Personal Privacy I listened to the Hong Kong Consul General give a talk recently on how generous America was about giving visas to Chinese citizens. He went on to say that even in the wake of 9-11 the US cut no student visa programs, they were simply bogged down temporarily. I asked about a letter I received from Union Institute last year which stated that they had indeed been stripped of the ability to offer distance learners 1-2 week visas to America. He deferred the question then to his Public Affairs guy, a man who should be deported by Hong Kong fashion police, who needs to go back to the DDI (Defense Doublespeak Institute) for a refresher course. The man, who wears outfits below his bleach blonde marine haircut, and tomato complexion that look a lot like seersucker suits complete with rainbow-colored clown ties (No, I am not kidding)….He proceeded to tell the Chinese in attendance that there was a “draw-down” of certain courses in recent years and that a lot of people are “looking into the issue”. That is diplomatic talk for, “the visas will return when donkeys fly”. So, someone can come to study nuclear physics for four years, but can’t spend a couple of weeks getting a diploma in educational leadership. It makes perfect sense. It is akin to being able to carry your bow and arrows on the plane, but not your liquid hand-wash. Here is what our beloved homeland insecurity is doing to safeguard your country against one tiny Chinese educator wanting to study OVER THE INTERNET: I wrote to three accredited distance learning institutions on behalf of an extraordinary scholar in Guangdong. The student is hoping to do a low-residency doctorate because on a salary of $300 a month in China financing a long stay in America might take take more years than an average Chinese lifespan might allow and to get out of her contract at her Chinese school she must pay the remainder of the money she would have earned on her five year contract. Tuition alone for a distance or online program is astronomical enough. But, homeland insecurity is on the ball. Here is one Vermont school’s response to my query for a person who would be spending a total of 15 days in America over a three-year program of study: “Thank you for your interest in our programs. Unfortunately, at this time we are not able to admit international learners. Many changes have been implemented in immigration policies in the United States within the past few years. Due to these changes we now find ourselves without any approval status for facilitating international learner entry into the U.S. for our required residencies or colloquium. The Department of Homeland Security has classified our program as “distance learning,” and schools in this category may not enroll learners on student visas. Even though you would not reside in the U.S. for the duration of your program, you do need to be able to enter the U.S. with a valid student visa to attend the required colloquium and residencies at our institution. At this time, we are unable to provide you with the proper paperwork to obtain your student visa, nor are we able to report your information to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (“SEVIS”), as required by the U.S. government. This has presented us with quite a dilemma, but after much research and consultation with legal counsel, we believe it is in the best interest of the institution and prospective students to suspend admittance of international students until the situation is resolved. Please be assured that we are working diligently through all channels available to us to seek a solution. We are sending you the program materials you requested, and we will update you as soon as there is a change which will allow us to resume consideration of applications from international learners. Thank you for your understanding. Sincerely, XXXXXX” We are sending China huge amounts of cash, keeping them out of our country and then demonizing them for the deficit. You never now what king of fiendish plot a five-foot tall, ninety-pound education major may hatch during the study of classroom ethics or in a huff after gaining weight from eating Ben and Jerry’s for two weeks in Vermont. And what might run through a Disney tourist’s mind as retribution for having to endure 10,000 repetitions of “It’s a Small World After All?” Most Chinese I know are now enrolling in British and Australian low-residency programs. They are cheaper and don’t require a strip search before class. We are losing money and a chance to positively influence China’s upcoming leadership and the teachers of the future’s cadre. On a cheerier note: Happy Thanksgiving from China Lonnie B Hodge

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