U.S. Visa Policies Affect Former Hillsong Member

Thursday, July 1, 2010U.S. Visa Policies Affect Former Hillsong Member ‘Help Save Ray Campaign’ Offers Free CD with Donation Toward Artist’s ExpensesBy Michael Ireland Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News ServiceE AST BRIDGEWATER, MA ANS — An Australian-born Christian musician has been denied entry into the United States despite the fact he studied at a prestigious American college a decade ago.Ray Nainggolan On May 28th, Australian-born Ray Nainggolan aka Ray & Co was stopped upon arrival at San Francisco International Airport en route to Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts.Ray was questioned as he passed through customs with AU$3,000 in cash and two guitars.U.S. officials detained him for seven hours and asked hundreds of questions, finally concluding that Ray could not proceed any further into the U.S. due to the nature of his visa. He was traveling under the auspices of a B-1 Visitor’s Visa as opposed to a P-1 Entertainment Visa, a non-immigrant visa which allows foreign nationals who are athletes, artists and musical groups to enter into the U.S. for a specific event, competition or performance.The leading official determined that Ray would be a burden on the U.S. economy and sent Ray back to Australia the following day.

On the cusp of his U.S. debut release entitled “White Noise Visions” releasing July 27, Ray was traveling to the U.S. to spend the next three months promoting the album via concert/festival performances, interviews, a video shoot and several other promotional activities.

Ironically, Ray spent four years in the U.S. attending college at Gordon College in Massachusetts beginning in 2000 and, thereafter, was afforded the opportunity to move to Australia where he became involved with the Hillsong movement. He was a featured guitarist on the Hillsong Kids albums “Follow You” and “Tell The World.”

A media release states: “As a result of what can only be viewed as an injustice based upon the letter of the law and a government official’s unwillingness to investigate the matter fully, Chrematizo Label Group joined independent Blue Duck Records and charities Love Can’t Be Baht and The Stable Coffeehouse to form the ‘Help Save Ray Campaign.'”

The purpose of the campaign is to help raise funds on behalf of the burgeoning artist to cover the estimated $3,000 dollars needed to secure a proper P-1 visa and the additional $1,000 to replace the original plane ticket.

Blue Duck Records is an artist-friendly independent record label based in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. www.blueduckrecords.com

Love Can’t Be Baht was created to support and defend those who have been victims of human trafficking and to raise awareness about this escalating epidemic. www.lovecantbebaht.com/Love_Home.html

The Stable Coffeehouse is a non-profit 501(c)(3) ministry of Matthews Memorial Church located in East Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Their “Cuppa Day” program allows patrons to donate the price of a cup of coffee to help others in need. www.matthewsmemorial.com/The_Stable.html

Tax deductible donations can be made through the Love Can’t Be Baht website (www.lovecantbebaht.com/Love_Home.htm l ) or the Stable Coffeehouse website (www.matthewsmemorial.com/The_Stable.html ). Blue Duck Records is offering a free copy of the 15-track “White Noise Visions” CD to anyone donating $20 or more to support the cause.

For more information on Ray & Co, visit http://www.rayncomusic.com or www.facebook.com/RaynCo .

via U.S. Visa Policies Affect Former Hillsong Member.


Some will say you are not guving things a chance. I have heard that before and ended up wanting to go back home to the Netherlands for well over 6 years despite of that. This time it was different. I came back and was very quickly very sure that this was not what I wanted for my myself and my family. It was a pity since the job at IRS would have meant being able to work with some of the best in the field.

But here I was at a terrible dilemma. What to do if the company you work for is everything you could ever want but at the same time the country it is situated in, in this case my country of origin is no longer having an appeal?

Sure I could probably get used to the hurried lifestyle of the average Dutchman, sure I could get used to living in an overcrowded country but the key question became “did I want to get used to this? I came to the conclusion that I did not and acted upon that.

I will get into more detail in following posts bit for now I guess this summarizes the current position.

Wasn’t that a big waste of time and money?
In the past days I have been asked this question a number of times. My answer is most definitely that this was one of the best investments I could have made: finally I came to terms with the fact that New Zealand is my home.

Here I have been living in New Zealand not being able to fully appreciate it because I was so busy thinking about getting away from here. If anything I learned that in the past years I have changed and became more appreciative of many things Kiwi than I was aware of. At the same time the mind has been playing tricks on me by remembering the nice parts about living and working in the Netherlands and forgetting about the price that comes with it especially when it comes to family life.

