Friday, June 25, 2010

"It was the best of times; It was the worst of times"

Welp, it's the end of an era...an era of sweat, blood, and tears. It is 12:35 at night here in RAK, about 33 hours before I leave this sweatshop backwater camel jockey country behind for good. I'm at school, yet again, because I got them to allow facebook on my computer for the last week, having no internet at home anymore.

How can I sum up this experience?

In my time I have not blown up my cooker, destroyed my fridge, caused any floods, or been traumatized by my washing machine. As far as I know, I haven't made a single student cry. I haven't given anyone the verbal barrage they so desperately deserve (FYI - Monty, Karen, Jacquie, and Melissa, you all made the short list)...although email is a wonderful thing... I haven't made any enemies (at least not actively). I've lost about 30 pounds of good ol' American flab (but unfortunately have another 30 to go...) I have managed not to blow my top over the UAE's human rights violations (such as making NRI's do hard labor in 50C weather, teaching their sons about sex via prostitutes, or imprisoning maids unfortunate enough to get pregnant because they were raped by their sponsors)...but only because I know there are things I can do nothing about and can't think about too much because they will make me so upset I might do something illegal.

On the other hand, I haven't gone desert camping, I never saw the Empty Quarter, I have added NO new recipes to my repertoire, and my Arabic has improved only by 4 words: left, right, how much, and yes (thank you, Socrates). And I have sleepwalked through a lot of this year.

On yet another hand (I may be turning into Shiva...) I managed to avoid some of my mistakes made in Bahrain. I had friends here. I didn't buy a car. I think I might have actually improved as a teacher during this year. There were times that I felt really unsure of myself, but the last couple of units I've taught were good, and I think I'm finally starting to understand the PYP. I wanted Stephanie to be a more personable administrator - she's very different from John or Kit, although since she was let go, I've seen a much more human side to her that makes me wonder if she didn't sacrifice that warmth for the sake of being "professional", but at the end of the day, the tension I felt because I wasn't completely sure where I stood with her did keep me pushing myself to understand the curriculum and how to work with the teachers.

I'm still processing it all. I wish I'd had the internet at home this week - I've forgotten things I was going to write in here, this was never meant to be one big cumulative report. I'm sure I'll remember some of those bits and bring them up later, but for now, let me finish with yet another Wicked quote:

"Who can tell if I've been changed for the better? (I believe I have been changed for the better.) Because I knew you I have been changed for good."

Masalaam, RAK. Hallo, London!

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