Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

Another week has come to pass filled with distractions (some worse than others), and once again I’m trying to catch up on posting. Aside from dealing with a hectic return to work after a break that might have been a bit too long for most students, I ran into a situation with my car, literally (more on that later), and I also started an online university course that ended up being considerably more challenging than I anticipated. I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping my plate fully loaded, but I can’t say that it’s all that negative.

Some mornings aren't all that bad at the Boys' School.

The past several weeks have seen the standard ridiculous day to day changes that I’ve come to expect here. At the beginning of last week, the Vice President paid us a visit before he was scheduled to fly to the States to attend a teaching job fair, coincidentally the same job fair where I was hired. After some incredibly awkward small talk in the foyer about travelling to Iowa in the dead of winter, he called our recently hired bilingual Saudi receptionist into the side storage room he refers to as his ‘office’ and promptly fired him. This came as a bit of a shock to all of us considering, for one, it’s nearly impossible to fire a Saudi, and two, of all the local hires (read: Arabs) he was by far and away the most competent of the lot. Myself and the Brit tried our hardest to coax the details out of both the receptionist and the Vice President, but neither would budge. The South African was able to find out some of the juicy bits, but absolutely refused to tell us what happened and merely warned us to “be careful not to get too friendly with any students.” I’m uncertain if what he meant was that our receptionist was a child molester or if he was taking bribes from parents for things. Either way it was a bit odd.

A few days later we received a new teacher, another South African, who had spent the last few years teaching at a university in Turaif, a small town in the middle of the desert near the Jordanian border (it’s about a 15 hour drive north of the Tri-City area and well over 5 hours from any other semblance of civilization). As the Brit was quick to point out before we were to meet for the first time, he’s been in country just a wee bit too long. Aside from looking almost exactly like a deckhand from any recent pirate movie, or the homeless guy from Dennis the Menace, his other major downfall is his almost unintelligible accent, which even the South African has a hard time understanding. Thankfully I haven’t had to work with him much.

Lunch at the buffia (cafe) across the street is a highlight of my day. 
Note how much different the Brit (above) looks than the Pirate.

I received two new students at the beginning of last week, and, thankfully, both of them speak reasonable English and have previous experience using a western-style toilet. I managed to round up enough desks and assorted school supplies for them, and things were going smoothly until I realized that I no longer had enough textbooks (or illegal photocopies) for everyone . I managed to coax one of the drivers into getting a few more copies made, but because neither myself nor the School was willing to pay off the copy place, the copied textbooks didn’t arrive until yesterday. The good news is that I have them. The bad is that they only copied the first hundred or so pages of each textbook and I’m well past that point in every subject. Hopefully next week I’ll get a new set of copies ordered, or at least attempt to. I’m still waiting to receive the other shipment of actual textbooks that has been held up in customs for the past 6 or so months, but until then, this is the what I’ll keep working with.

 Watching the progress of our future housing complex is one of 
the things the Brit and I look forward to during our preps.

Among the many small adventures I end up getting involved in, many of which I fully intend on avoiding, I ended up spending several days’ worth of preps compiling a textbook and teacher resources order for the next school year, when the school doubles its current enrollment for grades 4, 5, and 6, and then adds one or two classes of each grade 7, 8, and 9. I spent the better half of 4 days writing down everything an established school would need for every subject for each grade, only to had the files over to the South African who promptly deleted half the order because he thought things like companion workbooks, lab manuals, and electronic transparencies (to use with our smartboards) were ‘unnecessary.’ Thankfully I kept my copy, (as well as several hardcopies I’ve stashed in several different locations) so I deleted his ‘edited’ list, replaced it with my own, and switched the format to an unalterable PDF. He apparently didn’t notice, or care, and sent the list off to the Vice President to approve. Who knows when we’ll find out how much we’ll actually be getting for next year, but at least I have the peace of mind that I attempted to prevent what will undoubtedly be a less than perfect situation when we return next year.

I’ve come to realize that many of the things I get involved in happen because I have a tendency to rush into things a bit quickly, and that the leading cause of all these sometimes misguided, oftentimes lamentable, decisions is usually a little too much time on my hands. It should be noted that this isn’t a very new realization (hence the name) and its probably one of the leading factors of why I wound up coming to this charming corner of the earth. The upside to this habit is that I keep pretty busy with an ever changing assortment of problems and predicaments. I’ve come to accept this cycle of life because it keep things interesting, and because honestly, life’s a little boring when you aren’t ankle deep in shit.