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Turns Out Not So Great (Britain)

| Learning | September 12, 2014

(My cousin, who was born in England but raised in the United States, is in the process of filling out college applications. Since there is a major university in our city, and I am a recent graduate of that university, he asks me to take him to campus so he can apply in person.)

Cousin: “Hi. I’d like to apply for admissions.”

Secretary: “Okay, hun. Here’s the packet you’ll need to fill out. You can use that table over there, and bring it back up whenever you are done.”

(My cousin fills out the application, with me helping. When he’s done, he returns it to the secretary who takes it. She says someone will be in touch, and we turn to leave. However, just before we get out the door, she stops us.)

Secretary: “Oh, hold on! There’s a problem here, hun!”

Cousin: “Is there? Did I forget a section, or something?”

Secretary: “No, that’s not it. It’s that you have your place of birth listed as Manchester, England.”

Cousin: “Yes, that’s correct. I was born in England, but raised in the US. I’m a citizen, if that’s the problem. I have my social security card if you need to see it.”

Secretary: “No, dear, that’s not the problem. I believe you are a citizen. It’s that all foreign-born applicants must take an English-language proficiency test. We don’t want you to get behind in class because you can’t understand what’s going on.”

Cousin: “Umm… but, I was born in England and raised in the US. I ONLY speak English.”

Secretary: “I’m sorry, but only applicants who were born in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand are exempt from the test.”

Cousin: “Oh, okay. That makes sense. I was born in the UK.”

Secretary: “No, dear, you said you were born in England, not the UK.”

Cousin:  “But, England is a PART of the UK.”

Secretary: “Dear, we don’t like dishonest applicants. If you were born in the UK you would not have listed ‘England’ as your country of birth.”

Cousin: “Okay. I see the confusion. British politics is a bit weird. But, England is a part of the UK. The full name is ‘The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.'”

Secretary: “Dear, I’m not stupid. I know that. You said you were from England, not Great Britain or Northern Ireland.”

Cousin: “Ma’am, with all due respect, England is a PART of Great Britain which is, in turn, a PART of the United Kingdom.”

Secretary: “You’ll still need the test to prove you can understand English well enough to be a student here.”

Cousin: “I need a TEST to prove that I speak and understand English, the language I am speaking to you now, even though I come from the country the language is NAMED after?!”

(At this point, I can see my cousin is about to scream or cry in frustration. I step in.)

Me: “Ma’am, could you please get your supervisor?”

Secretary: “I don’t see why that’s necessary.”

Me: “Please, get your supervisor for me.”

(She storms off for about five minutes. From the back we here ‘IT IS NOT!’ followed by ‘ARE YOU SURE IT IS?’ Then, a different woman approaches us.)

Supervisor: “Don’t worry. Everything is taken care of. You won’t be needing the English-language proficiency test, and I’ll be sure to educate my staff better on the UK. Have a good day!”

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