In short: The Netherlands have changed and I have changed and I guess we are no longer compatible.

Instead of wasting any further time, Expedition Netherlands was aborted, and I returned to New Zealand. For the first time with a feeling of coming home. Fior the first time in well over six years I am at peace with the idea that this is where I belong now. What a great feeling.

Is it Sensible to Move Abroad During a Worldwide Recession?

Even though the worldwide recession has and will continue to impact upon immigration figures there is no doubt that economies in countries around the world do require, and always will do, experts in certain fields. Even though investment in certain business arenas and countries around the world has fallen away, there is still a need to look at the long-term picture for both governments and for expats.

There are opportunities to move overseas every day of every month of every year although you need to take an opportunity which best suits your lifestyle, your hopes and ultimately your financial situation. You need to make the most of your positive points while obviously being aware of any potential downsides because the chances are when you do move overseas it will not be 100% as promised “in the brochures”. The recession may well have impacted upon immigration figures but ultimately free travel around the world and the opportunity to re-locate will always be there.

Read the complete and recommended article here >>>

Job Hunting, have you made your Visual CV yet

Looking around for a job abroad or in you own country. One of he most basic essentials you need to have is a CV. Immediately you need to think about how to make your cv stand out. Visual CV offers such an option. Using Visual CV you can build your own dynamic and secure cv online that gives you just that extra edge and offers future employers immediately more depth to whatever it was that you provided before. Best of all, you can print your CV as a pdf besides making iot available online.

Check it out for yourself at Visual CV or as an example of how this could work out check my online resume.



Harden Up Mate: Kiwi Houses Exposed as Health Risk

Expats and other new arrivals, myself included, are or were often unpleasantly surprised by the poor quality of New Zealand houses, especially when, like myself you come from a central heated and double glazed home in Europe or the US. Looking out my window seeing the neighbours’  windows covered with condense and similarly the same situation in our own bedrooms, it is not a pretty sight. More importantly it seems like the standard and it poses a risk for your health. My impressions are not anecdotal.

Basics such as insulation, draft proofing, efficient and all over the house heating systems appear almost to be a luxury reserved for those that do not have the required toughness to make it through the winter in a singlet, a pair of gumboots and shorts or if you are one of the softer types pants, sweater, shoes, jacket and if you are really a softy a thermal. I have often wondered if the way traditional kiwis live and dress may be associated with the strikingly high number of people carrying around a puffer.

According to a recent survey by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, “more than a million himes are not adequately insulated, and from a further survey it transpire that more than 400,000 homes could actually “be making their occupants sick, some seriously.”

From a survey of over 3,500 New Zealanders about the state of their homes it transpired that:

  • 45% of existing homes are mouldy
  • 16% of homes have no insulation whatsoever
  • 21% of the people between 18 and 24 claim that their home is cold and uncomfortable
  • Almost 66% of New Zealand homes were built before insulation became a legal requirement in 1979
  • More that 25% of the New Zealand’s homes could actually be making the occupants ill

I guess that is something to think about when you arive here as an expat and are looking for a home. And remember, as an expat, renting a home you are usually liable for costs such as electricity. at the same time there is no onus on the landlord to have a certificate of energy efficiency, gas safety or electrical safety. On the other hand, asking direct questions about these matters to the landlord or agent about these matters, requires them to truthfully answer them.

The full report of the NZBCSD can be read here >>>

More information on tenancy can be found here >>>

Expatriate Relocation, Culture Shock and How to Deal With or Avoid It part 2: You and Your Family

Expatriate failures are still a factor of considerable importance, with reported failure rates between 16 an 40%.  If not the sole variable, technical competence is usually the prevalent determinant used to decide whom to send overseas. It is noted however that this is not necessarily the most determining factor to expatriate assignment successes. The other way around it shows in the most important factors for expatriate failures which are:

  • Inability of spouse to adjust to the new environment;
  • Inability of the expatriate employee to adjust to the new environment;
  • Other family problems;
  • The personal or emotional maturity of an expatriate employee;
  • Inability to cope with the overseas responsibilities (which are usually larger).

