Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Six Year Plan

     Now that I've made contact with narrow boaters I find my obsession for narrow boats and canals transformed into a refined passion--coals banked deep in my breast--which is a very good thing because in the days and weeks to come, the hurdles one must jump to stay in England longer than six months are daunting and I don't even own anything remotely exotic as a passport. After reviewing the U.K. Border Agency's complex website regarding visiting and/or emigrating to Great Britain, my brain feels like it has been tossed into a cocktail shaker and thoroughly muddled.
    Growing up in a country famous for the raised torch of  "The Mother of Exiles," and the attendant philosophy of Emma Lazarus'  "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses straining to breathe free...," with generations of ancestors who waved at Her as they passed through the gates of Ellis Island, I find the strictures on emigration/immigration daunting and confusing. The U. K. Ancestry scheme would have allowed me to immigrate easily since my maternal grandmother Lilly George was born in Cardiganshire, Wales in 1891.
     Unfortunately for me this scheme changed post 9/11 to include only those who are born and raised in a commonwealth nation. The Border Agency defines commonwealth nations as having "experienced direct or indirect British rule."  
     Do you suppose Great Britain would loosely interpret that point to include an American born and raised in a former colony as a member of the commonwealth? Since my ancestors who arrived here on The Mayflower in 1620 begot men who served as surgeons in the Revolutionary War (known as the War for American Independence by the British) and thumbed their noses at King George III and the British Parliament I don't hold out much hope!
     Ah well....I don't know why I should expect immigration to England to be any easier for me than it was for my grandmother to emigrate to America. Lily George crossed the Atlantic ocean in steerage aboard the Carmania in August of 1919 with her Puerto Rican husband and two toddlers in tow. She knew no one in this new land--not even her sponsor. 
     The next scheme to consider is the Tier II Worker category which will allow me to apply to work in the U.K. if I can find a sponsor, and a job. Under this scheme I must earn a minimum of 50 points to be eligible. An employment sponsor can earn me 30-50 points depending on whether or not the position is on the shortage occupation list, or it meets the resident labour list--which means the employer has exhausted all known eligible British citizens who have applied for the position and needs must look elsewhere. 
     The occupation shortages are in manufacturing management, mining and quarrying managers, biological scientists and biochemists, physicists, geologists, and engineers of every flavor and hue. 
     One can earn 30 points for switching from a student to a worker. I earn 10 points for speaking English. The points based system and the six different schemes require one to download a PDF manual of instructions 35 pages long just to figure out how and where to begin.
     I am quite befuddled by all the links one must click to access key information on the Border Agency website. It feels like I am playing scavenger hunt without a map and the rules are so convoluted: you may emigrate on a Wednesday in a month with a blue moon; other wise you must wait until the wind is from the west northwest at five nautical miles an hour and we must inspect your umbrella for leaking seams. Sweating blood while we check your documentation is much appreciated but will not earn you any additional points. 
Isis Lock, Oxford; © Tony  Steele
     While mulling all this over I wonder what jobs might be available in the education industry in England near a canal. This idea requires a familiarity with England's geography and employment that I do not possess. 
     I download Google Earth and begin the painstaking process of mapping out the canals and navs with different colored tacks for each one. This is an ongoing process which will take me many months--especially since boaters and others have uploaded pictures of canal features and I find myself lost in the beauty of each canal as I map it. According to Google Earth there are canals passing directly by the University of Birmingham at Edgbaston, and Oxford and Cambridge Universities. I'm certain there are probably others but it will take time to find them. 
    Meanwhile I find a link to a job listing website that allows me to narrow my search by country and industry, and it sends me postings every other week. I join Expat Forum in order to ask questions about passport processing and life abroad. The forum is not much help as the ex-pats living in England are doing it in the conventional manner: renting flats, traveling in cars, and paying an arm and a leg for it with strange money while driving on the wrong side of the road.
     I draw up my six year plan, which allows me time to pay off my home and square away my finances while working on writing a book about my journey through cancer and recovery. As they say, "don't quit your day job." 
Washington State University, Pullman, WA; © Summit Realty
     With the warmth of my passion to fuel me I head out to work each day to Washington  State University where I advise 500 plus distance degree seeking students. My students earn their degrees completely online--they never have to come to campus and they live all over the United States and fifteen countries abroad. 
     I specifically advise active duty military and international students. I have students in the front lines in Afghanistan, and on mine sweepers in the Gulf of Bahrain; on air craft carriers off the coast of Korea, and on submarines running silent and deep. I've even had a student in Antarctica. 
     I also serve as the academic integrity coordinator. If distance degree seeking students are brought up on plagiarism charges to the Office of Student Conduct, they are referred to me and they must write a ten page research paper on plagiarism  in order to continue on with their studies. 
WSU in winter;
     One of the unspoken and little known sides of academia is the rule of service. Faculty are required to offer service to their institution above and beyond teaching or advising. I grade junior writing portfolios, and sit on several faculty senate subcommittees. Surely I think to myself, there must be some way to translate all this experience into a job in England.
     In the meantime Dear Sir replies to my email: 
Hi Jaqueline,
     How nice of you to respond to my call for overseas readers. I do get some E mail throughout the year from people who are thinking of a boat holiday and some that are going to live the dream and i pride myself in answering them all. Some i have met on my travels and one couple of Canadians stopped for a chat after spotting NB Valerie as they passed by on their holiday boat.
     You mention Sue on No Problem who has been a good friend since i bombarded her with requests for info about living afloat long long before i even purchased a boat and herself and hubby Vic were the first to invite me onboard for a day a few months before i launched `Valerie`.
     Single females of all heights and ages are here on the canals so no reason for you to not one day realise the dream, everything is done slowly so any mistakes are hardly noticed and if they are we boaters will step in and help out.
      I once met a man in his eighties boating all year round on his own and he had been walking the walls of York City on Christmas day and then set off for London on his boat just for the hell of it. Certainly gave me hope for a long boating life.
     Bye for now and if you want any info e mail any of us boaters, we don`t bite.
     LES x


  1. Hi Jaqueline,

    You might find Tony Blews website might help with the canal maps.. It is ongoing at the moment..

  2. I remember that 80 yr old, he looked so much younger, must have been the boating life that kept him so fit.
    I`ll walk the walls with you but i won`t be leaving it till i`m 80. In the meantime we will just have to walk the keyboard and sing along the phone lines until my visit in February.

  3. Hi Sue,
    Thanks for the link--I'll definitely check it out. My globe on Google Earth is wobbly now--too many push pins in one little island!
    :) Jaqueline

  4. Hello Darling,
    I remember reading your first email--my heart soared at the thought of that bloke at 80 years, still independent, still following his own drummer. I thought then he was the luckiest old soul....I cherish every email and phone conversation between you and me--especially when Skype behaves brilliantly as it did for our virtual "date" last Friday--but it pales in comparison to being with you in person. Still, we are fortunate technology allows us to "walk the keyboard and sing along the phone lines" with one another.

    Lily George left Wales knowing she would likely never see her two sisters, and many nephews, nieces, cousins, aunts and uncles, or her father ever again this side of the grave. She dearly loved Wales and pined for it deep in her bones.

    So I count myself a fortunate woman to have the gift of your love Les, and live in the 21st century.