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Dutch Youth Critical Of U.S. Life Sent Home As 'Irresponsible'

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Dutch Youth Critical Of U. S. Life Sent Home As ‘Irresponsible’

A 17-year-old Dutch student who contended in the European press that he was sent home from the United States for his criticisms of this country was actually returned in a routine procedure because he “made no effort” to live up to the responsibilities and ideals of the Youth For Understanding program, according to Mrs. Rachel Andresen, executive director of the YFU program here.

Maarten Abeln was described by his teachers, two host families in Royal Oak and Huntington Woods, and by counselors, assigned to work with him, as having “no feeling of responsibility for his own conduct,” Mrs. Andresen said. She said that counselors had been working with the youth since October when it became obvious that he did not get along in his family situation and was doing near failing work in school.

The records of all students in the program are reviewed at the end of the semester, and as was explained to them before they received their scholarships students unable to adjust or to do their work are returned to their home countries.

At the end of six months when there “was no evidence that he ever tried to improve relationships with his family or tried to do his school work,” and when his second host family requested his removal from their home it was decided that he should go back to Holland, Mrs. Andresen said.

Mrs. Andresen said that since 1951, more than 1,500 students have been brought to the U. S. by the Youth For Understanding program to live with American families and to attend American high schools. Only two or three students a year have been returned to their homes because of homesickness, illness or inability to adjust, she said. This year one boy has been returned because of illness, and another was returned because of personal problems, while 285 YFU students are “really working” to make their year here a success, Mrs. Andresen said.

Maarten who returned to Holland last Saturday, claimed in a press conference that Mrs. Andresen told him he should go home because letters he wrote for an Amsterdam newspaper’s teenage supplement “were not liked.”

The youth commented in one letter that “more than 30 per cent of U. S. teenagers do not know Christ was born in Bethlehem.” He also called the U. S. level of education “absurdly low” and said middle class Americans spend 99 per cent of their time working, looking at television and sleeping.

He called American television advertising a “horror,” with two commercial breaks totaling three minutes in every quarter hour.

He also said that the United States is a country of “impossible restrictions” and cited as, an example, “committees of women raiding bookstores.”

Mrs. Andresen said that she received clippings of the youths' letters from several Dutch people who wrote to her that “when a person misinterprets and half-interprets what he sees, it is a reflection on himself.” She said that she did suggest that if he wanted to write newspaper articles that he should have help.

Mrs. Andresen will be leaving in March on her annual spring trip to Western Europe to complete plans for the students who will receive one-year scholarships to live and study here next year under the Youth For Understanding program. The program is sponsored by the Michigan Council of Churches and administered by the Ann Arbor-Washtenaw Council.