28 September, 2020

Blog

From Sri Lanka To South Puget Sound: My First Nine Months In Puyallup

By Frederica Jansz –

It took me nearly two months to get my tongue around pronouncing the name Puyallup. I challenge any Sri Lankan to pronounce this name correctly. The fact is, I have had many Americans ask ME how to pronounce it. So here goes: – It is pronounced pew- our- lupand means Generous People.

The author’s son, Kieran, attended summer camp for the first time this year. Photo by Frederica Jansz.

Our arrival in Puyallup – a fast growing city to the south of Seattle – was accidental.  Having left Sri Lanka in a hurry with only three suitcases, our throats constricted with unshed tears and the flu, my two sons and I arrived in Seattle.

Initially the plan was for cousins to sponsor us to come to Canada. But that plan misfired and my cousins were forced to leave us at the border and drive back home to Vancouver. I had no idea what to do. I was stuck with the two boys in a country where I had no family and no friends. And going back was no longer even a choice.

My cousin then contacted a Sri Lankan family they had met briefly, and who lived in Puyallup, appealing to them for assistance.

Help they did. They were amazing. Inviting us to come and stay in their home before convincing me to settle in Puyallup. During which time they cheated me of a large sum of money…but that is another story.

And so while I struggled to stitch my tattered life back together, my heart heavy and homesick, I met and made other friends. This time, they were Americans.

I had been “warned” (by Sri Lankans who live in America) that Americans will be nice, but that they could be two-faced. Rarely hospitable. Nothing could have been further from the truth. We have been in this town now nine months. The American families who have hosted us to dinner and breakfast (yes, I kid you not – breakfast – cooked in a crock pot! – unheard of in Sri Lanka) have been quite a few.

Sri Lankans pride themselves on their hospitality. But, you know what? I could not have survived these past nine months – so far from home, my family and everything familiar – without the warm and caring Americans that have surrounded me and my boys.

Toasting smores around a campfire July 4th. Photo by Frederica Jansz.

That said, I have come across the iffy ones as well. There was the “interior decorator” who ran a staging company – who seized on my “plight” with a promise of full-time employment – only to reveal she had not much work and was determined to limit my hours to five or six a week.

Then there was the time my seven year old got bruised in a scuffle with a classmate.  When school authorities separated the two boys the other Mum took umbrage – blasting the class teacher and principal. She even put up a post (in foul language) on Facebook! That almost felt familiar: recently the Sri Lankan press reported that a parent forced a school principal to kneel before him and apologize for having disciplined his son!

I am often asked what the “big” differences are I find living in the US in comparison to Sri Lanka.

A first for me was the online offers to stay at home and work – earning an income off online postings.

I was skeptical but decided I must investigate the authenticity of these claims. A phone call resulted in my phone ringing off the hook (well more or less – it is a mobile) from people who tried their best to persuade me to sign up and “purchase” one of these home own kits. Which promise you an hourly income ranging between $37 – $47 dollars.  But before you start earning, you have to pay anything between $44 – $ 47 dollars or thereabouts to buy the kit.

The promoters of this scheme then promise you a monthly income averaging between $2,500 – $4,000. Depending on how long you are prepared to sit in front of a computer and post advertisements for $15 apiece, encouraging America’s shopaholics to shop.

To this day, my inbox is flooded EVERY SINGLE DAY with mail from people? aliens?? whose names I now actually recognize! There is a Mary Taylor, a Skylar Black and an Adrienne Brooke (who even asked me to marry him! then got mad – when I for obvious reasons did not respond – and is now sending me repeated emails asking “why I ignore him” that he is “pissed” and “what is it that I don’t get.”) Only this morning I had an email from Adrienne “Thanking” me for have “reached out to him last night” WTH? I wonder if Adrienne knows that men usually prefer to spell it “Adrian.”

Frederica Janz.

I have NEVER had an internet proposal EVER in Sri Lanka.  And I lived there for 45 years.

And then came July 4th.   America’s Birthday. Toasting marshmallows and making “S’mores” late night around a campfire after being treated to an exclusive and lovely fireworks display. It was the first time in 30 plus years: at Independence Day celebrations in Sri Lanka we were forcibly gated into our homes. Just so a bunch of politicians could flex muscle with a show of military strength all in the name of a national celebration.

February 4th is Sri Lanka’s Independence Day. For as long as I can remember, it begins with the ENTIRE capital city under house arrest. The masses are gated in their homes while politicians led by the reigning President together with special invitees – consisting of a smattering of diplomats, politicians, family of politicians and their stooges – sit in the sweltering heat under a canopy of sorts watching Sri Lanka’s military parade with feigned interest.  The heat is so bad that one year the police chief actually fainted as he stood to attention behind the President. The official explanation was that he was wearing shoes a size too small!

