Schools in Dangerous Locales, 2019/2020


You may have noticed Administrators have a high tolerance for dangerous locales and an uncanny ability to downplay the severity of specific events, especially when they’re trying to sell you on why you should come to their school. This makes it paramount that you verify their pro-country sales pitch.

Massive protests, terrorism, crippling embargoes, strikes, street crimes and natural disasters are on the rise worldwide. Only days ago (Oct., 2019) one million Chileans took to the streets in a massive demonstration over inequality, high cost of living and privatization. At least 18 persons were killed and hundreds shot and/or wounded. In Uruguay, sixty thousand people organized (Oct., 2019) to protest an initiative to create a military police force that many say would be a step back toward dictatorship. A Google search will reveal many more incidences of concern, Hong Kong being a prime example.

Locations deemed safe and stable can, and do, suddenly erupt. Just because we are visitors in a foreign land does not make us exempt from the consequences of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Are you currently teaching in a location you feel to be unsafe or that is soon to become such? ISR encourages you to share first-hand knowledge with colleagues planning to recruit this season. Let’s help each other avoid unrevealed and unforeseen dangerous situations.

International Schools Review is all about
International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed!

Please scroll down to participate in this discussion.
Feel free to pose questions about specific locations.

Au Revoir America — International Educator of Color Says Goodbye

Belgium is my home of record. I’m bilingual, biliterate, Black, and currently teaching in a French International School in America. I’ll keep the whereabouts to myself.

I’ve been at the Académie for more than 5 years and my life as teacher has been great. It’s important to note that our tuition is at the $20,000 mark. This means our parents are educated, affluent, traveled and interested in seeing their children become fluent French/English speakers who are not just accepting of, but appreciative of diversity.

Outside school, life for me has become different from when I first got here. This is because I began to experience an uneasy feeling I hadn’t known before. These days, I see news-clips of vengeful policemen harassing black men and women for what has been called “the crime of walking or driving while black,” football players sanctioned for protesting police brutality towards Black people, White supremacists marching and chanting hate speech, racist politicians and a new president who if not encouraging discrimination, is doing nothing to stop it. Some religious leaders are even making disparaging remarks.

I personally haven’t had problems and maybe I won’t, but the fact I feel uncomfortable, uneasy and even unwelcome has prompted me to submit my resignation and return to Belgium at the end of the school year. Maybe I’m paranoid? Maybe I’m over reacting? When I see a barking dog, I cross the street. In this case I’ll be crossing the ocean.

I’m aware of International Schools across America that hire bilingual teachers from around the world to come and teach in their native language. I would very much like to know if other International Educators in America are experiencing the same feelings.

Please scroll down to participate

UAE: Behind the Modernity

Planning to relocate to the UAE this upcoming school year? More than one expat has mistakenly allowed themselves to be lulled into believing the United Arab Emirates is a modern, progressive nation. Incredible architecture, modern roadways, world-class malls and high-line cars are all evocative of affluent, Western cities. 

But that may be where the comparison stops. Behind the mask of modernity, the UAE continues to adhere to a stultified, archaic system of laws that can entrap even the most savvy of travelers.

 Read on! These recent cases involving foreigners defy all logic and serve as a “heads up.” 

Teacher jailed for allegedly insulting the UAE on Facebook:  A British teacher has been locked-up in a vermin-infested jail in Abu Dhabi since October 2017. The charges? Writing an insult on Facebook. Christian Wilke, 39, was denied legal representation for 52 days after his arrest. At his hearing, conducted in Arabic, he was not told the charges against him and sentenced to one year in prison along with a stiff fine. He is reportedly being denied medical care and sufficient food. His mother fears for his life.

News articles about this case: 
British Teacher Jailed in UAE
British Teacher Sent to Hell Hole Jail in UAE

Man jailed in Dubai for WhatsApp message sent to crooked car dealer:  Yaseen Killick, 29, a British real estate agent, was jailed after sending a WhatsApp text message to the car dealer who sold him a car that broke-down just hours after driving off the lot: “How do you sleep at night knowing you’re ripping people off? I’ll see you in court.” This was enough to motivate the police to jail Yaseen as the dealer claimed he felt threatened.

