Spanish language immersion school
Name of school:Instituto Cultural Oaxaca
Dates of attendance:January to March 2012
School's city and country:Oaxaca
This past winter I spent 10 weeks in Oaxaca doing a home stay coordinated by the ICO (Instituto Cultural Oaxaca.) I enjoyed my stay with a host family but often felt uneasy because it was clear that the ICO did not treat them with much respect. In order to fix these defects in what could otherwise be a very good language school, there are a number of improvements which I would like to see with regards to the home stays.
The institute was over a month late in paying the host family, despite the fact that my room plus board was already paid in its entirety. They would not give the families a date by which they would be paid, nor would they sign a contract with host families in order to give them protection. When host families complained to the ICO, the institute would simply use the threat of not assigning students to them in the future. This threat, combined with the fact that the host family has to pay the institute at the start of the year in order to even be eligible, means that host families are forced into compliance in order to recoup the money they have paid up front.
All of this caused a sense of sacrifice on the part of the family. Despite my efforts not to be a burden, I still felt like one due to the treatment my family received from the institute. Personally, I did not feel that my host family was simply in it for the money. This seemed to be an exception to the norm, however, judging from the comments of my classmates. I believe that this is likely a result of the rude manner in which the ICO treats the host families. Any host family that is looking for a genuine cultural exchange, and not simply payment, is going to leave the program due to the treatment they receive from the ICO.