Exchange Students Accuse Host Family of Mistreatment

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DAVIS-

They came from Japan and South Korea to learn about American culture, but exchange students Azumi Horiguchi and Sewon Jeong got a different lesson.

“I can’t imagine that time. It was awful,” says Jeong.

With each paying more than $800 a month, the two students expected that would get them a clean and safe home and three square meals a day, a promise that was made from Worldwide International Student Exchange (WISE).

WISE is the foundation UC Davis Extension uses to coordinate exchange students.

When the girls arrived, however, they learned their host mom had a live in fiancé, a detail that was never disclosed.

“She had not told us her fiancé moved in with her. That was an oversight on her part and something our program does not allow,” said David Dahl, WISE President, in a phone interview with FOX40.

But WISE allowed him to stay anyway.

“We did a background check on the boyfriend and we offered the student a chance to relocate,” said Dahl.

The girls, however, say they were told they would have to pay additional costs to leave.

On top of that, UC Davis Extension is looking into claims the girls were given small breakfast food items instead of the promised three square meals.

“I ate sandwiches and bagels,” said Horiguchi.

A broken shower at their home also led the overseas guests to shower outside near an apartment complex pool, even though their host mom had a working shower.

“It was uncomfortable and bad,” said Jeong, as she broke down in tears.

On one occasion Horiguchi tried to leave late at night, but her host mom would not let her.

The host mother even sent a text message demanding more than $600 for the remainder of her stay.

She also called one student, “a shameful liar” and “ungrateful piece of work.”

We are not identifying the host parents, because they were not available for comment.

WISE and UC Davis Extension met with the girls twice during their stay.

“Both girls were offered a partial refund, but they opted not to do that,” said Dahl.

Both girls left the exchange program and are staying with friends or another host family.

Although WISE offered them $1,000, that doesn’t cover the more than $1,800 they each gave their host parents for their partial stay.

UC Davis would not answer questions as to whether they have had problems with WISE in the past.

They said they are working with the students to ensure the remainder of their stay is pleasant.

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3 comments

  • Grijalvad

    Already we look forward to a follow-up story, Ms. Munoz. The link to your article has been forwarded to consulates of Japan and South Korea in the United States. What these students endured is not an isolated incident. It's only a matter of time before this host mother will have more students in her home. Let's name names. Who is this host mother? She is an adult; let's get her name out there. Same for UC Davis; let's get a contact person's name of UC Davis and ask what changes are in place to prevent this from happening again. Shame on this host mother and Mr. David Dahl of WISE. Welcome to America! Now go shower outside and hand over your money. Visit website of the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students and click the Headlines of Abuse page. http://www.csfes.org Please contact Ms. Munoz and commend her for her outstanding article that brings awareness of the unconscionable treatment of these visiting students. Email: Luana.munoz@fox40.com to say you're alredy looking forward to a Part Two of this article. Thank you so much.

  • joydog1

    This is a well done news item. I watched this one on June 5th & was really fascinated by it as we've been both hosting & repping for approx. 25 years. No one should have to go through what these 2 young ladies went through. I hope this news item brought to the attention of everyone out there that what this woman did is completely unacceptable. I wonder how many others who have stayed with this person went through the same things that these young ladies did. If you did, please contact Danielle Grijalva, CSFES @ dgrijalva@csfes.org. She'll be happy to help out.