News article about this case:
British Real Estate Agent Jailed After Messaging Car Dealer Who Sold Him a Lemon

British Woman Faces Jail in Dubai after Witnessing Bar Fight:  Asa Hutchinson, 21, an accounts manager for a global transport company, says she was not even there when a fight broke out between her friends and a man who was reportedly drunk. On their way out of the bar, Asa’s friends saw a man passed out on a bench. They took some selfies with the guy, who woke up and started throwing punches. It’s been reported that it is common in the United Arab Emirates for witnesses to be arrested and prosecuted just for being nearby.

News article about this case:
British Woman Faces Jail in Dubai

There’s More:  In September, a man was detained for ‘flipping the bird’ to another driver. In October a man was jailed for accidentally touching another man’s hip in a bar. In November a man was imprisoned for having smoked marijuana – before he had even arrived in Dubai. An expatriate couple was detained for 6 weeks for having sex outside of marriage.

You could take a hard stance and say all these people should have done their homework, learned the local customs and taken responsibility for themselves. Easier said than done. Some things are just unimaginable and beyond the foresight of a Westerner. Wherever in the world your next teaching assignment takes you, ISR recommend extensive research into the customs, traditions and laws.

More ISR Articles about problems for Westerners in the UAE:
Women, Rape and the Law in UAE
Collect on Everything a UAE School Owes You
Buying a Car Overseas Can Land You in Prison
Janitor at Al Rabeeh School Abu Dhabi Sentenced to Death

Comments or Questions? Please Scroll Down to Participate

Jewish Educators in the Middle East

Long before the turmoil we’re witnessing today in the Middle East, I was offered a teaching position at the International School of Aleppo, Syria. As a history buff, I was totally on-board by the prospect of exploring the vibrant cultures and history of the region. But….What would life be like for a Jewish teacher living in Syria?

The recruiter was upfront with answers to my questions: I would be exposed to anti-Semitic remarks from students who use the term “Jew,” accompanied by derogatory expletives. I should keep my Jewish heritage secret. If I decided to travel to Israel, my stamped passports could bar me from re-entering Syria. Common sense and prudence said loud and clear: Don’t go!

Today, in my position (as Moderator of the ISR Forum), I was intrigued by this recent thread:

Anyone have experience with being Jewish in the ME?

Postby ap410 » Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:07 pm
I’m considering applying for positions at a few schools in the ME (Bahrain, UAE, and possibly Oman), but I’m concerned that since my children and I are Jewish, we could run into trouble, hostilities, etc. We’re not super religious, but my kids have a habit of singing the Dreidel song in December, and I don’t want them to feel like they have to hide their religion. Does anyone have experience with this in the ME? Thanks!

.My first reaction was, ‘Are you kidding!?’ My opportunity was pre-9/11. What could it be like today for a Jew teaching in the Middle East? International Schools do tend to promote diversity, tolerance, inclusion, equality and a host of Mission Statement ideals. But … as we all know, life can be quite different outside that supposed safe haven.

Here’s some positive and negative Forum Comments that illustrate the dilemma…

by reisgio » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:12 pm  For goodness sake, don’t take your innocent Jewish children to the Middle East!… I wouldn’t be comfortable having my children basically hide their identities just so I could work somewhere exotic. What’s wrong with you?

by justlooking » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:35 am This has not been my experience working in four international schools in the ME in Egypt, Oman, Morocco, and Dubai. All the schools were top tier with a very international student body. I found most people respect Judaism and Jews; it’s Israel that’s the problem. As long as you’re not espousing pro-Israeli sentiment, you’ll be left alone.

by Nomad68 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:54 pm I really would not recommend going to places like Saudi, Kuwait or Qatar even if you hid your Jewish identity. The anti-Jewish sentiments would shock you.

 by shadowjack » Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:45 pm 7 years in Saudi. Our Saudi friends had Jewish neighbours and didn’t care.” “Israel is not a good country.” They knew the difference between the two, that’s for sure….

