Visas and Trips

Lately at work, I (jm) have been flooded with visa aplications.  I guess it’s that time of year, everyone has gotten into college, and now get to work on the fun part, getting into the US.  It’s kind of funny, some people come in and are overly organized and have every possible document that they could think of (such as elementary school grades and childhood pictures) in a beautifully organized folder bought expressly for the purpose.  And then there are the other people, who have papers falling out of every pocket and can’t seem to find anything, or left half of the things they need at home or in the car.

I saw one kid and his dad today who had a very sad story.  He’s going off to CSU Fresno, where he won a scholarship for almost all of his yearly costs.  However, he still needs to show that he has $5500 available per year from his family in order to cover the total costs.  They have applied for the one scholarship that MACEE administers, although jointly with the American Chamber of Commerce in Malaysia, which is $5000 per year.  The poor kid was going to go for his visa appointment next week without hearing back about this additional scholarship (they won’t hear until July), and I had to tell him that he had to show family funds of $5500 times 4 in order to get his visa.  The father looked at me like I was nuts.  They don’t have any money and are counting on this other scholarship.  If he doesn’t get it (there is only one given out each year), he can try his luck at the embassy, but he probably won’t get a visa.  The kid has worked so hard, overcome so much, won a good scholarship to a good school, and might not be able to go.  It was very sad.  Our office is rooting for him to win the scholarship, but the other people involved in the scholarship get to decide, not us.  So if someone else comes waltzing along with an admittance letter from a school with a prestigious name, my new friend has no prayer. 

On a happier note, we’re off to Singapore tomorrow morning to meet TP’s sister (who just graduated yesterday from Wake Forest, yeah Betsy!).  We’re excited to be taking a bus there (never thought I’d write that sentence) because it is a double-decker luxury bus with a lounge downstairs.  They even have "stewardesses" who give you snacks and drinks.  It’s only five hours, and flying wouldn’t have saved much time, so we figured we would  see some scenery and save money.  We are crossing our fingers that we will see some sights other than palm plantations like we did in Sabah.  After a few days there the plan is to head up to Melaka on the west coast of the peninsula, and then come back to KL for some fun here.  We’ll be in touch when we get a chance.