|Letter from Opa to Visa Division in D.C.|
Opa did spend all night typing! He is diligent in responding and moving forward as soon as he gets the next step on his desk. I could argue that he doesn't have much else to do, but all the same- he is no procrastinator.
I mistakenly thought forwarding materials to Philadelphia meant he was forwarding to AFSC. He may still be doing that, but in this case he is referring to the INS in Philadelphia.
Most of these letters are pure follow-up requesting the next pieces of information and documentation he needs to have. I will say, in a time of internet, I thought about how most of these letters have been (or at least should be at this point) replaced by an online search and downloading of a form. There is some goodness in that expedience, but I wonder if the lack of human contact means that it is harder for folks to understand the process (no one to write and ask questions, no one to respond with directions). I suppose this is the role now played by many of the non-profit organizations that provide legal and social work services for folks navigating this process. Even in Opa's time, the AFSC and other agencies were needed to help people manage.
The last letter refers to Opa's shifting from student visa to visitor visa. This isn't so much a desire but a bridge between the protections of being a student to the protections of being an employee (or even better, citizen). Opa has graduated, so he's sort of in no-man's-land as far as his legal status in the US.
I felt for him as he was describing his application process. He's applying for jobs, but as a German(-ish) applying for jobs in companies that are actively working on projects to benefit the war effort: he's a liability. They have to really want him to go through the efforts of getting permission/clearance to have them on their team. I can fully understand why as a company you would want to simplify and say: no foreign employees right now. Unfortunately, that guy is my Grandfather, and he is in a bind.
This must feel oddly familiar to him. In Germany, after graduating from High School with honors, he had no prospects. No real path to a positive career or education. Eve before the war was in full-steam-ahead mode, this was clear. Now he has clawed his way to America, studied and managed working, creating a new life, becoming proficient in English, and fully engaging the American culture. He has done his best to fully assimilate. Here he is, after graduation, and the prospects are not looking great. He is working hard with optimism, but despair is really a short distance around the corner. Has he given thought to what would happen if no one employs him? How long can he work odd jobs?
Opa was German by cultural upbringing, but he did have a stubborn optimism. I thought that was born out of his life experience of things working out, but now I wonder if he had always been a bit stubbornly optimistic. He just took the next step, confident (or faking it) that things would work out.
It's working so far.