Saturday, January 24, 2009

PlZ invite me on time!

Last month I was invited to an intersting workshop on Iran's media at Annenberg School for Communication.

Since it was during the Christmas time I thought that I would not make it, first of all, I am Iranian and due to political reason it will take longer period than other citizens, second I feel uncomfortable with the way they might treat me at the US embassy, with their "strange questions", which looks like interrogation.

I recall another conference on Iran's media at university of Washington in 2006, which organizers showed deep interest in my paper since as usual I had presented recent data and personal survey in my work, and upon their invitation I approached US embassy for visa, where I encountered really annoying questions. I wondered, I am a political refugee and they can easily get access to my profile, so there is no need to undergo such "stupid questions".

Later I heard lots of stories of other Iranians on misbehavior and humility of finger printing, they have been through, and even my BBC colleagues who had official missions to Washington, but traveling with Iranian passport were not exempted for such unfriendly attitudes of US immigration board officers.

So this time, I simply gave up, there was no need to try the lessons learned again, perhaps there is no change in the US immigration board’s usual questions even if the White House got new tenant, promising for many changes!

Last week one of my ex-colleagues at the BBC informed me that he saw my name at the hotel reservation in Philadelphia, I replied that’s good news at least I could have gotten a room over there, even though I didn’t get the visa!

Surprisingly last week, I was also “promptly " invited to another panel in London at the same time which many of my colleagues will participate too. I informed them that I need a visa for UK too, hopefully this might be much easier, since I had notable work and travel history over there, and also there is no bitter memories of “stupid and strange questions" in my mind, but organizers excused themselves for assisting me for accommodation in London, promising that "next time", invitation will include accommodation for lecturers!

At this point , I wondered how they choose their panelists and how important is for them that Mr. Y comes instead of Mrs X?!

I highly appreciate if you arrange the formalities for your next conference in a more organized and timely manner, in case if you consider me to have a presentation on Persian media.

Thank you for your invitations BTW!