Detained in Rwanda, Seeking Your Support

The following is from Rhonda Isley:

I know this is a long post. However, it is vital to gain Mark’s freedom. A full reading is appreciated. To be clear, this is an issue with the International School Kigali (ISK) administration and Board for choosing not to do what is right. The issue is NOT with the Rwandan authorities. The Rwandan authorities have been respectful and have treated Mark extremely well.

For the past 7 months my husband, Mark Isley, has been detained in Rwanda, accused by ISK of a criminal act. In the words of ISK: 

“….your malicious act of massively deleting teaching materials, student work, college prep students’ letters of recommendation and other documents necessary for university acceptance; by so doing, you not only frustrated efforts of seamlessly undertaking the handover process to another contractor, but also jeopardized the future of your students vis-d.-vis their academic future.” 

Mark was accused of this crime on November 10, 2021 but continued to work at ISK thru January 31, 2022. The school administration never questioned Mark about missing files.

On March 1, charges were filed against Mark. He was later sentenced to 3 years in prison with 2 years suspended and a 2,000 USD fine. Fortunately, results of his trial in August determined there was no evidence of harm to students or their futures in any way and the civil suit suing him for 10,000 USD related to this was dropped. However, Mark still faces another 2-3 years of detainment while navigating the judicial system to address the deletion of files issue. The evidence shows Mark did not access any files on the day in question, however, he did use his email account.

For context

  • November 9, 2021 Mark was fired by ISK without cause 
  • November 15, 2021 Mark was rehired by ISK and worked until January 31, 2022 
  • February 4, 2022 Mark filed a labor dispute case against ISK with the Inspector General’s office 
  • March 1, 2022 Inspector General determined Mark had a valid case and moved it forward to the Labor Court
  • March 1, 2022 charges were filed against Mark indicating he committed the unlawful act on November 10, 2021. The files in question date back to 2019 and constituted old homework assignments submitted by students via Google Classroom. There were no files relating to letters of recommendation or other documents necessary for university acceptance, no students’ future was jeopardized and Mark met with his replacement teacher prior to his departure to ensure a smooth handover. Any college recommendations that were written were submitted as requested to universities
  • July 31, 2022 at midnight, a civil suit was filed against Mark suing him for 10,000 USD. 
  • August 1, 2022 (8:00 am) Mark’s criminal trial took place in which the civil suit charges were allowed to be presented as part of the case.
  • August 29 Mark was sentenced to 3 years in prison with 2 years suspended and a 2,000 USD fine 
  • August 29 the civil suit suing Mark for 10,000 USD was dismissed due to no evidence indicating students were harmed in any way

Points raised by Mark’s attorneys during the criminal proceedings on Monday, August 1 were as follows:

1. If Mark committed this act on November 10, why did ISK rehire him on November 15 and why did ISK never question Mark about any missing documents while he was employed prior to filing criminal charges 4 months later?

2. What evidence is there of malicious intent? Mark was rehired Nov 15, performed his duties without incident or complaint from ISK and was never informed there was a problem stemming from Nov 10. The first communication Mark received was on March 1 indicating there was a problem with files. 

3. There were no files deleted. All files in question were stored on the ISK server, on the student resource platform, on the College Board website and shared with students. The evidence provided was a simple spreadsheet. 

4. RIB investigation indicated there was no evidence on Mark’s personal laptop that he had accessed the files in question on November 10.

5. The spreadsheet presented as evidence did not show any documents relating to teaching materials or college letters of reference that would jeopardize a student’s future.

6. There was no evidence, or any students identified, as being harmed by the deletion of any files. On the contrary, there is evidence Mark submitted recommendations when asked and all students who applied for university received acceptances.

7. There was no evidence of “frustrated handover” of any responsibilities.

8. On November 10, 2021 other administrators had access to Mark’s email account creating a situation in which other people had access to all documents in question.

9. The timing of criminal charges being filed in March, coinciding with notification from the Labor Inspector General certifying the labor dispute case Mark had filed in early February against ISK, would be moving forward in the judicial system seemed too coincidental.

