Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Next Step

I have been a little behind on my updates. I am now in a new hotel and I am teaching! What has happened between the last blog and now? Here's a run down!

The last time I wrote I was at the Fairmont waiting.. just waiting. Waiting for money, waiting for notice of location and school, housing etc..

Sunday the 4th all of the LTs assigned to Abu Dhabi City and Al Gharbia(the west) received the names of the schools where we were placed. I was placed in Al Jinan Kindergarten in Ruwais. We were to call our principals to check in and the Abu dhabi teachers needed to report to their schools. I called my principal Fawkia, and she asked me to come the next day by 8am. I said ok and that I was looking forward to meeting her. On the inside I was not a happy camper- Ruwais is almost 3 hours away from Abu dhabi City and I had no way to get there! I had a mini freakout .. but I pulled myself together, went to the Fairmont Hotel concierge and rented a car. That next morning at 445am three of us were on the road to Ruwais. They dropped me off and went to their schools 90mins away to Madinat Zayed.

Ruwais is a small town in the shape of a circle. There are stores and 2 rec centers in the middle then from there are villas and apartment buildings. There are also a few mosques thrown in here and there. It is owned by ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company).

Al Jinan Kindergarten is on the outskirts of the town right neat the Skeikh's palace. When I walked in I was greeted by a security guard and cleaning staff as well as the Head of Faculty Debi! I was then introduced to another LT from USA and the art teacher who is Emirate! They were very welcoming! A few more Arabic teachers arrived and I was warmly greeted with hugs and kisses and handshakes. The music teacher was so excited to see me she ran in and gave me a HUGE hug!  I also met the Fawkia who was very excited to meet me as well! I instantly fell in love! That day I got a tour from Debi, sat and talked with the Arabic teachers, met with Debi and Fawkia, walked and talked with the American LT who filled me in on the dynamics, and sat around some more eating cookies and drinking tea with everyone. I also saw my classroom and organized it a little bit with my Arabic co-teacher!

That Monday was the only day I could make it there due to the distance. Tuesday ADEC held a welcoming ceremony for all of the teachers employed throughout the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. It was called the Bedaya Celebration. There were many people who spoke and showed power points... which were helpful because everything was in Arabic! They gave us headphones and receivers that were supposed to pick up signal so we could hear the English translation, but they never worked consistently.. so we missed most of it! They also had a huge, delicious buffet.

Thursday they packed us up and shipped us out. We were scheduled to leave Thursday morning from the Fairmont to go to a different hotel - out West. That Wednesday evening, amidst all the rushing and packing, I rented a car- signed a 2 year lease. So I packed the car and I packed the truck that was taking out luggage out here. That morning I picked up Louisa, my potential roommate and friend, and we headed out. We were met at the Danat Hotel and Resort by my HoF Debi and the American LT.
We checked- in, brought our luggage up to out rooms, had a quick bite, and went to a meeting in the lobby for all the LTs staying at the hotel. There are people staying here who are assigned to Ruwais, Gayathi, Sila, and Delma Island. These are all areas/towns in the western most region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday we all enjoyed the beach, the pool, the food and each other's company.. and prepared for Sunday- The First Day of School!!!

Crazy and different things in the UAE

There are many things here I have seen and witnessed that are crazy and so very different than what I am used to! And I use the term crazy very loosely because I do respect every aspect of this culture and country.
Some crazy things I've seen/experienced:
            -camels just walking freely around the desert- we were able to get so close to touch them, and when                
                they would walk they didn't care if you were standing right in front of them!
            -goats on the back of a pick up truck on the highway! the bed of the truck was cage-like and
                covered and their heads were sticking out the back and sides just taking in the view!
            -there are no street numbers here- directions are given by landmarks!
            -there was a man jet skiing in the canal by the hotel who was wearing a kandoora and the head
                piece (traditional Arab dress) this man was in the water with the clothes on!
            - there was a woman floating in the Arabian Gulf on a banana looking-chair with her full abaya
                 on- her husband was holding on to the chair. Now there are burkinis which is a bathing suit
                 that covers head to toe... but she was wearing the abaya!
            - a lot of little boys here just swim in their underwear!
            -everything is on Abu Dhabi time, except when driving! Everyone is always in a rush to get
                 somewhere! SPEEDING!!!! They drive like maniacs here! There are so many accidents  
                                     I will be adding more as I see it- Which I am sure I will!!!

I am loving it here! But it is definitely a whole new cultural adventure filled with so many interesting and unexpected experiences!