Category Archives: Travel

Coming Soon: Fiji Islands

Speaking from personal experience, I’m sensitive to the fact that many of my friends, clients, and community members are practically trapped in the United States, unable to visit their home countries, unable to see loved ones, and even attend their funerals abroad.

But going back to Fiji, my home country, is all I’ve ever wanted to do, and I’m happy to say that I’m finally doing that this coming month!

We’ll go from Nadi to Port Denarau for some island hopping in the Mamanucas, along with watersports such as parasailing, kayaking, diving and snorkeling at some of the most gorgeous sights in the world.

Beachcomber Island

Beachcomber Island, Mamanuca Group

Next, we’ll return to the glorious Coral Coast, walk around Natadola beach, go on some eco-tours along the Sigatoka river, enjoy local food in Sigatoka and spa outings. We’ll also do some kayaking and snorkeling here.

Natadola Beach

Natadola Beach, Coral Coast

After that, we’re headed to the capital city, Suva, where I grew up. I’m really looking forward to this leg of the trip, seeing old friends, walking along the waterfront, doing some essential genealogical research, and catching some movies at the local Village Six like the good old times.

Suva

Suva is the largest metropolis in the South Pacific

But it doesn’t end there. After recharging in Suva, we’re off to the garden island of Taveuni! I’ve never been to Taveuni, and it looks like a complete treat. We’d love to meet new people here as well, and get to do some adventurous hikes. I also hear that Rainbow Reef, accessible from Taveuni, has some of the best coral in the world, so diving here is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’d also love to go to Nanuka island, and Savusavu, though I may have to postpone the latter for next time.

Nanuku Island

Nanukalevu Island, Fiji

After that, we head back to Suva, for some more downtime, and amusement, since the election circus will be heating up during this time.

Then, we’ll probably head to my home-town to see family.

It’s going to be spectacular!

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Can An Undocumented Immigrant Travel to Hawaii?

Prerna Lal - HawaiiShort answer, yes, with a valid, unexpired government-issued ID, one can go to Hawaii and come back to the U.S.

Well, at least I did with my California state-issued ID.

(Results may differ for different people so proceed with caution or seek legal advice before you travel!)

How was Hawaii? It’s like any other tropical island–sunny golden beaches, deep blue-green lagoons, flavorful tropical fruits, and a panorama of beautiful views. At the same time, it has deep problems, homelessness and poverty, much like any other tropical island. It is critical to recognize that the island is occupied territory, much like Palestine. If you are from the South Pacific, Hawaii looks and feels like home–the humid weather on your skin, the tropical flora and fauna, and the red mud. It is no wonder that many of my South Pacific islander friends in the U.S. have chosen to make it home

Since I didn’t have a green card at the time of my visit, I received a trip to Hawaii as a trip, since it is the closest that I could get to going home. We stayed at the Aulani Disney Beach resort most of the time. I took a day to visit Waikiki, sampled Japanese and Chinese food on both sides of the island, climbed Diamond Crater, and spent a lot of time on the beach.

More beaches certainly lie in my future and not as a tourist.

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2014 Windcall Residency for Transformative Organizing

BeyondBollywoodExhibit-PrernaLal-8I’ve received great news – I’ve been awarded a 2014 Windcall Residency in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state to pursue resilient, healing and transformative organizing!

As you may know, the Windcall Residency Program is a nationally recognized and pioneering leadership renewal program. It is one of the most powerful programs that many of its 450 alumni – all seasoned labor and community organizers – have utilized in their organizing lives. It targets organizers who work hard on all dimensions of strategy, community building, organizational leadership and movement building, but often skimp on the reflective time needed to sustain high-quality and strategic leadership. People who we know who have been Windcall residents include Rinku Sen, Alicia Garza, and Lynn Lewis.

