Haz el bien, y no mires a quién. -Spanish Proverb


people are generally good

I’m currently working for an organization that places foreign students from around the world in US high schools. As their first representative in my region (and brought on board rather late in “placement season”) it has been both an adventure and a struggle to hurriedly find schools that still have open spots and families that are willing to host a student, and then to connect those two dots to a student still waiting to be placed.


Last night, I was set up to do something called “dialer calls,” which I was almost certain would not work. I was told that a few thousand numbers in specific zip code would be called in a matter of two hours. The people called would hear an automated message that I have pre-recorded, and if they pressed “1” to learn more about hosting a student, they’d automatically be connected with my cell phone to talk to me directly.

Who would actually answer a call like this? Especially in this day and age?

2,119 numbers were called last night with my automated message. Before the calls began, I estimated what I thought would be the results of these calls: about 1,000 would be unavailable (it would go to voicemail) another 1,000 or so would hang up on the automated message, and of the remaining 100, many would press 1 out of confusion, an equal amount out of anger, and two or three extra-kind-hearted folks would actually speak to me to inquire for more information (you know: “Midwest nice.”)

Boy, was I wrong. My phone rang off the hook for two hours straight with a majority of people who had genuine interest in hosting an international student during the upcoming school year. Other calls were beeping in on call waiting as I visited with prospective host families, and soon my voicemail box was full of messages. Everyone was so friendly and personable.

You could chalk this up to “Midwest nice,” but I have to say that I was expecting the also prevalent “Midwest closed-mindedness” to win out when hosting international students was the matter at hand. I am refreshed to have found out that was not the case.

Something I’ve been saying for awhile, ever since I started traveling a lot, is that there are some bad people everywhere, but people are generally good. I know that this isn’t an original thought, and that lots of people come to the same conclusion after doing some traveling, but I think that last night, I saw firsthand that this is definitely true of my home state: people ARE generally good. They’re even better than I thought, in fact.

But no matter where you go, there are a few bad apples. Of the 40-50 people I spoke with directly last night, only two were examples of this. Here are are the exchanges I had with them. All you can do is chuckle.

“Hi, this is Megan with ICES. How are you this evening?”

—“Well, I’m just trying to figure out what you’re phishing for.”

“Oh, nothing sir. I work for a non-pr–”

—“Can’t you people get a real job? Go to hell!!” *click*


“Hi, this is Megan with ICES. How are you this evening?”

—“Well I just saw that you called while I was on the other line and I am wondering if there is some kind of issue.”

“Nope, no issue, I’m just calling local families on behalf of the high school’s foreign exchange program to try to find potential host families for one of our international students. Is that something you would like more info on at all?”

—“NO. I am NOT interested in hosting an international student. I mean, who knows, they could be coming from one of those countries like El Salvador or Puerto Rico or whatever and I sure as hell don’t need that.”

“Ok, well I appreciate you taking the time to call m–”

—“Besides, I work at the social service office. If I wanted a damn foreign kid in my house I could just pick one up there.”


Well, then. :-/


Thanks for reading!