Single Overseas…..and Looking

June 26, 2014

rose44174347If you’re single and teaching overseas, chances are you’ve had some experience with dating and/or meeting a life partner. I’d venture to say  the majority of us prefer having someone special in our life but it goes without saying that different countries have markedly different dating norms. Though you may be from the West, when you begin a relationship with someone from your new host country, the local cultural norms apply whether you’re familiar with them or not.

A trying aspect of living overseas can be the marked absence of the unspoken, yet understood part of conversation that exists between two people from the same country. When interacting with people from a different culture it’s easy to misread each others’ intentions since each is basing their interpretation of the interaction on different cultural norms. If  you’re  dealing with the storekeeper down the street who is selling you a steak, a cultural misunderstanding is a minor inconvenience. When feelings and emotions become involved, as in dating, that’s a different story. Not knowing the norms of a culture could lead to embarrassing situations, or worse.

For single educators, moving on to new schools after summer vacation or departing for overseas the first time, ISR has created a Blog specifically for asking and sharing information on forming relationships in different locations around the globe, both in and out of school. Here’s some quotes straight from the ISR Forum to help get the conversation rolling.

Speaking from a female perspective, the chances of finding a suitable partner becomes more difficult when dealing with non Western men. Quite often you find there are very different expectations on women and their roles when dealing with dating locals…

The dating marketplace is turned upside down outside of the U.S and the western world. In much of Asia, Eastern Europe or Latin America, a single male expat has more options than he knows what to do with. “It’s overwhelming at times.”

We really have to make a distinction between A MATE and BOOTY. I know so many teachers, especially in their 20s and 30s, who had revolving girlfriends in central America but very few developed into actual long-term relationships.

I think there are so many cross-cultural differences that undermine many of these relationships. Some do work out and become beautiful partnerships, but so many don’t.

I went as a single women to South America. I was embarrassed to encounter a load of revolting, leering British Hash Club types who were married, fat and ALWAYS on the prowl.

You will tend to meet a pretty cool and adventurous sort of person. I think it is a good way of meeting a potential partner. Good luck!

I have gay and lesbian friends who also deal with this issue as international teachers. Some of the issues they have are the same, and some of the issues they have are different.

I ended up with an international partner. It took a while, I was alone for quite a few years, but it did happen and it’s wonderful. If you go and do what you want to do, life will make things right…

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How International Teaching Changes You

June 19, 2014

changes53641333Dear ISR, I’m a faithful member and have been for many years. I’m writing today to say that some of your members seem to have forgotten why we go overseas. I agree, there are schools out there that take advantage of their foreign hired staff. That’s just the way it is. If I had wanted to simply teach kids, I personally would have stayed home and avoided such treatment. But I went overseas for the experience of immersing in a different culture and I refuse to let anyone ruin it for me.

Putting aside the aggravation of a poor school, I’ve been reflecting on how living and teaching overseas has changed my perception of myself and the world around me. I went overseas for just such an experience.

Being in the presence of wonders like the great pyramids, famous museums, renown archaeological sites and incredible landscapes of history has certainly played a big part in altering my perceptions. But for me, the impact of these places eventually runs together into a collage of faded memories.

I’ve had the good fortune to see some fabulous places, but they only get partial credit for influencing my perception of the world. For me, it’s the people I’ve met overseas who have had the greatest influence on me — people who befriended me, dined with me, shared experiences, talked politics, laughed, sighed, and welcomed me to more than just a glimpse of their culture. You could say my main motive for going overseas was to get to know people of different cultures. Here’s one such experience:

Sorin, my neighbor who lived across the hall from me in an old communist block building in Romania, had been active in the movement to dispose of the dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, just a scant few years before my arrival. His stores of hiding from government soldiers, or finding himself living on the streets after his home had been domineered by the military, put my stories of life growing up in New York into perspective.

Sorin and I came from two distinctly different worlds, yet we connected on many unspoken levels. The stark contrast in our backgrounds actually created a prominent backdrop through which we each realized things about ourselves and the world around us. Had we not met I don’t believe either of us would have had such realizations. 

I’ve had the good fortune to teach in 9 countries and travel in 50. I won’t go into the details of other relationships that strongly influenced my life but they are many and the people I’ve met remain clear and bright in my mind. I’m very curious to hear about the experiences that influenced international educators in ways they would have missed out on had they stayed in their home country. If you would please post this as a blog topic I would very much appreciate it.

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Please stick to the topic which is”How International Teaching Changed Your Life” –  All off-topic posts will be removed.


The Devil’s In the Details

June 12, 2014

detailsofcontract5114707As educators who hail from democratic nations, we have a tendency to falsely assume we are somehow immune to the proceedings of the developing nation in which we are living and teaching. Not so, as a group of 20 International Educators, soon to be deported, learned at Jakarta International School, Indonesia.

What happened is this: During an investigation into accusations of child molestation by members of the school’s ‘cleaning’ crew, authorities incidentally discovered that 20 of the 26 foreign-hire teachers were in violation of immigration regulations.

It came to light that the teachers’ work permits stipulated middle school teaching positions, but the teachers were actually working in elementary classrooms. You might say that this is really just a matter of semantics, but the teachers were charged with “falsifying a job description on Kitas documents”. All 20 foreign-hire teachers have been scheduled for deportation, leaving them jobless and the school in the lurch for teachers.

On June 6 the teachers’ situation took a surprising downturn when the parents of a kindergarten student came forward to report their child had allegedly been molested by a classroom teacher. The soon-to-be-deported teachers are now being detained in Jakarta for questioning by police.

In a seemingly unrelated move, The Indonesian Education and Culture Ministry (June 2) banned the word ‘international’ from use by foreign private schools, reporting there are 114 such ‘international’ schools in Indonesia. The new law goes so far as to further prohibit using the word in educational units, programs, classes and/or classroom lessons.

Not to diminish the gravity of the child molestation charges at Jakarta International School in any way ( ISR article Pedophiles Among Us), the deportation incident in Indonesia should serve as a heads-up for International Educators in all parts of the world. Yes! Upon arrival we are indeed subject to the laws of the land, even when they may not make sense to us.

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