 My purpose in calling attention to this topic is to hopefully encourage ISR Members to initiate a place where my Jewish brothers and sisters can turn to for first-hand information on what it’s really like for a Jewish International Educator to live and teach in the Middle East, a decision clearly not to be taken lightly.

Have an experience or information to share?

Please scroll down to participate

Host City Hidden Treasures

.
As world-traveling international educators, moving on to a new location introduces us to the special features that make our host city unique, that make it a definite must-see, must-experience kind of place. Whether it’s the boisterous beer (!) festivals of Germany, the delightful art & handicrafts of Indonesia, the world-class shopping experience of the Middle East, or the gastronomical delights of India, there is a special something about where YOU live that makes you say to others “You just have to come here for the ____.”

Sometimes what makes a country appealing can be surprising:  Thailand and Mexico are known for their affordable dental care. Costa Rica is gaining a reputation for reasonably priced orthopedic surgery. Africa and Central America are a draw for people who enjoy ‘voluntourism.’ India and Nepal appeal to Yoga & meditation enthusiasts.

We can all read travel magazines and blogs to hear the party-line about what makes a city great, but the insight of our fellow international educators can really give us the inside scoop on why a location, YOUR location, stands out as a “hidden treasure.”

..ISR would like to know:  What are the five-star features that make YOUR host city worth a visit?

What’s YOUR Real Reason for Going Overseas?

..If asked by family and friends why I teach overseas, I usually respond with something short and simple along the lines of, Oh, I love to travel. Or, I want to see more of the world. I’m convinced it’s best to stick to answers that resonates well in my loved ones’ world — travel, adventure — keep it simple.

..If the conversation dictates, I’ll take my ‘stock’ answer one step further and talk about how life overseas is slower, how people take time for each other. If my listener is still interested I’ll go on to talk about how there are less rules/regulations overseas, which makes life feel far less regimented and a lot less stressful. My longer answer to the question, Why do you live overseas? is usually well accepted because everyone wants a less complicated life with more benefits.

..I avoid going into my more personal, deeper reasons for living overseas. I’m afraid that if I open up to my loved ones, they won’t get it. And when people don’t understand where you’re coming from, they often reject you and see you as somehow different from them. I don’t want to alienate friends and family so I stick to what rings true in their world.

..Because I’m interested to hear from other educators about their more personal reasons for going overseas, I’m going to share with you my well-guarded reason for living overseas, one I don’t ordinarily share with those close to me. As international teachers, I know you’ll understand me, even if you don’t have the same exact motives as I do for living overseas.

..So, here goes…Beyond all the logical benefits of overseas living, I became hooked on living in developing nations because they make me feel alive in a way I never experienced living in the States. Not to sound morbid, but the fact that death feels so much closer and more real here makes me appreciate my life and live it more fully. Back in America there’s a perpetrated, false sense of immortality that caused me to waste life on insignificant things that don’t matter. Overseas I’m free from this illusion.

..On a basic level, walk into any open-air market abroad and you’ll see chickens and small animals pulled out of cages, their necks slit, and then sold ‘fresh’ to shoppers. Pigs and livestock are slaughtered in the open and served in nearby restaurants. Death is not hidden, disguised in glossy packages in brightly lit supermarkets. Americans have divorced themselves from the concept of death in every way possible, further enforcing the false sense of ‘this is forever’ and reducing life to obsessing over trivialities, what other cultures would consider minor annoyances.