My thoughts in response to the verdict:

We were quite surprised at the verdict as again:

  • no evidence of malice was presented
  • no evidence of student harm was presented
  • no evidence that the documents in question had anything to do with student college applications or recommendations
  • no evidence that Mark’s laptop accessed the documents in question
  • no acknowledgment that the documents in question, in fact, were never missing as all documents are automatically stored in 4 places: 1. on the school server 2. with individual students in their Google Drives 3. on the school learning management system, Google Classroom 4. on the College Board AP website

Mark is being detained in Rwanda with no opportunity to work in order to support himself. As a 65-year-old man with no health insurance and no family in the country to support his medical needs we are seeking a timely resolution to this process. It is our belief the charges filed by ISK are false charges being used as an intimidation and retribution tactic against Mark because he filed a labor dispute case against ISK. 

Any support that can be provided, on behalf of Mark, is appreciated. Our goal is to have Mark return to the US to regain his health, rebuild his professional reputation, spend time with his 8-month-old grandson and reconnect with family. We are simply bewildered that a 65-year-old career educator with no history of claims against him would be sent to prison by a school for a crime so unsubstantiated.

Mark’s life remains in limbo, with no opportunity to work, no healthcare, nowhere to go, no one there for him, except a lawyer, to take his side. While he navigates the next 2-3 years, we hope your support can help gain his freedom with the charges dropped. 

Mark and I ask for your support:

  1. Contact the International School of Rwanda (Board@iskr.org dharwell@iskr.org ljones@iskr.org) to ask:
  • Why are they trying to send one of their teachers to prison in a foreign country without clear evidence of a crime when they have the ability to support Mark in his appeal to have the case dismissed?
  • How does ISK  justify sending a teacher to prison for harming students and their futures when a judge has already determined there was no harm to students, or their futures and there is no evidence of wrongdoing?
  1. Contact your international educator colleagues to raise their awareness level of how teachers are treated at this school in case they are considering recruiting at this school

As educators, we believe it is imperative to look out for each other as moving to a new school and new country requires a huge leap of faith and trust. We must all demand of ourselves, and our administrative colleagues, respect for ethical treatment so we can continue to enjoy the wonderful professional, and personal, opportunities of our international lives.

Please contact me directly (freemarkisley@gmail.com) if you have any questions as we want you to feel confident when asked to support a cause. 

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Do You Have to “Like” Kids?

Voila! You’ve earned a teaching credential, landed a position in an International School and fulfilled your dream of exploring the world! Waitbut…what if you don’t really “like” kids as much as you “love” the idea of a life and career of worldwide adventures?

To be clear, there’s a huge difference between not “liking” kids and detesting them. Anyone who detests children obviously has no business in the teaching profession. Not “liking” but caring about kids, on the other hand, may simply denote someone who doesn’t choose to spend their free-time with kids, but is qualified, capable and motivated to teach them.

It would be naïve to think everyone who enters the teaching profession does so with the singular motive to “serve children.” Is there a difference between entering the profession, one perceived as altruistic, with the expectation it will meet one’s financial needs as compared to entering the profession as a means to explore the world?

ISR Asks: Is something inherently wrong with becoming an International educator if the underlying motivation is to travel and live overseas? Does the deeper adventure motivation make a teacher any less qualified to teach? Does it make an International teacher any less effective in the classroom if they really don’t “like” children?

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My School’s Disgusting Grading System

“As I was informed the first week at my new school, the grading policy forbids teachers giving anything less than 70% on all homework and/or tests.

Any student who earns 69%, or less, on a test or homework assignment is given 70% and the given an opportunity to improve that grade. Test takeovers are administered after school, on my time. Makeup assignments should be turned in no later than two weeks from the original due date. Good luck!

In and of itself this isn’t a bad system. However, I have high school kids who submit homework with nothing more than their name, date and the assignment title at the top of a blank page. Since they turned something in I’m required to mark it 70%.

The make-up versions of blank page submissions has so far consisted of a couple of worthless paragraphs. The students then argue they deserve a higher grade on the make-up since it’s an improvement over their first attempt. The school actually supports this idiocy.

The students’ perspective on test results is equally ‘creative.’ A student who, in real life, deserved 47% on the original attempt, and 60% on the retake, argued she improved by 13%, making her combined grade for the test 83% (the mandatory 70% + 13%). I told her to take it up with the school Director. I’ve yet to hear back.

