Who doesn’t want to work in a relaxed environment at their work? Then after you leave work, you enter into a very relaxed local city environment and home. Sounds pretty nice, right?
However, the world of international schools and the cities they are situated in aren’t always so relaxing! On the other hand, it is important to note that there are indeed a number of schools that are!
Work-related stress can really take a toll on one’s wellbeing, so it is good to keep healthy and give yourself breaks and time to reflect. Talking about your worries and concerns also helps to keep you calm and focused. Meanwhile, it is nice when there are opportunities to do that at your school and you have supportive colleagues that are good listeners and in good spirits themselves.
If your host city is chaotic, that can take a toll on your wellbeing as well. Pollution and lack of nature around may give you less opportunities to recharge yourself and enjoy a well-deserved and relaxing break.
International schools can do a number of things to create a more laid-back environment for its staff. Some schools have a massage therapist come and do appointments on campus once every 2 weeks or so. Other schools allow more autonomy to their teachers in how they want to organize their workday and teach in their classes without being micromanaged. And the list of possible actions goes on…
Cities can and should also make choices that make their neighbourhoods more relaxed. Expanding the urban greenery, working on noise reduction, protecting the water and buildings, and inspiring public recreational facilities are only some of them.
So who are the international schools that have created a more relaxed working environment? And which local cities around the world have relaxing environment to live in?
Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teachers find the information they are looking for. Using the Comment Search feature (premium membership needed), we found 45 comments that had the keyword “Relaxed” in them. Here are 11 of them:
“The school is quite far from the center of Chiang Mai but it is possible to find nice places to eat and plenty of local shops and markets a short car or scooter ride away. The plus side is that you have total peace and are surrounded by lush green making it a wonderfully relaxed place to live and explore. Staff are given apartments on the school grounds with the option to live off campus for those who wish it.” – Prem Tinsulanonda International School (41 total comments)
“The school is developing and needs innovative and creative thinkers to solve the issues that developed due to the location and lack of resources in the region. Those looking for an adventure and willing to sacrifice the comforts of schools in more developed countries can enjoy relaxed work, a family like setting if the right personalities are in place.” – American International School of Conakry (47 total comments)
“Teaching staff are given leeway to be the professionals in the classroom. Therefore, there is a relaxed, yet committed staff. Administration promotes and values the balance between professional and personal needs.” – Mont’Kiara International School (84 total comments)
“It’s a true non-profit school. Board is not breathing down your neck. In some ways, it’s quite relaxed (no one is inspecting your lessons, usually.) In others ways, there’s unnecessary stress (poor communication, some teaching loads piled too high.)” – Berlin Brandenburg International School (81 total comments)
“The culture of UWCCR is much more relaxed and informal then in most other schools. Everyone is addressed by their given name and there is no dress code for students or teachers. Since it is a community there is a more egalitarian atmosphere.” – United World College of Costa Rica (108 total comments)
“The school provides a lot of flexibility for students and teachers in terms of the day-to-day schedule. There is a relaxed atmosphere at many points in the year.” – American School of Paris (51 total comments)
“We are a small team, we get on really well and are very supportive of each other. If you came here thinking that this is a wealthy school with amazing resources, you would be disappointed. If you come here thinking that this is a friendly, relaxed place where teachers and students really grow, then you would be happy!” – Norlights International School Oslo (114 total comments)
“It is a pretty relaxed city and low costs make eating out very easy. As stated below, the architecture is amazing!” – Pechersk School International (162 total comments)
“There is a Christmas tea hosted for the staff on campus where all the expat and Indonesian staff from all grade levels get an opportunity to spend some relaxed moments together.” – Gandhi Memorial Intercontinental School (203 total comments)
“People stay because it is relaxed, easy, and relatively safe. People leave because of the extra 9% taxes that kick in the 2nd year that are not offset and that you are not told about in the interview. People also leave because of the culture of the parents, not being able to grow, and not having a lot to do when not working.” – American School of Asuncion (145 total comments)
“People are leaving to pursue international teaching careers. People are staying because they enjoy the relaxed lifestyle.” – Ican British International School (74 total comments)continue reading
Tell us about your background. Where are you from?
