How I Deal with Life.....

How I Deal with Life.....

Sunday, February 10, 2013

From my UAE Journal: November 4 2012

I Hate Driving in the UAE
Cars tailgating thisclose, drivers cutting in front of me, cars parked on the roundabouts while their owners chat, excessive speeding, no use of turn signals... The list goes on and on. Commuting forty-five miles to work and back on the Highway to Hell every day is becoming an exercise in basic survival skills. If I don't have an accident in this country it will be a damned miracle. I only hope when it happens that I'm not injured, or worse. I am becoming terrified to drive almost anywhere and have to make myself get in the car and drive to work every morning. And I have always liked driving. Not here.

School and Constant Perplexity
My school continues to confuse me. Actual academics and learning seem to play very little role in my principal's agenda. She likes pretty flowered bulletin boards (which by the way don't have one damned thing to do with learning.. as long as they are "pretty", it's okay...) and teacher luncheons.
The librarian actually does a good job with her bulletin boards and makes them applicable to learning:

I Am Bored...
A few weeks ago, another Western teacher led a professional development (P.D) class to about twenty-five other teachers (mixed Arabic and Western).  My principal speaks no English and the other Arabic teachers don't either, so when a Western teacher presents a P.D class, ADEC generously supplies a translator. At this particular P.D, which I thought was going very well, the principal looked up from her chatting and texting long enough to interrupt the translator. The translator looked a bit taken aback so the Western presenter/teacher asked what the principal had said. The interpreter told the Western teacher, "She say she is bored".  I was sitting about five feet away and heard the conversation with my own ears. I almost fell out of my chair. If the principal and all the other Arabic teachers hadn't been loudly chatting, texting, and taking photos with their phones they might not have been "bored" and might have learned something.  But then again, it would have been polite and professional for them to actually pay attention, so it ain't gonna happen. If my principal or anyone else asks me to do a professional development class I have already rehearsed my, "Not no, but hell no" answer. 

Class? Class? Class? SHUTUP!
The other Western teachers and I sit in professional development classes with our mouths almost hanging open at the behaviors exhibited by the Arabic teachers.  They talk SO loud that the presenters cannot be heard. They take photos of one another, they laugh, they giggle. It is embarrassing. Why am I embarrassed for people who aren't embarrassed for themselves? People tell me their behavior and loudness is a culture thing, but where I come from it just means your Mama didn't raise you right. Having to have an ADEC presenter yell over and over again at the Arabic teachers to "please" be quiet is something I don't think I will ever get used to. The British ADEC lady who comes in to teach most of the professional development classes gets so mad that the veins stand out in her neck. Most (not all, but about 90%) of the Arabic teachers act like fifteen-year-old kids in those meetings. Which I guess makes sense since the fifteen-year-old students act like ten-year-children in class.
As we say in the South, "Bless their hearts".

The art teacher drew Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, and Easter eggs on the wall in the hallway, I had to tell an English speaking Muslim teacher that Easter eggs were Christian and explain their significance. She had no idea and said the art teacher didn't either. I guess she explained it to the art teacher because two weeks later the Easter eggs suddenly morphed into colorful baskets... but to me they still look like Easter eggs.


Okay good things: I get to Skype with my husband almost every night, my students are funny and loving (one even bumps noses with me every single day!), I have made some good friends, and I am blessed with having a fantastic used book store right around the corner: Oasis Book Store located in the Al Ain Co-op near Greenland Apartment Complex. That little bookstore has saved my sanity more than once. Go in and tell Sylvia I sent you!

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