How I plan to survive this experience is beyond me. Yes, I read the Reviews. One of them spoke to this situation and I ignored it, thinking …. in what universe does this stuff take place? Now I know! Has anyone out there had a similar experience? Any suggestions for me?”

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HRD Wants to Keep Our Passports

Our head of HRD sent a memo this morning telling all expats that we must bring our passports to the office for secure storage’ in the school safe. They claim the Ministry of Education requires all expat passports be on campus and available should a Ministry Inspector show up unannounced.

I’m new to this school. Returning teachers say this request is most probably a knee-jerk reaction to the 3 teachers who did runners last year. There were also 2 the year before, so I’m told.

From where I stand, letting the school hold my passport would be a mistake, giving them final say over all out-of-country travel. This would include potential medical emergency evacuation and even evacuating under conditions of extreme political unrest. No way will I give this school that kind of control over my life! They already have a signed copy of my passport. That should do it.

As you can imagine, the faculty room has been buzzing with conversation. Except for a couple of teachers, we have decided to stand united against this request. They can’t fire all of us!

Does anyone have experience at a school that requires teachers to turn over their passports for “safe keeping?” How did that work out? Am I just being paranoid?

Thanks ISR for sharing this,
Mr. G

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Where Expectations Meet Reality: Your New School


I finally decided to go for it! I’d been lurking on ISR forums and reading reviews of international schools for almost 3 years. So, just to see what would happen, I joined SEARCH and low and behold! I found what I believed would be the right school for me.

Based on 18 ISR reviews of my new school, I am here to tell you that what I thought the school would be like, as compared to what it’s actually like, are pretty darn close.

No school is perfect. Even the public school I worked for in the States, with Union protection, had its issues, believe me! Reading reviews of schools on ISR and knowing pretty much what I was committing to has made this entire experience far, far better than if what goes on here came as a surprise.

I can accept lots of situations, particularly if I know ahead of time what’s coming down the tube. Screaming directors who belittle teachers, powerful parents who have administrators under their thumb, unanticipated deductions from my paycheck, and grade fixing are some of them. ISR’s reviews made me privy to that sort of information so I could successfully avoid such schools. Seriously, this is the best $29 I’ve ever spent. And yes, I know I sound a bit like a cheerleader…

Initially I found some Reviews really hard to believe. The stuff said to be going down at some international schools is so outrageous it’s completely outside anything I could’ve imagined, seeing that I come from a public school background. It’s striking the number of reviews in which teachers say they didn’t believe previous reviews could be true, took the job and were now hating life at a crappy international school.

I’d like to know what other teachers have experienced in regards to the relationship between school reviews on ISR and the actual reality they encountered upon arrival. I’m writing to ask you use my letter as a discussion topic.

Thanks for all you do.
Best Regards, Ms. C

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Keeping Credentials Current & Safe

Earning a preliminary teaching credential in your home country and then later, prior to its expiration, satisfying the requirements to turn the certificate into a permanent credential poses a distinct challenge. This is especially true if you’re living and teaching in a country different from the one where you earned the credential.

Back in ‘the day’ (before Internet), it was sometimes impossible to meet your credential renewal requirements from a foreign land. To complicate matters, even if you could submit documents by a courier service such as DHL, communication took place only over land-line phones and/or FAX, an expensive, time-consuming proposition, at best. Spending a school year back home, enrolled in the classes needed to satisfy renewal requirements, was not uncommon.

Thank goodness the internet came along and changed all that. However, a problem today, and a serious one, is: How can you know which online schools are legitimate and which ones are scams?

‘Schools’ promising to satisfy your issuing agency’s renewal requirements are not always what they appear to be. Some are not recognized by credentialing bodies as being legitimate, although they, of course, claim to be. Some are purely bogus money-making schemes. Others are really only selling credits and offer little in the way of actual courses.

ISR asks: How do YOU ferret out the legitimate online entities that actually offer a way to satisfy your state/country’s credential renewal requirements with legitimate comprehensive courses of benefit to you? What has YOUR personal experience been? Any recommendations?

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International Education in the Face of Climate Change

Whatever you believe to be the cause for Climate Change, be it the result of fossil fuels that add excessive levels of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, or simply the natural evolution of the planet, the fact remains, the earth IS getting warmer. And faster than ever before.

Extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, fires, droughts and excessive temperatures currently have a direct impact on 70% of all economic sectors, worldwide. One in four businesses around the globe is affected. Climate Change is wreaking havoc on transportation and infrastructure, often halting supply chains for raw materials, parts and product distribution.

It’s clear, Climate Change can and does have an immediate affect on International Schools, and ultimately, our careers. As industries succumb to extreme weather events, parents pull children out of expensive, private, overseas schools, the consequences of which are fast becoming not a question of “if” but of “when.”

In the headlines, natural disasters are more prevalent than ever. If not already, it’s just a matter of time until parents require schools to provide a viable natural disaster preparedness plan, a plan that takes into account all types of events and includes the equipment to carry out the plan.

ISR asks: What’s YOUR take on the affect of Climate Change on International Education? What is YOUR school doing to insure its longevity and student safety in the face of potential natural disasters?

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Nothing Has Been Removed

Regrettably, following Monday morning’s crash of the ISR server, some data didn’t quite make it over to our shiny new server. If you noticed any Reviews missing from ISR earlier in the week, rest assured they have ALL been restored.

Thank YOU for your continued understanding & support!

This begs the Question: Will ISR be raising the price of membership? For more than 15 years a yearly membership to ISR has cost $29. We have NO intention of raising the price in the near or far future.

International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed
Is What International Schools Review is All About!

Suspected, Accused, Fired & Assaulted

Nola Formentin, fired for allegedly emailing parents a reportedly ‘School Review type’ memo, later returned to campus to bid farewell to her students and colleagues. In a knee-jerk reaction, the management of St. Andrews International Primary School, Malawi, sent security to have her removed.

Overreacting, the G4S security guards, in full tactical garb, knocked Nola to the ground, bloodying her mouth. She has since left the country. However, witnesses will testify on her behalf in a pending court case against the guards, all of whom were jailed following the incident.

A ‘forensic investigation team’ contracted by the school later identified the campus computer used to compose and distribute the email. The team concluded it was composed and sent by a previous staff member, proving Nola had been falsely accused.

The Board of Governors, however, in the face of the forensic team’s findings as well as the court absolving Nola of all guilt, continues to hold her responsible for the email and apparently feels justified in their actions.

Westerners often feel a false sense of immunity from these types of injustices. Nevertheless, upon touchdown on a host country’s runway, we’re playing by their rules. The injustices such as those Nola experienced often go unreported and are kept under wraps by schools, Boards and Administrators, all acting on a hunch, out on a witch hunt.

ISR invites you to READ the complete Article that follows. Then return to this page to Comment. Parts of the Article are disturbing.

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Gone Fishin’

No matter how much you love your profession, taking time away is essential for a healthy work-life balance. During the next 3 weeks the staff at ISR staff will be doing just that.

As an ISR member, the only difference you’ll notice is the addition of new weekly Discussion Topics has been put on hold. New School Reviews will post daily & we’ll be fielding emails, albeit a little slower than usual.

In the meantime, there’s plenty of great Discussion Topics just waiting for your participation!

Home for the Summer: Revelations


Don’t get the wrong idea! I do love being home for the summer. Thing is, during these last few years in international teaching I seem to have fallen out of orbit with just about everyone I know back home, that is, except for my retired parents. Friends get married, buy houses, have kids, celebrate birthdays and holidays, adopt a pet or two, and pursue corporate careers. Time and distance away take a toll on any relationship.

To some extent, I sense that friends and siblings wonder if maybe I’ve adopted International Education as a way to postpone “getting serious” about life. Mortgages, car payments, outrageous insurance premiums, tight schedules, drudgingly boring routines and the stress everyone seems to be experiencing fit well into what I consider the “getting serious” category. So, to answer that postponement question, I would say avoidance wasn’t my main intention but is certainly one of the many perks of International Education. Yes, I am planning to make a career of this!

I also notice a bit of disconnect when we are together. I talk about adventures at Angkor Wat, Buddhist temples in Thailand, and things like scuba diving the tropical waters of Sri Lanka. After all, that’s been my life these past years. On the other hand, the trials and tribulations of climbing the corporate ladder, or tales of jumping through hoop after endless hoop to get a house refinanced is not of much interest to me. Still, I listen, just as they listen to me, because we do care about each other.