I graduated from the Queensland University of Technology with a Bachelors of Education specialising in Early Childhood Education. I am a passionate Early Years advocate and am inspired by the Reggio Emilio approach.
How did you get started in the international teaching community?
When I graduated from university I wanted to explore working in the UK. I lived in Bristol, UK for 2 years working in primary schools all over the district, which helped me gather lots of ideas, experiences and helped me build a bank of knowledge from more experienced teachers.
After 2 years, a colleague recommended I look to the Middle East for more adventure, which lead me into taking a position as an EYFS teacher in a British International School in Dubai. I worked there for 3 years before taking up my current post in Moscow, Russia.
Which international schools have you worked at? Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.
I worked at Jumeriah Baccalaureate School in Dubai and currently working at the British International of Moscow.
Dubai was a great opportunity to learn about the melting pot of cultures, I had over 15 different cultures and heritages in my class of 20.
Because Dubai has such a range of expats your class list reads like a meeting of the United Nations. I got to work with a range of teachers from all over which was a great opportunity to learn new things and approaches.
Dubai has so much to do but I didn’t save very much money, but the experience was invaluable and had definitely given me the skills to be flexible and keen for a new adventure which led me to Russia.
In Moscow, the language is the biggest barrier but I am determined to speak a basic level of Russian. I am enjoying the change in climate, from 50+ for 8 months of the year to -3 to -18 for 8 months of the year. I also loved experiencing my first ever Autumn. We don’t really have Autumn in the area I’m from in Australia, it’s just scorching hot or warm. Moscow was so colourful, the red, the yellow, orange and the green, I had forgotten how beautiful nature was after the desert! Snow has been interesting but the architecture in Moscow is stunning!
Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
Coming from the Middle East, when you greet someone it’s always 3 kisses to the cheek, back and forth. I arrived in Russia and kept going for the third kiss when greeting people, which, in Europe is one on each side, so it seemed like I was trying to be a little more than friendly when I first arrived in Russia.
What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
I found it has been really helpful to make sure that any school I am considering working at is supportive of their staff, and has a clear vision of where SLT see the school going.
I also like to get a clear idea of how much importance Heads of school place the Early Years. Good Heads of School/Primary keep up to date with current research and know that when children have access to a strong foundational beginning in school, it is beneficial to building an exceptional student as they progress through school, which leads to a strong school and a happy student base.
In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
Enriching, adventurous, challenging, rewarding, limitless.
If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here. If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive one year free of premium access to our website!
Want to work for an international school in the Eastern Europe like Anita? Currently, we have 105 international schools listed in Eastern Europe on International School Community. 54 of them have had comments submitted on their profiles. Here are just a few of them:
Pechersk School International (Kyiv, Ukraine) – 122 Comments
International School of Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia) – 34 Comments
Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia) – 66 Comments
Wroclaw International School (Wroclaw, Poland) – 46 Comments
American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland) – 82 Comments
International School of Latvia (Riga, Latvia) – 33 Comments
American International School of Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia) – 29 Comments
Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria) – 28 Comments
International School of Azerbaijan (Baku, Azerbaijan) – 39 Comments
Only on International School Community will you be able to search for the perfect international school for you. The possibility to search (using our unique search engine) for international schools based on the type of school that best fits your criteria. There are many different kinds of schools: ones that are small in student numbers to ones that have more than 1200 students, ones that are for-profit to ones that are non-profit, ones that are in very large cities to ones that are in towns of only 1000 people, etc. Each international school teacher has their own type of a school that best fits their needs as a teacher and a professional. You personal life is also very important when you are trying to find the right match. Most of us know what it is like to be working at a school that doesn’t fit your needs, so it’s best to find one that does!
Utilizing the School Profile Search feature on International School Community, you can search our 1280 schools (updated 13 September 2012) for the perfect school using up to 8 different criteria. The 8 criteria are: Region of the world, Curriculum, School Nature, Number of Students, Country, Year Founded, Kinds of Students and Size of City. You can do a school profile search in three different locations on our website: the homepage, the Schools List page and on the side of every school profile page. Past search results: Search Result #1 posted in December 2011, Search Result #2 posted in January 2012, Search Result #3 posted in March 2012, Search Result #4 posted on April 2012, Search Result #5 posted in May 2012 and Search Result #6 posted in July 2012.
