​March 21, 2022  Blog Entry #25

​Please note that American Culture Exchange Service (ACES) remains a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State as well as appears on CSIET's Advisory List.  

The Federal Regulations are clear.  They state, "4) Ensure that the host family is capable of providing a comfortable and nurturing home environment and that the home is clean and sanitary; that the exchange student's bedroom contains a separate bed for the student that is neither convertible nor inflatable in nature; and that the student has adequate storage space for clothes and personal belongings, reasonable access to bathroom facilities, study space if not otherwise available in the house and reasonable, unimpeded access to the outside of the house in the event of a fire or similar emergency. An exchange student may share a bedroom, but with no more than one other individual of the same sex."

Tipps für Eltern:

CSFES erhält immer wieder Anfragen von Eltern, welche Schüleraustauschorganisationen wir empfehlen.  Obwohl wir keine Organisationen empfehlen möchten, bieten wir als Hilfe bei dieser sehr wichtigen Entscheidung Folgendes an:


 Fragen Sie ausdrücklich, ob die Austauschorganisation Fingerabdrücke überprüft.  Wenn die Antwort nein lautet, suchen Sie nach einem anderen Unternehmen. 

 Bei einem Notfall:

 Prüfen Sie, wie gut die Schüleraustauschorganisation auf Notfälle reagiert, insbesondere abends, an Wochenenden und Feiertagen. Informieren Sie sich über die Notrufnummer, die Sie anrufen müssen.  Rufen Sie dann die Telefonnummer an. Die Antwort wird Ihnen zeigen, ob es sich um eine verantwortungsvolle Organisation handelt.

 Prüfen Sie die Profile der Schüler:

 Wenn Sie die Website der Austauschorganisation besuchen, welche Kontrollen gibt es, um den einfachen Zugriff auf das Profil des Schülers zu verhindern?  Sind persönliche Informationen mit dem Foto des Schülers leicht zugänglich?  Möchten Sie, dass Ihr Sohn oder Ihre Tochter auf diese Weise von der Schüleraustauschorganisation vermittelt wird?

 Es gibt immer mehr Sexualstraftäter, die es über das Internet auf Kinder abgesehen haben, daher ist dies ein wichtiges Anliegen für CSFES.

 Informationen zur Gastfamilie:

 Wenn Sie von der Austauschorganisation die Informationen über die zukünftige Gastfamilie Ihres Kindes erhalten:

 Vergewissern Sie sich, dass die Interessen dieser Familie denen Ihres Sohnes oder Ihrer Tochter entsprechen.

 Wenn Ihr Kind Allergien oder Asthma hat; wird es in einem Haus mit Tieren oder Rauchern untergebracht?

 ** Seien Sie sehr besorgt, wenn Sie vor der Abreise Ihres Sohnes oder Ihrer Tochter von der Austauschorganisation benachrichtigt werden, dass es eine plötzliche Änderung bei der für Ihr Kind ausgewählten Gastfamilie gegeben hat.  Wenn Ihnen mitgeteilt wird, dass die Gastfamilie "aufgrund einer Scheidung oder unvorhergesehener Umstände" usw. nicht mehr dieselbe ist, ist dies ein großes Problem. **
Ihnen wird dann mitgeteilt, dass stattdessen eine Willkommensfamilie auf Ihren Sohn oder Ihre Tochter warten wird.  Oft ist es dann so, dass dies dazu führt, dass Ihr Kind möglicherweise viele Male zwischen den Willkommensfamilien hin- und hergeschoben wird, bevor eine "dauerhafte" Familie gefunden wird.

Gemäß den Vorschriften des US-Außenministeriums (Department of State), Abschnitt 62.25 (d)(3), muss sichergestellt werden, dass kein Vertreter einer Organisation gleichzeitig als Gastfamilie und als Betreuer eines Schülers fungiert, den dieser Vertreter der Organisation aufnehmen darf.

Ihr Sohn oder Ihre Tochter sollte nicht in einem Heim untergebracht werden, in dem die Gastmutter oder der Gastvater gleichzeitig Betreuer, Area Representative oder Regional Director der Organisation ist.  Dies gewährleistet keine Neutralität, falls Ihr Sohn oder Ihre Tochter Bedenken hat oder ein Notfall eintritt.

Sichere Platzierung in der High School:

Liegt Ihnen ein Schreiben über die High School vor, die Ihr Sohn oder Ihre Tochter besuchen wird?

Gemäß den Vorschriften des US-Außenministeriums, Abschnitt 62.25(f)(4) "darf ein Sponsor unter keinen Umständen die Einreise eines Schülers in die Vereinigten Staaten erleichtern, für den kein Schulplatz gesichert ist."

Student Identification Card:

Gemäß den Vorschriften des US-Außenministeriums, Abschnitt 62.25 (g)(4) "Ein Ausweis, auf dem der Name des Schülers, die Adresse und Telefonnummer des Wohnorts in den Vereinigten Staaten sowie eine Telefonnummer, die im Notfall eine sofortige Kontaktaufnahme mit dem Außenministerium und dem Sponsor ermöglicht, aufgeführt sind.  Solche Ausweise können vor der Ausreise aus dem Heimatland oder unmittelbar bei der Einreise in die Vereinigten Staaten vorgelegt werden."

Vergewissern Sie sich, dass Ihr Sohn oder Ihre Tochter über diese Informationen verfügt, zusammen mit einer Telefonnummer, die im Notfall eine sofortige Kontaktaufnahme mit dem Außenministerium und dem Sponsor ermöglicht.

** Sollte Ihr Kind vor der Abreise oder der Ankunft in den Vereinigten Staaten keine Student Identification Card mit den oben genannten Informationen erhalten, benachrichtigen Sie bitte umgehend CSFES. **

Fragen Sie, wer das letzte Wort bei der Auswahl der Familie hat. Wenn Sie Bedenken bezüglich der Familie haben (Alter der Gasteltern, etc.) und Ihnen gesagt wird, dass Sie die Familie akzeptieren müssen, stellen Sie weitere Fragen.

CSFES empfiehlt Eltern:

1) eine Kopie der Kinderschutzgrundsätze der für die Vermittlung von Schülern zuständigen Agentur zu verlangen.
2) eine schriftliche Garantie zu verlangen, dass die Wohnung der Gastfamilie inspiziert wurde und die Privatsphäre des Schülers in Bad und Schlafzimmer gewährleistet ist.

3) sicherzustellen, dass ihre Kinder wissen, was eine sexuelle Belästigung darstellt, da den meisten Vergewaltigungen Berührungen am Oberschenkel, Bemerkungen über die sexuelle Attraktivität der Schülerin, "zufällige" Berührungen der Brüste usw. vorausgehen, die, wenn sie ignoriert werden, den Täter zu der Annahme verleiten, dass es akzeptabel sei, weiterzumachen.

4) Erkundigen Sie sich, ob die Agentur den Austauschschüler über Telefonnummern informiert, die er bei missbräuchlichem Verhalten anrufen kann (Polizei, Krisenzentren für Vergewaltigungen usw.). Wenn nicht, nehmen Sie diese Auslandsjahr-Organisation nicht in Anspruch.

5) Vergewissern Sie sich, dass Ihr Kind Zugang zum Reisepass und zum Rückreiseticket hat, wenn eine unannehmbare Situation auftritt.

6) Stellen Sie sicher, dass Ihr Kind weiß, wie es aus dem Ausland nach Hause telefonieren kann.

7) Stellen Sie sicher, dass Ihr Kind weiß, wie es sein Konsulat kontaktieren kann, falls Probleme auftreten, die die Agentur ignoriert.

July 19, 2021 Blog entry #8

Below is an email CSFES sent to the U.S. Department of State today.  A study by Meaghan Kelleher of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) illustrates that name-based checks are not adequate and recommends fingerprint-based checks. The CSFES wants fingerprint-based checks on hosts in the Federal Regulations because of NCMEC's study; it is the best screening method available.   

Email to the U.S. Department of State:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Complaint against State Department's designated sponsor -
Educational Resource Development Trust (ERDT SHARE!)
From: <dgrijalva@csfes.org>
Date: Mon, July 19, 2021 5:37 pm

U.S. Department of State
Ms. Elizabeth Dickerson
Ms. Susan Geary
Mr. James Alexander
Ms. Karen Hawkins
Ms. Maha Ammar
Mr. Henry Scott

Dear All,

Educational Resource Development Trust (ERDT SHARE!) is a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State and appears on the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) Advisory List.  

#1     In August, 2006, a student from the Czech Republic was placed in the home of a five-time felon in New Mexico. The student resided in the home for five months before his student exchange agency, Educational Resource Development Trust (ERDT SHARE!) removed him from the home.

On March 19, 2007, CSFES filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of State, asking how this man "was able to host in the first place given the fact that background checks are mandatory?" Email below for your review.  

Email to the U.S. Department of State:

-----Original Message-----

From: dgrijalva@csfes.org [mailto:dgrijalva@csfes.org]
Sent: Monday, March 19, 2007 3:06 PM
Subject: Convicted felon hosted student from Prague -- an ERDT Share participant
United States Department of State
Ms. Elizabeth Dickerson
Ms. Sally Lawrence
Dear Ms. Dickerson and Ms. Lawrence:
Thought the following story would be of interest to you: 
Convicted felon fired from non-profit - By Jenn Kistler Sun-News reporter
Many wonder how Gomez was able to host in the first place given the fact that background checks are mandatory?
You will read in, "Convicted felon fired from non-profit - By Jenn Kistler Sun-News reporter", " Gomez e-mailed the Sun-News in August 2006 about serving as a host for a foreign exchange student from Prague. The newspaper published a story on the exchange program on Oct. 13.
Shortly after the article published, Gomez sent another e-mail to the newspaper stating the program was going to take the student out of his home.
You will read in, "Convicted felon fired from non-profit - By Jenn Kistler Sun-News reporter", ​"I do know that Mr. Gomez was a former host of ours and wouldn't be considered to host again," said Kelli Jones, director of Educational Resource Development Trust SHARE high school exchange program.
Jones said the student was placed in another home because Gomez didn't comply with some of the rules and regulations, which she wouldn't disclose.
Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
P.O. Box 6496 / Oceanside, CA 92052
www.csfes.org / 760-414-1314

*** end of email ***

#2  Headlines by Rock Center with Brian Williams and Anna Schecter Rock Center in 2012 read:  

Foreign exchange students sexually abused in program overseen by State DepartmentEducational Resource Development Trust (ERDT SHARE!) was the placement agency responsible for placing the exchange student from Germany in the home of Doyle Meyer. You will read in Foreign exchange students sexually abused in program overseen by State Department, "The organization that placed them with the host father has been accused of orchestrating a cover-up to protect its reputation over the safety of the students." 

You will also read in Foreign exchange students sexually abused in program overseen by State Department, "In one of the most egregious cases, at least four exchange students were sexually abused over the course of two years by the same host father, even after the first victim sounded alarms.

“He said ‘this is American culture,’ and I should get used to it,” Christopher Herbon of Germany told NBC News in an exclusive interview broadcast on Rock Center."

#3  Attached you will find a court document filed April, 2021 naming ERDT as the placement agency responsible for placing a teenage exchange student from Spain in the home of Hayim Nissim Cohen in Texas.  

You will read in this court document, "On numerous occasions between about September 2018 and April 2019, when RAM was 15 and 16 years of age, Cohen subjected RAM to unwanted sexual contact by engaging in at least the following behavior:

a. Forcing RAM to get into Cohen’s bed;

b. Forcing RAM to rub Cohen’s stomach and chest which aroused Cohen;

c. Forcing RAM to touch Cohen’s penis outside of his clothes;

d. Forcing RAM to touch Cohen’s penis inside his clothes; and

e. Forcing RAM to masturbate Cohen until climax."

A study by Meaghan Kelleher of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) illustrates that name-based checks are not adequate and recommends fingerprint-based checks. The CSFES wants fingerprint-based checks on hosts in the Federal Regulations because of NCMEC's study; it is the best screening method available. 

This pattern of abuse is shattering lives of innocent teens and ruining the reputation of America.  


Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
660 Joshua Tree Street | Imperial, CA  92251
www.csfes.org / 760-583-9593

Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws--but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted--when we tolerate what we know to be wrong--when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened--when we fail to speak up and speak out--we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice. 
-- Robert Francis Kennedy


National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.  

Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET)
Mr. Chris Page
Ms. Anna Damewood

It looks to me that it is into ASSE's company policy to sue their adversaries in order to silence them. ASSE has already been sanctioned by the State Department in the past, with ASSE suing the State Department for this decision (https://cases.justia.com/federal/appellate-courts/ca9/14-56402/14-56402-2015-10-09.pdf?ts=1444410159)  ASSE sued the Secretary of State Michael Pompeo after being sanctioned and other time:


October 29, 2022  Blog entry #41

CSFES provides information for school administrators throughout the US who have encountered foreign exchange students in poor situations.
Many districts are updating their school policies to incorporate the federal regulations which include child safety guidelines.  
Solid school policies help reduce the incidents of exchange student abuse. To that end, the implementation of policies that schools may adopt to lessen problems for foreign teenagers include:

  • designate a deadline for exchange placement agencies to allow sufficient time for compliance with Homeland Security requirements, criminal background checks of host families and ample time for host families to contact the foreign exchange student - this will help eliminate hasty, sloppy placements.
  • check address of incoming student and notify the U.S. Department of State if more than two students are placed in one residence.
  • establish conflict of interest policy that no school employee may also function as representative for an exchange placement agency.
  • assign a counselor to whom students may report problems instead of referring back to the placement agency and make students aware that school staff is under "mandated reporter" laws.
  • report abuse to local law enforcement or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children not to the placement agency.
  • limit each placement agency to one student placement and place a cap on students making it clear that availability is determined by enrollment numbers of local students. 

While schools do not have any control over home placements, CSFES has found that adherence to well-written policies deter placement agencies from abusing a school's desire for international exchange experience for its student body is very effective. 

When high school placements are not secured, this also puts the schools in a very bad position.  High schools oftentimes have funding and space issues and agencies force them to take students that were not properly enrolled.  Schools need to be able to control their educational services to provide for local school children whose parents pay taxes for these services.

September 4, 2022  Blog Entry #35

Notice the dead rodent in this picture!  

Treatment of former CETUSA and EF High School Year student from Norway:

Photo taken by CETUSA student from Norway placed in Michigan

February 8, 2022  Blog Entry # 22

Photo taken by CETUSA student from Norway placed in Michigan

December 7, 2021  Blog Entry #18

Photo taken by CETUSA student from Norway placed in Michigan

August 2, 2021     Blog Entry #12

Below are photos taken by an International Student Exchange (ISE USA) participant from Italy placed in Florida.  Note that ISE USA is a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State and is on CSIET's Advisory List.  

August 3, 2021    Blog Entry #13

​I am always saddened to receive pictures like the ones I am sharing with you.  But I am proud when an exchange student provides pictures of the residence he/she must reside in.  My heart goes out to them.  They just want someone to believe them and to get them the heck out of the residence.  I can't call it a home.  

CSFES has forwarded scads of photos over the years of the conditions exchange students have had to endure to the US Department of State and CSIET.  In this instance, CSFES also brought the concerns of the natural parent to the attention of State Department's designated sponsor International Student Exchange (ISE USA).  

Please note that Rose Hawkins remains responsible for placing exchange participants in the United States for ISE USA...

Complaint to the US Department of State and ISE USA, as well as the consulate of Finland:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Minnesota | FINLAND Complaint | Ms. Rose Hawkins of
International Student Exchange USA (ISEUSA) [FWD: Case from Long
Prairie, Minnesota 2013-14]
From: <dgrijalva@csfes.org>
Date: Tue, August 05, 2014 12:21 am
To: "Alexander T" <AlexanderJT@state.gov>, "Susan Geary"
<GearySA@state.gov>, "Elizabeth Dickerson" <DickersonEB@state.gov>,
"Stanley Colvin" <Colvinss@state.gov>, "Brandi Duffy"
<duffyb@state.gov>, "State High School Exchanges Joele"
<highschoolexchanges@state.gov>, "State" <ruschTL@state.org>, "State
Department J. Theagene" <Theagene@state.gov>, "Nicole Deaner"
<DeanerN@state.gov>, "Handleyka@state.gov" <Handleyka@state.gov>, "Ida
Abell" <AbellIE@state.gov>, "Hawkins S" <hawkinsks@state.gov>, "Henry
Scott" <ScottHC@state.gov>
Cc: "Bill Bonomo" <bill@iseusa.org>, "Wayne Brewer"

United States Department of State
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Mr. James Alexander
Ms. Susan Geary
Ms. Robin Lerner
Washington, DC  20522

Dear Mr. Alexander, Ms. Geary and Ms. Lerner,

Please accept another another complaint against International Student Exchange USA (ISEUSA).

