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  • Exchange Student

    A parent in our troop registered a exchange student from China so he could attend a troop campout. Looking further down the line, would we have him do advancement while he is here. What do you do about requirements like the pledge of allegiance for the Scout badge? Any thoughts?

  • #2
    What does the Scout think? Is it an issue for him of just something which concerns you?

    Personally -- and this is only my personal opinion, I know of no BSA policy on the topic -- if the young man doesn't feel right about pledging allegiance to a country of which he isn't a citizen and (unless you know differently) has no plans to become a citizen, I would give him a pass. He should stand respectfully while others in the troop recite the pledge, like we do (or should) when they play Oh Canada during Expos games.

    Frankly, that he has enough respect not to merely mumble through a pledge which he doesn't take seriously would show me more character than faking it or going along to get along.


    • gsdad
      gsdad commented
      Editing a comment
      Expos games? Do you have a time machine?

  • #3
    The "requirement" (pg. 8 of my Eaglesons BSHandbook) to repeat the PoA is only that. Repeat it. Once, to show that he knows it. If he is a citizen of another country, he is under no obligation to repeat a promise he honestly has no need to fulfill. Likewise, there is no legal obligation for ANYONE to repeat the PoA if to do so would violate their religious beliefs (another issue, dealt with elsewhere in this forum).
    And, there is no requirement to be a citizen of the United States to join the Boy Scouts of America.
    Or to be of a certain faith or religion ( just to have one. Again, another issue, another thread).
    Look at the BSA Scout promise and law. They make no mention for WHICH country the boy is promising to do his duty . The Scout Law can apply to anyone of any nationality who chooses to adopt it as his ideal, and THAT is , I hope we can all agree, what we here are ultimately about.
    Let the boy join in the fun of American Scouting and, if he can, take that example back to his homeland. He and the world will be a little better for it.


    • #4
      Out of curiosity, I looked up "Scouting in China" and found out that it has been officially banned in China since 1949. An effort to start a scouting program was squashed by the government in 2004. The Chinese equivalents are the "Young Pioneers" and the "Communist Youth League". I think if my kid went to China as an exchange student and their host parents enrolled them in the Communist Youth League without my permission, I would be more than pissed. Wonder what the lad's parents have to say about it? I'm pretty sure what the Chinese government thinks.


      • qwazse
        qwazse commented
        Editing a comment
        Not sure I specifically recall a scouting example, but have known families whose exchange students have signed up for sports and the like. Host parents have authority to sign the application form.

        From my experience wih Chinese visiting professors, they are generally enthused to have their kids dive into American culture. (Again, can't think of a specific example regarding scouting ... so your mileage may very greatly on this one.)

      • King Ding Dong
        King Ding Dong commented
        Editing a comment
        I would be pissed as well if done without my permission. I would however give my permission, what a great educational opportunity. Would probably want do do some debriefing afterwards to make sure nothing sunk in to deep.

      • SSScout
        SSScout commented
        Editing a comment
        Weeeelllll..... there are TWO Chinas, remember. Might be the Taiwan China, not the Mainland China. There is a member of WOSM listed in the Republic of China (Taiwan).

    • #5
      Is there a guardian arrangement with the exchange student? Surely there is some written documentation granting guardianship, in case the kid breaks an arm or something and needs to go to the doctor.
      Also in this day and age of Skype and phone service, surely the kid can call up his folks and ask permission.

      TwoCub and SSScout have it right though. He doesn't need to actually make the pledge. He just needs to repeat it. The other scouts may get a kick out of learning if there is a similar pledge in China.


      • #6
        Sorry, but, there is some really fuzzy liberal logic going on here. This is the Boy Scouts of AMERICA. When we promise to do our duty to our county it's implicit that we're talking about the UNITED STATES. We wear only one flag on our uniforms, the flag of the UNITED STATES. We are allowed to wear that flag patch on our uniforms because the flag code has an explicit exception for wearing the flag on clothing for the armed forces and patriotic organizations.

        I really fail to understand the logic of "He's only required to repeat the oath." Well isn't that convenient. I joined the boy scouts. I took an oath to help other people, but, I didn't really mean that part. I joined the Navy and took an oath. I couldn't go back to say, well, I was only repeating the oath, I didn't really mean I wanted to protect the nation. C'MON MAN!

        I think the young man, if he desires, should join the Boy Scouts for the adventure and experience. But I wouldn't set the expectation that we're going to eliminate part of the fundamental reason for our being. If he's willing to stand respectfully during our patriotic traditions, that's fine (I even know the words to "Oh Canada"). China doesn't own all of the US yet.


        • #7
          I currently have an exchange student from Germany staying with us. Yes, we do have guardianship. I'd ask the boy if he's interested in advancement. Most likely he has no idea what it's about and really is just interested in how Americans have fun and what camping is. He's here to learn our culture, not get Eagle. After one campout he may be done with it or he may really enjoy it. Give him a handbook, sign stuff off so he can be part of a patrol, and don't worry about it. He'll be gone before summer camp and will never get close to Eagle. Explain to him what the PoA means to us and ask him what he wants to do about it (stand respectfully or participate)

          This is an opportunity for your troop. Ask if he'll give a presentation to the troop about his country. He does have a presentation prepared. I'd wait a month or two until he's a bit more comfortable with English. If he is from mainland China, he may be very subtle about talking about his government. Don't push him. But I've never heard of mainland Chinese exchange students.


          • #8
            Originally posted by Twocubdad View Post
            What does the Scout think?
            Ditto. I'm assuming they don't send 10-yr-olds on exchange trips, so the boy is probably old enough to have a mature conversation on the subject that starts with "here's the situation, what are your thoughts?"


            • #9
              I would recommend not paying attention to advancement. Focus on having fun in the outdoors and on developing the skills needed for having fun in the outdoors and the planning skills needed to prepare a patrol for camping. (which is how it should be for all scouts.)


              • #10
                I'm with Venividi on this one. Why would advancement even be a consideration. If his new friends are into scouting, sign him up, get him gear and a bit of training so he will at least enjoy the outing and then go. If he's a scout back home, maybe the boys will learn something new from him. If not, I'm sure he'll learn something new about American scouts. He's probably going to only be around for a year, so there's no use in suggesting he is ever going to make BSA Eagle. There are times when over thinking things is not a good idea.



                • #11
                  If the boy is from another country, (if anyone is from another country) why would we expect him to recite a promise/make an oath concerning his loyalty to the US of A? If the PoA is appropriate to your expression of your love of the US of A, then go for it. If the PoA is seen as an unnecessary oath, or an expression bordering on idolatry (promising to be loyal to a piece of cloth?) , as some religions see it. then as a Scout, I must be respectful and understanding of that belief.

                  And, where does it "say" that a boy of another nationality cannot join the BS of A? He is indeed fortunate to have obtained such a new, loving family. Wish more boys had such opportunities.
                  I say give him the neckerchief and take him on the trail. In a years time, he can certainly earn First Class and proudly take it back to his home with some satisfaction and good memories and new friendships. And where is the harm in that? There is none. Only good can come of such , and after all, bridges between people are what is needed, not more walls.


                  • jblake47
                    jblake47 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Why would pledging allegiance to a foreign country be a prerequisite to take a hike with your buddies? Pledging to one's own country should be sufficient for World Wide Scouting! It may be a good time to get new BSA glasses, so they aren't so myopic!