September 7, 2011

Change of course

It's been unbelievably stressful in the Pisani household the last two weeks getting Danielle settled into post-secondary education. Since she technically graduated from high school in June (after grade 11) her next step was to go to CEGEP for a two year program.

And then came immigration issues. And miscommunication. And frustration. And tears. And swearing.

Due to the fact that our family is in Quebec on Paul's work permit, which expires on September 21 and is in the process of being renewed, Danielle's student visa was hung up in the incredible bureaucracy of the Quebec government. We're talking frustration beyond belief. The week before she was to start CEGEP -- and couldn't speak to a live person in the international office of her "new" school for direction -- we were told that if she couldn't produce her student visa by September 19, she would be de-enrolled from this school. Even though we were going to be paying over 10K for this school when the Quebecers go for free.

Yes, imagine the frustration. And the language in the Pisani household. Imagine the phone conversation when the Quebec immigration person called Kish one morning. He unfortunately was on the receiving end of an enormous, yet somewhat professional, outburst and, bless his heart, he stayed on the phone and listened to the rant. And the criticism of the Quebec government. However, in between my rants, I thanked him a number of times for speaking English and complemented him on his command for the language.

So, we decided that we needed to research the one and only viable option, and that's what we did. After filling out an application in record time and having an interview, she was accepted to Lower Canada College (LCC) which is a grade 12/pre-university program in Montreal. The only "issue" is that by attending this program, she is no longer eligible to attend a university in Quebec. We weren't too disappointed with that  non-option of Quebec because frankly, WE DON'T HAVE A CHOICE. 

Frustrated yet? Imagine.

So after so many issues with the Quebec government and "public" institutions, we gave a silent middle finger to the system and changed courses to this new school. I was speaking with a friend yesterday and explaining the situation and said that in the big scheme of life events, how fortunate we are because we're talking about education and where we have a choice. And then I had to stop myself because I realized I was trying to maple syrup the situation and make it sweet. However, after the fact, this is a minor bump in the road. 

The good news? She's in an excellent school where the focus is on preparing the students for a university in Canada (not Quebec) or in the U.S. There are only 40 kids (co-ed) in the program and enrollment has doubled just from last year. They have administrators on staff who work one-on-one with the students on scholarships and applications. And I really like that several of the administrators also TEACH a class or two so that they can stay connected in the classroom. Brilliant idea, eh? Ironically, Danielle is one of only a couple "international" students in the program which is saying something about what some Quebec students must be thinking when the really do have a choice.

And, she's enjoying wearing "real clothes" as they have to dress in business attire each and every school day. We'll be sure to ask in December how much she misses a uniform. 

In the meantime, we couldn't be happier with her placement. And most importantly Danielle is happy and she's getting a kick-ass education. 

We're not so happy with Quebec at the moment. 

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