Email below from the natural parents of former ISEUSA participant CSFES PROTECT of Finland placed in Long Prairie, Minnesota, exchange year 2013-2014, is for your review.

Who was the impartial student advocate assigned to former ISEUSA participant CSFES PROTECT of Finland?  It is important youth serving organizations do not allow for the same individuals to continue making the same mistakes that impact the well-being and safety of teens.

Recall the laws that were established in Minnesota to further protect exchange students and reputation of America:
Minnesota Deputy Secretary of State Interviewed to Discuss Laws Established to Protect Children

Laws Enforced to Protect Foreign Exchange Students and Reputation of United States Minnesota's Deputy Secretary of State
Jim Gelbmann Date of Interview: July 16, 2009

SHELBY: Understood. You're a good man, Jim Gelbmann. Jim Gelbmann is Deputy Secretary of State and he has worked tirelessly to try to get the state to change its regulations, policies and laws regarding the foreign exchange student program in the state of Minnesota. And there has been a company CETUSA, C-E-T-U-S-A and you may see that from time to time you might even get some queries from the Council for Educational Travel USA. Back in the day when I was in high school, there was nothing more fabulous than foreign exchange students coming in an bring their knowledge of their own country and telling us about that and then learning about America and helping us teach. And then I've run into some of them in later years and they would say it was the greatest experience I've ever had in my life. Here in Minnesota, we are the host to lots of them because we're a very open state and we want to be a part of that process but it doesn't always turn out well because the companies that are looking for these families apparently, apparently, are not doing a very good job of screening them, we've got lists, and lists and lists if you've been listening to the program, we're talking about sex abuse, we talking pornography, we talking about convicts, we're talking about taking of money from these individuals, that is not the kind of impression that I as an American want to leave on a young person, or any person whatsoever who comes to our country to visit and then goes back home and says they never want to go back to that place again; they're terrible, terrible people Jim Gelbmann and I agree on that sort of soft element of that legislation. The hard element of course is making sure that these companies don't have a right to operate if they're not doing it right in this state of Minnesota. The good news is that Jim has told us, it has been signed by the Governor which is now a matter of law in the state of Minnesota. As you looked around, you said you began investigating one case, but then you soon realized there were a lot more cases out there. Can you talk about a few of those?

GELBAMANN: Sure, Don. Probably the most common problem that happened with the CETUSA organization in multiple high schools throughout the state is that they would bring more students over to Minnesota than they had families to place them in. And, again, that is against the federal regulations, as well. Federal law requires the organization to have us signed contract with a host family one month before the student arrives in the States. And what would regularly happen is CETUSA would have three or four host families signed up for a specific school and five or six students would be bought over, and then CETUSA would frantically search for host families for the students. In one case that was documented actually WCCO TV a number of years ago, I think back in 2006 um, one CETUSA organization uh, uh, coordinator had six students student living in her basement, had six foreign exchange students living in her basement because she couldn't find host families for them --

SHELBY: And that is violation of law -

GELBMANN: And that is a violation of law right then and there."

You may read the interview here:

Minnesota Deputy Secretary of State Interviewed to Discuss Laws Established to Protect Children

Governor of Minnesota signs bill to further protect foreign exchange students within its state.

This repeated pattern of abuse and neglect of foreign exchange students must be thoroughly investigated.  As State continues to look the other way, as it has repeatedly over the years; a copy of the concerns of CSFES PROTECT of Finland will be sent to the United States Senators of Minnesota.  A copy will be sent to the Minnesota State Office of Education.  A copy will be sent to the Long Prairie Board of Education.

And always: the media.  


Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
P.O. Box 6496 / Oceanside, CA 92052
www.csfes.org / 760-583-9593

Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws--but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted--when we tolerate what we know to be wrong--when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened--when we fail to speak up and speak out--we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.
-- Robert Francis Kennedy


Consul General of Finland

International Student Exchange USA (ISEUSA), Mr. Wayne Brewer and Ms. Rose Hawkins

*** end of email ***

In an email from the exchange student's natural parents from Finland to CSFES and forwarded to the US Department of State and ISE USA:

​"Conclusion: CSFES PROTECT has been threatened, bashed, blamed, and casted a slur on several times by Rose Hawkins and about things he couldn't affect on. Those things weren't his fault. Rose has behaved very threateningly towards CSFES PROTECT. Finland's organization encouraged all the time to tell if something was wrong and every time we did it, Rose attacked against CSFES PROTECT by blaming, bashing and threatening with sending him back to Finland. She has tried to get rid of him continuously. She's supposed to be the trustworthy and supportive adult. Instead, she's very sick, scary and unstable human-being who threatens and lies with no problems and who always turns out the things way that benefits her.

​Nothing can fix CSFES PROTECT exchange year anymore but our responsibility is to do our best so that no other exchange student would have to go through the same. Hope you can do something with this...."

Photo taken by CETUSA student from Norway placed in Michigan

August 22, 2021 Blog Entry #16

Please read the following news articles:  

Host who recorded exchange student in bathroom gets 15 years

Foreign exchange student host used spy camera on students, police say

Man sentenced to jail for secretly recording foreign exchange students at home

Council Bluffs man, a foreign exchange student program coordinator, sentenced to decades in prison

The four stories above involve the host or area representative secretly recording innocent foreign exchange students during private moments in the home.  More news articles describing a host or area representative secretly recording exchange students can be found on the 'News' page our website:  www.csfes.org.  This is certainly not an isolated incident.  

A complaint including the four above-referenced news articles has been sent to Mr. Mark Howard, Branch Chief, of the U.S. Department of State today.  

August 26, 2022 at 1:00 pm  Blog Entry #31

Photo taken by an Italian exchange student of where he was placed in Florida by ISE USA.  His parents spent the equivalent of $12,000 for this experience.  

March 14, 2022  Blog Entry #23

I have been asked to provide the press release below in both English and Russian:

Exchange student from Kazakhstan has bitter experience in USA - CSFES approaches Department of State for redress of grievances

English --- http://www.newscentralasia.net/2022/03/26/exchange-student-from-kazakhstan-has-bitter-experience-in-usa-csfes-approaches-department-of-state-for-redress-of-grievances/  
Russian --- http://www.newscentralasia.net/2022/03/26/student-po-obmenu-iz-kazakhstana-polucjil-gorkiy-opyt-v-usa/

Student placement agency:  Student American International (SAI) 

CSFES received this heartfelt email below from a mother in Italy after her son was sent home early after months of enduring hell in Florida.  He was an International Student Exchange (ISE) participant placed in Florida and Master Studio participant from Italy.  Parents need to be aware that their child's pleas for help can be ignored while they study abroad as a foreign exchange student.  In this situation, the young man from Italy endured much stress by his host parents who, together with ISE, ignored the parent's request for a new host family.  Below is his mother's email to CSFES shortly after her son returned to Italy from America.  

July 31, 2022

Hi Danielle,

I hope you are well and everything is all right with you.

I write to give you some news about our family situation after our son's experience in USA. Our son never went back to being the same boy he was before leaving. He has fallen into a deep depression and refuses any kind of help. He is convinced that he is wrong and is not even able to connect his status to his American experience. He broke off relations with all his friends and separated from his girlfriend. Nobody was able to help us. The Italian lawyer needs a psychiatric report to proceed with a legal action. Our son doesn't want to go to a psychiatrist. Master Studio did not ask for the payment of the last installment, but they earned 6500 euros for our son's stay, which was never returned to us.

At this point our problem is no longer even related to money. We are very seriously concerned about our child's mental health and safety. The serenity and balance of our family are severely tested by this experience and I don't know what the future still holds. I am writing these things to you not to receive help, but to give you our witness and to encourage you to proceed in your important work. It is not right to commodify the souls of children in this way, no law should allow it. 

The consequences of this practice can be devastating and we are experiencing hell.

I would be grateful if you could forward this testimony of mine to the US State Department, which, in addition to not having taken any action, has never even offered us an apology for the bad treatment of our son in the United States.

Thanks for reading, please receive my best regards.

A mother in Italy

--- end of email ---

Student placement agencies:

International Student Exchange (ISE)

Nancy Barbosa, Local Coordinator in Florida

36 Park Avenue

Bay Shore, NY  11706

Phone: 631-893-4540 or (toll-free) 800-766-4656

Website: https://iseusa.org


ISE is a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State and is listed on CSIET's Advisory List.  

Euro Master Studies srl

Antonia Forloni, Outbound Manager

20146 Milano | Via G. Washington, 1

​T. +39 02 29533748 | Skype: live: Antonia.Forloni1

September 8, 2022  Blog entry #36

March 24, 2022  Blog Entry #26

September 15, 2022  Blog entry #37 

August 5, 2021    Blog Entry #14

Exchange students placed in deplorable conditions several years ago by ASPECT Foundation gained the interest of Pennsylvania's US Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.  I am reminded of his letter to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and would like to share it with you.  ASPECT Foundation remains a designated sponsor of the US Department of State and appears on CSIET's Advisory List.  

As you read the letter by Senator Casey, you will want to keep in mind that little, if anything, has changed with regards to the placement process of foreign exchange students in America.  State's sponsors continue to place more students than there are host families available.  

"Casey Urges Secretary Clinton to Investigate U.S. Youth Exchange Programs

Sends letter after reports of mistreatment of students in Pennsylvania

May 26, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asia Affairs, today sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to investigate the Department of State's oversight of U.S. youth exchange programs following reports of abuse and mistreatment of nine foreign exchange students in Pennsylvania.

"The situation these students found themselves in is simply unacceptable," said Senator Casey.  "Education and Cultural Exchange Programs serve a valuable function.  They provide a powerful mechanism by which negative perceptions of America can be refuted and stronger ties between nations can be forged.  Therefore, I encourage the State Department to swiftly review its oversight procedures.  We must be able to guarantee the safety and welfare of visiting students."

Nine foreign exchange students between the ages of 15 and 18 have been placed in the care of Lackawanna County's Department of Human Services.  According to officials, some children were in need of medical attention due to malnutrition and dehydration while others were living in unsanitary conditions and in homes that were recently condemned.  Only after their teachers voiced concerns did their predicaments come to light.  Currently, foreign exchange students are eligible to attend approximately 430 high schools, colleges and universities throughout Pennsylvania.

Letter from US Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.
Dear Secretary Clinton,

I am writing you today out of concern for foreign exchange students who were placed in unsanitary homes in Pennsylvania and what it means for the welfare of our nation's youth exchange programs.  It has recently come to my attention that nine foreign exchange students between the ages of 15 and 18 are now in the care of the Department of Human Services in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania because they were placed with unsuitable host families.  According to Lackawanna County officials, some children were in need of medical attention due to malnutrition and dehydration while others were living in unsanitary conditions and in a home recently condemned. 

The stories from these children are disturbing.  One story was of a 15 year-old girl from Nigeria who was living in a house surrounded by dog feces.   According to news reports, this exchange student was living with the Area Coordinator of the sponsoring organization, the same person responsible for ensuring that other host families were living up to their obligations. The investigative reporter visited the house and confirmed the exchange student's allegations and found dirt and feces throughout the house.  The situation this student found herself in is simply unacceptable.

It is my understanding that both the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), under the Department of Homeland Security, share responsibility for overseeing and implementing youth exchange programs.  Through an independent third party - the Council on Standards for International Education Travel - the State Department provides accreditation and audits for private and non-profit international educational travel and youth exchange programs (also referred to as sponsors) on an annual basis.  The USCIS Student and Exchange Visitor Program is responsible for tracking and monitoring foreign exchange students, schools and programs as long as they reside in America.  When allegations of abuse arise, according to the secondary school student guidelines issued by the State Department, it is the sponsor's responsibility to report and notify the incidents directly to the Department of State.

I am concerned that the current oversight system is reactive not proactive and permits the ongoing abuse of foreign students without any effective intervention until the situation is dire.  The situation these students found themselves in only came to attention once teachers voiced their concerns.  Therefore, I request answers to the following questions: 

•           The Council on Standards for International Education Travel (CSIET) is the independent nonprofit organization that reviews sponsors on an annual basis and provides a public list of those who have received accreditation.  How does the Department of State determine whether the audits performed by CSIET meet agency regulations?  How often, if at all, does the Department of State perform checks on the various sponsors approved by CSIET?

•           Sponsors are required to "exercise due diligence" to ensure that the host families are screened properly and are found satisfactory. The Department of State has previously stated that "a mere superficial compliance with this regulatory requirement will not be tolerated."  If it is determined that an approved sponsor has failed to demonstrate due diligence in their host family selection process, what are the consequences for that sponsor?

·           How much contact, if any, does the State Department have with sponsors?  With CSIET?

•           Are sponsors required to make home visits with students and their host families?  If so, how many times must a sponsor visit the home during a student's stay? 

•           If a sponsor loses its accreditation, is the sponsor allowed to reapply for accreditation the following year, if at all?  If so, what steps must a sponsor take to have its accreditation restored?

·           How many Department of State employees work on youth exchange programs?

I am supportive of the cultural and educational exchange programs the Department of State promotes and funds.  Such exchange opportunities assist in dispelling negative images of the United States and helps convey our nation's best attributes.  It is for these reasons that I am deeply concerned about allegations of abuse and mistreatment of foreign exchange students.  Stories like those emanating from Lackawanna County tarnish our reputation and undermine the mission of youth exchange programs.  I look forward to hearing your responses and working with you on guaranteeing the safety and welfare of foreign exchange students in the United States.
                                                                        Robert P. Casey, Jr. ​

A Predator's Playground...

June 30, 2021     Blog Entry #4

In 2005, The Washington Post mentioned the formation of CSFES in their newspaper, and then my phone started ringing off the hook.  A reporter with MSNBC called me one early morning asking for a satellite interview in their Los Angeles office.

I was nervous, but agreed in an effort to get the word out that our U.S. Department of State must strengthen the regulations and begin to sanction its sponsors that repeatedly 1)  accept more students than there are homes available; 2) allow its sponsors to continually place these children in the homes of convicted felons and registered sex offenders and 3) stop returning these innocent children to their home countries in shame and left with nothing but heartache and misery.

Well, that really broke things open.  I began to get flooded with calls, emails, cards and letters from former exchange students who ranged in age from 19 to their mid-50's.  Each had a story, thank goodness, some were positive stories about their exchange, however, a vast majority were written by men and women who were sexually abused while studying abroad.  Then they each shared with me what they had to endure and how it has currently affected them today.  This is when I knew this problem was not only huge, but had been 'swept under the carpet' for decades.

I want to show you what I have encountered since the formation of the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students.

CSFES is receiving requests from parents to recommend suitable student exchange organizations.  While CSFES is not in the position to make such referrals, we offer the following when making this very important decision:

Fingerprint Background Checks:

Ask specifically if the student exchange organization conducts fingerprint background checks.  If the answer is no, search for another company.  

 In Case of an Emergency:

Check how well the student exchange organization responds to emergencies, especially of an evening, weekends and holidays. Find out the emergency telephone number in which to call.  Then call the telephone number. The response will tell you if this is a responsible organization. 

Reviewing Student Profiles:

When visiting the exchange organization's website, what controls are in place to prevent easy access to the student's profile?  Is personal information easily accessible complete with the student's photo?  Is this the method in which you would like for your son or daughter to be placed by the student exchange organization?

There is an increase in sexual predators targeting children through the Internet, therefore, this is a vital concern to CSFES.

Host Family Information:
In the event you have progressed to receiving your son or daughter's prospective Host Family information packet from the student exchange organization:  

Check to see that this family's interests are similar to your son or daughters.

If your child has allergies or asthma; is he/she being placed in a home with animals or those who smoke?

**Be very concerned if prior to your son or daughter's departure, you are notified by the student exchange organization that there has been a sudden change with the Host Family selected for your child.  If you are told the Host Family is no longer the same "due to a divorce or unforeseen circumstances," etc., this is a major concern to CSFES." **

You will be told that a Welcome Family will instead await your son or daughter.  It has been our experience that this gives cause for your child to potentially be bounced around among Welcome Families many times prior to a "permanent" family being secured.  Does the organization pre-screen welcome families, including fingerprint background checks? 

As per the United States Department of State regulations, Section 62.25 (d)(3) "Ensure that no organizational representative act as both host family and area supervisor for any student participant whom that organizational representative may host."

