Thursday, February 28, 2008

American Student Starved By Egyptian Host Family?

Jonathan McCullum was in perfect health at 155 pounds when he left last summer to spend the school year as an exchange student in Egypt.

But when he returned home to Maine just four months later, the 5-foot-9 teenager weighed a mere 97 pounds and was so weak that he struggled to carry his baggage or climb a flight of stairs. Doctors said he was at risk for a heart attack.

McCullum says he was denied sufficient food while staying with a family of Coptic Christians, who fast for more than 200 days a year, a regimen unmatched by other Christians.

But he does not view the experience as a culture clash. Rather, he said, it reflected mean and stingy treatment by his host family....



Ellen K said...

I read this story before you posted it. I think it's a very scary situation and that the organization that sponsors such student exchanges obviously isn't doing much in the way of verifying the welfare of American students overseas. Can you imagine the outcry of foreign newsgroups if a student from South America or Europe or Asia or Africa was treated in what can only be called a mean and vindictive manner. We have several students in our school from Germany and Russia and Ghana. I know that the host family of the German student is ready to boot him out, but they still have funded trips to Six Flags, prom, ski trips and the everyday expenditures. (Frankly, the kid is a jerk-regardless of his nationality that is a deal breaker) Most of the host families and visitors enjoy their year in our area and it appears that the sponsor groups monitors the students pretty closely. I guess overseas sponsors don't feel the same obligation to make sure that exchanges are a positive experience for American kids. What a shame.

Anonymous said...

From what I've read, this guy had every opportunity to leave and did not. I blame him, not the host family. If your being abused, malnourished you leave. Simply as that.