..While living in Guatemala in the mid-90’s I had my first life transforming experience based on death. At the corner of my street two policemen had been shot to death by a man who’d stolen a truck. Two bodies lay in the dirt by the side of the road, face up, uncovered, waiting for family to identify them. It startled me that the bodies weren’t covered, yet no one seemed concerned death was staring them in the face. The thing that most deeply impacted me was that at least 50 people,  including lots of children, were standing around the crime scene. Most were drinking beer from the nearby market, socializing, catching up with neighbors, and in general enjoying themselves as if they were at a social event. I’d never seen anything like this but it made me understand why the Guatemalans were so full of life and music and took every opportunity to enjoy themselves. Death was very real to them — they weren’t in denial!

..That bloody scene mere meters from my front door, helped me further understand what I’d seen previously in a cemetery during a national holiday. Hundreds of family and friends gathered at the grave sites of their ‘dearly departed’  to barbecue, drink, listen to music, dance and in general, party down with their deceased loved ones. Imagine the results of playing music and dancing on a grave site in Los Angeles!

..Guatemala is only one of many cultures that don’t deny death, thus making life more meaningful, rich and full. Tibetan monks, for example, actually go to the extreme of meditating amidst corpses being prepared for what is known as a Sky Burial (performed by hacking bodies into pieces and laying them out for vultures). They do this to instill in themselves a deep, intrinsic acceptance that life is only temporary. The message is obvious — live fully NOW!

..These days, when I spend any length of time back in America I feel myself slowly slipping into the Western world’s denial of death and soon I’m caught up in the same dulling nonsense that occupies the minds of most Westerners. That’s when I know it’s time to leave again and start living my life to its fullest.

..I would love to hear what motivates other international teachers to leave home and stay overseas. If the spirit moves you and you’d like to share, please do!

Note: This commentary was submitted to ISR for publication by an ISR member who wishes to remain anonymous. 

 

 

INDONESIA, Where International Teachers are imprisoned on insufficient evidence and convicted terrorists are set free for ‘good behavior’

  The high profile case of Jakarta International School teacher, Neil Bantleman, is a prime example of Indonesia’s current corrupt “legal” system and apparent growing disdain for Westerners. Without entering into a discussion of guilt or innocence in regards to the claim of child abuse, the trial of Neil Bantleman, if you can stretch your imagination to call it that, points to a judge and jury with an unobscured agenda: “Find him guilty!” even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary. See: Thirty-Things You Should Know About the JIS Case

  Neil Bantleman was ultimately sentenced to 10 years in prison on insufficient evidence for an alleged crime against the child of a parent now pursuing a $125-million lawsuit against Jakarta International School. This, after Indonesia released convicted terrorist Muhammad Cholili from prison on ‘good behavior.’ Even Cholili was surprised by his release. He had been convicted for helping to assemble more than 20 backpack and motorcycle bombs, some of which were used in the October, 2005 attacks in Bali, killing 20 people and leaving more than 120 others injured at the well-populated tourist areas of Kuta & Jimbaran Beach. He served less than half of his 18-year sentence.

  We are speechless. A foreign teacher is imprisoned for 10 years on inconclusive evidence and a known terrorist convicted of killing and maiming tourists is set free because he was behaving himself in prison? Based on this model, Bantleman should have already been freed. The question is, were deals cut in both cases? Is each case an example of a corrupt system where money in the right pocket gets the desired results? Is Indonesia sending a message that Westerners are not welcome? We all like to think it can’t happen to us…at least until it does. Comments?

Is America Safe for International Educators?

flag22588370Cher Monsieur, I have been offered a job at a French International School in California but I am worried about my safety in the United States. Every time I see BBC TV the United States looks like a country of civil unrest and a people divided. Is this true?

I’m a French national with advanced degrees in science. I am teaching in my home country of France. I’m French/English bilingual. Coming to the United States to teach will be an international experience but I am concerned it could turn out to be a bad one.

When I watch the News I see police shooting and beating people in America, and especially men of color like myself. A woman is raped on the beach in broad daylight in Florida and people do nothing but stand and watch. The Boston Marathon is bombed. Everyone has a gun, there are lots of shootings. Racism looks strong. I have read school reviews that criticize the Middle East for human rights violations but there is not much written on your web site about American hatred for each other and for foreigners.