Your son or daughter should not be placed in a home where his/her host mother or father is also the organization's supervisor, area representative or regional director.  This provides no neutrality in the event your son or daughter has concerns or an emergency.

Secure High School Placement:

Do you have a letter of acknowledgement from the high school your son or daughter will attend?

As per the United States Department of State regulations, Section 62.25(f)(4) "Under no circumstance shall a sponsor facilitate the entry into the United States of a student for whom a school placement has not been secured."

Student Identification Card:

As per the United States Department of State regulations, Section 62.25 (g)(4) "An identification card which lists the student's name, United States home placement address and telephone number, and a telephone number which affords immediate contact with both the Department of State and sponsor in case of emergency.  Such cards may be provided in advance of home country departure or immediately upon entry into the United States."

Parents:  Make certain your son or daughter has this information; complete with a telephone number that will provide immediate contact with both the Department of State and sponsor.

** In the event your child is not provided with a Student Identification Card complete with the above-referenced information, prior to departure or arrival into the United States, please notify CSFES immediately. **

Ask who has the final say on the selection of family. If you have concerns about the family (age of host parents, etc.) and you are told that if you have to accept the family -- ask more questions.

CSFES asks that parents:

1)  ask for a copy of the child protection policy of the agency responsible for placing students.

2)  ask for a guarantee in writing that the home of the host family has been inspected and the privacy of the student in bathroom and bedroom ensured.

3)  ensure that their children are aware of what constitutes sexual harassment given that most rapes are preceded by touching the thigh, commenting on the sexual attractiveness of the student, "accidentally" touching breasts etc., which if ignored leads the perpetrator to think that it is acceptable to proceed further.

4)  ask if the agency informs the student of telephone numbers to call if abusive behavior occurs (police, rape crisis centers, etc)? If not, do not use that agency.

5)  make certain your child can access the passport and return ticket if an unacceptable situation is encountered.

6)  ensure your child knows how to phone home from overseas.

7)  ensure they know how to contact their consulate in case they encounter problems that the agency ignores.

Photo 2 of 4 of Pat Whitfield's house

I am frequently asked what did the two Center for Cultural Interchange (CCI) (currently known as Greenheart International) foreign exchange students experience in the home of Sean Christopher in Indio, CA in 2004 that caused me to resign and form CSFES.  

The boy from France reported to me that their host father Sean Christopher would repeatedly offer the boys alcohol.  Sean Christopher exposed the boys to pornographic material.  On several occasions Sean Christopher asked the boys if they would like to watch a pornographic movie with him on his computer.  Sean Christopher photographed the boy from France while he slept without his permission.  Sean Christopher borrowed $290 from the boy from Germany.

This is summarized in the following police report.  Personal information has been omitted.  


46800 Jackson Street

Indio, CA  92201


Case No.:  0409-3196

Offense(s):  288.2(A) PC; Harmful Matter Sent With Intent Of Seduction Of Minor; Fel.

Date:  09/20/04  09:06 Monday

SUSPECT(S):  Sean Will Christopher

ADMINISTRATON:  T. Bronson 461

APPROVED BY:   Robert Stanfill 274

Narrative Report

Pursuant to California Penal code 293(a), the victim's of domestic violence or a sexual offense have the right to have their name remain confidential.  The victim's in this report will be referred to as victim 1 and victim 2.


On 9/20/04, Monday, at 0920 hours, I was dispatched to (address) in reference to a welfare check on two juveniles that did not go to school.  


I contacted Deputy Navarro at Palm Desert High School via telephone from the Indio Police Station.  Navarro informed me that she needed me to do a welfare check on two foreign exchange students that did not come to school.  It was brought to the principal's attention by another student that there might be some strange activities being done around the residence where the two students are staying. 

I asked Navarro what kind of strange activities.  Navarro told me the student told the principal that victim 1 found some pornographic articles and pictures of juveniles.  Navarro faxed me the papers Victim #1 had found.  I read the papers.  It seemed to me that someone was writing a story.  It did not have the names or ages of any one in the story.  The story makes comments of young boys.  The pictures faxed to me where of naked men.  The pictures were not of dirty or sexual nature. 

Navarro asked me to do a welfare check to make sure the victims were all right.  

Cpl. Rodill and myself went to the residence.  I rang the doorbell.  I male subject, Harold Cleveland, answered the door in his underwear.  His shorts were pulled down to his knees.  I asked Cleveland if both victims were at home.  Cleveland told me they were both home ill from school.  I asked if I could speak to them.  Victim 1 and victim 2 stepped outside to the driveway.  

I asked victim #2 if everything was okay at the residence.  Victim #2 told me he and Victim #1 felt uncomfortable living at the residence.  I asked Victim #2 if they had called the foreign exchange personnel to see if they could rehouse them.  Victim #2 said he contacted Walter Shaw, but Shaw wanted some facts before moving them from the house.  

I transported both victims to the Indio Police Station for further investigation.  We sat in the auditorium at the Indio Police Station.  I had both victims contact their parents and tell them what was going on.  

They both told me Christopher tells them to walk around the house in their underwear.  Victim #2 told me Christopher walks around in his underwear and that make both victims uncomfortable.  They both told me Christopher shows both of them porn from the Internet.  I asked both victims if Christopher touched them or hurt them in any way.  They both told me Christopher had not done anything to them.  They just felt uncomfortable and wanted out of the house.  

Victim #2 said they have told Shaw they don't want to be at this residence any longer.  I contacted Shaw by telephone and told him the victims needed to be placed in a new home.  Shaw advised me he was going to be in route to the station. 

Cpl. Rodill brought the victims lunch from McDonalds.  Cpl. Rodill and I took the victims back to the residence to get their belongings.  We then transported them back to the Indio Police Station. 

Shaw arrived at the Indio Police Station at approximately 1845 hours.  I explained the situation to Shaw.  Shaw said he would take the victims to his house until placement could be met.  Shaw said he would investigate further into Sean Christopher.  I gave Shaw custody of the victims at approximately 1930 hours. 

Please forward a copy of this report to CPS Agent Todd Deyamie.

46800 Jackson Street
Indio, CA  92201

Supplemental Report

Case # 0409-3196

This is a supplemental to be attached to report numbers 0409-3196 and 0410-5487.

In my first report the victims are listed as victim 1 and victim 2.  They will be listed as such in the supplemental report.


I contacted victim 1 via telephone on 1/26/05 at 1245 hours.  No one was home and I left a message.  At 1525 hours, victim 1 called back.  I told victim 1 I had to clarify a few questions I asked during our first interview.

I asked victim 1 if Sean Christopher ever showed him and victim 2 any pornography pictures.  Victim 1 told me Christopher showed him pictures on the internet.  Victim 1 told me Christopher called victim 1 and victim 2 into the dining room (where the computer is locates sitting on a desk).  Victim 1 and victim 2 went to the dining room and Christopher told them to look what I have on my computer.  Victim 1 told me what was on the screen.  Victim 1 told me it was a video of sexual nature.  Victim told me he could not remember if it was men or women but he thought it was women.  Victim 1 said they felt uncomfortable when Christopher showed them the pictures.  I asked victim 1 if he or victim 2 ever got on line and looked up pornographic sights.  Victim 1 told me they never got on line and looked up sexual sights.  

I asked victim 1 if Christopher ever touched him or tried to touch him in an inappropriate manner.  Victim 1 told me no.

I asked victim 1 if he took any of Christopher's property from the residence.  Victim 1 told me when he left the residence, he only took his belongings.  I asked victim 1 if he ever told CCI that they lied to the police in order to get out of the residence.  Victim 1 told me that they did not call the police so why would they lie about what was going on at the residence.  Victim 1 said he did not know the police were called until we showed up at the door.  

I have attempted to contact Walter Shaw with negative results.  Shaw has resigned from CCI.  His cell phone number and home telephone number is no longer in service.  


Please forward to the detectives.  

--- end of report ---

The following is a letter from the Center for Cultural Interchange's (CCI) attorney Mr. Timothy P. Dwyer, 240 West River Drive, St. Charles, Illinois 60174

February 17, 2005

Via Fax and Regular Mail

Chief Brad Ramos

Indio Police Department

46800 Jackson Street

Indio, CA  92201

​Re:  Police Report #'s: 0409-3196 and 0410-5487; Request for documents under the California Records Inspection Act

Dear Mr. Ramos:

Please be advised that this law firm represents the Center for Cultural Exchange (CCI).  In that regard, I am requesting, under the California Records Inspection Act, police report numbers 0409-3196 and 0410-5487.

Undoubtedly, you are aware of this situation where two high school students that were placed by CCI were removed from the home of Sean Christopher.  While it appears that this was a situation where both the students and the host family were acting inappropriately, it is difficult to discern without the actual police reports.  My understanding is that Commander Mark Miller has denied copies of the reports to CCI.  If, in fact, the Indio Police Department refused to release these reports to my office, kindly cite the law or regulation which you rely upon.  

As I believe you are aware, a Ms. Danielle Grijalva has taken this incident of September 20, 2004 and has contacted every agency which she can possibly think of in terms of attacking the methods of my client, CCI.  In doing so, she has repeatedly referenced police reports 0409-3196 and 0410-5487 generated by your Department.  Ms. Grijalva has referenced these police reports to foreign agencies, the State Department, the Council on Standards for International Education Travel (CSIET) and the Homeland Security Department.  On January 25, 2005, Ms. Grijalva wrote the District Attorney of Riverside, the Attorney General of California and the California Department of Social Services.  In this letter, which I have attached and incorporated by reference as Exhibit A, Ms. Grijalva repeatedly references 

February 17, 2005

Page Two

the police reports and states their respective contents.  Pursuant to the California Records Inspection Act, I am requesting whether these police reports have been released to Ms. Grijalva.  In the alternative, I am requesting as to whether Ms. Grijalva was allwed to read these reports.  

As you can imagine, Ms. Grijalva's referencing these reports to various regulatory agencies puts CCI in a very difficult position.  On the one hand, Ms. Grijalva alleges to recite facts contained within a police report to various agencies which regulate CCI.  Without access to those reports, Ms. Grijalva's statement of alleged "facts" are impossible to refute.

While CCI understands that these students are minors in the legal sense, they are not citizens and they are in this country under the direction and control of CCI.  If they have done something illegal, our agency needs to know about that as well as those agencies who sent the boys over from their respective foreign countries.

In closing, we are requesting copies of police reports 0409-3196 and 0410-5487.  Since this incident occurred in September of 2004, it is difficult to believe that the investigation is still pending.  In that regard, we would also request a determination of whether any charges are to or have been filed against the students involved or Mr. Christopher.  In the event the investigation is still pending and you need additional information from (victim 1) or (victim 2), I would be happy to supply you with their new addresses and telephone numbers. 

As CCI has to respond to the many agencies Ms. Grijalva has contacted, I would appreciate your earliest possible response.


Timothy P. Dwyer


--- end of letter ---

Please read the following email to Sejours Internationaux et Cultures (SILC) (the French organization) that Ms. F. sent me.  It is from Emanual Kuntzelman, President of CCI:

------  Original Message ------

De: Emanuel [mailtoemanuelccispain.com]

Envoye:  30 septembre 2004 21:02

A.  B.F.

ObjetL  Re:  Victim 1 XXXXXXXX

Dear Ms. F.:

The situation with victim #1 is anything but simple.  He broke into the private property of his host family, fabricated a document to defame his character, and is also accused of stealing important private documents.  

While we cannot prove the last accusation, the first two are certainly cause for immediate repatriation.  We also know that the host father is considering denouncing this case to the police.  While we have discouraged him from doing so, it is a possibility.  If arrested and found guilty of burglarizing private property with the intent to defame character, victim #1 could be charged with a felony in the United States.

As I said, ordinarily this incident would be reason enough to proceed with immediate repatriation.  Given our longstanding relationship with SILC and the fact that we assume the two boys acted together in what they perhaps thought would only be an innocent prank, we have chosen to do our best to be understanding and issue a probation notice.  

I would like to add, however, that this incident has caused our organization serious harm.  Two of our Area Representatives have now resigned in protest to my decision to allow victim #1 another chance.  In addition to this, our Regional Director in the area is also considering her resignation  Our General Manager also disagrees with my decision to allow a probation.  As a result, CCI's ability to deal with this has been hindered, and certainly we will suffer long term consequences as a result of this highly unfortunate incident.

At this point we are waiting for victim #1 to sign the letter of probation so we can proceed with his relocation.  If the letter is not signed by tomorrow, we shall have no other choice but to proceed with his repatriation. 

Sincerely yours,

Emanuel Kuntzelman

President, Center for Cultural Interchange

The following is the response from Ms. B.F. of SILC:

---- Original Message ----

From:  B.F.

To:  "Emanuel"

cc:  C.A., :"Laura":

Sent:  Friday, October 01, 2004 6:39 AM

Dear Emanuel,

Thank you very much for your email.

I must say that I totally disagree with you.

I'm going to be honest with you.  I'm in contact with Danielle Grijalva, she sent me many emails expressing her feelings about victim #1's situation.

I was not totally surprised since victim #1 give me many information but I do think that victim #1 is having a heavy weight on his shoulder which he should definitely not carry.

Victim #1 should not sign the probation letter.  I'm sorry Emanuel but you have no proof for these accusations, as we you have some, please give them to me, otherwise, there's no reason for victim #1 to sign this letter. 

I am sorry Emanuel, that is false since the probation letter does mention accusations against victim #1 concerning his placement with Sean Christopher.  

It's easy to ruin a minor's reputation, as exchange student, 17, who doesn't know anything about the US and to put everything on his expenses.  I do hope that this incident will not change his vision of the country.  It will certainly change his vision of the life, which is basically all about business, but I guess the sooner he's faced with problems, the better he's ready to cope with difficulties.  That will still be an experience, a weird and difficult one, but still an experience.

Also, Danielle agrees not to resign, she would like to take care of victim #1 during his academic programme as her Area Representative.  She even agrees not to get paid, she only wants, like me, victim #1's well-being.  As I wrote before, he does deserve to get a wonderful experience.  Many people love him.  He's the victim of a huge injustice. 

I do regret to have to submit victim #1 and his natural parents this placement with Sean Christopher.  That was a huge mistake but we had no way to guess the future, we trusted you.

Now, I thing the best thing to do is to let victim #1 with his new host family, H.S., and let him continue his programme in peace as he should have done.  Danielle will be there for him.  

I hope to hear from you soon.

My best regards,


Inbound and Outbound Academic Year Programme Coordinator 

​​​I wrote the letter below in 2005 to parents across the globe that have a child studying abroad as a foreign exchange student.  CSFES is getting hit hard with emails from parents overseas reporting their child in dire circumstances in America.  This letter is applicable to any parent that has been told that if they continue with their concerns about their son or daughter, that it will result in having their child sent home early.  Your child should not have to endure dire circumstances while on a cultural exchange.  Contact CSFES for any questions or concerns.      

Dear Parents:

It has been just a couple of weeks since you’ve said goodbye. It will be several months before you see your child at the end of his or her program.  

I have some questions for you that I want you to seriously ponder.

How does your son or daughter sound when you talk on the telephone? Listen…really listen to your child's voice. For some of you, there’s something in their voice that isn’t quite right. You can even tell in their emails to you that something is missing.

By now, your instincts tell you your son or daughter cannot still be homesick. Listen and trust your instincts parents, and begin to get serious.

For some of you, your son or daughter will break down and cry during your conversations. No matter how often and the many different ways you ask, you will not be able to find out exactly what it is that is weighing heavy on their heart. Have you attempted to speak to them in your language, however, find that they are only able to respond in English? Do you get the feeling that their calls are being monitored by someone standing close by?

Let’s go a step further. How many times have you reviewed time and time again the packet of information you were provided regarding your son or daughter’s host family? You’re looking for reassurance by staring at the pictures of your child’s host family and confirmation that this family is, in fact, taking good care of your precious child.

Sadly, for many of you, the original host family, for one reason or another, is no longer your child’s current family. You are unclear as to the circumstances. You know who you are and I have your full attention.

Do you know how many times your child wants to tell you exactly why they’re so unhappy? And your suspicion is right; your son or daughter still cries themselves to sleep at night. For many, they do not want to disappoint you. They’ve seen you work so very hard and know how long it took you to save the money to fulfill your child’s dream.

For many of these students, this was their idea; to become an exchange student and they also don’t want to disappoint you and break your heart by telling you that instead, all they want to do is come home. They want to be in your arms where they feel safe.

