Preparations begin

I know that it's been more than a month since I posted another entry. Quite a lot has happened over the past weeks, as I was running between moving to a new home and living in an Internet blackout for 10 days, along with Graduation 2011 and getting my UK visa. Sounds like a mouthful, so I'll break it down as much as possible while sticking to the TED-related things.

1) So I managed to get my invitation letter from TED, while also making sure that I had all the supporting documents to substantiate my 10 day visit to Scotland. I'm accustomed to going to embassies for visa applications, but this was the first time I went to a UK Visa Application Centre (They take your application and documents, along with the payment) and then they take it to the UK embassy. I was unsure about which application to use as I also wanted to take a scenic holiday while also attending TED. Apparently, conferences would count towards a sub-category of the Business Visa (One of my other friends who went to a conference in London in December 2010 told me his experience) but looking at the application made me realize that it would be useless – many of the fields are irrelevant to me and would just be blank. I'd just be wasting the border control officer's time rather than being straight to the point.

So I chose to use the General application with Tourist as my category. I managed to submit it on April 28 before they transition to the electronic format beginning on May 1 (Embassy was closed to celebrate the Royal Wedding that happened on Friday). On May 2, I got bombarded with 2 SMS between 8AM and 3PM ; one for application being processed and another saying that processed visa application is ready for collection. Now the UK embassy doesn't even give you the message that you were either granted or rejected a visa, but May 2 was also a very important day for me (details in a later point). It was the morning of the next day that I went to collect my passport, hoping that I would expect success. When I got my envelope, I didn't even feel a roll of paper (That's how the UK Embassy conveys rejections). Opening my passport, there lay my 6-month UK visa. That's one big hurdle down.

2) As I previously mentioned that May 2 was a very important date for me, that's because it was day of Graduation 2011 (My graduation!) as I could just taste the diploma almost within my grasp. You don't even know how many Twitter mentions I got when I checked after the ceremony. You could say that the occasion was tied to helping me secure my UK visa. This wasn't the end…

May 3 was the Qatar Foundation Senior Convocation 2011 (The combined bequeathing of rings and the moment to finally end our time as students at Education City). You could say that I was fortunate to be in the front as they put people in the Arabic alphabet on first name. Talk about luck!

4) Even graduating after so long, I've been trying to find a source of full-time employment that would keep me in the country to make my TEDx event a reality. I've already made a promise to myself, but if circumstances don't go in my favor, it would throw all my plans down the drain. In addition, I'm still obligated to the 4 people who have helped to fund my trip to TEDGlobal (3 of whom are LeaderShape grads). I can't turn them down, but what can I do when the job market here always favors 5+ years of experience and scope for fresh graduates is not even on par with that of the U.S?

5) On another TED note, all the TEDGlobal attendees must have received an email about the opportunity for them to speak at TED U. Seeing that TED2011 set the motion for education (Though it's been primarily focused on young kids in school), I jumped at the opportunity to expand it by incorporating my experience as a student in the Middle East studying at an official branch campus of a U.S college. I believe that much can be said about this bold experiment that Qatar has undertaken for the past 15 years that has borne fruit and success. Let's wait and see if opportunity knocks again, so that Ic an share a fresh perspective on how education is truly transcending to new heights as industry and academia find common ground to prepare future generations.

Now it's all about waiting for my eventual departure to Scotland, while also making sure that I set my future here in Qatar to make my TEDx event a reality. Let's see what else develops before July 8. Now I wonder when will TED announce their roster of 50 speakers?

Only another 58 more days to go till TEDGlobal begins (Less than 2 months already?) 

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