Update: Mail From Michael G. (Featured in Spiegel)

When Polish student Michael Gromek, 19, went to America on a student exchange, he found himself trapped in a host family of Christian fundamentalists. What followed was a six-month hell of dawn church visits and sex education talks as his new family tried to banish the devil from his soul. Here’s his story.

Polish Exchange Student in US: My Half-Year of Hell With Christian Fundamentalists

Update

Michael Gromek, 19, has written to this humble blog:

___________________

Hey I am this guy, who wrote this article:-)


And you wrote in your article: In case that you could talk to me, you would.
So, please just tell me what went wrong. How can we stop the process that people like this will take exchange stundets in the future. Why were this people like the were? What was wrong? For a better future of European and American Exchange Students?

___________________

Hi Michael, it’s really nice of you to write.

First, let me congratulate you on a well-written article. Gratulacje!

It’s so embarrassing to read your report and imagine what it was like to live with those people on a daily basis. I know people like that, even if they are rare. It doesn’t help what has passed, but while most in the American south attend church on Sunday, they’re not all freaks. I was born and raised a short distance from where you were staying, and in my experience, most of the folks in the American south are simple and sweet. I’m sure the type exists in rural parts of your area. As a matter of fact, most in that area are the descendants of Germans who emigrated to America during the Thirty Years War. Religious freaks seem to come out of nowhere. Perhaps they’re addicted to the power to condemn others, or preach to others, or perhaps they really believe they’re doing “The Lord’s Work.” It’s tough to say, but guys like you and I just need to stay out of their way (and out of their wars!). =]

You ask a tough yet compelling question on how to prevent this from happening again. It’s tough precisely because there are no good ways to ask “Do you want to host a student for your own selfish reasons?” or “Are you a fundamentalist religious nut?” In my personal experience with friends from overseas (I always made friends with foreign kids because of my interest in other cultures), organizations that place students in the homes of host-families simply do not have the resources to do a better job of vetting the host families. If they did have more resources, they could interview the potential host families, and perhaps even people who know them. Another effective way of preventing this would be to cultivate a larger pool of families who want to host students. That way, the organization could be more selective, and could even match interests (like setting up churches lol). Then, you would perhaps end up with a family like ours here in Florida, and we could be busy surfing, fishing or seeing America when you’re not in school instead of being chained to an uncomfortable church pew.

I think this is a very unfortunate, although rare, case. If you ever get another chance to come, drop me a line. We can go surfing, and I’ll give you some tips on seeing America. No sex-education either (zOMG!) =]

Your friend,

Theseus

 

 

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