If you would be so kind and display this letter to your readers for comments it would be quite helpful to me so I can decide if I should accept this job. 

Cordialement,
(name withheld)

ISR invites readers to respond to this letter with pertinent information

Schools In Dangerous Locales

unsafe-location65050102

    In response to our previous article, What Would it Take?, ISR asked international educators to weigh-in on the topic of salary packages attractive enough to get you to overcome your resistance to work in a country previously on your ‘no-go, no-way, no-how’ list of places to work.

     Signing on to a school in a local that doesn’t meet your criteria for language, geographical location, political and social outlook is one thing. But when rampant crime and the potential to get hurt are a very real possibility, that’s an entirely new ball game

     Of course we all have a different tolerance for dangerous situations and some people seem to thrive on danger. One thing I’ve noticed for certain is that school directors seem to have the highest tolerance for such situations and can even make light of them, especially when they are trying to sell me on their school.

     Lets stay safe and help each other avoid unforeseen dangerous situations. We’ve started a list of Crime Ridden Locations and encourage you to add locations and personal experiences. International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what ISR is All About!

We’ve started off the conversation with excerpts from ISR  School Reviews, Forum and Blog posts from ISR members and site visitors:  We invite your comments:

Venezuela

It’s not safe to go out after dark, and during the day most people keep their phones hidden and carry “rob money” just in case. 

My friends have been robbed in so many different parts of the city at any hour of the day.

When I walk outside, or when I take the bus or even when I take a taxi, I am always alert. I know who is behind me at all times and constantly taking precautions no matter what I am doing.

A young college student in my guarded condo complex was robbed at gunpoint at the bus stop right outside our gate.

I was only robbed once and it was only for some small change. I consider myself lucky.

I worked there for years and left because I knew too many people who had been shot, kidnapped, or had their homes robbed at gunpoint. No one is safe there anywhere, especially not if you’re a Gringo!

My wife was mugged and I was nearly gunned down just outside of our flat. And we lived in a rather posh area.

Bratislava

I was robbed twice in 4 months! If you go there you will regret it.

Philippines

I had two people pull a gun on me, and one was just outside a mall. So it is dangerous enough, and even more so if you were actually involved with drugs.

D. R. Congo

They broke in and tied up the teacher. Then they ram shackled the house and took everything of value. She wasn’t hurt and her maid found her still on the floor with her hands and feet bound with rope.

Ecuador

When my husband left the bank the teller must have had accomplices waiting outside because at the first traffic light he was approached by two men with guns. He had no choice but to let him in. They had him drive to a secluded area and tied him up in the back seat. Then they used the car to rob two houses. They left him tied up in the back seat of the car and fled. This sort of crime is not uncommon here.

Guatemala

About half the expats I know have been mugged/held up at gunpoint/pick-pocketed etc. But the number of ways in which your personal freedom is curtailed in societies like these gets old

When they can’t get ring off your finger they will cut off the finger. These robberies happened on the city busses. Don’t wear jewelry and if you do, make sure you can get it off.

Please scroll down to post

What Would it Take?

calculator6923345There’s more than a few places in this world where many of us would not be willing to live & teach. I had my reasons for wanting to avoid Pakistan, but the salary/package was so attractive I could hardly say YES fast enough. I loved Pakistan & my bank account literally grew exponentially. The Congo wasn’t on the top of my list, either, but the package was so absolutely alluring I couldn’t say NO, and again, I banked a ton of moohla & got in some outstanding travel adventures.

When I did finally land a job at my top-pick school, I took a 60% pay cut for the “privilege” of working there. It wasn’t long before I started to feel I was being taken advantage of, especially since the cost of living was far, far from cheap. I went from banking thousands a month to putting away a measly few hundred, if I was lucky. As a trade-off, I had completely derailed my progress towards financial security.

While money isn’t my top priority, it’s an important factor considering international teachers have no pension plans like teachers I know back home. So, while I want to see the world & live internationally, I do need to continue planning for the future.

