We work for the American International School of Egypt. That’s right, I said we. Becca started working there back in October after she long-term subbed at another local school. I teach 5th grade, she teaches 2nd. Working in a school abroad is similar to working in the States in a lot of ways. And then again, it’s completely different.
You may have picked up from the title that our work day is far from traditional. We greet each morning at 6:45 am, walk to the bus, and – judging by how well we can see the buildings across the street – decide if it’s going to be a really air polluted day, or just a normal polluted day. An hour or so later (depending on how many donkey carts and pedestrians get in the way) we arrive at school. From there, Becca and I go our separate ways. I’m on the second floor of our 4 level school and Becca works on the ground floor. Some nights we won’t get home from school until close to 6 pm. Yuck!
I teach solely social studies and science, which I love. In fact, it played a major factor in our decision to move to Egypt. I wasn’t really expecting to get my dream job when moving abroad, but 5th grade SS/Sci is about as close as it gets for me! My morning consists of grabbing a cup of coffee from fellow 5th grade teacher, Patti, who is a true veteran of the job. Following the “joe”, I have some planning time before I teach 5 classes in a row with a break for lunch in the middle.
Becca’s day is a bit different. 2nd grade means she is teaching all of the subjects to one class all day. I’m so proud of how hard she has worked this year. Considering how little experience she has had teaching in the past, she has really proven to me and everyone else how capable she is at managing a room full of 7 year olds. The kids adore her as well. It seems like every week she is bringing home a bag full of goodies that one of her students brought her.
While my school is an international school, the majority of the students are in fact Egyptian. They are loud, eager, frustrating, and lovable kids. Not much different than my students back in Virginia. Obviously, there are some stark differences between them and my kids from years past. For example, they speak Arabic. This can be problematic at times since they’re forced to speak English and aren’t allowed to speak their first language. Additionally, most of my students are Muslim. Meaning no Christmas, no Easter, and no assuming that they even know what those holidays are. They’re also hard workers. They have to be. Their parents pay a pretty penny to have them attend AIS and they aren’t just going to let their children slack off. Oh, and they love soccer. Seriously. Each morning I get an update of results from the previous evening’s matches.
All in all, I really enjoy teaching in Egypt. The school does a pretty good job of making sure their teachers are taken care of. When I need any supplies, I fill out a form, and a worker brings it to my room by the next day. If I have technical problems, an email to the right person gets it resolved before the day is out. They’re even letting me organize a field trip to Istanbul for my 5th graders this May. Istanbul…with 11 year olds! Our contracts with the school are for 2 years. While we still have no idea what we’ll be doing when that 2 years is up, we’re happy to be at AIS for now.