So where does this leave us? Bottom line: I have a history with those back home which runs deeper than the verbiage we use to relate our daily experiences. It’s our inner substance, that unspeakable something that brought us together in the first place that counts. That has not changed. And with that in mind, we’re continuing to make new memories on a tried-and-trusted foundation. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye again, I know.

ISR asks: Do YOU have experiences or revelations to Share about YOUR summer at home?

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ISR Summer Reading List

ISR Discussion Boards are a must-read for any International Teacher’s summer reading list. Jam packed with Articles & in-depth community discussions on retirement, ageism, admin problems, LGBTQ issues, scams, the single life, non-teaching spouses, medical concerns, breaking Contracts, and a whole lot more, ISR Discussion Boards keep YOU in the know.

Neatly organized and indexed in an easy-to-use format, 100s of Articles on topics of interest to International Educators are yours for a mouse click. Looking for something super specific? The extensive Search feature should bring it up.

Last, but not least, every Article is accompanied by tons of additional information from International Educators contributing personal experiences and knowledge to the topic.

What are you waiting for? Visit the ISR Discussion Boards!

Your Director Doesn’t Know ANYone at ISR

International Schools Review occasionally receives emails from teachers asking if their school Director really has a ‘friend’ at ISR, a ‘friend’ who will reveal the identity of the person who wrote a negative School Review.

Fact: Your School Director does not know ANYONE at ISR

For starters, claiming to have a ‘contact at ISR’ is a hollow bluff. Secondly, all School Reviews on ISR come to us through our anonymous Review form. We don’t know the source of any given Review. Nor do we care to know! When we say your anonymity is guaranteed, we mean it!

Administrators and school owners, however, have gone so far as to not only claim they have a ‘friend’ at ISR, but to actually bring in an attorney whose job it is to extract a ‘confession’ from suspect teachers. Fortunately, no matter what a school Admin or attorney may claim, unless information in a Review points directly to themselves as the author, an author’s identity is completely anonymous. That being said, it does go without saying that using a school computer or the school’s WIFI to compose a School Review is certainly not advisable in protecting one’s anonymity.

ISR encourages schools to respond to any Review they find objectionable. Their reply and/or rebuttal is then attached to the conclusion of the designated Review. Teachers tell us they find ISR a safe place to have an open dialogue with their school. Confronted with one or more poor Reviews, some schools welcome that information as a basis for making positive changes. There’s lots to be gained by ALL parties when schools and teachers work together for the greater good.

Conversely, from excerpts of a letter sent to ISR, below, a site Member shows us what can happen when communication falls short:

6/30/22
Dear ISR, Your readers should know what’s going on here at Seoul International School. Last week, in reaction to some not-so-good reviews that appeared on ISR, our Director, Michael Colaianni, sent out a memo saying he has involved the “Cyber Police” in an investigation into possible cyber crimes against SIS. He says they will be teaming up with “US Authorities” to find the source of these posts and feel confident they can find and prosecute the people who wrote the reviews….

Have you ever heard of such a thing as the “Cyber Police?” Why would US authorities team up with Korean Police in a matter that concerns a school in Korea? I don’t know what to think!


Sincerely,
xxxxxx

It takes courage to contribute a School Review to ISR when the school in question has a history of trying to ferret out and punish Review writers. For this very reason, some teachers wait until they are well away from their school before composing their Review. International Schools Review is ALL About International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed!

Rest Assured:
Your Director does not know anyone at ISR.
ISR is unable to identify the author of any Review.


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Fragile Friendships & Fitting in @ a New School

There’s just no way around it. Budding relationships at International Schools are fragile. Just when you think everything’s going smoothly & you’re starting to fit in, you’re not. For example: You chime in at a faculty meeting early in the school year with a suggestion that slightly contradicts a popular faculty member & … Wham! The overly sensitive individual takes offense & suddenly you’re on the outs with their entire group of friends.

The first few months at a new school will set the stage for the years that follow. Tread with care! Back home we have long-time friends, family & a well-established life. Be that as it may, an International School in a foreign land is essentially your ‘mother ship.’ It’s where we work, make friends, socialize, get invites to social events & seek support. It’s worthwhile to make your start at a new International School a good one.