Would I go back to Pakistan today? How about Kuwait, Liberia, or Egypt? From the comfort of my desk I will say NO. But, sitting across from a recruiter & in the excitement of the moment, bolstered by the promise of a great salary? I have the feeling I would say YES!

I think it’s fair to say we all have a figure in our head of what constitutes a great salary. Of the places in the world where you would not be willing to live & teach, what sort of salary/package would it take to get you to change YOUR mind?

Name your place & package:

American Experience – International Backdrop

egypt49516232Dear ISR, I’ve read the many comments teachers sent in reply to your article, Is Paying for Grades the Norm Grades the Norm? My observation, as owner of a school in a developing nation, is that your teachers really don’t want a true international experience. I think what they really want is a teaching experience just like in any school in America but with an international backdrop.

Teachers come over here with perceptions of how things should be, and when reality doesn’t meet their expectations they try to tailor the experience to an American criteria. When that plan is meet with opposition by the owners or administration, they post angry comments and reviews to your web site.

We don’t have much in the way of enforceable labor laws here. And it’s true (in many nations) that rich people can buy their way through life, laws are for poor people, contracts are often of little value, and schools are what the students (and parents) make of them. No, not everyone is equal here. We don’t do things over here like you do in America. So instead of wasting time and energy complaining about every, single perceived injustice, why don’t these teachers ‘go with the flow’, as you say in your country, and get a real international experience?

Teachers may see me as dishonest because I negotiate with parents, but in this culture I’m respected. I know your culture. I went to university in your country. If teachers want an American experience transposed into a different culture, I recommend they just stay home because it is not going to happen. At least not at my school!

Wishing you all the best,

HM

Comments? Please Scroll Down to Post

Hidden Agendas in Indonesia?

The case of Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong, detained in Indonesia for allegedly sexually assaulting a child at the prestigious Jakarta International School, continues to draw world-wide scrutiny. The two men, both educators, have been imprisoned now for more than three weeks with no charges levied. Under Indonesian law they can be detained for up to 60 days while police carry on an investigation. To date, however, no evidence has been released incriminating the two men and the following video makes one sincerely question the motives behind the investigation.

 

falsly-accussed
School lawyers report they now have a witness who says that, with the help of the police, the mother who accused the teachers met with a school cleaner who was originally charged with the crime and in custody. It is alleged she promised he would be released if he was prepared to say that JIS teachers were involved as the perpetrators of sodomy. She is also asking for $125 million in damages from the school.

Just prior to the detention of Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong, twenty Western teachers from Jakarta International School were deported for small discrepancies in their work visas (some teachers in the elementary division had visas designated for middle school). This followed the investigation of the cleaning staff by authorities. We question why a simple grammatical correction would not have sufficed? Furthermore, the Education and Culture Ministry decreed that the term “international” is to be removed from the names of all international schools in Indonesia, and the word “international” is not be used in school programs, literature, or educational material. In a similar vein, the Education and Culture Ministry has banned the teaching of English language to elementary school children.

Is Indonesia trying to dissuade Western educators and businesses?  If so, they may well be achieving their goal at the expense of Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong and JIS. If the good name of Jakarta International School were to be tarnished by means of such accusations of sexual improprieties, embassies and large International companies in Jakarta may find it difficult to attract Western employees with children, as well as employees from other countries.

Jakarta International School  has been transparent and supportive of their teachers throughout this ordeal.  School’s Statements

Certainly ISR is not in a position to determine the guilt or innocence of Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong.  In accord with the position of embassies and other agencies, we believe these two men are being held without cause and encourage you to sign the petition in support of the release of Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong: Sign the Petition

Scroll down to Comment

International Educators Imprisoned on Insufficient Evidence

An ISR member writes:

“…..Neil Bantleman is being detained in a Jakarta prison along with an Indonesian teaching assistant, Ferdinant Tjiong. They have been held in prison for 10 days without being charged, held on what appears to be very little and highly questionable evidence. They face being detained without charge for many more weeks”….Read more