The display is telecasted LIVE on State TV for the benefit of those lesser mortals who consist of the masses.  I remember having to actually secure special “passes” from the local police station to get to work – being in the media- to actually report on the extravagant display of men and might.

What a difference to July 4th this year when I joined in celebrations with “normal” Americans – enjoying a homemade barbecue, fireworks and plenty of laughter.  Barack Obama was nowhere in sight – not on a single one of the 700 plus TV Channels we all watch. Neither was America’s military. Although they were probably visible elsewhere – in Baghdad or Kabul.

In Sri Lanka, Independence Day is celebrated with a show of military strength that keeps most residents of the capital city locked in their homes for the day. Frederica Jansz’ first Fourth of July in the States was just one of many things that felt familiar, yet oh-so-different| Photo by Dinouk Colombage

*This article is first appeared in Seattle globalist.Frederica Jansz is a Senior Editor with award winning recognition and international experience. Former Editor in Chief of The Sunday Leader newspaper in Sri Lanka Frederica currently lives in the US together with her two sons.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 1
    0

    Hi Fredrica,

    We miss both you and the Sunday Leader. Since you left we stopped buying Sunday leader.

    Also hope the Pig Eating Shit might also be missing you.

    The coward who ran to USA during the hight of war for 14 years only came back when his brother won the Presidential election to get the MOD post to get commissions on Military purchases, and when you brought them up he got mad at you.

    Now the Pig eating shit coward is on Ethnic clensing, this time using his Buffalo Solja Army on Majority Sinhala people in the South and hope you herd the latest Weliweriya incident.

    Anyways keep posting us news of your life in the US and love to read some of your news letters through CT.

    Also please try some of the US Non Profit Organizations who may need your service for their Fundraising news letters.

    Good luck.

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out]
    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.
    For more detail see our Comment policy
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 0
    0

    It is wonderful to hear that you progress better with your struggle for justice for all of us.

    However, Sri Lanka is in need of innovative, development oriented journalists who concentrate on building visionary citizens who can find a pluralistic way forward and build prosperity, freedom and dignity for all.

  • 0
    0

    Fredrica

    Sri Lankans forget the past quite easily .They have even forgotten that you existed People who were licking the feet of rulers have been vindicated for slightest disagreement You should form a circle of journalists and people who were once government supporters ( you did that during the trial of SF) who have either fled the country or living in sri lanka with fear and publish what you knew during your stay in sri lanka Internet has become a very strong media .You can use by writing from US and expose corruption ,nepotism and thuggery in sri lanka committed by the rulers That is the only way to secure democracy in sri lanka .Expose how Asanga amassed a wealth to buy Sunday Leader and build hotels in Pasikuda.Expose the reason for stirring up powder milk issue for some one’s benefit who wants to import Australian cows ( sacred ??) Some one may be planning to buy off the Company which makes money selling milk powder ?Expose the young man who builds harbours started a shop selling tiles after tile companies have been bough over using the money of someone who is very powerful Expose custom duty hike of tyres May be someone wants to buy the Tyre Companies in sri lanka .Expose who builds many hotels in Passikuda
    Your investigative journalism shall be used for safeguarding democracy

  • 0
    0

    I don’t know Ms. Jansz but I know she was a good journalist. Good luck to her in her new life and I hope she stays clear of controversy. Dabbling in political journalism is very tricky regardless. The reaction is subtle in the USA but it is there.

    American people are wonderful and friendly. Especially if you speak good English and assimilate, I feel very comfortable living in the USA. We must not however run away with the idea that anything is perfect anywhere. As a Sri Lankan I try to sift between the country and the rulers. Rulers are politicians and they don’t identify a country as beautiful as Sri Lanka. Every complaint we have is to do with the actions of the people. Even though Tamils say they are not treated well, they need to read what the Black people in the USA went through and stop complaining when they have it good. All the pressure on Sri Lanka comes from those who have left the country and lied to bleed welfare systems and work against Sri Lanka. The country is not the fault, the people are at fault. Be satisfied with your lot is all I say to those who grumble for no reason. Sometimes your actions deliver what you deserve. There is plenty of reverse discrimination to go around and we didn’t need 30 years of suicide bombers to tell a one sided story. If we all write our stories of reverse discrimination it will be very revealing to those who have greed for power.

    My advice to Ms. Jansz is as good a journalist you are, use your talent to write about issues that are not politically tainted. There are many in the world without a voice and someone like you can do a lot to bring out the plight of unfortunate people especially children in the world. Use your talent on worthy people — not politicians and terror supporters. They are dangerous.

