Returning or Moving On — Your Must-Do List

May 26, 2011

If you’re returning to your current school after summer break, a score of tasks are on the horizon. As if final exams and report cards were not enough, there’s a zillion things that need to be done prior to departure. Between completing tedious classroom inventories, equipment/materials return and preparing your room for potential maintenance crews, the last days of the school year can be pandemonium, a struggle even for the most organized of us all!

To complicate matters, your school may not offer housing allowances for the summer months, prompting you to give up your home to save money. This, of course, leaves the additional task of securely storing home and personal items until your return. If you have pets who are not joining you on vacation, the task can be even more daunting.

Are you moving on to a new school? Then you have an especially difficult task ahead. In addition to the business of leaving your “old” school, you must arrange for shipping of personal belongings, closeout cell phone/internet/utility accounts, collect deposits, sell the car and furniture, and, perhaps hardest of all, say good-bye to dear friends. The little details of leaving can be overwhelming and extremely time-consuming.

There’s far more involved in leaving a school for the summer break, or forever, than merely locking the door. Join us on the ISR Returning or Moving On Blog to share your Must Do list, compare experiences, ask questions and offer advice. Go to Blog

Cooks and Drivers and Nannies — Oh My!

May 19, 2011

Back home I could barely afford the occasional babysitter for ‘date night’ with my hubby. Here in Pakistan, however, I employ a live-in maid, driver, cook, gardener  and night guard — all for the grand total of about $400 US/month. It’s wonderful having these people look after my family and I’ve come to see them as friends, especially our driver who I trust transporting my kids to and from sport & social events.

A few of my Pakistani neighbors have complained I’m over-paying my help, causing their servants to be unhappy. One person from an outrageously huge house even had the nerve  to ask me to reduce my helps’ salaries. It’s clear why laborers prefer to work for foreigners.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, however. Our first maid stole my wedding band, the cook had an affair with the next maid, the new cook was not dependable, the first cook returned but left soon after, the gardener ran off with my lawn mower  and the night guard sleeps on the job.

Sometimes I feel like the local bank–my driver recently asked for $90 to help cover his child’s school tuition & uniforms, the cook needed $30 for a doctor’s visit & medicine. Then there is the double pay for various holidays. I’m usually happy to help but I’m not sure how involved I want to become in the lives of my house-staff. I’m afraid that they believe I’ve adopted them and their families. Still, the lack of compassion displayed by the neighbors bothers me.

Here’s the way I look it: If I give money to a charity there will, most likely, be some CEO taking home at least 100K. By giving directly to people who work for me it means every cent goes into their pocket. I feel good knowing they are cared for.

I’m fairly new to the overseas life style and would appreciate any advice from other overseas educators on the topic of household help. How involved should I become in their lives? What works for you?

Going International with Children

May 11, 2011

True international schools are culturally diverse with a rainbow of nationalities represented. Eating sushi at a Japanese friend’s house, hearing Norwegian spoken between classmates, participating in cultural fairs or having Indian mothers paint henna designs on your kids’ hands is just a sampling of a “normal” childhood overseas.

If you’ve already lived internationally, you know daily living can be much easier than back home. Hiring a nanny, housekeeper or cook is an enormous benefit to any parent. When you get home from work, there is no cooking, cleaning, or laundry responsibilities — hooray! More time can be devoted to family. There are many delightful benefits to going international with children, not the least of which is watching your children become world citizens.

Of course, not every location is Shangri-La. There are important factors to consider when choosing a school & host country with your children in tow. Here are some points to take into consideration:

• Does the job allow a lifestyle that emphasizes family time?
• Are there medical & dental facilities that meet my family’s needs?
• Is there an acceptable level of stability & safety?
• Is trustworthy childcare available? Are English-speaking nannies affordable?
• Does the school’s benefit package include dependents’ tuition, insurance, & flights?
• Do the school’s programs meet my child’s needs?
• Is the school ‘family-friendly’, supporting teachers when family needs arise?
• Is the school population diverse? Will my child make friends & be accepted?

Whether you’re a single mom/dad or a couple, moving overseas with children of any age can pose extensive benefits. ISR invites you to visit the Going International with Children Blog & share personal experiences, ask questions & most of all, keep each other informed.

Teachers with Foreign Accents Need Not Apply!

May 5, 2011

“I never, in my wildest imagination, thought my slight foreign accent would create a problem for me. That is, until I interviewed with a school that liked me very much but had to re-think offering me a job because of my accent. Yes! That is exactly what I was told after the interview by the assistant principal! Of course, I was very disappointed and a bit offended.

I am a European-American who has been living in the US for the last 15 years. I finished my B.S. & Master’s degree in the US and have been looking for counseling jobs in international schools since October of 2010. I am a US certified school counselor with several years of counseling experience in US public schools.

After all, I am applying for jobs in international schools. How can a slight foreign accent be a problem when it has never been a problem in my professional or personal life while in the US? To make a long story short, I did have a number of interviews in Boston and via Skype, but no job offers. I cannot help but speculate that indeed, my slight accent is keeping me from getting a job in a so-called “international” school.

I would really like to hear from veteran international teachers regarding my situation. I refuse to give up pursuing an international career just because I have an accent. I am not looking to be a Reading or English teacher, but a counselor.

Thanks for your insight!”