Search Result #7
Armenia – Quantum College
Azerbaijan – International School of Azerbaijan (12 Comments)
Sample comment – Being that the campus is on the outskirts of Baku (which lies on the Caspian Sea), the city centre is a 15 minute drive away.
Bulgaria – Anglo American School of Sofia (7 Comments) and Zlatarski International School
Sample comment – Salaries are paid in Euros. Monthly salary is around 2300 Euros (no taxes are paid by teachers).
Hungary – British International School Budapest
Russia – British International School Moscow
Ukraine – Qsi – Kiev International School
Sample comment – “Teachers get a furnished apartment with back-up power, telephone/internet, with underground parking. There is an allowance for utilities.”
Why not start your own searches now and then start finding information about the schools that best fit your needs? Additionally, all premium members are able to access the 6001 comments and information (updated 13 September 2012) that have been submitted on the hundreds of international school profiles on our website.
Join International School Community today and you will automatically get the ability to make unlimited searches to find the international schools that fit your criteria.continue reading
v2011.03 – 9 July, 2011:
The summer has now officially arrived for basically all international school educators. Some will continue their summer vacation until the end of August, but many international schools start up again at the end of July/early August. If you are moving to a new school this year, many new teachers must start work around that same time frame or even earlier! Take this time of relaxation (on a beach in Thailand or Mexico for example!) to fill out some information about the schools you know about on International School Community. So far, our current members represent more than 45 different international schools!
http://peacequilt.wordpress.com/ is a blog. This project began as an idea back in September 2008, the idea being to unite schools all around the world, in some way, potentially as a celebration of the London Olympics, 2012. The people involved asked themselves to think of an idea of uniting schools all over the World. Many international schools have become involved already. A teacher who is inspired can inspire students and other teachers!
What do you mean by “kinds of student” in the school search function?
For many international schools the kinds of student there can be very important to know for certain teachers who prefer a certain type of students population. “Mostly int’l” means that the majority of the student population is from other countries in the world, even if the majority of the population is from one specific country that is not the host country. “Half int’l/half local” signifies that around 50% of the student population is from the host country. “Mostly local” means that the majority of the student population is from the host country.
Incentive program for free premium membership:
Recent blog entries:
· International schools that were founded in 1996 (China, South Korea, Moldova, etc.)
Recently updated schools:
· American School of the Hague (5 new comments)
(The Hague, Netherlands)
“Take home pay examples: single teacher BA step 10 = 3488 EUR, single teacher…”
· Cairo British School (31 new comments)
“The school building is very small, no sporting facilities, the students have to go by…”
· Pechersk School International (11 new comments)
“Travel in the city is easy; taxis and mini-buses are plentiful and cheap. A single taxi fare…”
· The International School of Azerbaijan (5 new comments)
“Azerbaijan has a varied climate; notably hot summers, warm autumns and…”
· Qatar Academy (5 new comments)
“I interviewed with 2 administrators at the Search fair in Boston (2011). They were very…”
· American International School Bucharest (1 new comment)
“The interview went very well, she was willing to allow me to lead the interview by…”
Recently added schools:
Requested schools to be reviewed:
This last month we have had visits from 51 countries around the world!
Survey number 4 has arrived! Topic: Which curriculum do you have the most experience in?
Have you ever been at a job fair and had a school say “sorry were looking for…” teachers with more experience in a certain curriculum? I know I have. Sometimes I wish I had experience in every curriculum so that I could be a more desirable candidate. Because I have experience in one curriculum, does that mean I should teach in that curriculum the rest of my life? I hope that teachers get an opportunity to experience other curricula (if a school will hire you without experience in their curriculum), as it will broaden your frame of mind about your teaching and teaching in general.
So, which is it? Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!
Random year for international schools around the world: 1996
Utilizing the database of the 827 international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found 24 schools that were founded in 1996 (excepts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites):
Shanghai Community Int’l School (Shanghai, China)
Shanghai Singapore International (Shanghai, China)
Suzhou Singapore International School (Suzhou, China)
“The SSIS was established in 1996 to provide quality international education to children of expatriate families in Shanghai. Currently, there are 2 campuses in Shanghai, MinHang Campus and XuHui Campus.”