I am asking you to be strong and place a phone call to your child now. Right now. I am asking you to say, “If you’re not happy, do not worry about the money.” Ask them to answer if they are prevented from speaking with you in your native language. Tell your child to be honest with you, and you will not settle for less.

If you’re feeling helpless with little, if any, assistance from your child’s student exchange organization, ask your son or daughter to talk with a trusted friend.

Tell your child that even if you are across the ocean you will help him or her.

They are welcome to reach out to the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students by visiting www.csfes.org. A team of caring members make no excuses for the protection of children will take the time to listen and assist your child.

To set aside the time to hear the voices of the victims is an act of simple, human decency.​


Danielle Grijalva, Director

​Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students

Photos taken by ISE USA exchange student from Finland placed in Long Prairie, Minnesota by Rose Hawkins of ISE USA

August 29, 2022 Blog Entry #32

​Photo 3 of 4 of Pat Whitfield's house

The following is being submitted with permission by the reporting party, Ms. Julie Steinhofer of Minnesota:

Our community is in need of help and very upset over the treatment of a foreign exchange student that went to our district. Here is Ivan's story.  Please share and get this out for Ivan Siciliano (foreign exchange student at Minnewaska area High school). 

Ivan is a smart 17-year-old boy who came from Italy as a foreign exchange student attending Minnewaska area high school. He was staying with the Boysen family outside of Starbuck. He loved attending Minnewaska but was having issues with the family and even getting basic needs like a haircut or contact solution. He was in the process of transferring to a different family to live out the rest of the school year when his world was flipped upside down.

He was at home when the HOST mom, Tracy Boysen, had two brownies in a zip lock bag for Ivan to eat.  She told him to eat his brownies and then when he was done eating them asked for the bag back, then told him to take a shower. IVAN noticed he felt very weird after taking a shower and was asked to come downstairs.  Pope County Sheriff Office was in the house waiting for him . Tracy Boysen had called the sheriff, saying Ivan had weed in his room. Ivan ( who must have been terrified) said I don't have weed, and I have never done drugs before. Tracy helped the cops search his room where they found Marijuana in his backpack. IVAN had no idea how it got there. Moreover, why he felt weird and drugged up.

Needless to say, Ivan was taken to a different family in Osakis ( where he says they are a very nice family and feels safe). He was then given a drug test that he suggested, where he failed for Marijuana. How can you fail a test when you have never done drugs before? Ivan will be sent back to Italy and stripped of coming back to the USA, or he can stay and fight his case in court while waiting in jail. Ivan has written to the state and other agencies.. Upon hearing from some adults saying that they would get high on Marijuana with Tracy Boysen and her daughter when they were kids, I believe this story should be shared and maybe it can hit the right person to help this poor boy out. In Ivan's story, which I will share, he states how she would get high and drink a lot. She should be held accountable for drugging a minor and placing drugs in his room. Shame on you!!! He is thousands of miles away from home, 17, scared, and does not know how to help himself fight this!!! He is now going to fail the school year and have to make that up. His dreams are being stripped and traumatized by what has happened. To make matters worse, he is supposed to be in Florida on a music field trip through the school.. Which the HOST mom is chaperoning right now.  If anyone knows how to help, IVAN PLEASE speak up. No child deserves to be drugged and have this happen EVER!!!! We have a petition started... https://www.change.org/p/justice-for-ivan-15c68ffb-d120-456f-a3ff-aacf55c449a7?recruiter=944515949&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_initial&utm_term=tap_basic_share&recruited_by_id=f0847430-4dc1-11e9-8d45-c7cf474d78f4&share_bandit_exp=initial-32799993-en-US&utm_content=fht-32799993-en-us%3A1 

Ivan wants to come back and finish his schooling and fight for his rights... he has written letter and is asking for help.. Aspect Foundation has blocked him and refused to help him from the beginning... they will not respond to him or anyone. We believe his rights In The US have been violated. I'm trying to reach out for answers and don't want his schooling here to be erased PLEASE HELP US     Julie Steinhofer email:   Jsteinhofer@gmail.com

Name of placement agencies responsible for this placement:

Aspect Foundation 

870 Market Street, Ste. 409
San Francisco, CA 94102
Main Phone: 1-800-US-YOUTH (1-800-879-6884)

Contact:  Vivian Fearen  Vivian.fearen@aspectfoundation.org

Aspect Foundation is a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State and appears on CSIET's 2021-2022 Advisory List.

WEP (Italy)

Address to follow

Contact: Veronica Grosso Veronicag@wep.org

Photos taken by an Italian exchange student of where he was placed in Florida by ISE USA.  His parents spent the equivalent of $12,000 for this experience.

Below is a letter from a German parent that wants to apprise other parents and students about the many pitfalls of sending your child abroad to study on a cultural exchange.  Here is her letter to the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students:

​Dear CSFES:

We wrote the first time around March/April 2021 about international Experience. Our son was placed in Strasburg Colorado at this time. We had some calls as well when they wanted to cancel his visa.

I think parents are just naive (as we were back then). They have talks with the organizations here for hours, write applications (we wrote a very honest letter over three pages about our son to find a good match), have teachers writing recommendations etc. while teachers and former students without any troubles of course kinda promote exchanges. The idea of the exchange is great. But parents are not aware of the issues blinded by all the promotions and good experiences they get told. 

Another problem is, you hardly find any„ bad experiences when you search for them online. That’s what we did. Check for negative ratings/experiences. Might be a German issue that there’s laws regulating ratings plus arrangements (instead of legal action) that usually includes non-disclosure-agreements. 

I avoided to use names in the German forum for exchange students/parents as well for those reasons (companies can sue you in worst case). So other parents would not get any results looking for (bad) experience with iE (in our case). You just can talk with people and warn them. Writing things open in the internet might cause you serious trouble. Which is quite annoying since you already had to struggle with the organization and may not spread that easily.

As for D.J.'s example shows once more it’s also a problem that the organizations try to play innocent, even worse they try to play off parents against the kids stating it’s all their and alone their fault if there’s anything going wrong (and (try to) make the parents believe that in the end).

Some parents can’t read or speak English (well) and are kinda lost in these situations. We tried to get support or at least legal information in Germany as well back then and it was impossible. Not sure if Mrs Engler from ABI is still working these days, but even she could just tell about some experiences she got told over the years and that it comes to NDA most of the times (when parents try to stand up at all). The lawyers here can only do anything when the kids are back in Germany, the Department here is as useless as the DoS and the only useful answer we got after several calls and mails was once more in English from the consulate (just in between the lines).

I really don’t know why this all is so wrecked or corrupt and how to warn parents/students to be more aware without scaring them off or getting sued. How to help students that already face troubles. How to help parents help their kids. Really frustrating…

Warm regards,

Parents from Germany

Photo 4 of 4 of Pat Whitfield's house



March 24, 2022 - -On March 8, 2022 the U.S. Department of State issued Case Number 0000167491 to a complaint received from the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students (CSFES).  The complaint outlined the dire circumstances 16-year-old D.A. of Kazakhstan endured while living in Shelton, WA.  

CSFES has received the five page Terms and Conditions that D.A. and her parents agreed to on 12-02-2020.  Nowhere in the Term and Conditions does it state that D.A. and her parents agreed for her to live with a mentally abusive, alcoholic host mother in a toxic environment.  Nowhere in the the Terms and Conditions did D.A. and her parents agree for D.A.'s host mother to use D.A.'s debit/credit card to purchase alcohol, hay for the host mother's horses and gas.  Nowhere in the Terms and Conditions does it state that D.A. and her parents agreed for D.A. to eat Raman noodles and macaroni and cheese for dinner for two months, as well as living with dog feces strewn about the residence as evidenced in photos provided by D.A. which have also been forwarded to the State Department.  And, finally, nowhere in the Terms and Conditions does it state that D.A.'s pleas for help to her placement agency, Student American International (SAI), headquartered in Myrtle Beach, SC in securing a proper host family would fall on deaf ears.  

D.A. returned home to Kazakhstan in February, 2022.  She couldn't take it anymore.  D.A. should still be in the United States until June, 2022 attending high school at Shelton High School in Shelton, WA.  

Director of CSFES, Danielle Grijalva said, "The fair and appropriate action that must be taken is for SAI to refund D.A.'s parents the equivalent of $9,900 that was spent on program fees, which includes approximately $100 in purchases by the host mother on D.A.'s debit/credit card."

As of today's date, the U.S. Department of State has yet to apprise CSFES of its findings.


January 29, 2022  Blog Entry #20

July 1, 2021  Blog Entry #6

Below is our email to the U.S. Department of State.  Please read story, "How a Miami tech whiz groomed and molested exchange students -- and evaded cops for years."

It is long overdue that the U.S. Department of State implements full, FBI-based fingerprint criminal background checks on host families in the Federal Regulations.

July 1, 2021

U.S. Department of State
Mr. Henry Scott

Dear Mr. Scott,

"How a Miami tech whiz groomed and molested exchange students — and evaded cops for years" by David Ovalle is for your review.

Per your unsatisfactory response below, we will never know if CCI Greenheart aka Greenheart Exchange formerly known as Center for Cultural Interchange (CCI) was ever sanctioned by the U.S. Department of State.

Will the State Department please implement full FBI-based fingerprint criminal background checks on host families in the Federal Regulations?  This is a long overdue child safety measure.  Without it, headlines of abuse of innocent exchange students will continue.  This is shattering lives and ruining the reputation of America.  


Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students


National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
*** end of email ***

-------- Original Message --------

Subject: Re: [FWD: CCI Greenheart exchange student placed in home
despite host father's felony conviction for sexually attacking a woman
during home-invasion robbery in 1985]
From: "Scott, Henry C" <ScottHC@state.gov>
Date: Wed, March 31, 2021 11:29 am
To: "dgrijalva@csfes.org" <dgrijalva@csfes.org>
Cc: HighSchoolExchanges <HighSchoolExchanges@state.gov>, J1Visas Mailbox

Dear Ms. Grijalva:

We value and appreciate your concern and engagement on behalf of exchange students and share as a priority the health, safety, and welfare of exchange visitors.  Please do continue to notify us about cases where you believe exchange visitors need the Department's assistance.  However, the Department does not share information about individual exchange visitors and sponsors with outside parties, nor does it ever provide updates and read-outs of actions taken with outside parties.

Very respectfully,

Henry Scott    
Henry C. Scott
Director, Office of Private Sector Exchange Program Administration
Private Sector Exchange Directorate
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Exchanges
U. S. Department of State
Email:  ScottHC@state.gov
Office:  (202) 679-3941

*** end of email ***

From: dgrijalva@csfes.org <dgrijalva@csfes.org>
Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 2021 5:39 PM
To: Scott, Henry C <ScottHC@state.gov>
Cc: HighSchoolExchanges <HighSchoolExchanges@state.gov>; Alexander, James T <AlexanderJT@state.gov>; Geary, Susan A <GearySA@state.gov>; Dickerson, Elizabeth B <DickersonEB@state.gov>; Ward, Karen S <WardKS@state.gov>; Chris Page <Cpage@csiet.org>; CSIET Anna Damewood <Anna@csiet.org>; CSIET Nia Butler <Nia@csiet.org>; Howard, Mark E <HowardME@state.gov>; NCMEC Sherry Bailey <Sbailey@ncmec.org>; NCMEC John Clark <Jclark@ncmec.org>; Russ Johnson <RJohnson@NCMEC.ORG>; Laura Silver <lsilver@ncmec.org>; NCMEC Patty Wetterling <Pwetterling@ncmec.org>; NCMEC Patty Wetterling <pattywetterling@yahoo.com>; jrletc@ncmec.org <jrletc@ncmec.org>
Subject: RE: [FWD: CCI Greenheart exchange student placed in home despite host father's felony conviction for sexually attacking a woman during home-invasion robbery in 1985]
U.S. Department of State
Mr. Henry Scott

Dear Mr. Scott,

It has been almost three years.  Has State imposed sanctions against CCI Greenheart (currently known as Greenheart Exchange) for placing one of its participants in the home of a convicted felon?  Please see link to the headlines below.  


Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
660 Joshua Tree Street | Imperial, CA  92251
www.csfes.org / 760-583-9593

Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws--but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted--when we tolerate what we know to be wrong--when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened--when we fail to speak up and speak out--we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice. 
-- Robert Francis Kennedy

*** end of email ***

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [FWD: CCI Greenheart exchange student placed in home despite
host father's felony conviction for sexually attacking a woman during
home-invasion robbery in 1985]
From: <dgrijalva@csfes.org>
Date: Tue, March 02, 2021 11:24 pm
To: "Henry Scott" <ScottHC@state.gov>
Cc: "State High School Exchanges Joele"
<highschoolexchanges@state.gov>, "STATE James Alexander"
<AlexanderJT@state.gov>, "State Susan Geary" <GearySA@state.gov>, "State
Elizabeth Dickerson" <DickersonEB@state.gov>, "STATE Karen Hawkins"
<hawkinsks@state.gov>, "Chris Page" <Cpage@csiet.org>, "CSIET Anna
Damewood" <Anna@csiet.org>, "CSIET Nia Butler" <Nia@csiet.org>, "STATE
Mark Howard" <HowardME@state.gov>

United States Department of State
Mr. Henry Scott

Dear Mr. Scott,

Were sanctions ever imposed against CCI Greenheart currently known as Greenheart Exchange for placing one of its participants in the home of a convicted felon?  I have yet to receive a response to my email below sent May 17, 2018.  

I look forward to hearing from you.


Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
660 Joshua Tree Street | Imperial, CA  92251
www.csfes.org / 760-583-9593
Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws--but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted--when we tolerate what we know to be wrong--when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened--when we fail to speak up and speak out--we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice. 
-- Robert Francis Kennedy


CSIET, Mr. Chris Page, Ms. Anna Damewood and Ms. Nia Butler

*** end of email ***

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: CCI Greenheart exchange student placed in home despite host
father's felony conviction for sexually attacking a woman during
home-invasion robbery in 1985
From: <dgrijalva@csfes.org>
Date: Thu, May 17, 2018 11:36 am
To: "State High School Exchanges Joele"
<highschoolexchanges@state.gov>, "Alexander T" <AlexanderJT@state.gov>,
"State Susan Geary" <GearySA@state.gov>, "State Elizabeth Dickerson"
<DickersonEB@state.gov>, "State Kevin Saba" <sabagk@state.gov>,
"Hawkins S" <hawkinsks@state.gov>, "State Alicia Gibson"
<gibsonfr@state.gov>, "STATE Ami Goodwin" <AGexchanges@state.gov>,
"State Alyson L. Grunder" <GrunderAL@state.gov>, "State Lorraine
Hartmann" <HartmannL@state.gov>, "STATE Bernard Haynes"
<HaynesBJ2@state.gov>, "State Sabin Hinton" <Hintonsm@state.gov>,
"STATE Holly Stephens" <StephensHD@state.gov>

U.S. Department of State
Mr. James Alexander
Mr. Mark Howard
Ms. Susan Geary
Ms. Elizabeth Dickerson
Mr. Kevin Saba
Ms. Karen Hawkins

Re:  Chicago-based CCI Greenheart places exchange student in home despite host father's felony conviction

Dear All,

Please read the following link where you may read, "San Jose was placed in the Leary household by Chicago-based CCI Greenheart, despite his felony conviction for sexually attacking a woman during a home-invasion robbery in 1985."


State must implement full, fingerprint criminal background checks on host families that are hosting foreign exchange students.


Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
660 Joshua Tree Street | Imperial, CA  92251
www.csfes.org / 760-583-9593
Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws--but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted--when we tolerate what we know to be wrong--when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened--when we fail to speak up and speak out--we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice. 
-- Robert Francis Kennedy  .

October 16, 2022  Blog entry #38

Photo taken by ISE USA exchange student from Finland placed in Long Prairie, Minnesota by Rose Hawkins of ISE USA

December 30, 2021  Blog Entry # 19

​Photo taken by ACES student from Thailand placed in Ohio

June 28, 2021     Blog Entry #2

I recall when CSFES was was notified that a 16-year-old female Japanese exchange student was placed in the home of a parolee who, on one occasion was charged with sexual battery and rape in Florida and served a 12-year prison sentence for burglary. 

CSFES immediately contacted the student exchange organization, The Foundation for Academic Cultural Exchange (F.A.C.E.) in Gainesville, Florida. Mr. Richard Moss, of F.A.C.E. who supervised the placement of this student, said that he did not feel it was important to inform the natural parents of the fact that their daughter would be placed in the home of a host father who is on parole until July, 2006. Furthermore, Mr. Moss did not notify the Japanese foreign partner of the conditions of this placement of its student.