Coming into a new school you don’t know who’s who. You don’t know if the teacher you’ve been chatting with & getting to know while on lunch duty harbors prejudices against local teachers. You don’t know who’s a gossip, a tattle tale, or considers themselves the eyes & ears of admin or influential parents. And conversely, you, too, are not everyone’s cup of tea.

ISR asks: How do YOU go about establishing life at a new-to-you International School? How much do you reveal the real you in order to build relationships, professional & personal, while also protecting yourself from vulnerability to retaliation should things go seriously south?

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USA: The High Costs of Returning Home

Without insurance, both health and car, entering the US short- or long-term could spell financial suicide.

Count yourself lucky if your school provides health insurance that includes the United States. For those of us WITHOUT such broad coverage, even a short visit home could spell financial disaster if medical attention becomes necessary.

On the bright side, short-term policies are available at what could be argued ‘reasonable prices.’ Don’t be surprised, however, if you don’t qualify for the lowest premiums. Insurance companies set prices based on the odds of whether or not they’ll have to pay claims. Because you’ve been out of the country, there’s no paper trail to attest to your current state of health. Nothing personal. it’s just that you’re a bigger gamble so you’ll pay more.

Short-term policies do have a big disadvantage: They expire every six months. Should a health issue occur during any 6-month period, that issue is eligible to be classified as ‘pre-existing’ and not covered in an ensuing 6-month policy. For educators planning to stay a while, a short-term policy may not be the best choice.

A COBRA policy may be what you need if planning a long-term stay, such as moving back permanently. Named such, no doubt for its stinging high price, a COBRA policy lets you extend an expiring policy for a set period of time. Be aware: Insurance companies know you will no longer be overseas where medical costs are reasonable, but rather in the US where prices are often 10 times that of many other countries. The monthly premium will reflect this. Ouch!! A COBRA policy can be useful until you find a suitable long-term policy.

Not to rub salt into the wound, but you’re also going to need transportation. America is not known for its transit systems. You could risk it and drive without car insurance, but if you end up in an accident of your making and someone is hurt, an ambulance chaser will litigate you into financial ruin. If you’re an American returning from overseas and cancelled an existing policy some years ago, you’ll be placed in the “lapse in coverage” category. For all the insurer knows, you’ve been driving without insurance. You’re high risk now and the price reflects it.

Leaving the United States is easy. Coming back in is a different story. Factor two kids and a spouse into the equation and …. well, you see the problem! ISR asks: What has your experience been with visiting the US or moving home in terms of insurance? What advice would you give newbies?

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Should I Be Scared to Teach in the USA?

Moving to the United States will be my first International School experience. That is, if I go through with it. I’ve visited countries that border on my country, but a move to America will put me further away than I’ve ever been from my home of record, France.

There is an attitude in the USA that scares me and is the reason I’m writing. I have been following USA news and starting to question, Is America the place for me? Random and targeted mass shootings, constant inflation, banned school books, hate crimes and angry anti-vaxxers have me more than just a little concerned. Is it just sensationalist news and isolated incidences I’m reading about, or is it really as bad as it looks?

I’ve already applied to French International Schools in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, New Orléans, Los Angeles, Detroit, Indianapolis and Philadelphia. I have positive replies so far from 3 of them.

San Francisco and New Orléans are at the top of my list. Texas is not on my list and Chicago should be off because these places look gun crazy and far too conservative, along with most of middle America. Los Angeles looks good.

I would love to hear from teachers for whom living and teaching in America was/is an International Experience, and from Americans with insights to share. Should I take the USA off my list altogether at this time?

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Conscience Telling You to Stay or Go?

When unforeseen events collide with your core beliefs, then what?

Every country in the world is in some way, shape or form, abusing human rights. Some to a greater extent, some lesser, some hardly at all. At what point does your conscience dictate that being part of your host country is simply wrong for you?

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. At the time of this writing, innocent citizens are being displaced and murdered. Entire cities are being destroyed. Russian citizens protesting this atrocity are jailed, even tortured. Putin’s current invasion of Ukraine is an extreme example of Human Rights violations.

If you’re currently in a Russian-based International School and conflicted about aiding a regime that violates your core beliefs, Do you pack up and leave? After all, we are educating the children of the privileged class, i.e. kids whose parents are potentially profiting from and supporting the invasion. Alternatively, however, you may be motivated to stay. Why?

