Exchange Student In Hell

Hosting a foreign exchange student can be an enlightening experience, for both the host family and the exchange student. However, that's not always the case, as one young man from Maine found out when he went to Egypt as an exchange student.

When he left his home in Maine in September he weighed 155 pounds. On his return from Egypt four months later he weighed only 97 pounds as was in danger of dying.

[Jonathan} 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.

Friends and teachers at his English-speaking school in Egypt urged him to change his host family, but he stayed put after being told the other home was in a dangerous neighborhood of Alexandria.

McCullum said his host family gave him only meager amounts of food, and his condition worsened during the last seven weeks, when the family observed a fast limiting the amount of animal protein he was given.

He said he never got breakfast and his first food of the day usually was a small piece of bread with cucumbers and cheese that he would take to school for lunch. There was a late-afternoon dinner consisting of beans, vegetables and sometimes fish, and a snack of bread later in the evening.

So his host family puts him on a starvation diet, forcing him at one point to steal food in order to survive.

I don't know about you but think that's one bit of cultural exchange our kids could do without.

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