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For those of you who are looking for the American Consulate in Jerusalem, or already know how to get there but are preparing for your visit, here is a letter with some ideas I just sent to the Consulate. I had a great experience and encountered a few bumps I thought they might be able to smooth out. FYI, they wrote me back immediately with an extremely helpful response – I’m impressed!

Photo credit: Rahel Sharon Jaskow, Elms in the Yard (http://elmsintheyard.blogspot.com)

To the consular team, especially U.S. Citizen services,

I just applied for a second valid passport at the Consulate, and I want to compliment you on a highly professional and kind staff. I wish I’d caught the name of the man who helped me (perhaps in his 30s or 40s, native Arabic speaker, funny and chatty.) Indeed, everyone working at the Consulate this morning helped the process move along well and kept things upbeat.

Your system of getting an online appointment helps pace the crowds well – thank you. Regarding directions, I appreciate your putting a Google Maps link up – extremely helpful, since Google Maps has not yet identified “14 David Flusser” street.

Here are several suggestions to make the process go even more smoothly.

1. In addition to the google maps link, a bit of narrative would help. I came by foot, and it would have helped to know the following:

“From the west by foot or taxi, go to the corner where Klausner, Yam Hamelach and Kfar Etsyon intersect. Here there is a pedestrian path down to the Consulate.”

2. Also, that path is currently marked “For visitors to the Diplomat Hotel only.” Please change that to a sign telling people that down this path is the Consulate.

3. Thank you to the guards for providing places to check small items. Currently your website says “Sealed envelopes cannot be brought into the Consulate. Additionally, please also do not bring cameras, mobile phones or any other electronic devices, such as Blackberries, iPods, PDAs or remote-entry automobile key “fobs” to the interview as they are not allowed in the Consulate. We cannot held responsible for lost or missing items that are checked with security.” Perhaps change this to “Sealed envelopes cannot be brought into the Consulate. You may check small electronic items such as cameras, mobile phones or any other electronic devices, such as Blackberries, iPods, PDAs or remote-entry automobile key ‘fobs’ with security as they are not allowed in the Consulate. Note, though, that we cannot held responsible for lost or missing items that are checked with security.” Cell phones are now ubiquitous and for many it would take special arrangements to leave them behind.

4. Finally, I noticed that there is the technology for taking a number and having that number called, but it was not activated. Perhaps activate the system, which would allow people to sit or play with their children while waiting.

Once again, I appreciate your hard work in providing well thought-through, caring and professional citizen services. As someone living here for the year, I appreciate all my government does to make my visit possible.

Sincerely,

Terence Gilheany

Teacher, St. Andrew’s School, Delaware, USA – http://goo.gl/kyMgu
Fulbright Distinguished Teacher 2011-12 – http://goo.gl/4L6q9
Blog – tgilheany.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/tfgilheany
Twitter – tfgilheany

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