Her period also saw a record number of visas being issued.
After three years as Consul General of the United States Consulate in Chennai, Jennifer McIntyre bids adieu to the southern part of the nation that filled her moments with a lot of culture, heritage and warmth. Her period also saw a record number of visas being issued.
“It has been a terrific three years being the Consul General here — being able to work with partners on so many initiatives of joint interest to our governments, everything ranging from education to supporting health and scientific programmes, and also getting a chance to experience the rich culture and heritage of the southern States and Union Territories,” she says, in a chat with The Hindu recently.
“One of the initiatives that I’m very proud about is that we’ve opened five American Business corners in Tier 2 cities,” Ms. McIntyre said, detailing the highlights of her tenure in Chennai. “When we sat down as a team, we saw that India is a big place with lots of potential in Tier 2 cities. So we partnered with the local chambers of commerce, and we have a commitment to do programmes with these five centres on a quarterly basis.”
“The one thing that we do is to facilitate people-to-people exchanges. The focus here in the South is day-to-day work on visas — getting tourists, family members, business people, and students to the U.S.,” she says, remarking that she has seen, unequivocally, all these sectors growing over the last three years.
Ms. McIntyre even had a few tips for students. “We really want to see Indian students in our schools. We know it’s nerve wracking anywhere trying to get into college and this additional visa bit can be daunting. The first message we have is start early, at least 18 months ahead.”
“The reality is that the vast majority of students coming here get their visas. Some of them are turned away, because they are not prepared. And if they come back and are prepared and are going to legitimate institutions, they will get their visa,” she adds, sending out a strong message to students. As if in proof she offers: “Our student [visa] numbers this May were up 37 per cent since last May.”
The Consul General is also proud of the various science and health sector partnerships that were sealed during her tenure, including the one between ISRO and NASA, and the National Institutes of Health partnerships with academic and research institutions.
The co-ordinated effort as a committee working with women’s organisations, going beyond just observing women’s day, is another of her favourites.
“We’ve had tremendous support everywhere in all the southern States. I really appreciate that. In every case, governments have gone out of their way to ensure smooth visit of dignitaries and high-level officers from the U.S.,” she emphasises.
As she packs her bags to Egypt soon, Ms. McIntyre will carry with her a little bit of the music of Margazhi, wonderful memories of turtle walks along the Chennai shore, the taste of filter coffee, why, even a mudra or two learnt from a Bharatanatyam dancer!