First Week Of School

Published September 16, 2010 by Christa Maurice

Sunday was the last day of Eid al Fitr so other than enjoying the fact that everything was open and I could eat in public during daylight hours.

Monday, we had to go to Abu Dhabi for a big meeting of all licensed teachers (imported and native.) They had a bus for us, but as soon as Cindy got her car, I called shotgun. Cindy turned out to be really happy about that because both of the other women in the car drove her nuts when they were in the front seat. Because they’d gotten us up at 4am, I ended up half asleep through the meeting. Cindy kept elbowing me to keep me awake. We were promised lunch. We’re leery of these promises because lunch ranges from sandwiches and juice to four course meals and it’s usually late. Well, lunch came at 2:00 and it was a buffet for 6700 people. It was so stunningly well organized that there were no lines for anything.

Tuesday, we had training at the Al Ain Model School for everyone teaching in our district (not the whole city.) The training was a mixed bag. The actual modules were like undergrad classes, but it did serve to get the gears moving again. Leah, Susan and I stuck together and we ended up with a four woman in one module who, when we asked her for her input, informed us that she thought it was all a waste of time. Had I been in a feistier mood, or perhaps not been in a professional environment, I’d have leaned across the table and told her that maybe she needed to go back to her hotel, pack her bags and go home. Instead we just ignored her the rest of the day. Susan showed some color that day too. Lakeysha was late and we’d already signed in and gotten name tags. I stuck with Lakeysha until she got signed in and then caught up to the others. Susan said she didn’t know why I bothered because we all managed to get to training on time and it was Lakeysha’s fault she hadn’t. ADEC had given us 3 different starting times for the training and none of us had been able to get in touch with her the night before. Stuff happens. Except for Susan. More on her later. We also connected with the Arabic teachers from our school which was good because…

That school I found with Cindy that was a tumble down ruin? (Did I post about that? I forget. It’s all a blur.) It was being torn down and a new school had been built. We got a map drawn to where the new school was and were told to be there at 7:45 the next morning. No problem. On the way home, Leah and I asked our taxi driver (Raja) if he would pick us up in the morning at 7:15. Susan announced that she’d made other plans for getting to school after we’d decided to ride together nearly 2 weeks ago. Well. That night at Al Ain Mall, I bumped into Phyllis who had just arrived and was due to be at the old school the next morning so I said we would pick her up at her hotel on the way.

Wednesday at breakfast, Leah said she’d been talking to Susan. Susan went out the night before and went to the school where she met the principal who said we should be there at 7:30. And thanks so much for telling the rest of us when we could do something about it. Leah and I decided we were going to stick to the original plan. We found Lakeysha and set off for the Rotunna where we picked up Phyllis and went hunting for the school. You’ll have to look at the video because the school is just indescribable. Huge, airy, bright and so new we’re still missing furniture and copiers. Oh, and we arrived at the school before Susan did. (And here is why I love Cindy. I told her what happened and her first response was, “b—-.”)

We met with the principal who was totally unprepared (as she was getting a new school and half a new staff all at once.) She assigned us co-teachers and sent us on our way. My co-teacher, Jamila, is very nice, but she has no idea what to do with me and she’s not very confident about her English. A few kids arrived on the firs day. Our class had four. Zayed arrived first wearing his kandora and head scarf. He kept tugging the headscarf down over his eyes until it unraveled. Then he couldn’t get it back on right. His mother finally took it away, so he closed his eyes. If he couldn’t see us, it wasn’t happening. Hamza was better, but Jamila had had his older brother and the brother was there. When Ahmed showed up Jamila crouched down and shook his hand and he rubbed noses with her. Men rub noses in greeting. Apparently, it’s not just Eskimos. Anyway, she introduced me to him so I couched down and took his hand and he rubbed noses with me too. Jamila and his mom both went, Awww. A fourth little boy showed up, but I’ve forgotten his name. (Shame on me.)

The kids left at 10 and we all got loaded into cars on a bus to go to the old school to pack. Jamila has been teaching for 12 years and has the stuff to show for it. We stayed until 1:00, packing and sorting. The room was horribly dusty from being shut up all summer. At 1, we gave up for the day. I left with Jamila, the principal and 2 other teachers. They insisted on driving me the half a block to the main road so I could get a cab. When I got back to the hotel, I washed my abaya in the sink and the water was brown.

Last night, there was a wedding at the hotel for 2000 people. Yep, traditional Arabic wedding for 2000 people. Cindy is a total bully and she made me go out and rubberneck with her. All we could see was a lot of tables and a group of men in the distance singing and doing something with canes.

Today, none of Jamila and my students showed up so I paced around playing with everyone else’s kids. Jamila went to the old school to finish packing up. After the kids left, I didn’t have anything to do and ended up sitting in my classroom reading for a while. The principal told us we could leave at about noon. Some of the teachers will be in on Saturday so I left my number for Jamila to call is she wants me to come in. I’m not going to do anything without her because I don’t want her to feel like I’m invading her classroom.

So I have a weekend ahead of me to rest up and restock on the fabulous shelf stable rice and tuna meals I found here. Of course, there’s a big party going on on the rugby field which my room faces so I’m going to have thumping dance music all night. Yay!

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One comment on “First Week Of School

  • I probably would grab a coke and watch the dancing all night. LOL I read online that you guys were have dusty times this week, not surprised you rinsed your abaya and it was brown. I gave Shepa her Hejab I bought for her and she loved it. I bet you can’t wait till you are in your apartment.

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