SOON

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I received this email yesterday:

“Dear All,

I am in the process of booking your one way ticket to Doha. However, in order to book your ticket(s), I will need the following information from you in the next 36 hours.

What is the closest airport where you will be flying from in August?

What is the full name of the airport?

What is the three letter airport code?”

This is very exciting news.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Soon I will know exactly when my family and I are leaving. Soon we will start our new life.  Soon I will be leaving the life I know behind.  Soon I will be nervous as hell to take that flight.  Soon I will miss the rest of my family terribly.  Soon I will meet and make new friends and connections.  Soon I will be in another part of the world. Soon!

Side Note

Do they really move this slow in the Middle East?

“Good Morning Kennesha,
I have received a copy of your CV through Teach Away and understand that you already interviewed with our director, Dr. ___ in January. If you are still interested in an elementary teaching position in Kuwait starting August 2016  I would like to arrange a Skype interview with you as early as possible. I look forward to hearing from you.”

This is an email I received today.  It was unexpected to say the least but refreshing.  After all this time I am still being considered  for a position in Kuwait.  Too bad I already accepted  an offer from Qatar Foundation.  Not too bad for me. I mean I wanted Qatar more than the others–but why did they take so long.  Do they really move this slow in the Middle East?

Well criminal history reports, degree and transcipt have been sent to PROEX for the final authentication process for a measly $264.  I saved almost $200 by driving to Harrisburg and getting the first part done myself.  My girlfriend Michele drove with me; we enjoyed 4 hours of girl talk.  It cost $15 each to get the documents attested in Harrisburg and $18 both ways for tolls.  While I wait for these documents to come back, I have court next Tuesday for the custody hearing.  Once the courts send me the modified order, I have to get it notarized, translated in Arabic and authenticated.  The FBI clearances will be the last of the paperwork, also needs to be authenticated.  I’m getting closer.  Only 4 months to go.

Side note: This blog was meant to help others who are considering teaching in the middle east and as a way for me to track every step of the process.  It is also intended for others to follow my family’s journey and be inspired.  But there is someone else out there, someone extremely bitter, who has chosen to use my information from my blog for something else, for their personal gain and to use the information against my family. So to my husband’s ex-wife, Edna, I say, I see you, hi hater…I hope you are enjoying my blog.

The Never Ending Story

…I feel like this paperwork is a never ending story with twist and turns and that I will never accomplish my goal.

I love the movie, The Never Ending Story.  I remember my mother took me to the movies to see it when I was a little girl.  I was fascinated by the thought of one’s life being read by someone else in a story.  I used to believe that people, somewhere, were reading about me and my life.  I guess that is kind of how a blog is.  Anyway, in the movie, Atreyu, the Native American Warrior, was trying to save Fantasia but he kept hitting brick walls, in a sense. Every turn he made, he had to overcome another obstacle, in order to stop the ‘nothing’ from engulfing his world.  When he finally arrived at the empress, he thinks he failed his quest but in reality the whole journey was necessary.  Right now, I feel like this paperwork is a never ending story with twist and turns and that I will never accomplish my goal.

Where do I start?

The last time I posted about all the paperwork, I was in the process of requesting our FBI clearances.  Well, on a day in which Darryl was working from home and I was off, we went to the Philadelphia State Police to get fingerprinted, only to find out that they no longer do fingerprinting for employment abroad.  We left there feeling disappointed but not discouraged.  I called around and found out that the Abington Police still do the fingerprinting for a $20 fee each.  So that’s where we went.  Afterward I called the FBI, just to confirm our applications were complete before sending them off. I was informed that there is a 13-15 week processing time. (Can you see me with my mouth open?) So I sent off the applications, fingerprints and $18.00 money orders.

