Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Have Passed...and Look at My Life Now....

September 11, 2011
I have to start off with saying that I have wondered all day today how America is spending the ten year anniversary of 9/11. I can remember that day almost as if it was yesterday. Actually, probably better than yesterday. Its days like this that remind me of “home” and makes me miss it more. Oh well I am a big girl and am doing what I have set out to do.
I haven’t blogged in a while due to time constraints and lack of internet. I am not even sure that I will get this blog out by tonight (here in AD). I’m going to have to beg and plead with someone to let me use their internet. So yes, I was officially kicked out of the hotel about a week ago and had to move into my “flat”. Doesn’t sound bad right?! Well, our flats were not really ready to be moved into quite yet. I have to say that they are still not all up to par, but what can you do? So we moved in and for a while I was camping out on the floor in my living room. Really my furniture came in yesterday sometime. So last night was the first night that my place looked like a home and that I didn’t have to rummage through suitcases to find clothes. Now I have everything that I officially need as far as furniture and appliances go. The only thing that lacks is gas to cook with. Most of us have gas cookers but have found out that there is currently no gas in our flats for quite some time. Rumor has it that it could be weeks and even up to months until we get gas. Thank goodness I have some friends who bought convectional ovens that allow us to heat up small food items. For now though cooking a meal is still out the window.
Last Sunday was the official fist work day for teachers and today was the first day of school for the children. It has already been quite a challenge and the language barrier makes things that much more difficult. I have signed at least five papers all written in Arabic that has been written by my principal. I had to find out the hard way that one of them was telling me that I had to attend a meeting right then and there. The Arabic teachers I feel have somewhat opened up with the new Licensed Teachers. The first couple of days there was a complete separation between us. They would sit and gather alone in one room and we would sit and gather alone in another. It wasn’t until we had our meeting that discussed the schedule for the new year, that we came together with each other realizing that we need one another’s help to do our job the right way.

At the Bedaya "New Beginning"

This year they have the Arabic teacher and “LT” working side by side in the classroom. So while she goes over something in Arabic I am there alongside her to reiterate in the English language. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that I am actually teaching KG1 this year which are the 3-4 year olds. So really it’s like pre-k in the states. So this is why they have both an Arabic and English speaking teacher in the classroom. They have decided this year to start from the ground up. Really it’s from the roots up to implement this reform in a way that they like. They hope that starting them now will have them a lot farther by the time they reach the upper level grades. So that is why I have an Arabic teacher in the classroom with me. I can’t complain because that means the language barrier is not quite as much as it may be without an Arabic teacher.
New Co-Workers at Bedaya
So my cooperating Arabic teacher is a few years older than me and has four children. She received her bachelor’s from a university here and learned English while at the university. Really she had no choice because all of her classes were taught in English, so either you learned it or you did pass your classes. She seems to be a really great teacher and gets rave reviews from the staff around her. She had a lot of the basic labeling in English/Arabic before I arrived so she really does know her stuff. There are some things that I need to help her set up, such as centers and a few more labeling items. I think its best that I don’t say her name here on my blog out of respect for her and her privacy, so I will call her “Zoon”. The first day that “Zoon” and I met she made me feel very welcomed and privileged to be working with her. She told me that she was looking forward to working together and that she wanted for us to be close like sisters. I thought that this was a very nice thought and made me feel comfortable with her and the classroom. Zoon also stated that I could put up anything that I would like in the classroom to help out with English and to make it my own.
So last week we had meetings with the principal and head of faculty (HoF), grade level meetings, and the bedaya. Bedaya is an Arabic word for beginning, so this bedaya was a kick off to the beginning of our new school year. It was televised and had several media sources inside the convention center along with about three five thousand Arabic and English speaking teachers combined. They discussed the new school model that they want to implement and showed us their statistics from previous years. All in all it was an interesting even and was spoken all in Arabic. They say the “English speaking” teacher to one side of the room so they could pass out headsets to us so we could hear a translator through our headsets. It was an interesting experience sitting in the shoes of a person who needs a translator, trying to keep up with the speaker and translator as well as accounting for the bits and pieces the translator may have missed. After the speakers they served us foods galore from all different parts of the world. It was an International buffet that was extremely tasty and definitely satisfied my hunger.
Fast forward to today and we have the first day of school. It is quite different than what I am use to back home. Usually we spend weeks, even the whole summer planning for the school year and the first day of school. “In’shalla “ we will have kids, “In’shalla” the first day will go well. Everything here in the culture is “In’shalla” and it isn’t any different when it comes to school. “In’shalla” is a phrase that could be compared to hopefully or for the religious people Lord willing. So here they have no concerns or worry about how things will turn out and they do not like to over prepare because “In’shalla” things will happen or get done. So with that in mind a day like today was a crazy first day. There was nothing planned and about fifteen three to four year olds inside a classroom crying for “ma ma”. Again the language barrier was the toughest part I have to say. I had kids yanking my arm and crying and I am only going to assume that they wanted “ma ma”. I was helpless since I couldn’t reciprocate to them that they would be okay with Zoon and I. I couldn’t distract them with a conversation. I could only speak my language and they could only speak there’s. I found myself at some points speaking to them in Spanish. I guess my brain is use to speaking in Spanish if there is a language barrier. Really I think I must have started the tears with at least three of the children. There were in a unknown environment and I am speaking to them in a foreign language. They would look at me with concern and confusion then would begin to cry.
I refuse for that to continue any longer so I went out and bought a program similar to Rosetta Stone called byki Arabic. It was fast and convenient and seems simple to use. The man at the mall selling it to me showed me all the quick and easy selling point. I was sold and plan to begin my fist lesson after I finish writing this blog. I also plan on making some flash cards to carry with me that may help me and the students in my classroom as well. So “In’shala” I will learn some more Arabic and become semi proficient that I can decently communicate with my students and their parents.
Hoping that this blog finds everyone on well terms and that I can get internet very soon to keep you all up to date. So many new and interesting experiences are happening in this new chapter of my life. To my family: I love you all and miss you all. You are in my thoughts and literally in my dreams every night. To my friends/co-workers: Thank you for keeping in touch with me and reading this blog. Really your simple replies and comments help me feel a little less far from home. Thank you to everyone for your love and continued support. You all have been the ones to motivate me and inspire me to stick to the journey when times get difficult.
P.S. Sorry for grammatical errors and continued use of “garbage” words in this blog. It’s been a long day, but I had to post for you all so that way more time wouldn’t pass without filling you all in on things out here in Abu Dhabi.