Luanda International school (Angola, Luanda)
Busan Foreign School (Busan, South Korea)
“Busan Foreign School opened its doors to the Busan community and its surrounding areas in October of 1996. With only two students originally, it has since expanded to encompass nursery to twelfth grade, currently educating over 220 students from 25 different nations. In addition to the increase in enrollment, the curriculum has developed into a highly rigorous American standards-based program that offers students a wide variety of courses and activities.”
Tall Oaks International School (Accra, Ghana)
“The nursery was established in August 1996, to provide a safe, healthy and happy learning environment for children aged between 12 months and 5 years.”
Lekki British International School Lagos (Lagos, Nigeria)
“Welcome Lekki British School is the original British School in Nigeria. We opened our doors in 2000 to students and parents who are looking for a truly British School experience.”
Ocean of Light International School (Nukuʻalofa, Tonga)
“In 1996 as a response to a need from the community and as a social and economic development project, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Tonga established the school and registered it as a non-profit institution offering an international standard of education to the population of Tonga. Licensed by the Ministry of Education the school is now a well-known institution in Tonga. The school opened its doors on March 3rd, 1996 with nine students, one teacher and one assistant teacher, covering classes one, two and three. By the end of the year the roll increased to 20. The following year approval was granted by the Ministry of Education to add classes 4, 5, and 6. More teachers were hired and the roll increased to 56. By then the Board realized the difficulties of enrolling children to class one from the grass root level with no English background.”
American Academy for Girls Kuwait City (Salwa, Kuwait)
“The Al Jeel Al Jadeed Educational Institute opened The American Academy for Girls (AAG) in September 1996 to only 79 students from kindergarten through to grade five. Today, AAG has approximately 860 students from pre-kindergarten through to grade twelve.”
Qatar Academy (Doha, Qatar)
Jeddah Knowledge International School (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Horsholm International School (Horsholm, Denmark)
The International School of Azerbaijan (Baku, Azerbaijan)
“Since its foundation in 1996 TISA has served both the expatriate community and those in the local community who are seeking an international education.”
Qsi International School of Chisinau (Chisinau, Moldova)
“QSI International School of Chisinau, a non-profit institution that opened in September 1996, offers high quality education in the English language for pre-school (beginning at age three years), elementary students (through the age of 13 years), and an expanding secondary program (currently to age 15). The primary purpose of the school is to meet the needs of the children of foreign expatriates living in Chisinau who require this type of education with a view to continuing their education in their home countries with a minimum of adjustment problems.”
The International School of Bucharest (Bucharest, Romania)
“ISB was founded in 1996 in a rented building with a total of just 17 pupils to meet the needs of the English-speaking community. Within a couple of years the school had grown in both size and scope. In order to serve an increasingly mobile international community, the curriculum gradually took into consideration the practices and requirements of a number of different systems.”
Pechersk School International (Kiev, Ukraine)
Canadian International School Bangalore (Bangalore, India)
Hanoi International School (Hanoi, Vietnam)
“In 1996 a joint venture company was launched following an agreement between the Centre for Education Technology (CET) and International School Development Inc. (ISD). The joint venture ship was on the basis of 30% interest to CET, which is the Vietnam side, and 70% interest to ISD, the US side. The company then opened Hanoi International School in late 1996 using premises leased from the school next to today’s HIS. The student roll at the end of the first year was 54 from Pre-School to Grade 11. Within that first cohort of students, 15 nationalities were represented. On the teaching side there were 13 teaching staff, including the Principal, and 16 Vietnamese support staff.”
Sekolah Ciputra (Surabaya, Indonesia)
“Much has been achieved since Yayasan Ciputra Pendidikan founded the school in 1996. Today Sekolah Ciputra is an international school and one of the most highly regarded IB World Schools in Indonesia. We believe that our International IB students are truly global citizens.”
International School of Skopje (Skopje, Macedonia)
St. Andrews I.S Green Valley (Pattaya, Thailand)
Arqam Academy – Doha (Doha, Qatar)
Dasman Model School (Kuwait City, Kuwait)
British International School (BIS) Phuket (Phuket, Thailand)continue reading
As all International School Community members know, each of the 2180+ school profile pages on our website has four comments and information sections: School Information, Benefits Information, City Information and Travel Information. Our members are encouraged to submit comments and information on one or all of these sections if they currently work at an international school or have worked at one in the past. It is important that we all share what we know so that we can in turn help other new teachers make a more informed decision before they sign any contract! *Additionally, for every 10 comments you submit (which are anonymous by the way), you will automatically get one free month of premium membership added to your account! The more comments you leave, the more free membership you get!
