Welcoming New Staff to Saudi
I had such a huge mixture of emotions as I prepared to shuffle to work only hours after arriving off a plane from a 27 hour trip. I felt flustered that my flight had been delayed and the new teachers had arrived before me. I felt apprehensive about meeting whoever my new supervisor would be, and about the office gossip and bullying that I was worried I may be subjected to again this year. I felt exhausted and frustrated that I hadn't slept at all during the flight over or the nights before leaving. And I felt excited. Excited that I could show off my new tan (call me vain, suit yourselves). Excited that the new teachers may prove to be new friends--friends that I needed in Riyadh. Excited to be teaching two subjects that I loved: chemistry and biology. I was so excited that my adrenal glands kicked into overdrive and helped me overcome my worries as I slipped on my new ballet flats and headed to school.
At school, I was greeted by our Superintendent with a hug and a kiss and a compliment on my summery glow. She also informed me that my new supervisor was, unfortunately, unable to come to Saudi and that they were in the process of hiring someone else to take her place. I would, she said, be substituting for all her academic responsibilities until they found a replacement. Umm, I thought to myself, I studied pre-medicine and am pursuing a master's in embryology and this makes me qualified to be an interim principal how, exactly? But of course I didn't say anything, partially because I already knew the answer. Succeeding in teaching abroad has nothing to do with your title or the qualifications you have on paper. It has everything to do with your job performance. At work, I applied the same 200% in learning how to build our program that I applied when I myself was a student, swimming through my beloved science textbooks.
Either way, I got busy trying to prepare in 24 hours what I expected to have three days to work on. I planned a brunch the very next day, created a cute PowerPoint presentation, and dug out the old teacher gift bags that I had prepared for all our teachers with some supplies they would need for the year (like a stapler, marker board markers, and sticky notes). I prepared one colorful pdf file after another, and stuffed them in official school notebooks. For a last-minute, thrown-together orientation, I think I did a pretty good job. The new teachers seem relieved and one of them thanked me profusely for answering questions that she had since arriving. I couldn't have been more pleased with how everything went (well, I could have if the projector worked properly, but I'm not complaining).