When CSFES brought its concerns to the attention of the Department of State, Mr. Stanley Colvin informed me that the natural parents had since been notified and are perfectly fine with the knowledge that their daughter is living in the home of a parolee. He further stated that the 144 months the host father spent in prison and the nine counts against him was for a "minor run-in with the law." When Mr. Colvin's rationale was questioned by an overseas expert, he responded rudely on the lines that it was none of her business. 

What concerns CSFES is the effect this will this have on future placements of foreign exchange students. United States parents who are contemplating sending their son or daughter abroad should ensure that the student exchange agency does not place their children with hosts who have a criminal background. Much seems to depend on the integrity of the student exchange organization, but our experience has been that when things go wrong, the agency protects itself, not the students. 

The fact that this subject is being addressed is absolutely unconscionable. However, due to the fact that this placement was approved by F.A.C.E. it must be addressed and brought to the attention of those concerned.

​August 23, 2022  Blog Entry #29.

April 5, 2022  Blog Entry #28

June 30, 2021       Blog Entry #3

Can I take you back a few years?  

During my second year at CCI, I received a frantic call from my regional director Connie Dean late one evening.  She wanted to know if I could find a temporary home for one of two exchange students that were placed with a man by the name of Sean Christopher in the Indio area.  There were two boys; one from France and the other from Germany.

Connie Dean gave me strict instructions that the new home must not have a computer in it.  The boys were accused of downloading porn on Sean Christopher’s computer, which was a lie.  

Both boys were also accused of stealing.  I was told by Connie Dean that CCI was being very generous in not sending both boys back to their home countries.

I had to do some thinking.  Finding a home without a computer in it would be hard.  But not impossible.  I called my mom and my sister just so happened to be there.  My sister, Jenny, heard what was going on and she said she would be happy to help.

I contacted Connie Dean and gave her the news that I would place one of the boys with my sister.  Connie Dean thanked me and proceeded to tell me more about the boys.  She painted a horrible picture.  

Both boys were placed in Sean Christopher’s home by Walter Shaw of Corona, CA, who was also an area representative with CCI.

Arrangements were made for the boy from France to be placed with my sister in her home in Imperial, CA.  

The young man from France arrived in Imperial, CA, and was greeted by my sister.  That evening, I received a call from Jenny.  She said, “Danielle, you need to talk with this boy.  There is something wrong.  I can’t get him to stop crying.”  

I told Jenny the young man was in a heap of trouble because he and his host brother were accused of downloading porn on their host father, Sean Christopher’s, home computer.  I reminded her both boys were also accused of stealing.  

But I did as my sister asked and I spoke with the young man.  I spent 45 minutes on the phone with him and was outraged by what he shared with me.  

I was shocked to learn that both boys were being groomed for sex by Sean Christopher.  Christopher watched porn via Fuckfest.com and would invite the boys to watch with him.  Christopher often encouraged the boys to drink alcohol.  Christopher took photos of the boys without their permission while they slept and encouraged the boys to walk around the house in their underwear.  

The boys didn’t steal anything.  Instead, they were frantically looking around the house searching for their visa and passports because they wanted to get the heck out from the clutches of Sean Christopher.  

I asked the young man why didn’t he tell Walter Shaw, their CCI area representative?  I was told they did on several occasions.  I learned both boys were told by Walter Shaw, “why are you saying such negative things about your generous host father?”    

The boys were also accused of being spoiled by Connie Dean of CCI.  She said they boys were bent out of shape that Sean Christopher didn’t have a swimming pool in his backyard.  This was also not true.  The boys wanted out of Christopher’s house because of the things he was doing and saying to the boys.  

The Indio Police Department responded to a child welfare call placed by the boy’s principal, Mr. Pat Walsh, of their high school.  The boys had missed a lot of school and the principal was concerned.  I have a copy of the Indio Police Report and will share with you its contents in a future blog. 

The exchange student from Germany was placed in Texas and the exchange student from France who went to live with my sister Jenny returned to France in March, three months early.  

I have an email from president of CCI, Mr. Emanuel Kuntzelman.  I will share that email with you in a future blog.  Long story short, when the boys reported being groomed for sex by their host father, CCI blamed the students, supported the perpetrator and demonized the whistle blower.  .

​Photos taken by  ISE USA exchange student from Finland placed in Long Prairie, Minnesota by Rose Hawkins of ISE USA

July 25, 2021     Blog Entry #9

Below is a complaint sent to the Department of State and the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) on February 28, 2021.

EF Education First (EF) is the placement agency responsible for Thomas Boatright being allowed to host foreign exchange students in his home, which is a violation of the Federal Regulations, as well as act as a EF coordinator.  

The State Department and CSIET has been made aware of these headlines for years; yet EF Education First (EF) remains a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State and is on CSIET's Advisory List.  

Email to the U.S. Department of State and CSIET:

From: dgrijalva@csfes.org <dgrijalva@csfes.org>
Sent: Sunday, February 28, 2021 2:56 AM
To: Howard, Mark E <HowardME@state.gov>; Chris Page <Cpage@csiet.org>; CSIET Nia Butler <Nia@csiet.org>; CSIET Anna Damewood <Anna@csiet.org>
Cc: Alexander, James T <AlexanderJT@state.gov>; Ward, Karen S <WardKS@state.gov>; Dickerson, Elizabeth B <DickersonEB@state.gov>; Geary, Susan A <GearySA@state.gov>; Ammar, Maha G <AmmarMG@state.gov>
Subject: Complaint against EF - Headlines of abuse of foreign exchange students
United States Department of State
Mark Howard
Office of Designation
Academic and Government Programs Division
2430 E Street NW, (SA-4E)
Washington, DC 20037

Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET)
Chris Page, Executive Director
Anna Damewood
Nia Butler
1800 Diagonal Road, Suite 600
Alexandria, VA  22314

Dear Mr. Howard, Mr. Page, Ms. Damewood and Ms. Butler,

Yesterday, we read, "A 'playground for predators': Iowa sex abuse case shows holes in protections for exchange students" by Phillip Joens of the Des Moines Register.  EF Education First (EF) is the placement agency responsible for Thomas Boatright being allowed to host foreign exchange students in his home, which is a violation of the Federal Regulations, as well as act as a EF coordinator.   

Repeated headlines of abuse by EF is below is for your review.  EF is a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State, as well as a member of the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET).

This repeated pattern of abuse harming innocent children is ruining the reputation of the United States. 

Why does the State Department and CSIET entertain this repeated pattern of abuse?  So many years of astonishing headlines in the news; yet EF remains a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State, as well as a member of CSIET. 

Please advise.   

Danielle Grijalva, Director

Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students 

660 Joshua Tree Street

Imperial, CA  92251

www.csfes.org  760-583-9593


United States President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

U.S. Department of State
Mr. James Alexander
Ms. Karen Hawkins
Ms. Elizabeth Dickerson
Ms. Susan Geary
Ms. Maha Ammar

Headlines of Abuse by EF:


January 14, 2012

An American Nightmare:

Norwegian Exchange Students to the United States Risks Being Placed in Host Families Who Can Barely Take Care of Themselves
By Elisabeth Randsborg, Aftenposten

Student Exchange Agencies:  EF High School Year (EF) and Council for Educational Travel, USA  (CETUSA)


January 22, 2013
Kevin Ricks, former Manassas teacher, sentenced to 20 more years in prison

The Washington Post, by Josh White

Student Exchange Agencies:

ASSE International Student Exchange Programs (ASSE)

EF Foundation


Sunday, July 25, 2010


By Josh White, Blaine Harden and Jennifer Buske, Washington Post Staff Writers

Kevin Ricks' career as teacher, tutor shows pattern of abuse that goes back decades


January 20, 2012

David Radtke Sentenced To Jail Time
By Molly Miles, Reporter - KECY TV 

Article reads, "The victim and her family watched the sentencing via web cam from Madrid, Spain."

Student Exchange Agency:  EF Foundation


January 13, 2010

Former St. Helens postal worker convicted of sex abuse
By Stover E. Harger III,  The South County Spotlight

Student Placement Agency:  EF Foundation


FAYETTEVILLE : Agency dumps coordinators of foreign teens
BY ROBERT J. SMITH, Northwest Arkansas' News Source, June 3, 2008

"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) 


Lawmakers endorse study of foreign exchange student placement in Arkansas 

By Rob Moritz, Arkansas News Bureau,

Posted on 21 December 2007

LITTLE ROCK - The Legislative Council on Friday endorsed a proposal to study placement of foreign exchange students with host families in Arkansas.

Sen. Sue Madison, D-Fayetteville, said she proposed the study after receiving complaints that some foreign exchange students were being placed in homes with families ill-equipped to take care of them.

Madison also noted recent reports that the U.S. State Department was investigating complaints about where a Massachusetts company had placed some foreign exchange students arriving in Arkansas.

That investigation, involving the Education First Foundation for Foreign Study and its Fayetteville coordinators, involves allegations that exchange students stayed at the homes of the coordinators.

Federal regulations prohibit employees of a foreign exchange company from serving as both a host family and area supervisor for a student.

Madison’s proposal asks the Senate Interim Committee on Children and Youth to study the issue and report its findings to Legislative Council.

“Some parents came to me about problems they’ve seen in Northwest Arkansas,” Madison said Friday, also noting problems she heard of in Clarksville and Hot Springs.

In Clarksville, Madison said, a student from Korea was placed with a family living in low-income housing. The student would write home asking her parents for money to help feed her host family, she said.

“At that point, she asked to be moved to another family and representatives from the company set up a table outside a Wal-Mart to recruit her another family,” Madison said. “They found her another family and this time the male of the household was arrested on a drug charge.”

The State Department, which currently has oversight authority, does not have adequate staff to oversee the foreign exchange program, Madison said. California has enacted a law that gives its attorney general’s office some oversight authority, she said.

The California law requires any person or group that arranges the placement of foreign exchange students in California elementary, junior high or high schools to register with the attorney general’s office before making the placement.

Copyright © Arkansas News Bureau, 2003 - 2006 

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


Exchange group gets probe after teens complain 

by Robert J. Smith, December 9, 2007, Arkansas Democrat Gazette

The U. S. State Department is investigating complaints about where a Massachusetts company places foreign-exchange students arriving in Northwest Arkansas.

The eight cases involve Education First Foundation for Foreign Study and its Fayetteville coordinators, Gerald D. and Sherry A. Drummond, said Stanley Colvin, director of the State Department’s office of exchange coordination and designation. Six of the eight cases involve students attending Fayetteville High School, Fayetteville Christian School or Mission Boulevard Baptist School. The others attended schools in Northwest Arkansas but now live in Camden or Kentucky, Colvin said.

The complaints center on the nonprofit firm’s failure to find appropriate homes for some students before they arrive, as well as on how and where the Drummonds place the students.

“This is sloppy work,” Colvin said of the foundation’s operation in Arkansas.

The State Department is investigating whether Cambridge, Mass.-based Education First, better known as EF Foundation, violated a federal regulation by allowing some students to live in the Drummond home without assigning another EF employee as a supervisor, Colvin said.

Federal regulations require foreign-exchange companies to “ensure that no organizational representative act as both host family and area supervisor for any exchange student participant.”

“If there was an emergency and she had to remove a child from a home and keep the student for a one-night kind of thing, that’s not a violation,” Colvin said.

It wasn’t clear last week whether EF Foundation had assigned a separate supervisor.

Sherry Drummond, 53, refused to answer questions about the allegations of students and host families.

“It hurts me too much, because I’ve put so much into this,” she said.

She deferred to EF Foundation spokesman Ellen Manz, who requested that questions be sent by e-mail. She didn’t respond to those queries.


The State Department investigation — expected to be complete in a few days — began after state Sen. 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 last week 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. She is living with EF representative Leigh Horton, Horton said Friday.

Colvin said he’s also looking into complaints that foreign-exchange students sat at tables at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market and in front of a Wal-Mart trying to convince shoppers to allow other students into their homes.

“It’s not appropriate, but it’s not a violation of the law,” Colvin said. “It may be an indication of underlying regulatory violations. Why were they down there doing that ?”

It’s been a difficult year for foreign students at Fayetteville High. In September, student Marije Stam of the Netherlands repeatedly came to school upset and crying, she said, until counselors helped her move from the Drummond home.

“I did not feel like a guest, or at least a family member,” said Stam, 17, who lived in the Drummond house for a month and is now staying with Russ and Mara Cole of Fayetteville.

“I do not know how to express my feelings at that moment, but in my country, I would say [Sherry Drummond ] made me feel like a dog,” she said.

Mara Cole, along with Madison, spent much of last week spurring the State Department to investigate EF Foundation, the Drummonds and how the company operates in Arkansas. They sent statements from students and host families to Beth Melofchik, a State Department educational- and cultural-exchange specialist, describing what they say EF and the Drummonds did and failed to do. “I think we have an extra-special obligation to bring these foreign-exchange students to our country and to take good care of them, and I don’t think that’s happening here,” Madison said.


Fayetteville High teachers and counselors said they’ve had frequent issues with the Drummonds and EF Foundation placements. They’ve complained to officials in the foundation’s headquarters about the Drummonds and believe the organization did nothing in response. “I only hear about the bad [situations ], and there are several each year that are miserable for the student, and the placement in the homes get changed and the students have to be moved,” said Anne Butt, the high school’s college adviser for nine years.

Butt said she took a German student into her home four years ago because EF Foundation put her into a Springdale home she disliked.

Lesli Zeagler, a Fayetteville High counselor, said there are few problems with the international students attending the school who are brought to the United States by Rotary International. Not true with EF Foundation, she said.

“With EF, I’ve experienced students who are scared, who seem to be malnourished, and they seem to be isolated,” Zeagler said. “The problems go back years, but we’ve never had a group of students who have been so vocal about it.”

Doug Wright, a Fayetteville High counselor, was the counselor at Elkins High School last year. Among the nine foreign-exchange students at that school, five came to the States with the help of EF Foundation.

One EF placement was an Asian girl put in a home where the host parents were going through a divorce. The woman moved out and the man was left behind with the student, Wright said. The school reported it to EF Foundation and the girl was moved to the wife’s home, said Becky Martin, Elkins High School principal.

That instance, however, isn’t part of the State Department investigation.

“There were some questionable placements in Elkins,” Wright said. “I can’t think of a non-EF kid who had a problem.”

Boglarka “Boszi” Palko, a national history champion in Hungary who’s attending Fayetteville High, found herself in an awkward situation when she arrived at the Springdale home of Bobby and Sue Hawkins on Aug. 4.

Palko, 18, said she was never happy in the small house, where she was asked to live with the Hawkinses and their 17-year-old daughter. Cousins and grandchildren also regularly spent the night.

Family members smoked inside the house. Palko said she had instructions to put toilet paper in the trash can rather than flush it. That plus cigarette smoke made the house smell bad, Palko said.
Palko said Hawkins family members described her as “overeducated” and as a “present” for their daughter. Bobby Hawkins, a close friend of the Drummonds, told Palko she’d need to understand “redneck English” to survive in the home, Palko said.

Palko said she also was accused of having a sexual relationship while she lived in the home. She denies the accusation.

Sue Hawkins invited a Democrat-Gazette reporter to see her Oak Street home last week then wouldn’t allow him inside. The tan-colored house was well-kept on the outside.

Palko lived eight days in the Hawkins home, then was moved to the 41-year-old, 2, 100-squarefoot Drummond home near Lake Sequoyah. In order to move, she had to sign an EF Foundation “behavioral agreement” that described the Hawkins home as “suitable” and that the problems she’d encountered were her fault.

“Sherry hated me,” Palko said. “When you speak with someone, you can feel it.”

She was moved five days later to the Fayetteville home of Dave and Brenda Servies. Sherry and Gerald Drummond visited the home to check it out, and family members passed a criminal-background check, which is required by the State Department. Palko said she’s been content in the Servies home. She’s visited local stores, loves Northwest Arkansas Mall and made her first trip last week to a Hobby Lobby crafts store. She’ll travel with the Servies as part of a Christmas trip to Florida. “I’m talking about what happened with the other people to protect the next kids from this,” Palko said. “It won’t be good for us to talk, but I can protect the next ones by letting people know.”


Among the most troubling issues in Arkansas are the stories of Gerald and Sherry Drummond serving as host family and EF Foundation representatives, said Danielle Grijalva, director of the Committee for the Safety of Foreign Exchange Students. The 2-year-old watchdog organization monitors foreign-exchange organizations.

