This post was completed on June 15, 2013 as an assignment for a professional development course that I am currently enrolled in called, An Introduction to Urban Global Education. The course is hosted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Education and an organization that I am in called Teachers Beyond Borders.
Outside of my window is a parking lot bewteen my apartment building and a mall. I am surprised how much traffic this little area gets as people go to the mall and cafes around my apartment building. There are also about 5 mosques within walking and viewing distance. At night, I can see them lit with green lights on top of their cresent towers, I can also hear the Call to Prayer 4 times a day from my apartment. I live in Abu Dhabi, UAE and I am an Elementary ELL Specialist at the American International School here. I serve small groups of English Language Learners in their learning and development of English. One of the best parts of my job is watching student’s language grow as they assimilate into their new learning environment from their respective countries. There are over 70 nationalities represented at my school and we pride ourselves a being THE international school in Abu Dhabi.
In my living community, I am one of only a few Westerners as my apartment is in an area of town that is inhabited by mostly Indian families, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Arabs. It’s been a whirlwind, living in my community. I remember the first night I slept in my apartment and hearing the 4 a.m. Call to Prayer. I swore that I was having nightmares and that ghosts where in my house. I was just off of a 2am arrival flight, alone in my apartment, disconnected from my family and TERRIFIED!
Living and working in Abu Dhabi for the past 10 months has been eye-opening in so many ways. Before coming here, I had spent the summer volunteering for an education organization in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Prior to that, I just graduated from graduate school and had spent 4 years teaching ESL in various schools in the Atlanta Public School system. I was an itenerant ESOL program specialist, so I was responsible for traveling throughout the district and serving schools with small populations of English language learners and no full-time teacher. I was at the Atlanta Public Schools when the cheating scandal of 2009 happened and I know many teachers whose careers have been adversely affected by the outcome of that situation.
Comparatively, I am grateful to see how different education looks in urban schools in the US, non-profit organizations in the Carribean and international schools in the United Arab Emirates. It has truly shaped my opinions of education, poverty, access and opportunity. I look forward to this class allowing me to continue in my acquisition of new lenses that help me develop as an international educator.