Jun. 26th, 2009

flora: Photo of a baby penguin chick (Default)
The Fulbright orientation has been the past few days in downtown DC. I went with my husband to several sessions before and after work. We've learned about all kinds of stuff - staying safe abroad, medical concerns, what to pack, what to expect, security, and how to dress and act to avoid looking like targets. There are hundreds of people at this training; people are going to south/central Asia, Middle east, and Africa. The vast majority of people there are students, very recent college graduates or PhD students, mostly in the social sciences. There are also quite a few medical and public health people. Of the 140 people going to India, only about 40 are scholars like my husband; and most of those are researchers.

The session panelists, Fulbright alumni, say it will be a life-changing experience. The people we will meet will show amazing hospitality and we'll gain a deep appreciation of their culture. And all the panelists have been saying nothing will go like we plan; there will be problems - mostly small - and we just have to deal with them and accept it. The reliability and follow-through you expect from American daily life and business, is just not there. It will be replaced by an emphasis on personal relationships, relaxing, and coping with discomfort.

We've run into one problem already - we know we're going, but not exactly *when*. My husband is applying for an entry visa, to allow him to teach. India normally requires research scholars to wait 4 weeks before entering country, holding their passports, to be sure researchers' plans have time to go through the approval process. Michael will be a lecturer, just teaching, so he theoretically shouldn't have that problem. The visa office has told him so. The host university has told him so. Everyone in any official capacity has told him it's fine. But. As of yesterday, the Indian official in charge of the Fulbright program over there is convinced that Michael must have a 4-week waiting period. I met the official yesterday, and he seems like a reasonable guy, but he's absolutely sticking on this 4-week waiting period. So it could be August 1, September 1, or anytime later.

The very good news is that my job looks like it will work out. Did I mention I love my company? No details are settled yet, but it looks like I will be able to keep working and contributing, telecommuting. I'm taking the first week or so as vacation anyway, to give a few days to settle in and get the Internet and electricity hooked up. We'll see.
flora: Photo of a baby penguin chick (Default)
One in a series of Fulbright Orientation notes. Not all these are public yet. It's mainly for my reference when we're in India.

These are my notes from this morning's talk. I'm making this entry public since others might be interested. I will try to hide this behind a cut, but it's cross-posting from DreamWidth so I apologize to LJ friends if the cut doesn't work.

My notes from 26 June 2009 Fulbright Orientation speaker on Safety and Security - Michael O'Neill, former director of safety for Peace Corps, now at Save the Children.

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Lots of interesting, practical advice for those going abroad.

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