Don’t be deceived by the title of the post. This isn’t going to be some doom and gloom message regarding the end of the world, (although given the current state of things, this could be expected). Rather it’s almost the end of another school year here in Abu Dhabi, and folks, that’s something to be EXCITED about!
So as another school year comes SLOWLY to a close, I thought I’d share a few thoughts, and some hopes for the next school year. As many of you know, my time here in the desert has had its share of ups and downs. Living in a foreign can certainly prove to be a challenge. Take last night, for instance. I was really craving a Dr. Pepper. So I walked across the street to the grocery store with a friend to get one. And guess what? They didn’t have any. NOT ONE!! You know that feeling you have when you just want to scream and push over all the shelves in the store? No? Well, that was me facing the prospect of zero Dr. Pepper. So I acted like a lunatic (in front of my friend, who swore she wasn’t judging me) and then bought a Coke instead. I lamented if I were in the states I could walk into just about store anywhere and get a freaking Dr. Pepper!! What’s wrong with THIS place? They are clearly savages!! And then we dissolve into laughter because this is crazy talk, and we are just so tired of the year dragging on and on interminably that we can’t think straight anymore. But in just one short week, I embark on my summer vacation, and believe me, it can’t come soon enough!
All kidding aside, this year was challenging. From getting a slew of new teachers in our department, to the co-teaching debacle, there were times when I really began to believe that I was crazy for staying here. There was even one time when I was so frustrated and angry with just all of it, I picked up my purse and left. Just like that. I walked OUT! No, stormed out. And while that was a kind of childish reaction, I felt it would be better to leave than to speak my mind because what I had to say was not going to be nice or productive. There were many times when I doubted what I was doing. Not because I lacked confidence or began to doubt my abilities as a teacher, but because I was TIRED of someone constantly getting in my way. I found myself becoming resentful, negative, and sometimes just mean–get out of MY WAY! My heart was screaming this. However, despite that, the year continued, and I had a job to do. And my girls waited for me, every day, to speak life, love, and hope into them. So on I went. And I’m really, really glad I did.
Working here is challenging for many reasons. The most challenging part is never, ever feeling appreciated or valued by the administration or organization we work for. They see us (Western teachers) as complaining outsiders they don’t really need or want for that matter. This is made clear with comments on Facebook posts like: “we have really nice airports here to help you get out,” and also from the recent information we received that more than 200 teachers had been “let go.” We still haven’t received our contracts for next year, so we are all waiting to see what happens…and this is how it goes here. Always expect the unexpected–you know, like no Dr. Pepper. This was also my last year on my contract, so I could have resigned and come back to the states. But there was this nagging feeling that I couldn’t shake telling me to stay put. So despite the difficulties, here I am. WHY am I here? Simply, I am here because I am needed. Maybe the organization, the admin, other teachers don’t need me, but my students need me. This is why I have chosen to be an educator for the majority of my life. And I am proud of my life’s work. Teaching isn’t glamorous. It’s mostly a thankless job where we aren’t respected, we certainly are NOT paid what we are worth, and as a general rule, societies (around the world) think we aren’t very valuable. Still, here I am, doing what I have loved for nearly 30 years.
As I look back on this year, I think about the young women I got to spend my time with. And let me say, they are some of the most delightful girls I’ve ever known. They are funny, smart, silly, but full of hope for the future, and I am so proud to know them. I love, LOVE that they think of me as their “American” mom. They love hearing stories about Victoria, and about our lives in the states. They love hearing funny stories about my life back home, and here. And they have shown me, on more than one occasion, that they love me. THIS is why I continue on. I am hopeful for THEIR future. I want to pour little bits of my life, my experience, my dreams into them. It’s what I’ve tried to do the whole of my career. When students tell me they’ve been “inspired” by me, I am proud. But more than that, I am humbled. There’s nothing special about me. I am an ordinary woman. But I have a voice. And I will raise that voice even in the face of fear, or despair, or hate or whatever comes us against us and tells us we don’t matter. YES, WE DO!! And I want my girls to BELIEVE in and PURSUE their dreams. To understand that THEY also have a voice. And while there weren’t any parties this year, with cakes and all the celebrations like last year, there were words, and hugs, and hopes. These are the things that last, that matter.
I received a lovely letter from a student this year, who told me I inspired her to change who she is. I did this?? See? Teaching…it’s important, powerful, and you never know who you are going to “inspire,” or encourage. So we keep going. We keep doing what we do.
To my dearest teacher friends–despite the state of education around the globe, despite the broken policies, lack of funding, lack of respect…you are doing a profound good. The world NEEDS us. Just look around at the fear, the hate, the intolerance, the ignorance. Now more than ever, we are needed in this hurting world. Keep breathing life into your students–you are encouraging world changers!! What is more important than this?
Now, onto VACATION!!! Keep the faith! Rest! Then come back ready to march onward. We are WARRIORS for hope!
Till next time,