My group consists of teachers, principals, and educational advisors who have come from various parts of the world to teach and lead in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Our friends and families see us as brave . . . adventurous . . . pioneers. One note of caution. We’ve only just arrived one week ago and we already know the experience is not for everyone.
Those who cannot handle this pioneer life are labeled “runners”. A runner may resign during the first six months and return home immediately. Some give no notice, make no announcement. They simply fail to show up the next day and the day after than and so on . . . So, while all of us have been brave enough to go through the processing (securing passports and authenticating certificates and diplomas at the state and national levels) and have exhibited the patience necessary to get here, time will tell who makes it throughout the current school year and returns for the next. I wonder if young teachers with limited experience and no accompanying family members are more likely to become runners. After all, those traveling with spouses and children have a convenient support system.
Some in the group will replace recent runners. Either way, local schools are eager for us to arrive. I, like many, have embraced this as a solo journey. I do, however, bring two decades of experience to guide my instincts and decisions. I am an expatriate, or expat. My peers and I left our home countries to live and work in the UAE. I came to know numerous expats for months before arriving by watching HGTV’s House Hunter’s International. Families from many countries, including the U.S., searched for homes abroad. I was impressed by their spirit and encouraged about my own plans. Each episode validated my desire to live and work overseas. To get out of my box, my comfort zone, and become a student of the world. I love the quote my sister posted one day on Facebook for me. It read, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page” (St. Augustine). Now, I’m on page two.
I’m living in the UAE on a work visa which is good for three years. My residency visa is processing. I suddenly feel a kinship to immigrants new to the U.S, new to the culture, language, food, and life. Although I will serve as a school principal, I am here to learn. To be a student of the people that surround me everyday.
more to come . . .