Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I had briefly considered entitling this post "The Ugly American," but unfortunately, we Americans are not the only ones with a sense of entitlement. I have been amazed, apalled, and bemused by some of the things I've seen my fellow teachers (from all over the globe) say and do here in AD. We are the guests, and we were hired to do a job. We were flown here at no expense to ourselves (well, maybe a little out of pocket for overweight luggage, but hey, there were just some things I didn't think I could live without!). Tickets for spouses and children were paid for as well. We are living in a five star hotel, provided a sumptuous breakfast each day, have access to a full gym, two swimming pools, and spa treatments for 50% off the usual rate. The staff treats us like royalty, catering to our every whim.

Every bit of literature that I read about coming here to teach said to be flexible, go with the flow, and understand that things work differently here. Friends who are already here told me the same thing. We were also told, repeatedly, that we would be arriving during Ramadan, the Muslim month of prayer and fasting, and that it was especially important to be respectful of the customs during this time.

I guess the woman who sauntered across the lobby eating a bag of chips and drinking a soda didn't read the same info I did. Nor did the young woman who got on the bus last night (on our way to the police station for fingerprinting) whose neckline plunged (and plunged some more). The woman who stood at the front desk complaining about the lack of an optimal view from her room must have forgotten who was footing the bill. The group of girls in Ikea who had to be told four times by security that taking pictures inside the store wasn't allowed should be grateful they aren't in jail. The man who pretended to lose his number at the bank so he could cut in line made us all look bad. I'm afraid the local people are looking at us and thinking, "Hmmm...and we hired YOU to educate our children??"

But, for all the dolts in the group, there are many more who are kind, respectful, and patient. I have met people from all across the States and from around the world. Conversation has been effortless, and friendships are blooming. I'm eager to know where I'll be teaching and to get my apartment. Living in luxury has been wonderful, but I'm ready to do some laundry, cook my own meals, and settle in.

1 comment:

Leslie Morgan said...

You are the best example of "bloom where you're planted" that I can bring to mind. Your posts are bringing me many images of observations I've made about not only the middle east, but especially there. About "those people" as compared to "us". I don't think "we" come up smelling like roses in that comparison. Though you know I am drowning in happy return to work, I hope to try to put down some words to send you about my experiences and stories of other, plainer, humbler people, but on email, in case I say something inappropriate for publication. Glad to see those cheery smiles on all of you!