All of our new passport have arrived.  I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to take our trip to Canada but the passports came in, that same week thankfully.  Darryl’s state criminal clearance finally came in the mail.  The boys old school never responded to my emails so I searched and found their report cards and scanned them to QA Doha and QA Sidra schools.  My ex-husband signed the sponsorship letter and I had both the letter and and divorce degrees translated as requested.  I used ABS Translation Interpreting Services, Inc.. Aram was very quick with the turn around of these documents and super nice.  I definitely recommend this company.  I paid $98.00 for the translation of these documents, only to be told that my divorce decree was not sufficient for sponsorship of my sons because it didn’t mention a custody order.  So getting that translated was a waste of time and money.

Everyone got their blood work and medical forms completed.  I found out I have high cholesterol.  So now I take a pill a day for that. While seeing my GYN she discovered a lump in my right breast.  I had to go get a mammogram and ultrasound just to be on the safe side.  Took care of that and got a clean bill of health.  Thank God.  Even went to see the Dermatologist. So I’ve been poked and prodded by everybody.  But I’m happy to say, I’m in pretty good health.

I located my custody order that was agreed upon in mediation, but it was hand written. That didn’t go over well.  I spent a day down town at Family Court getting a copy of the official custody order, and requested a modification of the custody order (at the request of my Qatar hiring manager due to the weekend visitations).  The copy and hearing request cost me approximately $45.00.  I was told I would get a court date in the mail probably for some time in July and in order to request an expedited court date, I would still have to wait until I receive the official court date.  At that time, I could return to Family Court, pay a fee, and prove reason for expedited service or enter a custody stipulation with required paperwork (for a fee, I’m sure).   A custody stipulation is an agreement between my ex-husband and I, signed and submitted to court to modify the current order and then signed by the judge without a court hearing.  I have spoken to my ex-husband and he is being really supportive and agreeable.

As of now, the only things I am still waiting for are: FBI clearances, a Court Date for modification of custody and a Judges signature on my custody stipulation.  In the meantime, I am beginning the authentication process.  My degree, transcipt and state criminal clearance as well as Darryl’s have been notarized.  Tomorrow I will be driving to Harrisburg to get these documents authenticated at the state level. Then I will be sending them to a company to finish the authentication process. Sure I could just send them to the company to complete the whole process, but this way I save myself a few dollars.

And in this story there is some light:

“Dear parent of Zarien G,

Thank you for applying to Qatar Academy Doha!

It is a pleasure to inform you that your child Zarien has been offered a space in Grade 8 الصف الثامن for the academic year 2016-2017.”

My youngest son has been accepted.  The Admin at Doha along with the Admin at my son’s current school arranged for him to take the admissions test at his current school and he did well, I assume.  My son said he thought he did well and well this email proves it.  I am so proud of him.  One less thing to worry about.  My oldest son will complete his test tomorrow.  I truly hope that Doha is a good fit for my boys.  I have heard mixed opinions about the school but the campus is beautiful and I like the programs I’ve read about there.

So as you follow along in my Never Ending Story, I ask that you root for me, like Sebastian did for Atreyu. This journey is necessary!  Only 4 months to go until the new chapter begins.

Road Trip

…the highlight was the drive, the conversations and the quality time.

In November I took my sons to Mexico. It was my oldest son’s 16th birthday and we had a blast. After accepting the job in Qatar it only made sense to plan a trip to the third country on the continent of North America before we move off of it.

On Thursday my family and I took a road trip to Canada.  My husband took off from work and drove the whole way. We drove thru PA and New York and arrived in Niagara Falls in a little over 6 hours.  We had great conversation and stopped at the New York border to take this picture.

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We were disappointed that the border workers didn’t stamp our passports when we arrived to Canada. I was hoping my husband would get his first stamp and the boys and I would get our first stamp in our new books here.

We checked into the Doubletree, then walked around. We went to the Falls and took some pictures. It was off season so there were no boat or cruise tours available. That was a bit disappointing but seeing the falls was nice.

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Then we walked to Clifton Hills. It sort of reminds me of Atlantic City without the beach. We tried Poutine; it tasted good but we definately needed some Gas-x afterwards.

