Hi, I am a current undergraduate of the University of the Arts. Recently, I sought to take an internship in Brazil. Because my university does not offer internships to Brazil I sought to find an educational program that did. Ultimately, I found myself being treated extremely rudely and most of all swindled out of my money. I would like to file a complaint against the International Education Program of Jacksonville University whose address is Jacksonville University, J. Henry Gooding Building #105, 2800 University Blvd. N., Jacksonville FL, 32211-3394. On March 5th, 2010 I mailed the IEP program a check for $200 in order to cover my application fee and to move forward in the program. My check was cashed on March 15th 2010 but I never received any further information, paperwork, or phone calls from the organization. Eventually I had to call the advisor that I was working with, Kate Masuch, and question her about my application. On last year, I applied with the organization but did not send in any funds because I was not sure that the organization was able to find me the proper placement that would insure that I would receive internship credits through my University. Masuch assured me last year that placement was found for me, however I did not have the further funds in which to cover the trip’s balance and decided to postpone my trip. In March of 2010 I tried again. This time with the finances. After applying to the organization for a second time and sending in my application fee of $200 I did not hear from the organization for WEEKS. So, I called Masuch to find out what was going on. Masuch told me that the placement that she supposedly found me the year prior was no longer available and that she had to find me new placement. Once again I waited for weeks to hear back from her. Finally she put me in touch with a director from another organization (Pedro Almieda, Site Director of Pro World Brazil), who took over my case from there. I have never been outside the country before and was excited about the supposed placement that was found for me in Brazil. I didn’t know the right questions to ask or what to expect. Almieda and I contacted each other tirelessly via email, trying to work out the details of my internship(Who sent me a website in Portuguese [which I do not speak] about my placement organization and did not send me the organization’s mission until earlier this week). I scheduled my arrival for July 5th 2010. In the meantime, I worked tirelessly in order to raise funds I needed to take the trip. In fact, the $200 that was given to the IEP organization were $200 that were collected from donors who entrusted me with their finances hoping that I would have a wonderful trip. Masuch knew about this and knew that I was staying in contact with Almieda because she asked me to forward all of our messages to her. On last week I spoke with one of my teachers/advisors about my internship. He asked me several questions about the internship including if I had received any paperwork/insurance vouchers from the organization. I realized that I hadn’t received ANY information from the organization. My advisor and another administrator decided to call the organization and question them. They told us that I was in fact suppose to receive paperwork, i.e. a welcome packet that supposedly listed all the information concerning the organization. I hadn’t even received it. Masuch also called me while we were on the phone with the other representatives and left a message asking that I call her back. Upon calling her back, Masuch seemed to be highly annoyed that my teachers and advisors had called to inquire about the organization. I then asked her questions like, why hadn’t I received a welcome packet, why hadn’t she explained anything to me about possibly having to get vaccinations or a visa, why hadn’t I received any further information about insurance, and so on. Masuch was very rude and short with me(as she had been on prior occasions). She told me that If I needed to know what vaccinations I would need, to find out myself by contacting a local clinic, she pretended as if she had sent me the paperwork, although I assured her that I did not receive anything, and she told me that I would not need a visa because I was only going for a short time and was working with a program. She said that she would resend me the welcome packet although she was sure that she had already sent it to me. I asked her what would have happened if I traveled all the way to Brazil only to be turned back because I did not receive the proper vaccinations. She did not have an answer to my question but told me that in all honesty, because I didn’t go through it last year she felt like I wasn’t really serious about the program. However, she never asked me this or relayed this to me. AND I had already given IEP my $200 application fee which I though made it clear that I was serious about the program. After further thought I decided that If Masuch, my advisor for the trip was willing to take my $200 but not give me any information about the program, not even a welcome packet, and didn’t think I was serious about the program(although I was supposed to be leaving July 5th 2010 and had spent a lot of time contact Almieda about my trip), that I did not want to work with the organization. So, I called requesting to talk to the associate director, Scott Tayloe, who was not available at the time. Instead I spoke with Ginny Garzon, the Program and experiential Education Abroad Coordinator. Garzon apologized for Masuch’s rude behavior and explained that the way their organization works is that they partner with another organization and basically pass their client off to the partner. I told her that I no longer felt like I could trust the organization and did not want to work with them and that I would like to have my money given back to me since no one suspected I was serious about the program. She said that this decision was up to the Associate Director Scott Tayloe and that they would have to call me back when he was available. I missed their call but was left a message by Garzon asking that I call them back. Upon calling them back, Garzon did not seem even a little bit remorseful and told me that she hopes I continue to work with their program but because the money was already put towards the trip that I would not be able to receive my refund. I questioned why my money was put towards my placement if Masuch was not sure that I would be taking the trip and was going to pull out at the last minute. I also questioned how the organization expected me to get vaccines and other proper paperwork at the last minute as it is already May 19th. While giving a response Garzon mentioned that it would not be hard for me to get my visa and other required paperwork. I explained to Garzon that Masuch had already told me that I would not need a visa but Garzon reassured me that I would. She also mentioned that information about vaccines could be found in the welcome packet. Masuch told me otherwise and I had already explained this Garzon. When I did she never mentioned that the information could be found in the welcome packet. With this I concluded our conversation clarifying that I would not be working with their organization. It took me up until this very day to receive a welcome packet even though Masuch claimed she would send me one last week. I received the packet from Garzon who was reluctant to give me the packet even today. She did not want to give me the packet unless I felt as though I wanted to continue to work with the organization. I also asked Garzon what the organization planned to do in order to compensate for all the hardships that I went through with them and her answer was basically nothing. I then had to have my advisor contact the organization in hopes to receive my finances/the finances of my donors back. Upon his speaking to the organization they agreed to refund me $100, claiming that the money has already gone towards my placement, however I would like to receive a full refund. The IEP organization had the nerve to use my finances although it seems as though no one was really concerned about my well being or even counting on me actually working with the program. It seems unless a problem arose(as it did) I would have never been given the proper information that I was suppose to receive and I am grateful to find out the truth in advance. I am extremely hurt and feel quite disrespected and taken advantage of. I would like my full $200 refunded back unto me. Furthermore, it seems as though the IEP program may be a big a scam. I would like to see that the organization be inspected.
2800 University Blvd. N. Jacksonville, Florida United States of America