Writer, Editor, Stand-Up Comedian

The people and them place

Posted: July 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Editorial | Tags: , , | 5 Comments »

My daughter Miss Thing is trying to go to the US to study for a baccalaureate at the UWC College in New Mexico. It’s an incredible opportunity: she would get to meet students from all over the world, undertake a rigorous academic programme, hike, ski, do community service and all kinds of other good stuff. The goals of the UWC are to increase sustainability and world peace by teaching young people from diverse parts of the world to think of the world as one world, with one goal–making that one world a better place.

Miss Thing was one of only six T&T students who were chosen by the local committee of the UWC to attend these colleges worldwide. Other students got to go to Wales, Costa Rica, Canada, Hong Kong… Same curriculum but different local experiences. In Hong Kong you make field trips to Tibet, for example; in New Mexico, you go to Mexico. Some of the places, including the US one, came with a partial scholarship.

The only teeny, tiny flaw in this grand plan is that you still need a US visa to attend the US college. And your getting a US visa is contingent on the mood of the interviewer at the Embassy when you get to his window. I’m not a big fan of the US, and my love of the Embassy in POS … Let’s not go there. Needless to say, this has not been a fun experience. Hopefully on our next attempt we bring all the documentary evidence they require to know that 1) we’ll pay our part and 2) she’ll come back to Trinidad & Tobago when she’s through. The interviewer did not even glance at the letter from UWC-TT saying they were paying part of the cost. All he wanted to know was that my bank balance (no other financial statement would do, just a BANK statement) showed that I had enough cash to cover the fees.

This experience once again reminds me why people have the relationship they do with the US and with US Embassies worldwide. Why can’t the officers there treat the citizens of the countries–in which those officers are guests–with humanity, dignity and respect? Lest you think I’m alone in my grouse, check out this video.

5 Comments on “The people and them place”

  1. 1 Petal said at 9:19 pm on July 9th, 2010:

    Welcome to the blawgosphere. My Journalspace blog died a seriously tragic death and all my journal-keeping of my own visa experiences went the way of the dodo. Sad to say, it was as terrible as I expected and I am ever glad I will never have to do that again.

  2. 2 Tashez said at 10:36 pm on July 9th, 2010:

    A valid concern indeed. I am one of the fortunate ones who obtained a visa, using the normal process, without any hassle at all.

    I however do question, like Carol, why the application fee is so high, especially since most people are denied the opportunity to have their paperwork reviewed thoroughly.

    How is Miss Thing dealing with the disappointment?

  3. 3 lise said at 7:22 am on July 10th, 2010:

    We’re still in the process of the application. We have to return with some amended documents.

  4. 4 Cheryl Wright said at 8:00 am on July 10th, 2010:

    Maybe, just maybe, they have the perception that Trinidadians/foreigners are dribbling all over themselves to get into the US.

    Trinidadians/foreigners should take some of the blame for the attitude of the interviewers and the US as a whole.

    Never been to the US, never applied for a Visa and don’t wanna go. Give me the Caribbean islands, Spain and even Australia any day.

  5. 5 Colin James said at 6:01 pm on July 13th, 2010:

    Just read and watched the video. I’m appalled and amazed, especially considering the fact that as a Foreign Service Officer, I have been on both sides of the Visa Application Process.

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