All I see is $$$$$

At least they give me some of the $$$$ back

Yesterday I received an email from my Teach Away Rep for Abu Dhabi.  At this time ADEC would like to move forward with my application to the hiring department and an offer letter would be going out within the next few weeks.  I quickly informed the other girls via the text chat group and within a few hours they all responded that they too had received the same email.  It’s crazy because for a brief moment I felt sad.  I felt sad because I really like the women from the NY interview and they would all be together and have each other but me, I would be alone in Qatar without any of them.  I know it probably sounds petty but it felt good to be around like minded women and people that were sort of in a similar situation as me, feeling what I feel and anticipating what I’m anticipating.  Still, I feel good about my decision to go with Qatar.  It’s a better choice for me and my family.

There is so much to do to get ready.  There is so much to do just to get all paperwork to QF.

I’m in the process of trying to enroll the boys in QF Doha.  From what I’ve heard it’s a really good private school that is a part of QF, so the tuition would be free for the boys.  They offer the IB curriculum, and many more wonderful opportunities.  I completed the admission’s application and the fee was $500 Riyals which is about $137 U.S. dollars for each application.  I had to try 4 different credit cards to pay the fee before one finally worked, due to international transactions.  I had to attach a picture of the boys, medical records, immunization cards, last 3 end of year report cards, pict of passports as well as my passport.  Some of the documents I did not have yet so I uploaded blank documents so that I could submit the applications.  I spoke to my QF director to inform her of the completed applications and she told me that she already enrolled them in QF Sidra as a backup, which was great.  I hear that Sidra is okay but Doha is the best.

I’ve sent my H.R. director, copies of the boys birth certificates, my marriage certificate, copies of my passport, Darryl’s passport (my husband), and the boys passport.  All of this is necessary to begin the process of our visas.  I must get 2 pre-employment Health examination forms completed by a doctor, as well as complete Blood Group Reports for each member of my family.  This means all of us have to see a doctor and have lab work done.  That means ($) copays and ($) fees for form completions. Did I mention I had to pay $137.00 for both school application fees?

I must send several documents to be authenticated: Transcript and degree, children’s birth certificates, marriage certificate, ($) Criminal Record check for Darryl and I, ($) FBI record check for Darryl and I. This means all documents must be ($) notarized, ($) stamped by the issuing state, ($) stamped by Wash D.C., $stamped by the Qatar embassy. I have decided to use ProEx to complete this process.  I will ($) pay them, ($)mail them all the documents and they will take care of the whole authentication process.

I need a letter signed by my ex-husband and father to my children verifying that he does not object to me sponsoring my children in Qatar.  Then this letter needs to be ($) translated in Arabic and notarized.  I’ve found a company to take care of this too.  But first I have to get ‘him’ to sign the paper.

The boy’s passport expire in a month so you know what that means.  I have to ($) pay for new ones and because they are minors, there is no renewing, only $pay the whole application fee.  My passport expires in two years, which means it will expire before my contract is up.  You know what that means, I have to ($) renew mine.  Oh we also need ($) passport pictures for the new passports.

On top of all of this, all of us need 12-16 passport style pictures to travel along with us to Qatar.  They use these pictures for everything, visas, Driver’s license, liquor license etc… Passport pictures usually run about $8 for 2.  That would cost me over $200 for all of us.  So I went to Office Depot, ($) purchased some photo paper for $8.00 on sale.  I put up a white chart paper on my wall and we all took head and shoulder shots on our phones. With a purchase of some ($) printer ink, we were good to go.  We used the gov’t passport website to help us crop the pictures correctly and WAHLA!

At least they give me some of the $$$$ back for all this paperwork when I arrive in Doha, Qatar if I don’t go broke first!

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Sometimes you have to go with your Gut

Qatar was the last place I applied to, the last place I interviewed for but the first to give me an offer.