  • 0
    0

    Frederica:
    delighted to read of the latest experiences of your family in exotic sounding Puyallup in Pierce County. You fought the good fight in the land of your birth using the might of your pen to draw attention to the injustice and madness that proliferated all around you in our island paradise. Alas, your reward was banishment. SL’s misfortune has been to loose many of it’s best who simply couldn’t/wouldn’t stoop to mixing with the feral amongst us; as a burgher you would be well aware of the exodus of your community who were too dignified to fight their countrymen. You are in a far better place now and you have done the right thing for your delightful children. How ironic, and two-faced, that your Sri Lankan nemesis enjoys his days in sun while allowing his family to live the good life in the land of the free and the brave. Frederica,don’t stop writing; I shall look forward to reading more about your many experiences.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Fredrica.
    I wish you and your two kids ALL THE BEST.We miss you.Just hang in there.Things will get much better for you.

  • 0
    0

    Mr. Abhaya, whoever you are:
    The term you used “Ado gona” has to be returned to you as you are so ignorant of your name. You say “abhaya is a real good sri lankan name.”
    I would like to point out that this name is an Indian name, like most names we think are Sri Lankan. FYI: King Bimbisara had a son by that name, so did King Dhatarastra. They were not Kings in Sri Lanka, but Kings in India. This name is also another name for “Shiva”. Since most Tamils are Hindus, they could easily use that name as a reverence to “Shiva”.
    So don’t think it is an original Sri Lankan name and let me tell you that many Indians do use that. If you need, I could provide you with the information as to where to get this verified.
    Even if you are not ignorant, there is no need insult others. That’s part of our culture. May be living in the U.S. for 15 years, you are gradually forgetting our cultural norms.

    Dear Fredrica:
    I wish you all the best in you adopted country. It is a land of opportunities for those willing to work hard. You are a very capable journalist.
    However, I have a certain concern. At an interview (If my memory is correct) you admitted that you went and met the President. That was at a time when you were the main witness of the case against SF, and the outcome of that case was very crucial to the President. How ethical was it for you to meet him when the outcome of the case mostly depended on you evidence? My understanding is that the refusal of visas to you by Australia and Canada, could have had something in that, as one could believe that you are not a trustworthy person to be allowed to their country. Hope you could prove that wrong.

    • 0
      0

      Mr Gon pandith or who ever you are for an arrogant twit who uses the fake handle on Pandith you seem to know very little . Sri Lankans and the Sinhalese trace their origins to the India and the prince Vijaya . so it is no surprise that there are kings and princes who have the same names as Sri Lankans .

      your sincerely

      Abhaya

      • 0
        0

        So we are back to square A ie either both names abhaya & lakshan are no surprises or could be tamil kallathoni names!

  • 0
    0

    Dear Fredrica,

    I am so glad that you found a life, peace and happiness in US for your family. Even it is just the beginning, with lots of hardships, you will get your life back in full in no time. Please stand against all odds and have faith and courage to face the future. Your little son’s smile tells the story in full. He has no fear in his mind and is happy and peaceful in the foreign land you have been left to live.

    I as an immigrant, mostly are in association with the westerners. I also find them very decent, nice and helpful people. Having suffered for a long time in the hateful society of our country of birth, my trust is seriously eroded to accept any one native warmly even as a friend. In this circumstance, no wonder you found solace with the Americans.

    I always enjoyed reading your articles. I really appreciate your tenacity and courage to face against all odds in issues where even men don’t have courage to stand up. Yes, we women are made for that. Never look back, Girl. You have gained a life for your self. This is just the beginning

  • 0
    0

    Abhaya, whoever it is:
    If you don’t know do not show your arrogance and accuse others as “Ado gona”. When you are wrong it comes back.
    Abha ya is not an original SriLnkan name, but an Indian name just like most names in Sri Lanka.
    King Bimbisara and King Dhasharata both had sons named “Abhaya”. Those Kings did not rule in Sri Lanka, but in India. There is a tree in India called “Abhaya” which in English is Black Myrobalan (Terminalia chebula). Abhaya is also another name for “Shiva”, So as majorityTamils are Hindus even use of the name for an individual is as a reverence to “Shiva”. So even a “Tamil Kallathoni” could have that name. Name Abhaya” does not indicate that person is not a Tamil or even an Indian. When one is ignorant one does not abuse another, that is our culture. When one lives in the U.S. for 15 years, there is a possibility for one to abandon the ones own original cultural traits and norms.