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On Friday, we tried Beaver Tails. They’re not actually tails from beavers but dessert shaped like beaver tails. We tried several Canadian specific foods during our vacation. Take a look.

 

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Maple dipped donut from Tim Hortons.

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Nasty crush cream soda.

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Smarties are like American M&Ms but not as good. Coffee Crisp are like Kit kats but better, and All dressed Chips are like every flavor in one chip, rather tasty actually.

We went to the outlets, where I purchased my new Pandora bead. I try to collect one specific to the destination whenever I travel someplace new.

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I hope they have Pandora shops in the MiddleEast.  After some brief shopping we drove to Niagara on the Lake, a quaint little town with antique shops and of course a lake.

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Since we’d heard Toronto was only about a 1.5 hour drive away, we took the drive. The buildings there look futuristic and I think next time we go to Canada, this is where we will stay.

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On Saturday we headed home along a long scenic route. We stopped in Buffalo NY for some buffalo wings at Duffs.  For it to be the buffalo wing capital, they were just ok.  Here’s me and my son dabbing outside of Duffs, being silly.

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We took in the beauties of our home state during the ride. Pennsylvania really is beautiful once you step outside of Philly. We had a nice time but the highlight was the drive, the conversations and the quality time.

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Person of the month

This post is a little different than the rest of my post.  I have decided to highlight someone that has been my lifeline since we met.  His name is Darryl and he is my husband.  390754_10150359914675666_433568261_n

This is us on our wedding day 11/11/11.  He has supported me through this process from Day 1.  He has held my hand every step of the way and been my biggest cheerleader.  I could not have asked for a better partner.  People ask me, how could you leave your husband and go so far away?  Because this is my dream and he has his.  He held me down thru two degrees and now it is his turn.  He is in college now and the financial freedom I will have in Qatar without the burden of bills will help me to now support him.  I know we are strong enough to withstand the distance.

I admire him because he’s strong and smart.  He’s a great father and step-father and a wonderful husband. I love you Darryl and thank you.

Ain’t we CUTE!!!!!!!!

Mind’s well get used to it

…the most frustrating thing is the lack of clear communication.

Last night my sister came over to see me.  We had great conversations.  She asked me how preparations were going.  And I had to sigh… It’s a lot.  I had to admit, and the most frustrating thing is the lack of clear communication.  Once I accepted my offer, I was emailed a list of documents I had to start organizing.  But I knew the list was incomplete from my experience with Abu Dhabi.  I knew there was more paperwork I had to obtain and send prior to obtaining a visa for my family.  About a week ago I scanned a copy of Darryl and my FBI clearances to my H.R. rep  in Qatar.  He told me that the FBI clearance that I obtained was not correct and that I had to redo it.  Originally I was just told to obtain both state and FBI clearances for he and I, no details were given about where I had to obtain them or how.  So after going back and forth with the H.R. rep, he finally sent me a link to how I should get them.  WHY DIDN’T YOU DO THAT FROM THE GET GO? I spent $25.75 for each of our clearances and waited for them to come back.  Now come to find out, the correct ones cost $18.00.  (Just in case, you are going through the same thing, this is the link to where and how to obtain your FBI clearances.  By the way, I’m going straight through the FBI, not a ‘channeler’ because I only want to have to do this one more time. fbi clearance  Pray that this time it’s right)

I told my sister this story and then said, “Well, I mind’s well get used to it.”  They do things differently over there.  Communication is not always clear.  We, Americans are spoiled.  When we are offered a job, we are often given a list of things to organize and where to get them or the job does it for us.  But Qatar is not America.  She said, but that was a waste of money.  I know, it was, but I have wasted more on less important things, like eating out, or that outfit, I wore only once.  I could go on and on… It’s been a lot, but no point of stressing over it.  This is what I want to do and I have to keep an open mind. Things will not go as planned all the time.  There will be bumps in the road.  But if this were easy, more people would do it, right?