Having a different EF Foundation representative serve as a supervisor doesn’t protect foreign-exchange students, she said.

“What neutrality does that provide the student when she has a concern about her host father or host mother ?” Grijalva said. “Is that not a recipe for disaster ? It’s a disgrace.”

Grijalva also expressed concerns about Stoyva, the Norwegian student placed in the Fosters’ home who’s now in Camden. The EF Foundation handbook says “we are not trying to change the student’s beliefs or convert anyone to a new faith.”

Efforts to reach Stoyva in Camden were unsuccessful. Horton, the EF representative in whose home Stoyva now lives, refused to let her come to the phone Friday, saying she’s a minor. School officials and state Sen. Gene Jeffress, D-Louann, refused to ask Stoyva to return messages.

“She’s doing wonderful now,” said Jeffress, a retired Fairview teacher who went to check on Stoyva last week. “She’s in a better situation now. She conveyed that to me.”

John Foster said his family didn’t try to change Stoyva’s beliefs and that the family knew of her Lutheran upbringing. He’d communicated with her by email before she came to the States about the family’s frequent visits to Unity Covenant Church in West Fork. The family attends church Sunday mornings, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights. Stoyva knew what to expect, Foster said. “I think the whole thing has been blown out of proportion,” said Foster, 28, a Fayetteville police officer assigned to work at Fayetteville High. “We felt like we gave Rikke a good home. “ Church was the only place we saw her smile at all. If loving your child and trying your hardest is something bad, then we did something wrong. We tried as hard as we could to make it work.”

EF FOUNDATION Madison said she was told by an EF Foundation employee that the Drummonds are paid $300 to $400 for each foreign exchange student placed in a family’s home, including their own. The Drummonds received $12 per student, per month, for verifying the students are doing well and helping with difficulties they encounter, Madison said.

Grijalva said most foreign-exchange student companies pay $400 to $750 for each student who is placed in a home. Host families aren’t paid.

The payment is a small portion of the $5, 000 for six months or $10, 000 for a year that the students pay EF Foundation to come to the United States.

Around 30, 000 exchange students come to America annually, said Colvin of the State Department’s exchange coordination office, adding the State Department investigates about 200 complaints each year. About 20 percent involve students brought to the United States by EF Foundation, Colvin said.

As part of its investigation in Arkansas, Colvin said the State Department could reprimand the company and require it to write a corrective-action plan to ensure it doesn’t violate federal regulations.

A more severe penalty could involve shutting down the corporation or limiting how many students it can bring to the United States.

Colvin sent a letter Thursday to the EF Foundation describing five media accounts and complaints last week regarding the organization. “This is not a pretty picture,” he concluded in the letter.

John Hishmeh, director of the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel, is familiar with the complaints coming from Northwest Arkansas. The nonprofit council monitors and distributes information about exchange programs.

“Things go wrong, and you have to figure out if it’s a catastrophic failure or a single thing that went wrong,” Hishmeh said.
Connie Williams, a counselor at Springdale High School for 35 years, said it’s wrong to “pinpoint” EF Foundation as problematic because she’s had difficulty with other companies, too. Eight foreign-exchange students are attending the school this year, she said.

“I’ve never particularly had trouble with EF, but I’ve had trouble with another agency,” Williams said.
Brad and Sarah Campbell, who are hosting a German student in their Fayetteville home, fear problems with foreign-exchange companies in Northwest Arkansas could have long-term consequences.

“These are high-achieving kids who were selected to come here,” Brad Campbell said. “They are diplomats. They want to know what it’s like in America, and they invest a year of their life to be here.

We owe them a good experience. Their opinions of the U. S. are being formed.

“ We’re not saying you have to be millionaires to have these kids, but you do have to have a solid foundation. A lot of the households aren’t solid. They are disruptive and filled with turmoil.” 


Education First Foundation for Foreign Study, founded in 1979, is the country’s largest foreign-exchange company.

More than 100 companies bring students to the United States, said John Hishmeh, director of the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel. The council has certified about 70, including EF Foundation.

About 30, 000 foreign-exchange students travel to the United States each year and few report problems, Hishmeh said.

EF Foundation brought 3, 712 students from more than 40 countries in the year ending Sept. 30, 2006, according to the foundation’s most recent federal tax filings.

The foundation’s income tax exemption submitted to the Internal Revenue Service last February reported its 2006 revenue was $10, 047, 865.

The company’s Web site is at www. effoundation. org.


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Copyright © 2001-2009 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact Us

Student Exchange Agency:  EF Foundation (EF)


EF student's death in another country shifts focus on Malta
By Kurt Farrugia, 10 August 2007

The Malta Tourism Authority chairman Sam Mifsud said that the damaging reports in the Swedish press were aimed at the international language school EF because one of its students died while on a language trip in another country.

"The Swedish press is focusing on the destinations where this company operates, which also includes Malta and showing people the way EF handles their students overseas.  Although this is bad publicity for us [Malta] this was really aimed at EF," Mr Mifsud said.

On Wednesday maltastar.com reported the damaging articles in the Swedish media on the way language students are treated in Malta.  The reports said students in Malta have "sex on the beach, unlimited access to alcohol, drugs and nightlife."

Sam Mifsud told maltastar.com that MTA is in the process of setting up a think thank made up of two persons from various associations to come up with a plan for next year to try to control the students.

This proposal is not the first of its kind.  When similar reports surfaced in Scandavian press in summer 2005 and 2006, the tourism Ministry and the MTA had promised to set up a network made up of people from the tourism industry, MTA, language schools and police.

Maltastar.com is informed that this network was never set up and thus in 2007, the situation has not improved over previous years. 

Malta's tourism figures in recent years have been very dependent on the language student's sector.  But tourism operates and businesses dependent on tourism are not too keen on language students because of their low purchasing power coupled with their behaviour tends to shoo away the more "wealthy" tourists.
Despite this, the sector is still very important if regulated appropriately.  To date, government has not taken concrete action which is damaging the language student business and also tourism in Malta in general, sources in the tourism industry said. 

The reports in the Swedish press were damaging to the extent that several readers' letters appeared in newspapers.  One parent wrote about the easy access her minor child had to alcohol and suggested to other parents not to send their children on such language trips. 

Other letters complained about irresponsible group leaders and said most of them were drunk.  Some though deemed "some" leaders as responsible.  The MTA chairman told maltastar.com that the MTA was informed of the reports in the Swedish press. 

Mr Mifsud said: "A Swedish student of EF language school was killed in another country and they are focusing on the destinations where this company operates, including Malta.  They are showing people the way EF handles their students overseas." 

Asked to comment on the reports in the Swedish press, Tourism Minister Francis Zammit Dimech had nothing to add to what the MTA said.  Dr Zammit Dimech only said that the MTA is in the process of setting up a group made up of two representatives from each of the relevant associations in order to come up with a precise and concrete action plan in respect of next year. 

The Minister did not comment on his government's failed promises of setting up a similar committee in previous years.

Source:  http://www.maltastar.com/pages/msFullArt.asp?an=14199

Student Exchange Agency:  EF 


The News On 6 Video - Sunday, February 04, 2007 

Foreign Exchange Student Recovering From Gunshot Wound 

Student Exchange Agency:   EF Foundation for Foreign Study (EF)

August 18, 2021  Blog Entry #15

On August 2, 2021, a teenage female foreign exchange student from Germany was removed by the Bellevue Police Department in Nebraska from the residence she was placed.  The Incident Form of the Bellevue Police Department reads, "A convicted felon was able to get custody of a foreign exchange student." 

The student placement agency responsible for this placement is International Experience, Inc., which is a designated sponsor of the US Department of State and appears on the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) 2021-2022 Advisory List.  

On August 12, 2021, CSFES sent a complaint to the US Department of State with a copy to CSIET and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).  The subject line of the email read, "Armed man gets fifteen years allowed to host a teenage female exchange student from Germany."  CSFES is looking to the State Department to implement full, FBI-based fingerprint criminal background checks on hosts in the Federal Regulations.

It was reported to CSFES this exchange student from Germany resided for five days in this residence until she was removed by the Bellevue Police Department.


​Photo taken by ACES student from Thailand placed in Ohio

The email below comes from a mother in Italy.  Her son was placed with a family in Florida that basically neglected him.  There was little food in the home, and when this young man voiced his concerns with his area representative, the placement agency threatened to send him home.  He endured for as long as he could until he was sent home early in shame.  

A complaint about this mater was sent to the U.S. Department of State.  The complaint was detailed listing the Federal Regulations that were violated, and still, the State Department was quick to close the case and side with its sponsor. 

Dear Danielle,

I am writing to let you know that, contrary to what was previously written, things with M. are not going well at all. The joy of his return home was soon overshadowed by his behaviors, America has returned to us a son very different from the one we delivered. He has slowly fallen prey to a form of depression that affects all aspects of his life as a teenager. He no longer wants to study, to play the guitar he loved so much, he has started to hang out with dubious companies, his attitudes in the family are intolerant, disrespectful, and sometimes aggressive. His school performance has plummeted. We realized that he has begun to use marijuana. He is confused, lost, inconclusive.

I am telling you all this because I think it is right that you have feedback on a situation that you have followed with much interest and participation. The damage caused by the American experience is very serious, it has affected very deeply the psyche of this boy and his growth process. Right now the worry and anxiety generated by this situation prevails over everything, but I think someone should pay for this, for all the harm my son has received, and his family with him.

From a mother in Italy

Photos taken by an Italian exchange student of where he was placed in Florida by ISE USA​.  His parents spent the equivalent of $12,000 for this experience.

U.S. Department of State
Olga O'Neil
Ethan Bursofsky
Mark Howard
Elizabeth Dickerson
Maha Ammar
K.S. Ward
Karen Hawkins
James Alexander

Re:  Case No.:  0000177528 and 0000167491   Complaint against Student American International (SAI) - Two foreign exchange students with SAI placed in the residence of Lisa Barlow

Dear All,

Please see attached Guidance Directive issued by Mr. Stanley Colvin of the U.S. Department of State which reads, "The Department is concerned that a pool of underperforming or problematic local coordinators “float” or “surf” from one designated sponsor to another. Many of these coordinators have left a wake of disappointed students, unhappy school officials, and distressed host families and natural parents. This poses an obvious potential for harm to our exchange students and to the Exchange Visitor Program, as these coordinators do not appear to be motivated by acting in the best interests of the students for whom they are responsible. Instead, this small pool of underperforming or problematic coordinators appears to be motivated by the financial incentives they receive for undertaking these coordinator responsibilities. These coordinators must be identified and excluded from involvement with the Exchange Visitor Program."
Also attached is a document provided from the German agency ISKA naming Shawn Taylor as community representative of SAI.  

In the photo below, Shawn Taylor is the young man in the back with the gun tucked in his pants.  Please refer to Claudia Lancelle's complaint to State about her daughter feeling very uncomfortable going to Mr. Taylor with her concerns while living with her host mom Lisa Barlow.  Lisa Barlow was reportedly good friends with Shawn Taylor.  CSFES would be happy to provide you with contact information for Shawn Taylor.  

• https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=506691959444641&set=ecnf.100003115252832

Please be advised that a check for $1,000 for the placement of Dinara A. and Louise L. (SAI participants) was made payable to Taylor which he cashed at Wells Fargo.  Mr. Taylor kept $200 and he gave the remaining $800 to Lisa Barlow per her instruction.  Please refer to our complaint outlining the ten violations of the Federal Regulations.  In particular, see Section 62.25(d)(6) "Make no monetary payments or other incentives to host families."  Again, as per the attached Guidance Directive, "this small pool of underperforming or problematic coordinators appears to be motivated by the financial incentives they receive for undertaking these coordinator responsibilities."
As previously stated in our complaint to State, it was reported to CSFES that host mom Lisa Barlow of Shelton, WA also used Dinara A.'s credit/debit card and charged approximately $100 on Dinara's card for gas, hay for her horse and alcohol.  Please be reminded that there was an occasion wherein both Dinara A. and Louise L. were each required to pay host mom Lisa Barlow $10 each for gas.  

Please be advised that Lisa Barlow is registered as an agent of SAI since February 2022 as outlined in this link:  https://opencorporates.com/companies/us_wa/602287308  Again, as per the attached Guidance Directive, "this small pool of underperforming or problematic coordinators appears to be motivated by the financial incentives they receive for undertaking these coordinator responsibilities."

As stated in our complaint, it has been reported that two new SAI participants have recently been placed in the residence of Lisa Barlow of Shelton, WA.  

The students must be removed from her residence for reasons outlined in the attached Guidance Directive, our complaint sent to the State Department last week, the complaint from Claudia L. of Germany, as well as what is outlined in the Federal Regulations:  



Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
660 Joshua Tree Street | Imperial, CA  92251
www.csfes.org / 760-583-9593
Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws--but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted--when we tolerate what we know to be wrong--when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened--when we fail to speak up and speak out--we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice. 
-- Robert Francis Kennedy


Claudia L. of Germany

U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.

Shelton High School, Linda Arnold 

Shelton School District Central Office, Superintendent: Wyeth Jessee 

Washington Office of of Public Instruction, Superintendent Chris Reykal

CSIET, Chris Page, Executive Director

Lisa Barlow

Guidance Directive:


​​Photos taken by  ISE USA exchange student from Finland placed in Long Prairie, Minnesota by Rose Hawkins of ISE USA​

Tipps für Eltern:


April 4, 2022  Blog Entry #27

​Photo taken by ACES student from Thailand placed in Ohio​

​Photo taken by ACES student from Thailand placed in Ohio

October 28, 2022  Blog entry #40

The letter below is being shared with you with permission by a former exchange student from Spain that was placed in America in the mid 1990's..

The name of the placement agency in Spain was FSL (Foreign Study League) and the American partner agency, which no longer exists, was ECI (Educational Consultants International). 

Here is his detailed letter to CSFES to show you just how horribly wrong a placement can end up:

I am a 42-year-old man from Spain. I visit your website quite often. I congratulate you on your efforts to denounce the irregularities of the exchange program industry and to defend the protection and safety of foreign exchange students in the US.
I am writing to tell you about the experience that I had as an exchange student in the US in the mid-1990s. It may not be the most dreadful testimony that you have encountered, but that exchange year was bad enough for me to make a negative impact on my teenage years and, consequently, on the rest of my life. I honestly believe that my experience contains some of the curses of the exchange program industry, which is not as honest and transparent as it should be.
The story goes back to sometime in the mid-90s. I was going to do my senior year of high school in America. My sending agency in Spain initially offered me two schools to go to: one in a small town and another in a bigger town, both in northeastern US. We initially chose the school in the small town, but the American agency failed to find a host family for me there. My family and I were told that there was a family considering hosting me, but the family backed down on it at the last moment. Therefore, I was eventually placed against my wishes in the other school that was in the big town.
We waited until two weeks before the school year started (way too late!) to get the news that I had a host family. When I called the family to introduce myself, they did not have any information about me, nor did they know how long I was going to stay. We were told by the agency that I was going to live with another exchange student. However, when I arrived at the family's home, I found out that there were as many as four students living in the house, none of whom were exchange students. Three of them were young adults who went to ESL courses to learn English, and the other was not even a student - it was a guest. The multiplicity of students in the same house should have been a cause for concern, as there was supposed to be a ratio of one exchange student per family, but we were told by the agency that it was normal in the place where I was sent. It is also worth pointing out that I flew to the US two days before school started. We were told that it is customary to place the students well enough in advance before leaving for the US (at the latest one month before leaving) so that the student's family can choose whether to accept or to reject that placement. Since the placement came too late, we were not given the choice. Besides, students would usually fly to the US two weeks before school starts so that they can have time to get to know their host family and the host family's community. In my case, I arrived on a Saturday and had to start school the following Monday - too little time for integration. I had the feeling that I was a victim of a sloppy, last-minute placement.
My situation with the host family was far from ideal. I did not find a warm, hospitable welcome when I arrived. My host mother told me that, if a student was ever unhappy in their home, he or she would be encouraged to leave. I was also told (much to my surprise) that "they were not expected" to include me in their family's activities because I was supposed to have plans on my own. My impression was that I had to be too independent for my age and do my own thing outside the family, despite the fact that I was too young to fend for myself and that I needed extra support from my host family since I was a minor then. They did not want me to be part of their family, nor did they want me to mess with their family life. I remember that on my first day I offered to do some household chore, and the host father made a sarcastic remark to me, as if refusing my help, which made me feel uncomfortable. I remember that on my first day of school I got lost on my way back to the family's house because the host father did not tell me how to get back - I had to be responsible for my own transportation. When I said this to my host mother, she did not seem to care. I wish that I had seen the writing on the wall and paid attention to those bad signs on those first days. But the worst was yet to come.
Some weeks later she would often ask me why I was "so quiet" and why I was "so absent-minded". She made insulting comments in which I was made to feel stupid when I did not understand something. I had the feeling that I was not wanted, that I was not accepted as I was. The worst thing was when one evening, when everybody (the host family and the other students) were sitting at the dinner table, for some reason that I fail to remember, my host mother said to me in front of everybody that "you're unusual" and that "it is the first time that I've had a student who is very different". She put that stigma on me, which I carried during the rest of my stay. I think that I should have run away from her house that same evening, because that was the first time - among many - that she ridiculed me in front of the people in the house. My host mother did not like my messy room, so she wrote several letters to my agency saying that she would expel me from their house unless I accepted having a housekeeper to clean my room (I did not know about those letters until I returned home). I admit that I was messy, but nothing out of the ordinary, nothing that could be solved with a bit of patience and compassion. They had the "shape up or ship out" mentality. What she did was cruel and unfair. Instead of having a constructive and educational approach, she preferred to put all the blame and burden on me. Instead of being compassionate and helping me out, she assumed that I had to know and made me feel bad about not knowing. One day she explicitly threatened me to kick me out of her house if I did not improve. In spite of making an effort, the next day she announced to me that a cleaning person would come to the house to clean my room each week. From then onwards I had to pay 140$ every month so that someone would come to clean my room until the end of my stay. The problems with the family did not end there. In fact, that situation killed my experience.
Several anecdotes reflect the state of unhappiness that I was going through. Every time that a new student came to the house, she would embarrass me in front of them for whatever the reason, from my lack of athletic ability to my quiet personality. I had self-esteem problems as a result of my strained coexistence with that family, as it was hard to endure those humiliating comparisons. Their parenting style was backward and old-fashioned. I was subject to a judgmental atmosphere. She would yell at me and make absolute negative statements about my behavior and personality ("you always do it" and that sort of thing). She did not trust me at all. I was made to feel like a "bad boy". She would treat me badly when I got sick with cold and flu because I was not used to the freezing cold in that area. She would exclude me from household chores or would not let me use things in the house. I remember that one day I told her that I was going to join the baseball team at school (she was constantly criticizing me for not playing sports) and the first thing that she did was dismiss and laugh at me. If I forgot to pick up something or clean it up, she would threaten to charge me money (apart from the money that I was already paying for a housekeeper) for each day that I stayed in her house. She even said that she could "perfectly do that" (?). Another day she threatened to "charge me the rate of a hotel". I also remember that one day I took a bagel from the fridge for lunch and she got angry with me because "I was supposed to be responsible for my own lunch". She even told me to go out for lunch (there were several inches of snow that day!). I also remember one day when they took me to a museum and she had me pay for her food; she did not give me the money back. All these anecdotes illustrate her deriding, scornful attitude toward me.  She thought that I was a dumb, undomesticated boy who needed to be trained about life, so she took a patronizing attitude toward me. It was as if she was making fun of me and I was the joke of the house. Sadly, I was passive in all these situations. I did not have the courage to complain because I was told that that was the way it is in America and "if you want to stay in America, you have to do like other Americans". She implied that I would never fit in. I was more and more unhappy as the days went by, so I gradually lost my motivation to enjoy the experience. I once told her so but, far from being compassionate, she continued to hit me where it hurt.
Several months later, shortly before the end of the exchange, I discovered that this family was being paid for hosting me. I remember one afternoon, after I came back from school, my host mother asked me when I was leaving. After my reply, she told me a story about how much she was going to be paid by the agency according to my date of departure. I even heard her say that "agencies are bad at paying". My parents also confirmed this fact to me - that they were paid - when I came back home. My parents were outraged because we were made to believe that this was a cultural exchange and American families hosted students as an act of generosity and citizenship. Nothing further from the truth, at least in my case. Then I understood everything. My conclusion is that this family did it all for the money.  They did not care about my well-being. We felt that the placement agency betrayed us, because they never told us about it. The family had a business-like approach to hosting. They made as less effort as possible to share their family life with me. I was an outsider to them. There was not a family-student relationship, but a host-guest relationship. Their home seemed to be more of a boarding house in which the students were mere borders. This is supposed to be against the "spirit" of the exchange program.
The school that I went to deserves a whole new chapter. I was sent to a substandard, second-rate school in a big town in the Northeast. It had no sporting facilities. It had no library. It had no teaching facilities of its own, and the few that they had were deficient. The restrooms were deplorable - I went once and did not dare to go again. The canteen offered repetitive junk food consisting mostly of fried food. The kitchen was unsanitary: even rats were found there. We had to eat lunch in a small locker room, so I would eat out most of the time. Basically, it was an old school which was built in the 1950s and had not been reformed since. We had to go to public gardens for sports practice. I had problems at school through no fault of my own. My wallet got stolen twice and nobody at school seemed to care. The school authorities did not help me. In fact, the headmaster suggested that I look into the garbage to find my wallet. False rumors were spread about me. They said that I copied from other students' exams. This was not true as I was an A+ student back home so cheating was unthinkable for me. I was even told that they would expel me from school. All this uneasiness had a toll on me. I felt so uncomfortable that I even considered transferring to another school midyear, but I was told that it was not possible, so I could do nothing but grin and bear it. As a result of my bad time both at school in my host family's home, my grades plummeted and by the end of the school year I was close to failure, not because school was especially difficult, but because I was unable to digest the stress that I was undergoing in that dreadful year. At that time I got a call from my agency in Spain (that was the only time that they took an interest in me) telling me off and saying that I had to study because, if I did not, "I would leave them in a bad position." I finally managed to pass, but that was not a consolation for a bad year. In addition, there was something strange about the school that caught my attention. On my first day of school, all the exchange students had to take a placement test to check if their English was good enough to start high school. I was lucky that I passed that test and I was one of the few who managed to go straight to high school. The rest had to take an ESL course for a whole semester. Why did I have to take such a placement test?  This was nowhere to be seen in the contract that we signed with the placement agency. I was supposed to go to school for a whole year like any other American student (that is what the exchange program is supposed to be about). Besides, my proficiency in English had already been examined (supposedly) by the agency during the application process. Why on earth did they send me to such a school?
The problems did not finish when I flew back home. The school failed to issue a document that I needed in order to validate my school year in Spain. This caused me a lot of stress as it could involve retaking the same school year again in a Spanish school. The school was so incompetent that I needed to call them from home on and off and explain to them what they had to put in the document. I also found out that my parents complained verbally to the agency about my bad placement, but they only came up with lame excuses. Sadly, they did not file a formal complaint against the agency. In conclusion, I went back home appalled and miserable because of such a disappointing exchange year. I felt as if I had wasted one year of my life, and to this day, I am still trying to make sense of what happened.
And so this is my sad story of a ruined exchange year in America.

Blog #1 June 27, 2021

Hello!  I'm Danielle Grijalva, director of the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students (CSFES).  I formed CSFES in 2004 and we became a non-profit in 2006, after witnessing deplorable treatment of foreign exchange students while I was an area representative with the Center for Cultural Interchange (CCI) currently known as Greenheart Exchange.  I will go into greater detail about what I experienced as an area representative with CCI in future blogs.    

This blog has been created to celebrate 17 years that CSFES has been helping students, parents, host families and school administrators learn about the vital importance of staying safe while studying abroad on a cultural exchange. 

January 30, 2022  Blog Entry #21

​Photo taken by CETUSA student from Norway placed in Michigan

August 1, 2021     Blog Entry #10

By now, the student's Student Application is complete and the Host Family Application is also complete.  The student's family has been provided a copy of the Host Family Application form complete with pictures of their future host family, complete with pictures of the home they will be living.

Below you will find photos that were taken by a foreign exchange student from Thailand that was a YES participant placed in Ohio.  He was here in America on a scholarship.  He was here to learn about American culture.

This is the email sent to the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) and a copy to the U.S. Department of state earlier this year:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: ACES - [FWD: Photos taken of residence by YES scholarship
participant from Thailand placed in Ohio August, 2013]]
From: <dgrijalva@csfes.org>
Date: Thu, March 18, 2021 12:05 am
To: "Chris Page" <Cpage@csiet.org>
Cc: "CSIET Nia Butler" <Nia@csiet.org>, "CSIET Anna Damewood"
<Anna@csiet.org>, "State Elizabeth Dickerson" <DickersonEB@state.gov>,
"State Susan Geary" <GearySA@state.gov>, "STATE James Alexander"
<AlexanderJT@state.gov>, "STATE Karen Hawkins" <hawkinsks@state.gov>,
"STATE Mark Howard" <HowardME@state.gov>, "Henry Scott"
<ScottHC@state.gov>, "State High School Exchanges Joele"
<highschoolexchanges@state.gov>, "State Maha Ammar" <AmmarMG@state.gov>

Council on Standards for International Educational Travel

Mr. Chris Page

Dear Mr. Page,

Nearly eight years ago, I forwarded to your attention the photos that are attached.  A YES participant from Thailand was placed in this residence by American Culture Exchange Service (ACES).  Yet, ACES is on CSIET's Advisory List and remains a sponsor of the U.S. Department of State. One would think there would be repercussions for placing an exchange student in these conditions.  A YES participant no less. Here in America on a scholarship to get a better understanding of the United States.  Unbelievable...


Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
660 Joshua Tree Street | Imperial, CA  92251
www.csfes.org / 760-583-9593

Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws--but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted--when we tolerate what we know to be wrong--when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened--when we fail to speak up and speak out--we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice. 
-- Robert Francis Kennedy


United States Department of State

CSIET, Ms. Nia Butler and Ms. Anna Damewood

United States President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

​Photo taken by CETUSA student from Norway placed in Michigan

Update regarding Thomas from Germany:  The American placement agency refuses to secure a new host family for Thomas.  The German agency agrees with the American agency.  Thomas's parents have been told it may take weeks to find a new host family.  Thomas must adjust to his living situation or go back to Germany is what he has been told by the American agency.  Names of agencies not being revealed at this time to protect the student's identity.  CSFES will keep you updated about Thomas from Germany.

Tips for Parents that appears on the CSFES home page has been translated into German:

December 7, 2021

U.S. Department of State
Branch Chief Mark Howard
Mr. James Alexander
Ms. Elizabeth Dickerson
Ms. Susan Geary
Ms. Maha Ammar
Ms. Olga O'Neil

Dear All,

Treatment of former CETUSA participant Espen Hansen of Norway made headlines as you may read below.  This was sent to State's attention on January 20, 2012, as well as to the attention of CSIET.

Together, State and CSIET have known about the ill treatment of foreign exchange students for years.  


Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
660 Joshua Tree Street | Imperial, CA  92251
www.csfes.org / 760-583-9593

Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws--but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted--when we tolerate what we know to be wrong--when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened--when we fail to speak up and speak out--we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice. 

-- Robert Francis Kennedy


From: dgrijalva@csfes.org [mailto:dgrijalva@csfes.org]

Sent: Friday, January 20, 2012 12:08 PM

To: Alexander T; Ida Abell; Rick Ruth; stockjs2@state.gov; CETUSA Terry; Rick; Alan Leahy; claimsdocuments@farmersinsurance.com; john.stevens@farmersinsurance.com; katherine.holton@farmersinsurance.com; Darin Boles; John Culver, Jr.; Farmers -- Judith Kastner; Matthew Opperman; Margaret Steffensen; Aaron Hanes
Cc: boliver@csiet.org; Rizwan Hasan; Elizabeth Oliver; Laura Peters; Marthena Cowart; Brassilab@state.gov; Hawkins S; Nicole Deaner; Fleming T; Maha Ammar; mcmahonmp@state.gov; streetcs@state.gov

Subject: English translation to Norway's Aftenposten | Norwegian Exchange Students to the US

Dear Sir or Madam,

For those who have requested an English translation of the treatment of former CETUSA exchange student while in the United States that recently appeared in Norway's Aftenposten; you will find it below.

An American Nightmare:  Norwegian Exchange Students to the United States Risks Being Placed in Host Families Who Can Barely Take Care of Themselves by Elisabeth Randsborg of Aftenposten in Norway

January 20, 2012


English translation:

The first thing he remembers is the smell. The smell of dirt and debris. Of the dogs, which made from indoors. Of the cat, who rummaged around on the kitchen counter. The smell of a close toilet - shower curtain, which was rooted in the bath.

- I have never seen anything so dirty in my entire life.

Espen Hansen, now 20 years old, describes the first impression the day he came to his host family as an exchange student to USA in 2007. He is one of more than 1,300 Norwegian 16-year-olds who each year choose to take other high school year abroad. Espen was full of anticipation. He had prepared well in time before departure, but was not at all ready for what greeted him with a host family in the small town of Norwood Young America, Minnesota.

- The family had an exchange student before me, a girl from Brazil, and she sent me messages on Facebook and tried to warn me. When I arrived, I realized that I should have taken the warnings seriously. At first it went fine, and I tried to get used to the hygiene of the house. I am a person who does not complain much, so I tried to make the best out of it. But it turned out quickly that there was more than dirt and clutter that plagued this family.

They were a family of four. Mother and father, a daughter of 14 and a son at 12 The children had to pay for their parents' quarrels and marital problems, his father's aggression and abuse. They sought comfort and familiarity with Jack, and he felt sorry for the children.

So he told me not so much to her parents home in Norway. So he used the money - hundreds of dollars - to buy food and supplement their family's slunkne refrigerator. The host mother confided to him. Told about the family's difficult economy. In their desire to leave her husband. The man threatened to kill both her and her children if she tried.

- He was unstable and rash. He scolded and threatened, but he never struck me. He accused the host my mom to have a relationship with me, and when I was really scared and upset, and dared not live there anymore.

Now it was also Espens parents home in Norway know the difficulties. They contacted EF High School Year, the organization that sent Espen to the United States, that they might find a new host family for him, but nothing happened.


When exchange students arrive in the United States, it is often an American partner organization that assumes responsibility for the students. It is these American organizations that have recruited host families, and who has the responsibility to ensure that families are likely to have an exchange student living with him for a year. It is also the American organizations to appoint a local coordinator for each student - a coordinator, who will follow up the student and be of support and help if there is a problem. This person is the student government official while the U.S. stay.

- The exchange industry is a billion dollar industry - we are talking about big money - and it is an industry characterized by greed. The local coordinators are paid for each student they manage to place. Because of the economic downturn is the more students to the United States than the organizations are able to obtain good host families. Thus it happens that the local coordinators persuade friends and acquaintances - even pay them money, something they are not allowed to - for them to be host families for exchange students. When problems arise, these coordinators more concerned about protecting themselves and their friends and acquaintances than helping students. This industry lacks integrity, said Danielle Grijalva told Aftenposten.

She heads a voluntary organization - the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students (CSFES) - which works to help students who experience difficulties during their exchange in the United States. Danielle Grijalva himself worked in the exchange industry before she established CSFES in 2004.

- I saw many things I did not like. Students who were sexually abused, taken pictures of, served alcohol and forced to watch porn. This I would do something. Now we are 1700 people worldwide who are working for exchange students' safety and to enable the authorities both here in the U.S. and in the home countries aware of what's going on.

Only in the last year CSFES contacted by 10-12 Norwegian exchange students in the U.S. that need help.

House arrest

The situation at home Espen Hansen's host family escalated, and he was allowed to stay with a teacher at the school where he went. - The two best weeks of the U.S.-stay.

But then his local coordinator up - a person he had not seen much of before.

- She asked me to join her, to her home and her husband. They kept me under house arrest in a room in the basement for two days. Examined me, took my phone, removed the pictures on my camera, went through all my stuff. I had tucked my Norwegian mobile, so I had called home and told what happened, the mother of an American friend of mine contacted the police, and they appeared. After talking with my coordinator, left the police house and said, "Sorry, You're On Your Own". When I was really scared.

Espen's mother had meanwhile come up with Danielle Grijalva and her organization CSFES online. She could tell that there had been several episodes of this coordinator the past, and that it was registered 72 reporting matters to the host family Espen was placed with. Again the police were contacted, and this time they took Espen, drove him to a secret location and included him in their special witness protection program. Also the local child welfare services were enabled.

After three days, drew both child welfare and police back. There was nothing more they could do. Espen was igjene left to the coordinator's authority person.

The coordinator came up with new threats and would force Espen on a plane back to Norway, and again was Espen taken care of by the police and incorporated into their witness protection program.

- I was so run down that I just wanted to go home to Norway.