So, what are the recent statistics about the Benefits Information sections on all the school profile pages? The current total number of submitted comments in the Benefits Information section is 12207 (out of a total of 39249+ comments); that is up 1503 comments from around 13 months ago (Nov. 2019).
There are 20 subtopics in the Benefits Information section on each school profile page. Check out each one of these subtopics below and find out the total number of comments in that specific sub-topic and also an example comment that has been submitted there.
• Average monthly salary after taxes and in what currency (explain taxation situation). How often do you get paid throughout the year? (1415 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Salary is paid regularly each month directly into your bank account which the school will help you set up. It is paid in $US…” – Northbridge International School (Phnom Penh, Cambodia) – 59 Comments
• Details about the staff housing or the housing allowance. If there is no housing allowance, how much are rent costs and utilities? (1414 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Rent prices went up all over Shanghai in the past 1-2 years and even places near the school cost more now, as landlords start seeing that there’s many expats in the area willing to pay more…” – Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 481 Comments
• Average amount of money that is left to be saved. (761 Total Comments)
Example comment: “A teaching couple could easily live and travel on one salary and save 100% of the other. Savings opportunity is obviously significantly less on one salary, but still possible…” – Singapore American School (Singapore) – 309 Comments
• Detailed info about flight, shipping and settling-in allowances. Any other benefits (e.g. free lunches, etc.)? (1236 Total Comments)
Example comment: “$4000 per teaching couple moving allowance (once you arrive in cash), optional $10,000 loan from school interest free (to buy car), annual flights home…” – American International School of Lagos (Lagos, Nigeria) – 21 Comments
• Health insurance and medical benefits. Describe your experiences using these benefits and going to the local hospitals. (1085 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Teachers must pay for their own health insurance here as Switzerland doesn’t have a social health care program model. Some of the staff’s partners are actually the local doctors in Leysin, so expect to get seen or have your children get seen by them..” – Leysin American School (Leysin, Switzerland) – 113 Comments
• Ways to make extra money (tutoring, after-school activities, etc.). (523 Total Comments)
Example comment: “As the April 6, 2016 comment below states, there are many opportunities for increasing your monthly pay. Other than that, it is illegal to work for anyone but your visa provider (the school) in China. Lots of teachers tutor or work otherwise on the side anyway, but it is illegal.” – Kang Chiao International School (Kunshan, China) – 82 Comments
• Information about benefits for teachers with dependents. (825 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Teachers with dependents need to pay some fees. These vary and are at the discretion of the school so they could conceivably become higher each year. They do not like to hire people with dependents.” – MEF International School Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey) – 162 Comments
• Professional development allowance details. (617 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The PD allowance allows you to travel and pay for one IB workshop (or any conference) per year. Or you can do two IB online workshops…” – The International School of Dakar (Dakar, Senegal) – 181 Comments
• Pension plan details. (676 Total Comments)
Example comment: “It is not a pension. Due to Brazilian law, each teacher pays 8% of their salary each month into a guarantee fund. This is more or less an unemployment insurance. At the end of your contract, the school agrees to “fire” you, so you can access that fund. Based on the exchange rate at that time, it can vary in USD. At the beginning of my contract is was estimated around $12,000. But, now it will be much closer to $7,000. There is no way to know how much it will actually be in the end.” – American School of Belo Horizonte (Belo Horizonte, Brazil) – 78 Comments
• Describe your experience bringing pets. (310 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Some teachers bring their pets from the USA (and other countries like UAE and Qatar). Some do it via the airlines or a pet relocation service. You need to make sure you pet has their up-to-date shots and whatnot to avoid certain delays and hassles along the way. The shorter your flight to Egypt the easier it might be to get your pet to Egypt.” – American International School in Egypt (Main Campus) (New Cairo City, Egypt) – 62 Comments
• Explain how salaries are decided (e.g. is there a pay schedule? extra step for masters degree? Annual pay raises? Bonuses?). (617 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Each teacher is paid differently. No pay scale. Some teachers with lots of experience paid less than teachers with little experience. Men get paid more than women…” – American School of Durango (Durango, Mexico) – 54 Comments