There have been other hiccups with the paperwork but for now I digress…It will all be worth it in the end and I hope my blog is helping someone avoid the bumps I’m hitting. When this is all over, I will post a completed list of all things I had to obtain and where I got them.

Added note: My husband has corrected me and said the actual saying is “might as well” not “minds well”. Well he is from St. Louis and I am from Philly and we pronounce it “minds well”. So there you have it. Anyway it’s fitting because my “mind better get used to change”.

My Journey

Sometimes it’s hard to see the blessings in ‘no’ but if you know your worth, I encourage you to ‘GO OUT AND TAKE THAT’.

It was about 6 years ago when I earned my B.S. degree from Temple University.  Fresh out of college I was offered a teaching job with the School District of Philadelphia.  I signed on, then went to visit what would be my class.  It was mid school year and I was to take over a first grade class whose teacher left.  It only took one visit and for one student to come up to me and say, “You are not our teacher”, for me to decide this was not part of my journey.  I called the hiring representative for SDP and said I changed my  mind.  The lady who seemed rather bitter and upset told me, I would never be able to work for the school district.

At the time I was a Center Director for an Early Learning Center.  I had worked at this center for 3 years and had a great staff. It was within walking distance of my home and day care was free for my kids. I loved this job but there was no future there.  When the CEO heard I was leaving he matched the salary with SDP and convinced me to stay.  A year later I was interviewing at places again. I figured, why have a teaching degree if you’re not going to use it and take advantage of the benefits.

I decided to interview for a teaching job with Mastery Charter. During the interview, I told the interviewer I wanted to work at the school in the Northeast and teach second grade.  She asked me which was more important to me, location or grade.  I told her location.  A few days later she called to offer me a position at her school, teaching Kindergarten. It wasn’t the location or grade I requested but I accepted anyway.  During my 4 years at Mastery, I taught Kindergarten for 2 years, first grade for 1.5 years and finally 5th grade for .5 year. I also applied for a promotion twice and was turned down.  I believe this was because, I have a big mouth. I speak my mind and say what everyone is thinking but is too afraid to say.  During my last 2 years there, I went back to school and obtained my M.Ed.  I got tired of being told no and finally decided, the only way for this little birdie to spread her wings would be to leave.  I gave my resignation in early spring.  I had no job lined up.

I knew I wanted to start my own early learning center so I began to go to meetings and PD’s and gather all my paperwork to get things rolling.  I purchased day care furniture from a previous owner who closed her center.  I started my business plan.  The only thing I had left to do was find a building.  In the meantime, I started teaching ECE classes at Harcum Junior College and coaching teachers in Literacy through an agency called CLI.  I enjoyed both of these jobs because I wanted to do both.  I wanted to coach and tried to become a coach at Mastery but they turned me down.  I wanted to work with Adults in Literacy and tried to work in the Curriculum Department at Mastery but was also turned down.  So taking a chance and leaving my very well paying, secure job was one of the best choices I could have made because doing so gave me the opportunity to grow and experience leadership positions.  Mastery couldn’t see my potential but I know my potential.  I am a Leo and I am a Warrior.  Thank you Mastery for telling me “NO”. Sometimes it’s hard to see the blessings in ‘no’ but if you know your worth, I encourage you to ‘GO OUT AND TAKE THAT’.

Somewhere along this road, the idea of teaching overseas came to me again. If you’ve read my older posts, you know I tried before and was told what, ‘no’.  And as you can see, I don’t take well to no. So I reapplied, again. I said to myself, if I get the job, I would go, if I didn’t I would start my Early Learning Center as originally intended.  Well the rest is history since I will be leaving in 5 months. Today I got a letter in the mail that the college that I earned my M.Ed degree through will be starting their first Ed.D program and they were inviting me to apply.  Anyone who knows me, knows I love school and I love to learn.  If I wasn’t leaving for Qatar soon, I would definately go back to school and get my Doctorates.  Maybe one day I will, why not.  This is my journey!