Monday, October 03, 2011

Working

I've been dying to blog about my new job. I'm teaching two sections of a class at AUS this semester - a study skills class for brand-new students. I didn't know I got the job until the day before classes started, and then I got right into teaching, and then I wasn't sure what I would allow myself to say publicly on this blog about it, and now two weeks have gone by and I haven't written a thing. I've already realized that I can't be so cavalier about blogging a real-life job involving real-life people who could conceivably stumble upon this someday. Luckily, I don't have any complaints. The stuff I want to blog about is mostly how adorable my students are, and what it's like to teach Emiratis, and how I feel about having a "real" job now, and how I'm still figuring out how to juggle all my life roles.

Let's see what I can tell you.



1. My students are adorable. They really are. Most of them are fresh out of high school so they aren't jaded by the college experience yet. The class material gives me a chance to ask them lots of questions about their lives and I love finding out about their histories and families and hopes and dreams. In some ways, it's like I'm teaching the same kids I had in Damascus six/seven years ago, and they've grown up. For the very youngest students I had back in 2004/05, that is technically possible. The ones who were already teenagers in 2004/05 - well, it's like they've come back to be in my class anyway. It's so good to be teaching impressionable young people again. I just love influencing their view of the world for the better.

2. What it's like to teach Emiratis. I don't know how much you know about Emiratis - have you heard that they have almost infinite wealth and live in large villas and drive fabulously expensive cars and employ extensive staff to cater to their every need? Well, while there are exceptions to the above, for the most part, it's all true, especially when the Emirati is from Abu Dhabi or (to a lesser extent) Dubai. Imagine having a prince or princess from a fairy tale in your class - or half a dozen, more like (dressed in kandura or abaya) - and that's how it is for me as their teacher.

There is no goal that is unattainable for them, no success out of reach. They are confident and self-assured and while these traits can (and do) drive you crazy in a social or public space sense, they are great in the classroom. Their lives are so very different from mine - from anything I could imagine, really - and yet they do bring interesting ideas to the classroom. The other day we were discussing time management and I asked the students to volunteer ways they could make better use of their time. One Emirati girl raised her hand and suggested in all seriousness (but with a smile) that maybe she could take a one-hour bubble bath instead of a three-hour bubble bath. There was also the time just recently when a non-Emirati (but Arab) student was talking about setting financial goals for those times when "you see something in the store and then look at the price tag and you know you can't afford it." One Emirati girl very visibly got a puzzled look on her face, as if she could not even fathom the possibility of such a thing happening in her life.

Anyway, there is more I could say about classroom dynamics and who comes from where and why it matters and what a big deal it is for them to be in a co-ed environment now, but it will have to wait.

3. How I feel about having a "real" job now. I've had a legitimate work-at-home job for nearly two years now, but this is my first outing into the regular work force since...2007, when I worked at Amideast in Jordan over the summer. And I confess that literally the first thing I did upon hearing I got this job was to head straight to H&M to buy some clothes that weren't the two pairs of jeans I currently own, as well as some shoes with heels on them. I think I've been able to fool everyone so far that I am a real person who doesn't look like she has the responsibility to wipe any tiny bums, at least not when I'm at work.

4. I'm still figuring out how to juggle all my life roles. The other day I did some work for my online job, taught my classes, did some reading/writing for my master's classes, took care of my children, and cooked and cleaned. I was all over the place, mentally. We had a few dinner FAILs last week, but everything got done, at least. The slight wrinkle is that I haven't even started my graduate assistantship yet, which is an additional five hours a week of research/serfdom to a professor. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to work it in somewhere and still manage to be a decent wife and mom. Decent.

I'm glad we got that over with. Now when I think of some funny classroom anecdotes to share, I won't have to get through all this background first!

5 comments:

Liz Johnson said...

This is so awesome. And it kind of reminds me of my high school experience... going to school with the president's kids and the kids of oil magnates and such. The ones who took a week off for Fashion Week. Yeah. Awesome.

Crys said...

Wow what a sacrifice....a one hour bubble bath :) Sounds fun!

Kathy Haynie said...

That's funny...when I teach high school freshmen in the US, I say the same thing. "It's so fun to teach them because they're fresh and new and not jaded by the high school experience..." And then it starts over again in college...

Carrie G said...

So now for some reason I'm picturing you as Anna in The King and I, teaching the little princes and princesses. I hope you're wearing enormous hoop skirts to work.

Kristen said...

Catchin' up on my friend Bridget. I will think of this post on those days when I feel like I can't balance everything! You're amazing.

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