VISA Application

Photo taken for the Chinese VISA application

The Dean of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMB) today handed me a printed copy of the VISA application form for China. We were to fill it out together. It’s official: We are traveling as part of a delegation from UMB to see what inclusion of people with disabilities looks like in Chinese society, particularly in education. As we were filling out the form, and checking “no” to items like whether the applicant has “Mental Diseases”, I said aloud, “You know, I didn’t think that I would spend time in Asia until I was in my 50’s. It just seemed like that would be my timeline.” How subtly I had built that implicit expectation of my own path, but, to be quite honest, I didn’t think that I would be “ready” for Asia for years. I have nothing to fall back on linguistically: this will be a selection of tonal languages/dialects that I will encounter for the first time, and I have never studied nor spoken a tonal language; this will be a pictographic written language, and I have only read alphabetic characters. Whether I think I am ready or not, I am going. In response to my musing, the Dean said, “You never know what will happen!” I completed my VISA application, indicating that I would be a guest of East China Normal University, signed my name with the date, and have committed to my precocious upcoming travel.