Think of it this way: Each of us has the attention of the children of the elite class for hours each day. Herein lies the opportunity to instill seeds of humanity and compassionate thinking, which, when nurtured through years of a Western-style education, may blossom forth and positively influence decision making in the future, for the better of their community and the broader world in general.

Leaving may be what’s best best for you. Staying could mean potentially changing the course of history in a positive way. ISR asks: How do YOU personally feel about staying or going when your host country’s actions collide with your core beliefs?

Overseas Landlords: Deposits & Refunds Lost

Landlords come in all manner of beings. Some are honest; others, connivers poised to extract every last penny from unsuspecting renters like you. Today, our focus is on renting overseas and the landlords who own the properties.

If you’ve already rented an abode in a foreign land, you know it can be a unique experience. For the uninitiated, the myriad of ways overseas landlords can legally extract every last penny of your security deposit, and more, much more, may come as a surprise.

Overseas, it’s typical for renters to be responsible for 100% of all repairs required during their stay. Should a corroded old water heater finally go cold, it’s the tenant’s responsibility! Heater or AC on the fritz? Leaky sink? Drippy ceiling? Front door lock sticking? Refrigerator too warm? It’s all on the tenant’s dime. Unfair? Yes! But legal. In exchange for a ‘roof over your head,’ you could find yourself paying to assume the landlord’s ‘roof’ repair and further headaches.

When it’s time to move out is when things can get really interesting. Legislation in many parts of world permit landlords to summarily charge for an entire interior repaint, whether it’s needed or not. In addition, any and all items a landlord deems in need of repair or replacement can and will be charged to the security deposit, this, right down to an 8-year-old worn out toilet seat. Forget about getting reimbursed for any personal item ruined or lost due to a faulty rental component. It’ll never happen.

As opposed to a local person, when you move out, you’re gone, leaving little to no chance you’ll seek legal assistance in getting back what’s rightfully yours. With this in mind, be sure to do a thorough inspection of the property, inside and out. Leave no stone unturned. Don’t assume anything. The rules you play by at home don’t count here. ISR suggests you add an addendum to the rental Contract stating the landlord will be responsible for all repairs and you will not charged for a repainting. Having date-marked photos showing the condition of everything within the property when you moved in are helpful with exit negotiations.

Schools know local rental laws. They also know landlords can play tough. Any school that leaves you on your own to rent a house or apartment in a foreign country, in a foreign language, is likely to be a school that would not hesitate to throw you under the bus in other circumstances, too. Before signing on with an International School, find out if they provide housing. If not, will they co-sign a rental Contract, pay the deposit, assume responsibilities for repairs? Essentially, will they go to bat for you?

ISR asks: What has YOUR experience been renting overseas? What tips do you have for teachers new to the experience?

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Caught in the Shanghai Lockdown w/ Children

Shanghai, China

If you’re unaware of the recent, draconian COVID-preventative measures taken by the government of China, allow us to bring you up to speed:

In late March, 2022, the Chinese government imposed a severe lockdown on the entire city of Shanghai, an area of over 26 million residents. Going far beyond anything experienced in the U.S. or European Union, the Shanghai lockdown demands all 26 million residents stay in their homes, 24/7. This has been in effect going on 5 weeks.

Faced with outrage from citizens, Chinese health officials held to their position, reporting they will continue to separate COVID-positive babies and children from their parents. The impact on a child, especially an English-speaking, Western-born child forcibly separated from their parents and taken to a Chinese detention hospital will be profound. To compound the trauma, visitation at these facilities is prohibited unless the parent also tests COVID-positive, in which case they can remain with their child. (See Google search results for more details.)

Shanghai is home to upwards of 40 International Schools, making it home to hundreds of expat educators and their children. China, overall, hosts 600 International Schools. What’s to prevent this brand of quarantine from spreading? Communist Party officials have already announced plans to move people from their homes in Pingwang, to Zhejiang Province for no less than a week while they sanitize the city. In Beicai, residents were told to move to temporary accommodations. The relocation order requires entry doors to remain unlocked and closet doors open.

ISR asks: If you are an educator living/teaching in China and accompanied by your children, how do you cope with this situation? Why haven’t you packed up and left?

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