It all begins

Whew! What a whirlwind of a weekend! I came up to Boston (Yes and to top things off the blizzard of 2013 struck this weekend as well!) for a job fair with the clearing house company I went through to apply for teaching positions abroad.

I arrived on Thursday, Feb. 7 (ahead of the storm) and milled around with about 450 other people there for the job fair. Amazingly, I felt confident and relaxed. We had orientation where they tried to tell us what to expect. I was staying in another hotel about a mile from where the fair was being held, partly because it was cheaper and they were running a shuttle between the two. It was great!

The next morning (Friday) after walking down 16 flights of stairs because the elevator wasn’t working well, I barely caught the first shuttle over to the hotel. Then at 7:00 a.m. (it hadn’t started snowing yet) we browsed the ballroom where tables were set up for each school. Behind them on the wall was chart paper with the openings they had listed. At 8:00 we could start signing up for interviews, which would be held in the representative from the school’s hotel room (weird, at first but I got used to it). That was the first round of schools. Then we did it all over again at 10:15 (it started snowing at about this time) with the second round of schools (the ballroom was only big enough to do 1/2 the schools at a time). I was exhausted after the first round! However, by the end of two rounds I had 14 interviews signed up, which started at 12:30 and went in 1/2 hour time slots back-to-back until 4:30.

The first interview was with a school I had already Skyped with in Dubai, UAE. I interviewed with several in Turkey, a couple in Saudi Arabia, several in Korea, a couple in China, and one in Africa over the course of Friday and Saturday. It was fascinating talking with the people about these countries. At 3:00 p.m. on Friday they announced that the last shuttle to the Marriott would leave at 3:30, so I quickly emailed my remaining interviews and asked if I could reschedule or interview by Skype. There were only 2 schools I didn’t hear back from. I headed back to my hotel and hunkered down for the blizzard. I was on the top floor and the wind shook and rattled my windows all that afternoon and night and into the next morning. It was fierce and I couldn’t see much but fuzzy lights through the blinding snow that was falling out my window, well really it was being driven sideways by the wind. I was glad to be warm inside and hoped we didn’t lose power.

I went downstairs in the hotel and had dinner in the only restaurant open, but it was decent and I got to know another candidate named Ellen, who was from CT. She was going to loan me some boots so we could walk over the next morning once the snow had sort of subsided. (Ellen, like many of the people looking for jobs at this fair were teaching at private schools here in the US.) Then I went upstairs and crashed, completely exhausted.

The next morning (Saturday), with wind howling and the snow continuing to drive down (sideways) I leisurely ate and drank coffee. In my email, I got my first job offer!! It was in Turkey, in a remote village in the mountains and the school population was 100% Turkish with no English knowledge. (It just didn’t feel like what I was after. By the way, I made a list of the things I wanted to get from this experience personally, professionally, and financially.) The snowfall was growing increasingly lighter now. Then we got an email saying that they were going to start shuttling people over to the Hyatt. I had already showered and so I jumped into my clothes, and once again took the 16 flights of stairs down to the lobby. Once I got over there began the scramble to reschedule the missed interviews. I managed to get 5 of the 7 I had missed. In between some of the interviews, I got my second job offer with the school in Dubai. Of course this all did wonders for my confidence! Then I interviewed with the school in Kuwait. It was for a 5th grade position, but then she mentioned the drama position. Apparently I lit up when she mentioned it, so she asked me to tell her what I envisioned a class would look like. She liked it and essentially offered me the job on the spot. I told her I wanted to finish my interviews before I answered. My last interview was with the school in Ethiopia and I really liked that one. The headmaster asked me if I had other offers, and I said yes. He told me to take one rather than wait on him to make an offer. He said he had done that and it wasn’t worth missing out on something entirely. He said, come visit and maybe you can come here in two years!! What a great idea, I thought! Sooo, I went downstairs and called the woman from Kuwait back and said I would like to take her offer. She was ecstatic and asked me to come up and sign the papers right then. (Turns out she is the superintendent of the school.) She hugged me after I signed the papers!

Yes, this does seem rushed and like I jumped into something blind to me too. I have been second guessing myself since I walked out her door. I am trusting it will all work out.

I suppose many of you are thinking, Kuwait, isn’t that a volatile area in the Middle East? The woman interviewing me has lived there safely for 17 years, and assured me that when Sadam was being overthrown, their school was the first in the country to evacuate its teachers. She said when she watched CNN and FOX news covering things in the country she realized what a false picture they both paint and how they exaggerated the situation in these countries, so she stopped watching them.

I am excited to be doing something entirely new to me and in a totally new country. I look forward to learning about the culture I am living in and exercising a creative side of me that has been dormant for oh so long.

Your prayers are still most coveted for all the things that need to happen between now and August when I fly to Frankfort and then to Kuwait. I hope this will help those far away to keep tabs on me.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Jennifer Walter
    Feb 18, 2013 @ 19:46:51

    Don’t second guess yourself. Teaching drama will be SO fun.


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