This opportunity cannot come at a better time. As I transition out of living as an undocumented migrant for 15 years, and organizing a movement with undocumented immigrants for over 7 years, I am wondering more than ever how to continue to elevate the voices of the most marginalized, how to continue to strategize and build movements, while using my new career as an attorney to build a model for accountable community lawyering and social justice.

It is a real honor for me to receive this award and the timing could not be better. At Windcall, I’m looking forward to stepping back, taking a break, and catching my breath – in a place where I can stretch out and see the far horizon. At Windcall, there will be plenty of time in nature, time to talk with a small cohort of other organizers, detoxify from unhealthy organizing spaces, and I’ll have access to creative and reflective activities such as art and yoga. I’ll also have time to reflect and write, and hopefully, finish the book I’ve been working on for a while. And, I’ll have access to a professional coach to support me in reaching my goals.

The three-week program is free, except I have to cover most of my travel to and from Washington state (approximately $400). Could you support me with a donation of $25, $50, $75, $100? 

Alternatively, if you have frequent flyer miles to donate that could cover me one-way, that would be a tremendous help! Just drop me an email via the contact page, and we’ll see if we can make it work.

Your contribution will be supporting my work in a different way by helping me be as strategic and fresh in it.

Many thanks for considering my request.

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Relocating to Fiji

Happy New Year’s Eve.

With the green card process winding down, I am actively looking for job opportunities to resettle in the Fiji Islands in the next few years, or work as an expat, temporarily, to restore some ties to the country. 

Ever since my Dad took me on board a Greenpeace ship in Fiji when I was ten years old to protest French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, I have wanted to work in the public sector for the good of the country, be it through fighting climate change, or working on human rights issues in the islands.

 

I have a solid resume with two graduate degrees, one in International Relations, and another in Law. I already had a good phone interview with a major IGO last week, but I am continuing to look for opportunities, in case things do not work out. I preferably want to resettle in Suva, as I am most familiar with the city, but I am willing to relocate anywhere on Viti Levu. 

As family and friends, if you hear of anything with a law firm, government office, NGO or IGO working on such issues, please shoot me an email as I am seriously looking to relocate in a couple years.

Bula vinaka!

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Adios to the DiamondBack Kalos

My beloved DiamondBack Kalos 2007 bicycle got stolen today from right outside my office building. One second it was there, and then it was gone.

I had the bicycle with me since January 2008, since before I could fly or ever hope to get a license to drive. The petite Diamondback and I went through some rough times — several accidents, quite a number of flats, and an immeasurable number of miles — including the first annual Tour de Dreams from Los Angeles to Berkeley. It came with me from California to Washington D.C. and it went through several upgrades, including new tires, a new seat after someone stole the original, new pedals, and a pinwheel locking system.

I locked it wrongly for an hour, with just the wheel locked to a metal. My luck of essentially locking it outside for hours without having it stolen ran out. It was easy to cut through the wires but whoever stole it was an amateur because it has a pinwheel locking system so getting the wheels and seat off will be quite the task. Even if he could get the wheels and seat off the bike, he would need to fit in new ones since he would have already killed the wheels. If someone stole it for himself, he’d realize that he cannot even fix a flat since he doesn’t have a key for the wheel locks. It also needs new brakes, new chains and new lights, as I had not gotten around to do a servicing in quite some time. Overall, it was not worth stealing.

Now I need to figure out how to get from point A to point B in the quickest amount of time, all over again. But it is Diwali in November and my birthday in December, so it’s pretty obvious what I need now: funds to get a new bike!

Adios Diamondbike. I hope your new owner at least treats you right.

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New York Snowpocalypse

This entire experience was just plain scary and the first time I had seen a car buried under snow and roads full of slush.

New York Snowpocalypse by you.

I am not even sure how you get the snow off your vehicle. And people were actually riding bikes on the snow-laden road! And I have never seen dogs walking in snow–I suppose they don’t feel cold.

New York Snowpocalypse by you.

It was freezing and dangerous for me, but it was also beautiful.

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