Janbotha3's Blog

October 28, 2009

Applying for USA visa

Filed under: Uncategorized — janbotha3 @ 8:41 pm

I left home 5:30 AM this morning (after 4 hours sleep) to be absolutely sure that I get there before rush hour and be well in time for my visa application appointment at the American Embassy at 8AM. You’re too enthusiastic, my companion said. She was right. At 6.45 I was at the (closed, of course) gate – way too early. But come 8AM, there I was, in front of the row, as eager as a teenage boy on a first date. Alas, the passport photo that I submitted was found wanting. After 9/11 a standard size passport photo is no longer accepted (I should have read the instructions with even more attention). Photo must be larger, and with all kinds of other requirements. So I had to wait  at a nearby Mall untill shops open to get the right picture taken.  No sweat, however, from then on it was VIP treatment all the way. It took much longer to clear all the security arrangements than what it took to do the actual job. Since my existing 10y USA visa issued way back in 1999 expires tomorrow (!) I was praised for coming just in time for the renewal. All the checking of whether my underwear were clean, whether I have brushed my teeth, whether I have good manners, know the names of all 50 states, can sing that song about the Brave (I offered to sing many more songs but that was declined), know where Glenwood Springs is, the name of that terrible Denver baseball team, the name of the Obamas’ dog, the name of the commander of the Confederates in the Civil War, and yea, checking whether I have completed the forms correctly and have my fingerprints taken, happened as fast as a southeaster wind comes up over Table Mountain and ssshhhwwwooossh I was done. In fact, the US Immigration Officer working at the Embassy asked if she could kiss my hand (OK, just kidding).

There was one bit of rude discrimination, however. While waiting in the line at the counter the privilege to stand is reserved for all foreigners whereas comfortable chairs, pillows, massages and soft drinks are on offer – and reserved – for US  citizens only. Can you believe it?! Who do these  Americans think they are? I am sure that is why we foreigners have to pay such a fortune for a visa…

But notwithstanding this one episode of blatant discrimination contravening the Human Rights Bill in the South African Constitution, I must confess that the whole adventure was not altogether unpleasant. In fact, as always I was impressed with the efficiency of the Americans.

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September 24, 2009

My summary/comments at the SAAIR Annual Forum on “Closing the loop”

Filed under: Uncategorized — janbotha3 @ 5:28 pm

SAAIR2009 JanBotha

Jan Botha’s closing comments at SAAIR 2009 Annual Forum in Port Elizabeth at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (21-23 September 2009)

The theme of the 2009 Annual Forum of the Southern African Association for Institutional Research was “The Impact of Institutional Research (IR) on Institutional Effectiveness. Are we closing the loop?” I was a member of the panel discussion at the end of the Forum, reflecting on the presentations and discussions of the preceding three days.

I presented a brief conceptual analysis: (1) analysing who the “we” may be (i.e. broadening “IR Professionals” to “managers and administrators in Higher Education”), arguing that “closing” should preferably be understood as “making connections”, (2) presenting a map of the different ways in which “closing the loop”, or rather “making the connections” can manifest across the range of the core academic functions as well as the management and support functions in higher education institutions and (3) presenting an exposition of how IR professionals can conceptualise their work in terms of three loops or three sets of connections to be made: an epistemic loop,  a hermeneutic loop and a praxis loop.

Jan Blog#1

Filed under: Uncategorized — janbotha3 @ 7:54 am

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