Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Week three has been a strangely ordinary week here in the Kingdom. Unfortunately, the King decided to take the opportunity to skip giving everyone an extra day off because of National Day celebrations, and instead announced that starting 4 years from now, women will be able to vote in municipal elections. I’m not trying to sound bigoted, I’m just saying I wouldn’t have objected to an extra day off. It’s a nice gesture of good faith towards establishing some semblance of equality, but it’s quite a way down the road and Saudis have a distinctly nonchalant attitude about keeping their promises. Only time will tell. Until then, my female Saudi compatriots will have to relish their victory by hiding themselves away in their abayas while their male drivers escort them around town and provide legal standing should the Muttawa (the religious police) decide to question them. Baby steps I guess.

This week at school started on a high note. We were greeted by a new classroom aide, a Pakistani man named Fahraz, who for whatever reason insisted we call him Fido and that students refer to him as Mr. Mohammed (which is not in any part of his name). He was an Associate Professor of Computer Technology at a school in the tri-city area, and decided that he could use a pay raise to be a classroom assistant at an elementary school. With his credentials it leaves the actual count of elementary teachers who work in the school at one; Me. The South African warmly welcomed him with “I’d say welcome to Hell, but you’re already living in it. You’ve apparently decided to move down a few levels to join our notoriety. Welcome.” Our schedules were revised, and aside from having an art teacher with a brain the size of a peanut and a penchant for calling all her students ‘princess’ regardless of their male gender, everything is starting to function in such a way that an outside observer could call it school.

We did, however, learn that out Romanian Principle is officially out of the picture, and our Superintendent has decided to leave at the end of this week to pursue another job in the States. Thus, it will now permanently be an un-administrated school casually overseen by the overworked and underpaid Principle of the Girls’ School. The Superintendent’s  Ma’a es Salaam (a going away party of sorts) was this afternoon and the central administration of the company were present to congratulate us for doing a wonderful job starting out the school year. In talking with the Vice President, a wealthy former Minister of Education, I was consoled about the slow process of furnishing and supplying our classroom with an offer to have a TV sent over to my apartment in our compound. I accepted. It won’t happen. Such is life in Saudi.

During my prep I decided to walk around the second floor and took some pictures of our school’s humble surroundings. Enjoy.

 Were there no security walls surrounding the building and you 
could see out of my classroom windows, this would be the view.

 A view of the rear of the Girls' School.

The view directly across the street from the student entrance. 
It's new construction by the way.