    Dear Fredrica:
    I wish you all the best in you new adopted land. The U.S. is a land of opportunity for those willing to work hard. With your talent as a journalist, you could go far in that land. I hope you would succeed.
    However, I have some concern. You in an interview (if my memory is correct) said that you went and met the President, and that was during the “White Flag” case was on. It was a case that the outcome was crucial to the President’s (and the government’s) reputation. You being the key witness (I believed that your evidence decided SF’s fate in this case) when the hearing was not over, was it ethically correct for you to meet the President? I do not think so. My understanding is that was one reason why your visa request was turned down by Australia and Canada (They may have considered you an unreliable person). Correct me if I am wrong.

  • 0
    0

    Hope you don’t nosey park around pups and flags in Pewourlup and for your info, though you maybe the only Brutus who can, there are quite a lot of other Sri Lankans out there who are also well read and even erudite, who can indeed pronounce Liliput correctly!

  • 0
    0

    Hi, So are you quite sure that only Judas’s can indeed pronounce their whereabouts correctly?

  • 0
    0

    Shut up your foul mouth,Bl…. Bi…..

  • 0
    0

    it is good that you left Sri Lanka
    you are an evil and a bad example for a jounalist
    hope you will learn to honor heroes not terrorists, while living in
    USA, because like in Sri Lanka USA does not negotiate with terrorists.

  • 0
    0

    I always admired your guts and commitment to exposing the pricks who are governing the country and have brought it down to the pits. After you left the Sunday Leader we can see how it has become a docile tool of the ruling family. The MaRas think they are going to be in power for ever, but they only have to go back to history and see how Gadaffi, Saddam, Mubarak and their other idols have ended. We wish you the best and you are greatly missed in SL by those who appreciate values, decency and have integrity. There are many Sri Lankans who would like to contact you to see how they can express their appreciation for the bravery and fearlessness that you displayed in doing what was right for the country. An email address on which you can be contacted will bring you many supportive and appreciative emails though there could be a few cowardly and derogatory ones from the puppets, racists, bigots, criminals, thieves and nincompoops who hang around the corrupt regime for the crumbs that fall under the breakfast table. You have earned the respect of the decent and few Sri Lankans left in the country and they all carry kind thoughts and wish you well.

  • 0
    0

    Hi Fredrica

    It is good that you are settling down to your new life in the US, wish you all the best , things will get better , I look forward to read more of your life in the US.

    Good luck

  • 0
    0

    JANZE,

    YOU ARE DESERVED FOR THIS,you have created lot of trouble here by writing
    a fabricated story of white flag case etc.Better dont come to SL again.

  • 0
    0

    JANZ,

    ATLEAST, NOW YOU TRY TO LIVE THEIR PEACEFULLY WITHOUT LETTING DOWN YOR
    COUNTRY.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Fredrica,
    Nice to hear from you after a long silence. As most of the commentators said here, even myself get rid of reading Sundayleader after u and lasantha, now we depend much on Colombotelegraph to hear something about our beloved country.
    Please Keep writing there are many lankans wants you to write…

  • 0
    0

    Your story vis-a-vis Sri Lanka is not complete unless you write the
    white-flag episode, as it should be, for the War Crimes Tribunal. We
    Sri Lankans and the Diaspora await this shortly.

  • 0
    0

    Good luck Fredrica and I hoe you will be able t return to Sri Lanka and live freely with the rest of the folk (at least I’m entitled to dream right?)

  • 0
    0

    YES,YOU CAN WAIT IN THE HELL.

  • 0
    0

    This is the biatch who destroyed Sarath Fonseka…Now escaped the country thanks to NGO money..You and your son should burn in hell..She will bring only misery to Seattle as well !

    • 0
      0

      Even Buddha had adversaries as Devadaththa who tried to kill Buddha by sending an Elephant that was drunk. So will Frederica not have hoodlum in this country waiting for her blood. It is natural to have uneducated, uncultured, murderous scum headed by MR in the country to wish ill to Frederica. As Punchinilame has said above Frederica should write about the Truth about the White Flag Story, but then again since it will reveal the American connection to MR crowd who is responsible for the Crime of the Century will remain under the carpet. Anyway Good Luck Frederica to you and your family.

  • 0
    0

    THANK YOU FREDRICA ,FOR THE PLAY SAFE, UNLIKE LASANTHA WHO WAS DEMISED PREMATURELY, NEVERTHELESS, YOU WILL CONTINUE YOUR PROFESSION UNABATED.

    HOPE ,YOU WILL BE TUNED IN TO SRILANKAN JOURNALISM, TO DIGEST THE MANY
    POLITICAL MESS EVENTS, INCLUDING [WELIVERIYA] THE LATEST OF THE PROGRESS MADE, BY THE SANDHURST TRAINED COMMANDERS AND THEIR HIGHLY
    DISCIPLINED ATROCITIES,

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.