I started this whole process over three years and I was turned down by ADEC and AUSK.  I took the last three years and worked on me.  I obtained more experience as a classroom teacher, returned to school and earned my Masters Degree and Reading Specialist Certification, resigned from my job, taught college course, coached teachers and grew personally and professionally.  Then I started this process over and made sure nothing stood in my way.  I feel vindicated.  There are no goals unattainable if you really want it.

This is a big life change and it is scary but what’s even scarier is not taking this chance. Qatar feels right.  What really won me over (beside the benefits), was the communication and openness of the people at Qatar Foundation.  I have prayed and prayed and I am going in Eyes Wide Open.  Qatar was the last place I applied to, the last place I interviewed for but the first to give me an offer.  So I signed my contract and sent it off because sometimes you have to go with your gut.

Afterwards I called my mom and told her the news.  She took it better than I thought.  Since then I have put it out there to the world via Facebook and finally invited people to take this journey with me and my family and follow my blog.

Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Qatar

By Friday I still hadn’t heard from ADEC or AUSK and a decision had to be made.

It was 9:15 am, 2 days ago when I received my offer from Dawn of QF.  The benefit package was very lucrative. Without giving up a dollar amount here is a list of benefits offered by QF:

  • monthly salary
  • no taxes
  • free furnished accommodation
  • paid utilities
  • medical and life insurance for myself and my dependents
  • 20% towards the purchase of a vehicle
  • monthly transportation allowance
  • shipping allowance
  • relocation allowance
  • paid tuition to a QF private school or an allowance toward another private school for my dependents
  • visa sponsorship for myself and my family
  • yearly flights home for myself and my family
However, there were two problems.
1) I was only given 2 days to sign
2) I wanted to compare the benefits of Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait and I had not yet received offers from either ADEC or AUSK.
I called my Teach Away reps to find out the status of my other applications.  Apparently, I was still being considered for both companies and awaiting offer letters.
Later that evening, I SKYPED with Dawn.  She was open and willing to offer answers to all my questions.  I would be teaching Kindergarten, which I indicated as my grade of preference, unless she hired a teacher who could only teach Kindergarten, then I would be bumped to first grade. Either is fine with me.  I would be responsible for the subjects English Language Arts and Science.
My family and I put together a comparison chart for the three countries and taped it to the wall.  We were going to use it to display the benefits to help with the decision making.
For the most part, I had some idea of the benefits ADEC and AUSK offered.  ADEC did not pay utilities, transportation fees or schooling for the boys.  The salary was a little more but once you factor in the transportation allowance and paid utilities it actually is a whole lot less. That doesn’t even include tuition for my kids and private schooling is expensive.  Expat children cannot attend public school in Abu Dhabi.  Another consideration was that I would not know where I would be placed until I got there and the contract would be for 3 years.  The benefits package offered by AUSK is a lot more comparable to QF.  AUSK has a beautiful facility, but the pay is less. Kuwait also lies very close to Iraq and Iran.
By Friday I still hadn’t heard from ADEC or AUSK and a decision had to be made.  Should I wait for the other offers and possibly lose out on a great opportunity or take a chance and go with a country that I never considered previously?

 

Panic

I love sunsets and sunrises. On this day I was blessed to be able to see both. Of course, everyday that we wake up and go to sleep, they exist, but how often do we actually watch both.

My sisters and I left Atlanta around 4:30am on Tuesday 2.9.16.  We were trying to beat the snow storm that was headed to Philly.  During the long ride home, I received a phone call from my TeachAway rep.  She told me that the QF was interested in a follow up interview with me and asked if I would be available the next day.  “Of course! But wait, where do I need to go for this one?”  Fortunately it would be a SKYPE interview from the comforts of my own home. “Thank God!” As much as I love to travel, I was craving my own bed and to see my husband, kids and Zoey the dog.

By the time I reached home, it was dark, snowing and cold.  A Qatar number came up on my caller ID.  I was nervous about answering.  But I did.  It was Dawn, the Director of Al Wakra.  She told me that she was very interested in me and wanted me to interview with her Principal and Vice Principal since if I was offered the job and I accepted I would be working closely with them.  I was happy that things were moving in a positive direction.  Then she told me that if all went well, I’d have an offer letter the next day. “WHAT!”

