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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I guess 3 times is a Charm

Finally, I got my offer letter from ADEC yesterday. I know I already accepted a position with Qatar so why am I so happy to get this…

Dear Kennesha,

Teach Away would like to congratulate you on receiving a letter of offer from the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC). Please be advised that signing a letter of offer secures your position for an August Term 2016start, provided you meet all visa requirements….”
Finally, I got my offer letter from ADEC yesterday.  I know I already accepted a position with Qatar so why am I so happy to get this… Well if you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’ve applied to teach in Abu Dhabi three times.  I was turned down twice and low and behold, they said YES, on the third try.

The other teachers that I speak to on occasion through text also received their offers.  Congratulations Nancy.

The wait was so long….But I am sincerely happy for them! I can always visit my new friends in Abu Dhabi.

In the meantime, the paperwork continues for Qatar.  One of the most daunting task has been schooling for the boys.  I have applied for admissions for them at Qatar Academy Doha and at GEMS for my youngest son, since GEMS only goes up to 10th grade at this time. I’ve also received an email from Qatar Academy Sidra with the necessary paperwork to complete for enrollment.  I’ve looked at other schools too: American Community School of Qatar, American School of Doha.  But their tuition is above what Qatar Foundations will reimburse for tuition and that somewhat defeats the purpose of choosing Qatar so I will stick to where they will pay the tuition.

 

It is also difficult to process all the paperwork when you have to wait on businesses, postal service and other people.  Fortunately, my ex-husband and I are in an ok place.  I picked him up so that he and I could take care of the paperwork that needed his signature.  Without hesitation he handed over his passport so I could make a copy (yes they requested a copy of my ex-husband’s passport to confirm signature matches); he signed the applications for new passports for the boys; he signed the letter saying he gives permission for me to sponsor my boys in QATAR.  Now that the letter is signed and I located our divorce degree, I have to send them off to be translated into Arabic.  Once they come back, I can send them off with the other documents to be authenticated.

My new passport arrived yesterday with 24 pages, more room for stamps.  I am hoping the boys passports arrive within the next few days.  I need their birth certificates to go in the stack of papers needing to be authenticated.  They had to be sent away with the passport applications. The boys have both gotten their physicals and blood work back.  Mine is complete; I just have to go back to the doctors to have him complete the paperwork, since the lab forgot to check for my blood type, and since it had been more than 72 hours, I had to go back and get poked again. !OUCH!  My husband still has to get his blood work done. My FBI and criminal history report has arrived.  Still waiting for Darryl’s Criminal history report to arrive. The boy’s current schools sent over their transcripts and grade reports.  I am still waiting for the charter school that they attended 2 years ago to respond to my email for their grade reports.  That is the difference in Private and Public schools, Professionalism and ease of receiving responses.  The boys need 3 years of grades.  I will probably just wind up locating their report cards from 2 years ago.

I’ve told my jobs that I won’t be returning for Fall.  Thank goodness I don’t burn bridges when it comes to money, because they told me I can always come back.  I’ve also told the teachers I coach and the principal at the school.  Needless to say they were all happy and excited for me.

In the meantime, I am trying to get my house in order, cleaning, buying bins, organizing. My basement is full of early learning and elementary supplies.  This is giving me an excuse to CLEANU UP.  I’m also shopping for 100% cotton, rayon and linen clothing.  This is giving me an excuse to SHOP.  Like I need an excuse for that.  lol. Till next time…

 

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!

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.