Scroll Down to Comment

Staffing Problem in Hot Spot

Dear Dr. Spilchuk,
I would like to get your professional advice on a ‘catch-22’ situation. In fact, I recently built a state-of-the-art Grammar school in a small city of Pakistan. I intend to hire one Principal, two Administrators (Entry Level) and two English teachers from abroad, and advertised in different newspapers. However, all the interested candidates are very much concerned about the security of Pakistan. I tried to the best of my ability to convince them that the city where the school is located is very peaceful and people are friendly and there is no security problem. Furthermore, the school building has been made in such a way that it fulfills all the requirements (e.g if you close 3 main gates of the building then nobody can enter into the school building.) If it is possible, please check the website http://www.kgs-kamalia.com for further information.

In conclusion, please help me in this matter.

Regards,

Makhdoom Nazar Hussain
Tel: 0333-4225259 / Off Tel: 042-36665077
makhdoomhussain@live.com

…………………..

Hello Makhdoom Nazar Hussein
I can certainly understand the concern of the ex-Pat teachers you have been in discussion with already in accepting a contract to teach in Pakistan at this time. World news does not encourage ex-Pats to travel and/or work in Pakistan. One of our staff members lived and taught in Lahore from 1999 – 2001 and absolutely loved it. In general, the world changed since then and I can understand teachers’ hesitation.

Here are some things you can offer to encourage Western Administrators and teachers to come to your school.
 
1. Offer a strongly competitive pay package.
2. Include housing in a secure area in the package
3. Include medical insurance in the package
4. Include professional development funds/opportunities in the package
5. Include flights for immediate family members to and from Pakistan as well as on land transportation to your small city in the package
6. Include free school registration for children of the administrators/teachers you recruit in the package
7. Include a clear and comprehensive evaluation plan that includes immediate land and air evacuation for the administrators/teachers and their families, paid for by the school in the event of hostility, in the package
8. Offer serious prospective teachers the opportunity to travel to your city in advance of signing a contract to check out the security and safety situation for themselves, prepaid by the school. (At their expense but reimbursed upon the commencement of work, either in full or partially)
9. Be open to other individual clause negotiations with potential administrators/staff
 
Note: Our ISR staff member reports that his contract in Pakistan included all of the above, except #8. The contract additionally included a vehicle provided by the school.
 
It is very difficult for me to carte blanche support International teachers traveling to teach in Pakistan without seeing the situation myself. An additional suggestion I would make to you is for you to offer to bring an executive member of ISR or a teacher recruitment agency to your city in Pakistan to observe firsthand the situation. From that experience he/she might be able to report on the safety of the location, with some credibility, to the international teaching body.
 
Best of luck to you,
 
Dr. Barbara Spilchuk
Online Teacher Consultant
International Schools Review
 
—————————–
 
Do You Have Anything to Add In Regards to Dr. Spilchuk’s Advice – Particularly Point #9 Above? 

Word From Teachers in Ukraine

Dr. Spilchuk (ISR On Line Teacher Consultant) normally hears from teachers living in countries that fall into conflict. The British International School Kyiv, Kiev International School & Pechersk School, among others, employ expats. Unfortunately, the situation in Ukraine appears to be escalating yet Dr. Spilchuk reports she has received no correspondences & worries for the safety of expats in the area. If you are currently in Ukraine, or have heard from friends of family teaching in the country, please visit the Ukraine Blog to share information with colleagues.

A Story of Deportation – by Dr. Spilchuk

tourist-visa44486779..Dr. Spilchuk, International Schools Review On Line Teacher Advisor, periodically publicizes her interactions with teachers.  She does this so other International Educators can learn from their colleagues experiences and thus make informed decisions along their career paths. Dr. Spilchuk counseled the “deported” teacher in this article. She has omitted the teacher’s name and the name of the school for the teacher’s security.

