Hurry Up and Wait

Today marked the end of the toughest week I’ve experienced so far. Surprisingly, it was also the most normal, or at least it had some semblance of normality. My daily routine has lost its glamour, and the wonderment that comes with living in a new place has just about dried up. My little desert prisons were pushing me to the end of my last nerve by Monday (hump day here in the Kingdom), and every hour thereafter was like pulling hair from the balding scalp that is my sanity.

The schedule I established (for the entire school as a new teacher in a foreign country) two weeks ago has been working wonders. It took some time for the other staff members to realize it would be wise to listen to the only person in the building with any experience working with children, as they might have the knowhow and wherewithal to fix the situation. Now that things are starting to function properly, small problems are starting to fix themselves. This turn of events has been great. But not really. Becoming a real school means there has been a noticeable decrease in everyday chaos, and a huge increase in problems stemming from all but one of the staff members having any experience or knowledge working with children. The dim speckle of light at the end of the tunnel is the new requirement that every teacher attend one mandatory teaching seminar each week. It’ll eventually help take the burden of teaching teachers how to teach off the shoulders of the four people who actually know what they’re doing (myself and three women in the Girls’ School), but only thirty minutes at a time, provided the seminars actually happen. They currently aren’t. It’s a great personal learning experience to teach the art of teaching and then see if your advice actually works, but it’s not particularly convenient to do it while teaching children at the same time. I mean that literally. I teach my students and am usually interrupted two or three times each period to answer questions or give advice to other staff members.

I’m relatively certain this is something that most people would not call an ideal first year teaching experience.

Compounding this is that up until late this afternoon I was without my passport or any legal or practical way to leave the country. I received my iqama late last week, which meant I could cash my paycheck and start trying to fill the void of normal life with things like a bank account, a mobile phone, health insurance, or driving a car. But if I wanted to leave the country, say to a small island nation a short drive down the road from my compound where one can legally purchase a significant amount of things that interest me, I couldn’t. By significant amount of things I mean bacon, booze that wasn’t made in a cupboard, and interacting with women who don’t wear bed sheet dresses. Most everybody else can, and, come Wednesday night, everyone relatively close to my age with any preference for consuming booze or indulging in social interaction with the opposite gender heads to Bahrain. I like sitting by the pool, and the weather is great, but middle aged Scottish women and moonshine hangovers just don’t cut it after a while. During my wait, I made several phone calls every day to my government agent, and was given more broken promises than I care to count. It took 43 days to get my Multi-Visa, which is 42 days and 22 hours longer than it actually takes, but now I have it, and I plan on putting it to good use.

Next week marks the start of our Eid Holiday. I plan on spending the better part of the next two weeks travelling, now that I actually can. It’ll be nice to take a break from the monotonous chaos people refer to as my job. Until then, my posting will probably be light, but I hope to come back with a few good stories and plenty of pictures. Peace.