Finally, Some News from Canada!
Malo famili It has been a long time since my last update; a lot has happened for us here in the Far North though I have been of the thought that I'm always busy! Currently everyone here in Vancouver, and for most of Canada, are cheering for our NHL hockey team, the Canucks, as they are about to meet the Boston Bruins tonight in Game 6 for the Stanley Cup - the oldest championship cup in the world, I believe. The Canucks is leading 3-2 in this final series, and with a win tonight, they'll capture this Cup for the first time in its 40-year history. You may remember how Vancouver turned the Winter Olympics of last year into a national event; this appears to be even bigger, at least out here in our Lower Mainland, and if you look at the pictures below of fans watching the games on the streets (not including the thousands inside the arena), you can see how our city has embraced this playoff run in a way never seen before.
Most of you may still remember my story from last year when the US Embassy here in Vancouver required my Tongan passport be fixed for a damaged page. My passport was sent to the Tonga Consulate in San Francisco and in turn I was informed it was forwarded to Tonga. In its place I received a 2-year temporary passport while waiting for my passport to be “fixed”. This temporary “travel document”, which actually is labelled “Certificate of Identification” (COI) was accepted by the US Embassy here in Vancouver back then, which consequently allowed me to travel via USA to American Samoa last November. I mention this because the whole waiting process had caused me nothing but headaches, and I didn’t get my new passport until two weeks ago…a total of 10 months of waiting!
Anyway, back in February, a friend of ours from Edmonton came to meet me here in Vancouver on our way to watch the IRB Sevens Tournament that was held in Las Vegas. On that day unfortunately I was stopped at the airport by the US Department of Homeland Security because they didn’t accept the Tongan COI I had used. Despite the fact that the US Embassy had accepted this COI as my temporary travel document and that the US Immigration did allow me to use the same travel document on my Samoa trip last year, the Homeland Security people decided not to accept it anymore. They simply couldn’t accept the fact that a third-country like Tonga could take such a long time to process my request for a new passport. As a result, they held me at the Vancouver Airport for 2 hours, in which time I had to be formally interviewed and requested to apply for withdrawal of my travel application. I don’t need to go into detail here about the absurdity of that interview but let me advise any of you who may find yourself in a similar situation in the future with the USA Department of Homeland Security: IF at any point you feel you are being treated unprofessionally and unfairly during the process by any of officers, the ONLY thing you can do is ask to speak to an onsite Supervisor. Sadly I missed my trip and consequently could not refund the cancelled trip with my airline. The other sad truth as demonstrated by my airport experience is the fact that recognition or respect for the Tongan passport is literally limited, and as in my case, can be painful sometimes! Given that the Tongan Government has approved dual citizenship with a number of countries since 2007,my experience has intensified my belief that I’d be far better off travelling internationally with a Canadian passport than with my Tongan passport. I’ll be eligible for one come August next year! Uncle Tavo had shared similar thought about his situation as well. As much as I love being a Tongan, and being proud to own a Tongan passport, I surely would not like a repeat of the financial loss, emotional stress and pain I had endured for 10 months while waiting for my new passport!
Anyway, on to some good news. Last year I successfully applied for a faculty teaching position at the University of the Fraser Valley, located in Abbotsford, about one-and-a-half hours drive south east of Vancouver.
I had been commuting back and forth from where we used to live, Richmond, which was about an hour drive to work each way. The job is great. I enjoy it very much. I like the small campus and the staff I currently work with. I get to teach undergrad mathematics and mathematics for elementary and secondary school teachers. Last semester I was given a huge task of teaching three new courses, and I could barely stay on top of all my markings. But I made it through the semester, and now in the middle of teaching one course this summer, with the fall semester to begin just over a couple of months from now. The other big news for us is our recent move to our new home here in Cloverdale. Cloverdale is a fast-growing but relatively small country city outside Vancouver (about an hour drive south). Cloverdale is home to the best Rodeo Show and Festival throughout the BC Lower Mainland. We have been here since the second week of May, and I had the opportunity to experience my first rodeo show last month, which, to say the least, is quite an experience in itself! Anyway, it takes me about 35 minutes to drive from here to work at Abbotsford, while Jay goes the other way to her work usually for more than an hour when traffic is really bad in the morning. But she gets to do that only twice on Tuesdays and Thursdays when she works, and also on Saturdays as well. Sebastian on the other hand has been to preschool since March, and he gets to go with mommy since his school days are also on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Jay’s parents, who also live nearby Jay’s work, get to pick Sebastian up first after school, and Jay then picks him up from them when she’s done on their way home. So that’s how everything has been for us since we moved. Lastly, Sebastian has just turned 3 years old last Friday. We got some friends and relatives to come over to celebrate his birthday yesterday at our new home.
It has been a great experience for us as newparents, and certainly Sebastian has grown up to be a joy (with the occasionalchallenges of an active toddler) in our lives. That is all for now. Our sincere thanks to the ADMIN and our news reporters from every corner for your continuous effort and commitment tomake this site a safe and enjoyable meeting place and for sharing news with the rest of us. ‘Ofa atu,
Stan, Jay and Sebastian.