Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

Philippines 2012: Who is arriving–and who cannot–for the ICUU conference

At dinner last night I sat with Francisco Javier, a lay leader from the UU group in Mexico City.  He is a large, bald, gregarious middle age man who is a freelance writer on issues political and religious in Mexico.  His congregation in the capital city  has only 10-20 members for it services, but is a remarkable group.  Most of them are gay, he said.  He has a prison ministry, traveling 3 hours to get to a poor part of the metro.  He is the only visitor whom the prison allows to bring in a computer.  He spends 6 hours teaching separate groups of women and men prisoners.  The curriculum is Our Whole Lives, the sexuality education program developed by the UU Association and the United Church of Christ.  He has translated the 18-35 (young adult) level of the curriculum into Spanish, and uses that.  He has not been trained as an OWL teacher, but has friends who are sexologists who say the curriculum is as good as any they have in Spanish.  I told him that a colleague of mine and her endocrinologist husband are the trainers of teachers in our district, and that right now we have an OWL class going on for junior high youth.  He would welcome an invitation to attend OWL teacher training in California; I told him he could stay with me. Maybe some people or group could sponsor his travel and registration for the training.

This morning at breakfast I was happy to tell our ICUU program director (whose congregation in Michigan is partnered with the Unitarian church in Bujumbura, Burundi) that one of our newest members back home is a woman who teaches French and linguistics at the university and is from Burundi.  She was delighted, and spoke of networking that is going on among Burundians in the US to support the civic activities of the Bujumbura congregation.   She told me that the minister, Fulgence, is on his way here.  However, two of his lay leaders won’t be making it, due to immigration and visa restrictions.  Nobody thought to ask, and they f0und out the hard way, that people from a handful of countries (including Burundi) must have a visa to make a connection in the Hong Kong airport!  Doesn’t matter if you are not leaving the secure area, you can’t get on a plane that stops in Hong Kong without having gotten a visa.  What a sad loss of an opportunity, as well as loss of the fare to Expedia.



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