My name is Rachelle Rico. I am traveling to Abu Dhabi in approximately three weeks to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. I have accepted placement as an Elementary Principal across the globe!
The journey has already begun. I went to my bank this morning to obtain information necessary to wire money to my account (and to get several color copies of my passport next door at Kinko’s). While there, I noticed a woman wearing what I would possibly consider attire for a muslim woman. I inquired, informing her of my upcoming opportunity. We talked for a while and she offered to give me an abaya that she received as a gift, saying she was paying it forward. I almost cried. (For those that know me, that reaction is not unusual.) We exchanged numbers and e-mails.
Now, that may just seem like a coincidence to some, but I have been in that bank many times over the years and have NEVER seen anyone wearing anything remotely close to cultural clothing of any kind. To me, it was a sign.
After leaving the bank, I headed twenty minutes away in search of the Hijab Boutique which I discovered last night while googling “abayas in St. Louis”. I want to arrive in Abu Dhabi prepared to blend in. The Jordanian shop owner, Wafa, said she had assisted a number of teachers going abroad. I found an abaya that spoke to me, and Wafa demonstrated how to wrap and pin a scarf.
Wafa watched an Arabic news station as I shopped. Once at the register, I commented on the violence. What followed was a bonding conversation about the misguided reaction of many due to the abhorrent actions of one. We, also, talked about our own children. One of her daughters attends a local university, the other is in high school. The eldest prefers to wear the traditional hijab, while the younger one does not. She was encouraging and excited for me. I felt like I made a friend. We exchanged numbers and e-mails.
Those are my first connections, with many more to come. Yes, my journey has started.