This is my story:

“I was placed in the detention area of immigration in the Kuwaiti airport and questioned by immigration officials. I was then placed in the hands of ground services. About 9 hours later, ground services  Read more…

Scroll down to comment

ReConsidering Your Possibilities

comfortzone57074936Being an International Educator is all about putting yourself “out there” beyond your comfort zone, embracing new & different experiences. This is, after all, how we grow as individuals & as educators. In light of that, limiting your recruiting focus to just one or two locations seems contrary to the expansive spirit of the profession. Why not take a chance? I did & am I ever glad!

A couple of examples: I certainly had never considered Pakistan for a career move & when out of the blue I was offered a position, everyone tried to convince me not to go. I went to Lahore & loved it! The Pakistani people were gracious, the food & culture were outstanding, the students were a good group & with India less than an hour away (for example) the travel opportunities were spectacular. Although Pakistan was not originally on my limited, safety-zone list of places to go, in retrospect it should have been at the very top!

The Democratic Republic of Congo was not on my list either, but when I found a note in my recruiting folder at an ISS conference I decided to follow up, if for no other reason than to hone my interviewing skills. I did sign the contract & found the Congo to be quite a challenging experience, particularly since the school & location were grossly misrepresented by the director & his professionally-made video that painted Kinshasa to be a delightful tourist destination (this was Pre-ISR). Although the Congolese were warm & welcoming & I had fun resurrecting my high school French, the extreme poverty & complete lack of infrastructure at the school were horrendous. Looking back, I realize that the Congo changed my perspective on the world & international teaching in a profound way. Would I go back? Probably not knowing the situation as I now do. But it was a deeply enlightening period in my life, one that I’m glad I did not miss.

I don’t recommend you completely throw caution to the wind. There are most definitely some political hot spots best avoided. What I am recommending is that instead of limiting yourself to just a few possibilities, why not step out of your comfort zone, reconsider your possibilities & let the real adventures of your career begin!?!

Have YOU ever accepted a position at a school that was not on your list of desired places to live & teach? How did the experience turn out for you? Were you wonderfully surprised or shell shocked? We invite you to share your experiences with colleagues.  Please scroll down to comment.

Has ISR Helped You Make a Wise Decision?

stop-think-act44641327Letters from International Schools Review members telling us how we helped them avoid a “landmine-school” enforces our belief that we’re helping colleagues to make the best career moves. With more and more entrepreneurs creating for-profit, cash-cow schools, and employing Westerners to help complete the artificial image, it’s ever more important to be vigilant in vetting a school before making a commitment.

ISR makes the same strong, school-vetting recommendations every year. And then, about three months into the academic year, we begin getting emails saying, “I wish I would have read the Reviews before I came here!”

A teacher recently wrote to tell ISR she would have made a tragic error had she signed with a school, a school the Director was touting as being on the ‘cutting edge of educational practices’. ISReviews, to the contrary, painted an accurate picture of every classroom, across all grade levels, teaching in lock-step from a textbook–a photocopied, ancient textbook, at that!

Last week we heard from teacher who told us he attended a school’s presentation at the recruiting fair and was immensely impressed with the school’s size, architectural presence and resources. Consulting ISR he discovered the photos were of a local university that rents a small wing of one building to a local enterprise that call this space an ‘International School’.  He passed on the offer.

ISReviews are rife with reports of schools that don’t make their payroll, or don’t procure work visas for  teachers, who then find themselves working illegally in a country where they could be jailed if discovered. Worse yet are those that switch-up contracts upon a teacher’s arrival, withdraw health benefits and/or suddenly expect teachers to share housing. The list goes on and on.

There are a great many schools around the world that fulfill our expectations of what the international teaching experience should be. But, as with every industry, there are imposters with financially-oriented motives who masquerade as the real thing, waiting to ensnare the uninformed. International Schools Review hopes our efforts will spare you that experience.

Has ISR helped you avoid a landmine? Has ISR helped you step into a rewarding International teaching situation? We invite you to share your experiences!