From Oxford Dictionary: Diversion: an activity that diverts the mind from tedious or serious concerns.

A few weeks ago my Principal interrupted the first period class I was filling in.
Him:  Do you have a second?
Me:  I just got started with my lesson, but...
Him:  Thanks. Would you be willing to sub for the Arabic block for grade 6?
Me:  They can come to my classroom and have a study period while I prepare for my normal classes.
Him:  No, I meant will you please teach them Arabic.
Me: ....I don't speak Arabic.
Him:  That's alright, they just need a basic lesson to fill time during Arabic. It can be impromptu.
Me: ....No. I do not know how to speak Arabic.
He reached over to touch my shoulder:  It's just for today.
I backed away from him, then using exaggerated arm movements and speaking slowly:  I. Do. Not. Speak. Arabic.
Him:  ...Huh... Really?...I thought you did.
Me:  No.
Him:  I guess I'll go ask David, I know he's pretty good with Arabic.  [He isn't]
Me:  Good idea.

Later that day 6th graders showed up in my room, so I made them sit quietly and read. The Principal poked his head in the door.
Him:  What are you doing?
Me:  Preparing for my next class.
Him:  You are supposed to be teaching Arabic.
Me: ...I don't speak Arabic.
Him:  We all face challenges, but we need to work together to reach our goals. You should be teaching these students Arabic.
Me: ...I'm sorry. It was foolish of me to think of myself in this situation and make a decision not to teach them a language I don't actually speak.
Him:  Thank you for thinking of the team. (As he turns to walk out the door he faces the students) Now, Grade Sixers, listen carefully to Mr. S because he'll be your new Arabic Teacher! Have a wonderful day!

Students turned to look at me, then looked blankly around at each other.
Student: You teach us Arabic, Mr. S?
Me:  Nope.
Student:  What we do then?
Me:  Whatever you think will annoy me the least.
Student:  We keep reading.
Me:  Good boy.

What Goes Around

It's been an interesting past few weeks. For as much as things have varied on a day to day basis, things hadn't really changed much since the beginning of the school year. Chaos and uncertainty still reigned supreme, but after a few fortunate bits of turmoil things started looking up.



From Oxford Dictionary: Diversion: an activity that diverts the mind from tedious or serious concerns.

Last year I taught 6th grade. One day in the later half of the year out on the playground during recess:
Me: Mohammed! What did you just say to him?
Mohammed (smirking): I say, 'Ahmad,' then I say 'ack you'....
Me: Mohammed, you can't say 'fuck you' on the playground?
Mohammed: Ok... Where I say 'fuck you' then?
Me: Anywhere else you want, but not at school.
Mohammed: Ok (nodding his head proudly), I say 'fuck you' to Ahmad after school.
Me: No, Mohammed, you shouldn't say 'fuck you' to Ahmad at all.
Mohammed: Ok, I not say 'fuck you' to him. (He turns his head and shouts across the soccer field) Ahmad! No more say 'fuck you' ok? Ok.

Twenty minutes later after I picked up a doodle on Mohammed's desk during math:
Me: Really?...
Mohammed: Haha. Is funny, no? I write it for Ahmad.
Me: Nice try Mohammed, but fuck is spelled with a 'c' and a 'k'.
Mohammed writes a 'c' so it says 'fukc’ : "Good?
Me with a sigh: Close enough...


You've Never had It so Good

One of the more interesting aspects of teaching in Saudi is dealing with the large cultural divide between the ideals of the organization that pays me and the norms of my students. This past week marked the beginning of the school year, and in keeping with the normal chaos, life was interesting.


From Oxford Dictionary: Diversion; an activity that diverts the mind from tedious or serious concerns.

Diversions are happenings that highlight the many aspects of living here in the Kingdom. They might be conversations or experiences, extraordinary revelations, or just plain rants. Either way, it's day to day life. 

I left my coffee mug in my car, so I poured my coffee in a regular glass. My roommate walked in the kitchen while I was eating breakfast.
Him: What are you, like, drinking?
Me: Coffee.
Him: Huh?
Me: Coffee.
Him: But... Ohhh, like cold coffee. That's cool.
Me, as I look at the steam rising from my glass: .....
Him: So did you, like buy a new cold coffee machine, or does yours make cold stuff too?
Me: ... Yes. I bought a new cold coffee machine. It's in the other room.
Him: Oh. That's cool man. Do you mind if I, like, use it later? I'll go buy some more ice if I need to.
Me: It's alright, it makes its own ice, you just add water.

An hour later he knocked on my bedroom door.
Him: Hey, do you think you could, like, help me? I put water and even some ice in the cold coffee machine, but it isn't coming out very cold.
Me: Hmm... sometimes you just have to wait a bit for it to cool down.
Him: Yeah, I did that for a few minutes, but it, like, just kept getting hotter.
Me: ... I guess it's probably broken. If you want you could pour it into a pitcher and put it in the fridge. Then, if it's not cold enough, you could add some ice before you drink it.
Him: That's a good idea! Cool! Thanks man... [whispering to himself as he walks away] I love cold coffee...


A Good Rest is Half the Work

Having been through the interesting day to day deterioration of school that occurred last week, I spent the majority of this past weekend avoiding responsibility while attempting to restore my sanity. It worked out well enough, and there were only a few awkward phone calls and email exchanges with the Californian while I sat around the pool on Thursday. As validating as it is to try to elaborate on all the finer details of the work your superior should be doing himself in hopes that he can do his job come the start of the week, it isn’t really all that relaxing working through someone else’s problems while soaking wet and half in the bag. The Brit and I called it a night early, though clearly accomplished in our mission of more than a few drinks and plenty of poolside ogling.

Late Friday morning we set out towards Half Moon Bay to meet up with a friend of the Brit for an afternoon by the sea.