As to play Lotto

In March 2008 - eight months after he went to the United States - came a mentally broken Espen back to their home country. He suffered from deep depression and social anxiety. Was withdrawn and kept to themselves. His parents wanted to sue the EF High School Year, but dropped it in the interests of Espen's health. He has been helped by a psychologist, and now - four years later - he is on his legs again and started a new education.

- I know that many people have good experiences as exchange students. But to join the exchange is like playing Lotto - you can be either very lucky or very unlucky, but you never know what you expose yourself to. It is a very poor cooperation between the Norwegian organizations and U.S. partners at the other end. There is no control, everything is all about money. In the event of problems, so they send you the only home, and there is too little control of the host families. Why pick out families who can not take care of themselves once, much less an exchange student?

One of hundreds of reviewed

The British, now retired police officer Chris Gould knows a lot about the host families who are not good enough. For many years he headed the Child Protection Unit of the police in Avon and Somerset, and in 1998 he investigated a 12-year-old Spanish exchange student who was sexually abused by her Host father, who turned out to be a known sex offender in the UK. Since then he has worked for the exchange students' well-being and is now interested in the organization Child-Safe International.

- During the 12 months I investigated 2000 cases where the exchange students had been exposed to abuse, sexual, neglect and abuse. Only 20 cases - only one percent - had been reviewed, so there is a high degree of underreporting in these cases. This is an industry driven by big money, and many of the organizations should be closed. There are pedophiles who actively cooperate with either of them. The authorities know little about what is going on, and when I talk to them, it seems they are not particularly interested. They stick their heads in the sand and can not accept this. But voters should be concerned that politicians show so little interest, said Gould told Aftenposten.

Many stories

Espen Hansen is not the sole Norwegian students who have had negative experiences in the United States. A quick search online and shotguns with stories. One of them belongs to Mari Cecilie Berland. Also she went out like 16-year-old with EF High School Year in 2007, to live with what she thought would be a family with four children. But the dilapidated house in Nebraska house four additional dogs, another exchange student, two foster children, a friend of Host mother and her son. Furthermore, the childminders Host mother for up to ten children under three years.

- We were at any time between 12 and 20 people in the house. It was like living in an orphanage, says Mari Cecilie.

She had to share a bathroom with seven others and was awarded dusjtid at. 05 in the morning. There was bad food, they had to eat and study sitting on the floor. She wept, prayed for help, but felt neglected and got a lot up. Asked to replace family, but without result. Again, it appeared that the coordinator was a close friend of the host family. As a psychologist gave Cecilia Mari diagnosis of deep depression and suggested anti-depressants and sleeping pills, decided she and her parents that it was time to return to Norway.

- The worst thing was that the EC did not take any responsibility or followed me up. They advertise that they take responsibility 24 hours a day - that's why I chose them. But when something happens, they are not there. When you are 16 years and find yourself alone on the other side of the world and other people have authority over you, when you feel not very high in the hat. I will not warn others of an exchange in the U.S., but I would warn against the EC. One should be very careful when choosing which organization you are traveling with.

She has blogged about their U.S. experiences, and she has received many reactions from others who have bad experiences. Her father, Arild Berland, formed a Facebook group for others who also had negative experiences with the EC.

- Many have contacted us, and the problems are particularly associated with host families and the difficulty to exchange family. There are too many people have negative experiences, and the worst thing is that we have no excuse once. EC sorry I saw it that way, but they do not apologize for what happened, says Mari Cecilie.


Many of the students who have negative experiences, try to get compensation and redress when they come home. Would Electricity is one of them. She went to the United States in August 2009. After barely four days with his host family in Michigan were the police called and Vilde was rescued from a distant American relative. It was four days of threats, bickering, neglect and noise. An unemployed Host father and poor economy in a socially disadvantaged family. A coordinator, which proved to be a close friend of the family, and who threatened to kidnap her. And a mentally ill son in the house, which itself Host mother warned her against.

"I do not think he will try his hand at something sexual, but take good care of your valuables," said the host mother Would.

Parents in Norway mobilized. Contacted organization Vilde had gone out with, without result. Contacted the Norwegian Embassy in Washington, CSFES and a distant relative in Chicago, with the result, and after a lot of hassle but came Vilde back to Norway.

- In the beginning, I had nightmares often - I was afraid they would track me. Even now I get shock every time I go away, for I am afraid I will not be coming home again. I feel like a 50-year-old and is afraid to die, says 19 year old Vilde.

She has received professional help to cope with anxiety, and this summer she will resume training.

Victoria 's parents entered into a settlement with the organization that had sent her to the United States. For a compensation of nearly NOK 40 000 committed Victoria and her parents not to mention the episode and name the organization.

Must be on the path

- But I will appeal to Norwegian politicians to wake up and see what's going on. They need to create a body and put in place laws to regulate this, and they must ensure that the American partner organizations will be thoroughly checked. There are a lot of evasion of host families.

- I would strongly encourage anyone who wants to go out, to consider carefully what organization they are traveling. And parents should ally itself with some of the host country can be a guardian for the child while it is out. One is 16 years and feel grown up and ready for this, but the U.S. is really far away when you're alone.

CSFES and Danielle Grijalva like poor families that included a settlement with the organizations.

- It contributes only to sweep this problem under the carpet, you sell in a way his soul to the devil by being quiet about what their children are exposed to. We need to focus on what I would describe as a clear pattern of exploitation. Students are left to the organizations and the host family's discretion from the day they arrive in the United States, said Grijalva.

Reject the EC's worst

EF High School Year is the biggest player in the Norwegian market and sends hundreds of students to the United States each year. Exactly how many, they will not disclose. Country coordinator of the EC in Norway, Morten Davidsen, refutes that the organization is no worst.

- Our slogan is to give students "the best time of your life", that is what we strive for every day. A study abroad offers many first time experiences for students. Some can handle it easily, others may have it tougher. Most people are happy, but sometimes we have some cases where there are challenges, says Davidsen.

- What kind of problems?

- I will not comment on specific cases, but those cases where there have been difficulties, are cases that have involved our partner organizations in the United States. We have heard that there may have been local representatives who have been too closely associated with host families, and there may be a lack of procedures for how to follow up the students and host families. Therefore, we decided that as of this year, cutting out the cooperation with our partner organizations in the United States and will account for the process itself. The EC is all the way, and then it becomes easier for us to follow up if problems arise.

​​​August 1, 2021     Blog Entry #11

Many requests have been made over the years to show some of the conditions that exchange students have been placed here in America.  As stated above, as per the Federal Regulations, foreign exchange students are supposed to be placed in a 'comfortable and nurturing home environment and that the home is clean and sanitary;"

You can decide for yourself upon viewing the photos that were taken by a CETUSA participant from Norway placed in Michigan.  CETUSA remains a designated sponsor of the US Department of State and is on CSIET's Advisory List.  

Email to the U.S. Department of State:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Complaint against CETUSA | See photos of residence taken by
current CETUSA participant from NORWAY placed in Michigan
From: <dgrijalva@csfes.org>
Date: Sun, September 13, 2015 10:14 am
To: "Robin Lerner" <lernerrj@state.gov>, "Alexander T"
Cc: "CETUSA Terry" <terry@cetusa.org>, "Rick" <rick@cetusa.org>, "Karen"
<karen@cetusa.org>, "Peg" <peg@cetusa.org>, Annawcetusa@aol.com, "Maha
Ammar" <AmmarMG@state.gov>, 

U.S. Department of State
Mr. James Alexander
Ms. Robin Lerner
Dear Mr. Alexander and Ms. Lerner,
This is a complaint against CETUSA.  The attached photos are for your review.  It has been reported that the natural parents spent $15,000 for this cultural exchange and their daughter has been threatened with repatriation.  It has also been reported that the natural parents will lose their money if they continue to interfere. 
Contact information pertaining to this CETUSA participant from Norway will follow separately.  Again:  Norway.  Again:  CETUSA.  This pattern of abuse must stop.  Not certain if State intends to help the student or help CETUSA, but you can be assured CSFES will rely on the fine people of Norway to help give this student and her family a voice.

Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
P.O. Box 6496 / Oceanside, CA 92052
www.csfes.org / 760-583-9593

Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws--but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted--when we tolerate what we know to be wrong--when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened--when we fail to speak up and speak out--we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.
-- Robert Francis Kennedy

Emeritus Professor Freda Briggs
Honorable Gary Gandrud

August 25, 2022  Blog Entry #30

March 20, 2022  Blog ​Entry #24

The letter below is from C.C.R. of Brazil.  It is being published on my blog with her permission in hopes to help other exchange students.

The name of her agency in Brazil is:  BIL Intercambios

The name of her agency in America is:  Cultural Homestay International (CHI).

This happened while she was an exchange student in Victorville, CA in 2006:

Hello, My name is C.C.R.  I am from Brazil. I am 33 years old. Back in 2006, when I was 17 years old, I went to United States to be a exchange student, to fulfill my dream of the American way of life. Little did I know what was about to happen. It has been 16 years since then, but I reached a moment in my life that I need to share my history. Nothing legal can be done anymore, but at least I can try to help other people.

I was sexually and mentally abused by my so called host father. It started with small things, such as “you need to say I love you dad”, and you don’t talk to me but I hear you talk to your family. Then, he asked me several times to skip school and spend time with him. He asked me to kiss him on the lips, because it was a “family tradition” with all the exchange students that stayed there. He was married, but she had fibromyalgia and spent most of the time in the bedroom. And then, one day we were watching tv, he was “massaging” my back and out of nowhere, he touched my genitals and asked if I would like a massage there. It was so absurd, so choking, that my only reaction was saying “no”.

But it was only the beginning. He often would barge in my room after I came out of the shower, which had no locker, to see me naked, would ask to kiss my breasts because it was “too cute”, and if I resist it, he would hold my arms to do it. He walked naked around the house and would ask me to touch his penis because he shaved and it was “smooth”. I was only 17 and too naive, so I truly believed that nobody would help me if I told the truth. He was friends with my program coordinator, so I am imagined that If I told her, she would confront him, he would of course say I was lying and then I would be either forced to stay there or sent back home, and face the humiliation of not finishing the studies.

I was too ashamed to tell my parents, so I saw no exit. I truly believed it was my fault, so I had to endure that, because I deserved that. I suffered in silence there for 6 months, and it took me 4 years to have the courage to tell my parents. They were devastated, and my father tried to take legal action, but was informed it was too late. So he sent an email to him, with my consent, telling that he was disgusted about what happened. He trusted his most precious person to him, and he broke me. He replied it was a lie, that he treated me as his daughter and was not understanding why I made these lies. He also said that even if it was a lie, he was paying for all his mistakes, because he had a prostate cancer. This was in 2010 and I never heard back from him again. I am trying to heal myself from this. The wound is healed but it left a scar, forever. I was looking for other cases like that and I found this website, and realized it happens more often then I imagined, unfortunately. In my process of healing, I discovered that the more I share, the more it stays in the past. So I decided to tell you my history, and maybe it will prevent to happen to other students. Thank you for your time.  C.C.R. of Brazil.

CSFES received the response below from Master Studio:

"Euro Master Studies srl acknowledges the aforementioned post and specifies that the facts exposed do not correspond to those that actually happened. Euro Master Studies srl will wait for the deletion of the aforementioned post by the author or its explicit retraction within 24 hours, and specifies as of now that, once the 24-hour period has elapsed, without feedback from the author, it will take legal action to obtain an injunction and compensation for any damage to the commercial reputation of a company that has been operating for many years on an international scale. Sincerely."

Here is the Italian version:

"Euro Master Studies srl riscontra il suddetto post e precisa che i fatti esposti non rispondono a quelli realmente accaduti. La Euro Master Studies srl attenderà che entro 24 ore sia effettuata la cancellazione del predetto post da parte dell'autore o una sua esplicita ritrattazione e precisa fin d'ora che, trascorso il termine di 24 ore, senza riscontro da parte dell'autore, agirà in sede giudiziaria per ottenere un provvedimento di inibitoria ed il risarcimento di ogni danno alla reputazione commerciale di una società che opera da tanti anni su scala internazionale. Distinti saluti"

​Photo 1 of 4 of Pat Whitfield's house

September 2, 2022  Blog Entry #33

It hasn't taken long for the calls and emails to come pouring in.  School hasn't even started for some students and many foreign exchange students already want to go back home.  The student placement agencies always blame the student for the placement breakdown, which I believe to be unfair. 

Take 15-year old Thomas for example.  Not his real name, but he is from Germany.  His aunt in California contacted CSFES today.  Her nephew arrived in America ten days ago.  He has been placed with a single woman who can't give him the time of day according to the aunt.  

Thomas has been very uncomfortable around his host mom since day one.  She wasn't at the airport to pick him up and has shown zero signs of enthusiasm about hosting him.  It's as if she can't be bothered.  There is little food in the home and she cannot commit to taking Thomas to the grocery store.  She could really care less about hosting Thomas is what the aunt reported.  

Thomas is well-travelled, however, his placement agency in America is saying that he's just homesick, which is not true.  The placement agency in America is pointing the finger at the German placement agency and the German placement agency is pointing the finger at the American agency to resolve this matter.  Precious time is being wasted.  

Today was the clencher.  Thomas walked in on his host mother and her boyfriend having sex on the couch in the family room.  His host mom was completely naked.  

The best way to resolve this matter is for the placement agency in America to simply secure a new host family for Thomas, but the mental games have already begun.  The American agency is saying that Thomas is a spoiled-brat and is homesick.  The German agency is saying Thomas isn't giving his host mom a chance.  

Thomas's parents spent the equivalent of $13,000 for him to experience America.  CSFES will wait to hear from Thomas's aunt to learn whether she wants CSFES to send an email to the American placement agency simply requesting that a new host family be secured for Thomas.  CSFES will keep you posted about Thomas from Germany.  

Below is an excerpt from my book, "A Predator's Playground - What Many Among the Student Exchange Industry Don't Want Parents to Know" which should be published in October.  

Each year approximately 30,000 foreign students come to the United States to learn and get a taste of the American way of life through cultural exchange. According to the U.S. Department of State's Dictionary of Internal Relations Terms defines 'Public Diplomacy' as, "government-sponsored programs intended to inform or influence public opinion in other countries; its chief instruments are publications, motion pictures, cultural exchanges, radio and television."

What occurs during these cultural exchanges that have natural parents filing lawsuits and questioning the way Americans live?

The father of a South Korean student filed lawsuit through Leawood, Kansas attorney Stephen M. Gorny in Reno County against 70-year-old Richard Young, the student's host father and Face the World, the Novato, California student exchange agency that had placed the boy in Young's home. Young was sentenced to 13 ½ years in prison for molesting the South Korean exchange student who was 15 years-old at the time.

Numerous exchange students leave our country with a horrible impression of America. More than you know; which is part of the problem. Edna Burgett, former area representative for California-based, cultural exchange agency, ASPECT Foundation, continues to make headlines across the globe for the treatment of exchange students she supervised.

Part of the Problem

A majority of exchange students are required to sign a 'Code of Conduct' form upon arriving in the United States. The form states that if the student should have any problems or concerns, the student had better understand that they must only speak to their local coordinator. If a student should go to a trusted teacher or the mother of a friend they've met at school, about problems they are having in the home, this could cause the student's placement agency to immediately send the student home. Not the impression of the United States we want these visiting teens to have; if they confide in a friend of misbehavior going on in the home, then they will be kicked out of the United States.

Exchange students have been told by their local coordinators to keep their mouth shut or go back where they came from.

Actual Response #1:  "Why do you keep calling!? So what if there's cockroaches in the oven!  All homes in America have roaches in their ovens! Stop calling me!"

Local coordinator's response to 15-year-old boy from South Korea. He would later tell you, politely, that he would not mind so much having to turn on the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees to kick the cockroaches out of their home; it was the smell afterwards that caused him to lose his appetite.

Actual Response #2:   "Well, you must have liked it or you wouldn't have waited so long to say something!" Local coordinator's response to 16-year-old-girl from Germany upon finding the courage to tell her local coordinator that her host father had been sexually abusing her for nearly three months.

Actual Response #3:   "You better give me your (expletive) phone! I'm the adult here! I will let you know when you get it back - if ever! You don't like it... go back where you came from." Local coordinator's response to 15-year-old boy from Montenegro. His placement agency accepted $15,000 in 'program fees' for this cultural experience. After his mother's chemotherapy treatment, he just wanted to hear how she was feeling and he got caught calling her. His local coordinator cited calling home may cause him to become homesick and was given orders to not call home for two weeks.