Personal factors to consider whether or not you may be suited are:

  • Do you have sufficient stress reduction skills: an ability to recognize potential conflicts and circumvent the negative reactions that could come with them?
  • Do you have the ability to replace the home activities you find pleasurable with similar or otherwise suitable activities overseas?
  • Are you technically competent enough do accomplish (if necessary) tasks with little or no help and remain confident?
  • Are you willing and able to develop longer lasting personal relationships with others hist country nationals?
  • Are you willing and able to speak the language of the host country fluently and as often as possible without fear of being incorrect, sounding silly or stupid as part of your genuine wish to understand and relate to your overseas environment?
  • Do you understand the importance of non-verbal communication (body language and facial expressions) in the host country?
  • Do you respect and have empathy for others?
  • Are you a non-judgmental type of person that rather waits to gather all relevant facts before bargig in with an opinion, stereotype and/or incorrect decision?
  • Are you open minded and able to make correct assumptions about the reasons or causes of certain behavior of your overseas colleagues, are you able to anticipate how your overseas colleagues will likely react to certain situations?

If your company is not assessing these matters you certainly should have a good look at them yourself. While a lot has been published on the financial costs, the personal, relational and family costs may be way more important. And when it comes to families, here are some factors to consider:

  • The level of of marital stability;
  • Responsibilities (real or perceived) for aging parents;
  • Chemical dependencies of anyone within the household;
  • The emotional stability of your family members;
  • The learning abilities and more important disabilities of your children;
  • Teenage children and potential behavioral issues;
  • Family ties with the community and other family members that are not going overseas;
  • How strongly are your family members and especially the children attached to certain extracurricular activities;
  • The cohesiveness of you and your family.

If not offered through your employer already, cross cultural training and  perhaps one or more exploratory trips to the destination country.

Below an interview that is probably very telling on a basic level of what may be coming to you.

This is not to say that expatriation is not something to do but most of all a call to you to prepare well before you go.

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Expatriate Relocation, Culture Shock and How to Deal With or Avoid It part 1 Introduction

‘Culture shock’ is a term used with different meanings. However, when used in relation to expat relocation,  it usually refers to a process of coming to understand and adapt to cultural differences manifested in daily life through interaction and/or situations. It is a process that affects people of all walks of life to a more or lesser extent. Language teachers, managers, sportsmen, spouses and children; each will end up dealing with it in the course of international relocation. It is important to learn to recognize it and how it affects you so as to avoid or minimize the potential negative side-effects of the relocation.

Relocation abroad is a huge step. The changes and contrasts in the simple things such as the language, food, TV, weather, shopping and socializing are but a small part of the overall relocation process and associated culture shock. The more deeper differences in customs, mentality, culture and world view as well as interpersonal interaction that have a more profound effect.

Experts have claim that there are stages of culture shock:

  • Stimulation: the first stage of relocation is commonly filled with hope and excitement. A new world is opening up. The ‘culture shock’ is less prevalent and replaced by a positive perspective and enthusiasm. You are in the discovery stage. Interaction with the host culture is primarily passive. In general and speaking from experience it all feels like a holiday or outing still.
  • Culture Shock: people start to interact with the host culture actively; through work and in day to day circumstances. The differences in behavior combined with the stress of adapting to a new daily routine shows signs of dislike and criticism of the host culture. Symptoms of culture shock start to appear: homesickness, boredom, weariness, irritability and even hostility towards the host culture. This is sometimes described together with the previous stage as the settling-in period which can last longer or shorter, depending on the person involved. 
  • Adjustment: after settling-in, an understanding and empathy with the host culture starts to develop. People feel more comfortable with their routines and surroundings. A working knowledge of the language or slang starts sliding into daily life.
  • Enthusiasm: the host country becomes ‘home’. The effects of culture shock lessen as a genuine enjoyment and appreciation of the new location develops. Elements of the host culture’s behaviors and mentality are adopted/integrated and rather than to criticize, certain areas of the host culture are preferred to the native culture.

Prior to relocation, it is important for individuals, couples and families to learn as much about the new host country as possible. I speak from experience when I say that this is one of the most important aspects I overlooked myself when moving from the Netherlands to New Zealand. If this is not done through a relocation briefing, then personal research is a requirement. Try to find out as much as possible about people, culture, social norms, work ethics, religions, language, food, entertainment and accommodation.  Preparation goes a long way!

Too often expats are selected in a hasty response to the need to fill a new or unexpected position abroad. While the selection process should fall into the domain of a well-informed intercultural trainer or human resource professional, more often than not it is senior management deciding who to send, and tending to choose the most technically competent candidates.  However, the qualities that
make candidates a success at the home front will not necessarily make them an international success. Relatively high failure rates exists at all corporate levels. Studies of failure rates vary between  grossly 15 to 50 percent of failed expat assignements leading to early returns.

In the next part we will have a closer look at some of the factors that lead to these expat assignment failures.