U.S. Department of StateMs. Ann Stock Mr. James Alexander Ms. Robin Lerner Ms. Elizabeth Dickerson Ms. Susan Geary Ms. Maha Ammar Ms. Karen Hawkins Mr. Travis Parsley Mr. Joseph Ereli
Dear Sirs and Madams,
We have previously sent a complaint about Forte International Exchange Association’s (FIEA) mistreatment of our son Mikkel Adrian Almenningen (2012 Oct 19). We have also sent a mail regarding the way FIEA have broken the regulations set by the State Department (2013 Jan 26).
We wish to illustrate the many lies told by FIEA about Mikkel through some of the claims made in their Termination Letter. FIEA’s claims are in cursive.
After this incident, the current host family, the :::::, were afraid for Mikkel to be around their children as he began acting “weird.” Mikkel had been accused of putting paint in the children’s hair, kicking the children, pushing them, and ordering the host parents to clean and vacuum.
When it comes to the accusations of putting paint in the children’s hair, both Mikkel and the two teen-age girls painted each other’s hair at the theater where Mikkel ended up having to spend all of his afternoons and week-ends so he would not have to stay in the Moe house alone. At the time, both girls laughed at the idea that Mikkel had done something bad.
Mikkel does not have any memory of kicking anyone. The only thing he could even remotely link to this statement would be when he managed to step on some toes while hugging the girls.
Mikkel did suggest that they could all clean the house – there was great need. When the host-parents told him no, he suggested that he, himself, clean it. They bluntly refused him. So Mikkel did the best he could and cleaned his own room.
The most upsetting action done by Mikkel was in front of his host siblings, where he would put his finger to his head like a gun and act like he was shooting himself.
Maggie Simpson illustrates our point about the ridiculousness of this statement perfectly: Watch 5:30-6:00http://gorillavid.in/x59mdffkr1ge
During one occasion on the way home from school, Mikkel asked his host dad, Malcolm, if Malcolm ever had dark thoughts. Malcolm questioned Mikkel what he meant by “dark thoughts”, but Mikkel said he couldn’t tell him because of Malcolm’s response. There was another incident where Mikkel saw a posting on Facebook about suicide and made the comment of “if you are going to commit suicide, you don’t talk about it, you don’t say anything, you just do it.”
All of these lies make me angry. I cannot believe how untruthful FIEA have been. This last claim is a perfect example. See below facebook conversation:
:::::: “ok im ready to die but i caint pull the triger whow wants to do it for me”
:::::: “wow, i thought i had it bad. life cant be that hard… can it?”
“(Mike’s comment): (name) you have one of the kindest hearts I know and you have an amazing opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people around you. You should watch Man on Fire starring Denzel Washington. Great movie. God bless!”
:::::: “hey (name)? i aint seen u in a while, but i would like to, so don’t do anything drastic.”
::::::: “Let’s have a little talk tonight! I have enough dead people in my cast an yyou aren’t supposed to be one of ‘em!
::::::: “don’t do it”
(Mikkel’s comment): “i know that this is a despirate kry for help. i also know that you are not going to do that. because the people who take their own life do it without telling anyone about it. talk to me if you want to compare storryes or lifes. you or i will find out that our life is not that hard.”
(Mikkel’s comment): “i just talked to him. (name) what the hell is wrong with you. this is not something you are kidding about. i was woried. delite this post imidiately! sent from the crossing.”
Mikkel had phoned his friend (name withheld for privacy reasons) to see if they could talk about what was bothering his friend. That was when he discovered that his friend had been kidding.
For one think Mike – the host-father – was part of the facebook conversation (see above). Whether he or Becky Sanderson were lying about this event, is irrelevant to me. I tend to think that with her track-record, it is Becky who is the guilty one. The way FIEA misrepresent so completely what happened is both cruel and self-serving.
Whenever a student expresses such signs of abnormal behavior, Forte takes it very seriously. Which is why our area director, Becky Sanderson, called Mikkel and had a conversation with him on whether or not he was depressed. Mikkel did open up to Becky and said he was depressed and had suicidal thoughts. Mikkel also admitted he needed help. After that conversation, Becky felt Mikkel would be a danger to himself and was showing signs of mental illness and needed professional help. At the same time, the host parents felt Mikkel would be dangerous around their children and would either hurt himself or their children. The :::::: family no longer feels comfortable with having Mikkel in their home.
I have no doubt Mikkel was a little depressed by this time. But at no time did he, himself, express suicidal thoughts. This was one of the things Forte tried to get his families to sign off on, but did not succeed despite pressuring them. See below facemails from :::::: – first host-father:
10/15-2012: Conversation between Mikkel and ::::::
::::::: Everything you are doing to fight this company is causing drama for the families here that may or may not care about you. We are being asked to sign something that says Forte did not take you out of a home that wanted you there. I have not read the actual paper yet, so I do not know if what it says is true enough for me to sign. I do know this…yes, we wanted you to stay. Forte did not make the decision to take you from this home that wanted you. You, yourself wanted to leave a home that wanted you. And while that is perfectly okay to want to leave somewhere, it somewhat defeats you’re argument that the company treated you wrong by pulling you out of homes. You also did it yourself, and had your reasons. I don’t know all that happened with other families, but if the company made the decision for you to leave their homes, I’m certain they had their reasons just as you did when you decided to leave our home. I’m not going to lie for you or for the company or for anyone. I guess is what I am trying to say is fight the company if you want, but could you leave me out of it somehow and quit causing us drama? I see the good in everyone, and you’re not a bad guy, but I am starting to regret that we let you come stay with us.
And :::::: continues on 10/16-2012
::::::: Forte is trying to get me to make written statements about anything that will help them with their case. I don’t like what they are doing or what you are doing as I am getting stuck in the middle. I wasn’t trying to be mean Mikkel. I was even told not to talk to you at all. I just had to state that for the record. I will be honest and say this…I don’t trust Forte and I don’t trust you. I don’t hand out trust easily, and I know how one can keep enemies close for certain reasons. I did not tell them you wanted to kill yourself fyi. They have tried to get me to make statements against you and I refused. I wrote something that would not help them or you and shouldn’t have hurt either, but apparently they believe if it won’t help them win they can leave out certain truths. I just want out of it, but I had to tell you that for record purposes. I’m sorry if anything I have to do hurts you, but it can’t always be helped.
After discussion among management at Forte, due to Mikkel’s current mental stability, admittance to depression, and thoughts of suicide, we feel he should be dismissed early from the exchange program to seek professional, psychological help in his home country with his natural parents. Forte cannot shoulder that burden onto our host family to endure. Although our host families agree to host our exchange students, they should not have to deal with the effects of what depression does to a teenager.
Forte have behaved despicably throughout Mikkel Adrian’s stay. How he could have been placed with the families that he was and how on earth FIEA could possibly keep on letting Becky Sanderson get her claws into kids who are supposed to get a good impression of the US is unbelievable. Why has she not been held responsible for her actions? Into Education are no better for having supported FIEA through the whole process. Amazing that companies that claim to keep our children safe do such a poor job of it.
Please do something about this situation. Exchange students coming to the US need to feel safe, not used and abused.
Lise Lotte and Jonny Almenningen
Mr. Chris Page
Ms. Lindsay Poehlman
Ms. Diana Latvala
Ms. Ava Chen
Into Education Ltd.
Mr. John Douglas Fisher
Ms. Constanze Fisher
Into Education Ltd. (Norway)
Ms. Marit Åsenden
Ms. Danielle Grijalva
Mikkel Adrian Almenningen