I'm just coming up to the 4th anniversary of starting to work at the Aga Khan University here in Dar es Salaam, I suppose it's one of the results of encroaching old age that it really doesn't feel that long! So it's no coincidence that my residency permit is expiring at the end of this month. I've been through renewal twice before (first permit was for 2 years, since then it's been one year at a time) but there is a very noticeable tightening of regulations this year with a whole raft of checks going on which did not happen previously.
The end result of this is that I continue to work for AKU based in Dar es Salaam, but I'm leaving to go to the UK on leave this coming Wednesday (again, no coincidence I'm travelling on August 31st!) due to return to work on 26th September but with no renewal in sight. So it may well be that I end up working from the UK as best I can for a further period until this is sorted out, nature of laptops and Internet connections that I can do a fair bit of my job remotely, but in the end face to face contact for teaching purposes is really important, for example I much prefer to be supervising the dissertations of my masters students sitting together in the same office rather than through Skype.
So you will appreciate it's a strange mixture of feelings, facing up to leaving here without permission to return as things stand at the moment. If the renewal really doesn't come through then I'll return as a tourist just to pack things up and say my goodbyes, but I don't think it will come to that. But waiting is somewhat unsettling for impatient people like me. I don't remember where I first heard the prayer, "Lord, please teach me patience - and please teach me quickly!" but it seems to apply right now.
Looking forward to leave though, spending time in the UK and also in Catalonia which I'm looking forward to, haven't been to Spain before. Will make my normal well-intentioned but fairly disastrous attempts to learn the language, if anybody tries to correct my pronounciation I'll say, "That's how it's said in Peru," and hope that there's no one immediately around to contradict me.
But as I say in the title, a good reminder that no ex-pat should get too comfortable, that really what we're looking to do is make ourselves redundant, so from this perspective it's entirely appropriate that questions are asked when residency permits come up from renewal. Although I would say that, in the short term, losing people with skills and experience from the outside could easily cause the country some problems.
I would say also that, without wanting to over-press the point, an analogy can be drawn between living as an ex-pat on the one hand and Christians living in the world on the other. As Christians we are called to be in the world but not of it, but if we're not careful we can end up doing the exact opposite, having much the same values and world view as others around us, whilst moving in largely Christian circles socially and often professionally, with schools also playing a part here. So, as I considered in this blog post, as ex-pats we live physically in the space but are always going to be outsiders. Let's pray for God's help and wisdom as we look to live in the world we're in, whilst retaining distinctively a distinctively Christian set of values and world view.
Think I'd better stop here for this week, long story but I'm in a fairly short gap between breakfast out with one friend and lunch out with others, this is not normal, you understand! UK friends, please note I'll be on the same mobile number and private email as normal, do get in touch when I'm back!