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Sad emails... - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
Sad emails...

... say so much, about hopes and dreams and education and privilege and the uselessness of what I do for a living. Emails like this are probably the most depressing thing to fall into the webmaster inbox:

Dear : sir
Im so pleased for corresponding you , I hope to having your consideration , I appreciate your effort ... time as to help me . Really will be so kind if I have excelent opportunityat your standard academic . So Iog on the web site and again asked for scholarship , therefore Isubmitted before this an application under term ( MT 2005 .. No xxxxxxxx .... ID No xxxxxxxxx .... under course MA in Applied Linguistic ) . But unfortunately I held back , for too much competition , Could you please considering me .
According to my knoweldge your University is intersted in education , which encourage me to write to you .So I change my course to ( MA in Communication & Negotiation ) .
Excuse me to intrduce my self ; Im from Darfour State ... El Fasher City ; I graduated and I have BA in English Language & Litrature .Thereby , for current position my country side is badly needs of interaction learners ; becuse to foucs on peace and a ccomplished communication . Even through African country ; with consultants ...awerness proposition .Could you please reply my situation ... I need fully
thankyou for your time ...... Miss K------


And all I can do is point her at the relevant clauses in the Graduate Studies Prospectus and, if I really want to drive the point home, end the email with our standard boilerplate "Thank you for your interest in the University of Cambridge." Sorry, but we've just shattered your dreams. Have a nice day.

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Comments
atommickbrane From: atommickbrane Date: September 15th, 2005 04:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh I get a load of those through being our 'webmaster' as well haha, I'm afraid I am far less sympathetic and I dump them as spam as they're often cc-ed to other made up addresses eg angel@ucl.com seems to be quite popular; baffling.
(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: September 15th, 2005 05:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, it's not as if all the emotional blackmail in the world will get her a place at Cambridge. I can't help feeling sorry for people who believe that emails like that will help ... not to mention people who believe that coming to Cambridge will somehow solve their problems. I mean, it'd cost her tens of thousands of pounds to come here, you'd think there'd be better things she could do to help her country's education with that money if that is what she wants to do, and OH I DON'T KNOW.
j4 From: j4 Date: September 15th, 2005 05:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, if they're cc'd to EVERY WEBMASTER IN THE UNIVERSE (as some of them are) then they do get ditched as spam, but this one seems to have actually applied to Cambridge & been rejected. Which is probably fair enough, given that she's applying for an MA in English and can't spell "literature", but it's still depressing that she's going to all that effort to help her country's education system while I get paid nearly 20K to sit on my arse saying "Sorry m8, can't help you there" in a variety of different ways with different weblinks. I mean, obv she could just have invented a sob-story to try to get a place, but then I feel depressed about all those Nigerian chaps with all that money to get rid of too NOT REALLY. Oh, I don't know, it just makes me feel sad and a bit hopeless sometimes.
nja From: nja Date: September 15th, 2005 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I found this sort of thing quite disheartening when I was sent out to recruitment fairs in Mexico a few years ago. I'd have terrific, enthusiastic conversations with kids who were desperate to come to the UK to study, and they had looked at the literature and were really up for it, and then right at the end of the conversation would be "and you have scholarships?". At that point I'd wearily gesture towards the British Council stand and say "no, but you could try over there", knowing that there was no way they could make it to the UK without a scholarship and no way they'd get one. Overseas students = cash cows, though universities are reluctant to put that in their advertising. There was one woman who had driven a hundred miles to Guadalajara, and had her heart set on doing a particular MSc, to the point of having decided which hall of residence she was going to live in and was asking me about local volleyball teams, then the dreaded question of scholarships arose. Then I came back to the UK and all the spotty English kids who are doing degrees they aren't much interested in because, well, no particular reason but you have to do something, don't you?
nja From: nja Date: September 15th, 2005 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I should add that I was one of those spotty English kids once upon a time.
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: September 15th, 2005 07:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes, they do

It's knowing the truth of what's going on in Darfur which informs even more sadness.

I confess that I used to write privately to such people - as I got only about a dozen of thos letters a year at most - with a list of more attainable goals and places they could aim for: anything from British Council short courses in the country's capital city to summer courses here, or even applying for PGCE places not at Poxford or Ambridge but at the then-polys. If something came of it for them, so much the better.

Some of these letters do get written by people's supervisors, though; I have experience of someone who came to a place I have known well who had no English at all, and got in effectively by 100% deception. Pitiable, pitiable, but he stayed here; and the programme which originally got him in folded entirely thereafter because of him.

If she's really on your mind (and why not?) maybe you could do some behind-the-scenes cross referencing and see if the field officers working there for Oxfam might at least be able to give her a job. Bung her details to Oxfam HQ here in Oxford; you just never know.

It is horrible.
anat0010 From: anat0010 Date: September 16th, 2005 02:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Not impossible

Where there is a will ...
Ok its difficult to get a scholarship, but not impossible, and its a hell of a lot easier with the internet than previously. There are scholarships out there, they may be hard to get, a single one may not cover all fees and living expenses for a course.
http://www.acu.ac.uk/enquiries/lib_enq_afrawards.html
is a place to start. Lots of persistance is required, plus the ability to take countless refusals without loosing hope. Writing countless letters for the hope of attending a British university is a far more honourable way of pulling yourself out of the gutter, than pathetically advertising your services on one of the many 'mail-order bride' websites, which never fail to bring a deep sense of dispair to my heart.
anat0010 From: anat0010 Date: September 16th, 2005 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

oh sod it

Send me the lady's email address if you would, and I'll see if I can't at least try and make a difference to someone's life. There's no point buying organic museli and paying your Amnesty subs if you aren't willing to get up off your comfy sofa and try and do something once in a while. Even if it is futile, at least increasing the amount of hope in the world is not a bad thing.

martin_g_lee [at] 'blah-de-blah' [dot] com
where blah-de-blah = hotmail
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