Now I was panicking…I hadn’t heard from Abu Dhabi or Kuwait yet.

The Qatar Interview

Qatar Foundations is made up of a consortium of 8 schools.  Most of the schools offer the IB program or are in the process of accreditation.  The chairperson of QF is Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser.  The government realizes that the only way to secure the country’s future is to reshape their educational system.

2/8/16-  Dressed in my ‘lucky blue suit’ and head wrap I prepared for my last interview. Since this was my first time interviewing for Qatar I didn’t know what to expect, except by now I learned that most of these interviewers asked similar questions.  My Qatar interview was in the afternoon so I stayed at a different hotel than the one it was being held at.  I met my TeachAway rep in the lobby at the downtown Atlanta, Hampton Inn. There were approximately 11 other applicants there, 7 females, 4 males. We went into a small conference room to listen to an overview of Qatar Foundations with the Superintendent.  Afterwards, the TeachAway rep took the first four applicants to a room for quick tips.  I was in the next wave of four applicants.

This interview was different than the other two for several reasons.

  1. There were four interviewers representing 5 Qatar Foundation Schools
  2. Some applicants interviewed with more than one interviewer
  3. The interviews were face to face
I interviewed with Dawn, the Director of Qatar Foundations Al Wakra school, a K-6 bilingual school that grows a grade each year.  Dawn and I had great conversations. You ever meet someone and there’s like an instant connection. Dawn and I connected like that.  After I told her about myself and what I am currently doing she was impressed with my range of teaching experience. (I’ve taught K, First Grade, Fifth Grade, College Students and Coached K-3 teachers all within 5 years)  Some examples of questions she asked were:
  • How do you differentiate instruction?
  • How do you manage behaviors?
  • How do you assess children?
  • What would I see in your classroom?
  • Am I familiar with RTI and PBIS?
  • What reading program am I familiar with?
  • How to teach Reading Workshop to students who can’t read yet?
  • How was it going from teaching children to Adult learners? (To be honest, teaching adults is a lot like teaching children)
She asked me if there was anything I wanted to tell her.  I told her why I wanted to work for Qatar Foundations.  She also asked me about my headwrap.  I told her I am bald so I can’t change my hairstyles but I can change my head wraps and that is what I do.  She said I would fit right in because a lot of women over there wear headwraps. She complimented me on mine. She asked me what grade I would prefer. I told her Kindergarten but that I am flexible.  Dawn is from California and has taught overseas for years.  We talked about our kids and she gave me some advice for schooling my boys in Qatar. She told me she was highly considering me for the position but that she had other interviews to conduct the next day.  I found out that some applicants had to interview with several QF reps.  This made me feel a little uneasy because I only interviewed with Dawn.
After the interview, I had to check back in with my Teach Away rep. I told her about the interview and exchanged phone numbers to set up a text chat with four women.  I felt great afterwards, all interviews were over, or were they?

The Kuwait Interview Second Chance

Today I woke up to something I don’t see everyday, snow in New York. It was wet snow, so it wasn’t sticking, but it was messy.  I was so glad I decided to stay in the same hotel as the interview and didn’t have to commute.  I just was hoping that the snow would clear up before we had to make our way home.  My husband was up before me, nothing new.  He’s an early riser; I on the other hand am not a morning person.

He warmed up my leftovers for breakfast; I ate and dressed. In the lobby, I met up with the Teach Away rep for the Kuwait interview. It was the same rep from the Abu Dhabi interview a few days before.  There were only 5 interviewees, this time, 3 males and 2 females including me.

We went upstairs to the room where the rep gave us some logistics about the interview. I was scheduled to be interviewed third.  This process was more relaxed and intimate than the last. We were going to be interviewed in person by one woman in another room. It could last 30 min to 1 hour. A few days before, I received the name of the interviewer via email. To my surprise, the name looked eerily familiar. It was the same woman that I interviewed with 3 years ago. I wondered if she would recognize me. I decided not to mention our last encounter and just start fresh. If she didn’t mention it, neither would I.

