Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"With whom can I speak about a visa?" I ask confidently in Russian.  "Where do you hold citizenship?" The door guard asks suspiciously.  "In the USA, but I have an invitation on which is written that my place of issue of the visa is Germany," I quickly assure him before he has a chance to try to tell me that it isn't possible to receive my visa here.  "Ok, you'll need to wait in that line over there." I can still hear the scepticism in his tone of voice, but say "thank you" and give a small smile as I make my way to the end of the line.  "Okay, 6-7 people in front of me...hopefully this won't take too long," I think to myself and just at that moment I realize how hot the room is and see the worry and frustration on the faces of so many.  The minutes tick by and my heart begins to race a bit as people approach the window and are told that their documents are incorrect or that the consulate can not help them.  My initial judgement of the line proves to be wrong as 17:45 quickly approaches, at which time the consulate will stop taking requests and send all those waiting home.  The people in line with me are all Ukrainians, but we make small talk in Russian to help the time pass a bit.  When my turn finally comes I don't even have time to think before I am explaining my situation to the woman behind the counter and feeling more and more confident as the Russian flows easily from my lips.  She understands my situation, explains to me how I can pay for the visa, confirms that all of my documents are in order, and tells me that the specialist who prints visas will be there on the 16th of July and that I should submit everything before that date.  We even crack a few jokes. I thank her, smile, and leave the consulate jittery with relief.  As I'm taking the train home I think to myself that even though the consulate may be hot and full of distressed individuals on any given day, the people who work there can still smile and laugh, they can be stern when necessary, but honestly do their best to help everyone to the extent that they are able.  And that is the kind of work I want to do someday!

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