I found out I was the only person applying for an elementary teaching position. I figured, my chances were pretty good. I was nervous but felt pretty confident. Then it was my turn.

I think it went well. At the end, she passed me her business card and asked that I email her a reference number and email. I was happy that my interview was switched to New York being as though it was her first round of interviews. Here are some examples of the sort of questions she asked me:

What do I know about Kuwait and AUSKuwait? (The position is at this private American school)

Why do I want to work there?

What kind of enrichment activities have I done with kids?

How have I integrated technology?

What textbook and curriculum for literacy did I like?

How would my coworkers describe me?

What do I know about Howard Gardener?

Have I ever been through an accreditation process before?

What did I do in my prior positions?

Do I sing with my kids?

Do I hold a meeting with my kids?

The interview lasted for about 45 minutes. She told me some things about the position, school and benefits. I’m hopeful, but I was last time too.

I’ve heard that one applicant to ADEC already got a rejection email but I haven’t heard anything yet.

So one more interview to go.. hopefully I will hear something soon.

 

 

 

 

The Abu Dhabi Interview Second Chance

2/2/16 7:10 am- I arrived at the meeting room; three other women were waiting outside the door. I found out there is a Starbucks on the first floor. I grab a banana nut bread and caramel latte. (Btw, this was a waste of money because I didn’t finish either, and they wound up in the trash. I can’t eat when I’m nervous)

By 7:30am I was back at the meeting room.  This time there were 4 other women seated inside including Nancy, my bloggy friend.  We said each other’s name, pointed and then hugged just like we were old friends.  It didn’t take long for the small hotel room to fill up.  It was a regular hotel room, with the beds removed.  I thought that was strange especially since there was only seating enough for around 12 people but there were over 30 of us there.  As everyone began streaming in, I began to take inventory.  There were approximately 40 people, 5 males, 3-5 white women and the rest were, well you guessed it, African American Women.  Interesting!

The Teach Away rep was nice.  She began to take attendance and laid out the interviewing order.  There were applicants there from other teaching agencies as well.  She informed us that there would be 5 interview rooms with interviews occurring simultaneously.  I found my name on one of the list and I was second.  Life’s small victories. I handed the rep my flash drive with all my personal info on it and waited my turn. Everyone was nice and chatty.

After a while, the first 3 people from the 5 list went into one of the interview rooms for a 20 minute orientation via Skype.  The two ADEC reps gave us some more information about the position.  Then the interviews began.  I interviewed with two women whom were very nice.  Here are some examples of questions they asked:

What is your religion? (and you have to claim one)

Do you have any visual tattoos?

Do you have any medical problems that may hinder your ability to perform the job?

How would you

differentiate for ELL learners?

How would you motivate ELL learners who don’t participate?

What reading curriculums have you used?

How do you work in a team?

How have you integrated technology?

What is outcome based learning?

Why do you want to work for ADEC?

Give an example of a time when a student was misbehaving or not academically excelling, what did you do?

How would you communicate a child’s progress to their parent and or to the child?

How would a student-centered classroom look and how would you get your class there?

Of course I over prepared for this interview.  But I’m glad I prepared.  Some of the other applicants shared their interview experience.  Some were not as lucky to get such a nice panel of interviewers and were asked different questions than I.

I was glad when it was over.  By 9:30 I was done. By 10:30, so were Nancy and Shina (another nice applicant that I vibed with). We agreed to get lunch together and waited till 11:15 to leave.

By 11:30, we sat down for lunch at Gyu-Kaku.
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It was my first time eating Japanese BBQ and it did not disappoint.  Nancy and I encouraged Shina to apply for Qatar.  We had good conversation and agreed to stay in contact either way.  If one of us does not get the job, we will visit the other.  If I don’t get the job, I am happy I made two new friends.
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I feel good about the interview.  It was a good day.