• How do the school’s benefits compare to other international schools in the area/city? (393 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The pay is lower than other international schools in the area but the school fees are also lower. It is the mid range between the “posh” international schools and the ones that don’t hire internationally trained teachers.” – Ican British International School (Phnom Penh, Cambodia) – 74 Comments
• How is the school calendar? Is there ample vacation time? (592 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Point of contention. Clearly we are in a Muslim country so we have to abide by the holidays, but as Ramadan keeps pushing up 2 weeks every year, so does Eid (which usually falls in the first term. But we are in one of those awkward times where Eid is falling the first week of school so that means no break from the start of school until December. There is only one week at xmas this year, because we have to make sure to finish school around the start of Ramadan, it will be too hot to come to school while the kids (majority) will be fasting or they just won’t attend school. We will still have a week in Feb and a week in April. No long weekends here. 3 months off for summer.” – Qatar Academy (Sidra) (Doha, Qatar) – 97 Comments
• What are some things that you need to buy/pay for when you first arrive at the school that you didn’t know about beforehand? (330 Total Comments)
Example comment: “If you have a pet you have to pay an extra deposit to the landlord, not covered by school…” – Pechersk School International (Kyiv, Ukraine) – 162 Comments
• Details about the maternity benefits of the host country and school. (169 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Women get 12 weeks at 80% pay. She can take more time off, but without pay and at the business’ discretion. I think men don’t get any time off to be with their newborn.” – Zurich International School (Zurich, Switzerland) – 59 Comments
• What is the process of getting reimbursed for things? (226 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Fill out a simple form, submit the receipt, and the money is deposited into your account after the purchase has been approved. If you are concerned as to whether or not you will be reimbursed, seek out approval first. I have never been turned down.” – Daegu International School (Daegu, South Korea) – 25 Comments
• Details about new teacher orientation. (270 Total Comments)
Example comment: “We were picked up at the airport by a school driver who drove the Superintendent there to meet us. We were taken directly to our house, and someone had purchased some staple foods for the refrigerator. There were new towels, sheets and pillows. Other teachers/admin in the neighborhood came to greet us that evening and brought over hot food for dinner. It was an excellent welcome. We immediately felt very much at home…” –Lahore American School (Lahore, Pakistan) – 193 Comments
• In general, why are people staying at or leaving this school? (403 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Everyone leaves because the salary scrap and administration is crap. If you had any moral integrity you would also leave after a week.” – Colombo International School (Colombo, Sri Lanka) – 64 Comments
• Details about the teaching contract. What important things should prospective teachers know about? (250 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Read carefully. 3 page contract is very vague and WILL be used in favor of the administration against you. Expect them to try and keep as much of your money as they can. Hence the 2 month salary withholding which you are assured you will get at back end of contract. This does not usually come to fruition.” – Pan Asia International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 70 Comments
• Information on trailing spouses. Can they work under spousal visa (also availability of work) or is it possible to live only on one salary? (95 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Trailing spouses can only be sponsored if you are earning a certain amount. It is not very easy to get a job in some professionals; however, this might change soon with the sponsorship system changing often as we near the World Cup 2022.” – The English Modern School (Doha) (Doha, Qatar) – 91 Commentscontinue reading
When I was a kid, three of my closest friends went off the rails. They ended up in prison. In each case, they apprenticed with a bit of shoplifting. Things went downhill from there. I didn’t grow up in a bad neighborhood. But it wasn’t all sugar and lollipops.
That’s why my mom didn’t work when I was young. She stayed home. She wanted to give my brothers, my two sisters and me stability in a world that wasn’t stable.
My mom was careful with money. My dad was a mechanic. They had four kids. That’s why I was surprised when my parents asked if I wanted to take trip around the Mediterranean Sea with a bunch of other 7th grade students. “I’ll take a part-time job to cover the cost,” said my mom. “But you have to save at least $350.” It was 1982. I was a 12-year old with a paper route. The trip cost $2,800. That was five times more than what my cash strapped parents had paid for their family car.
Today, I understand why they wanted me to do it.
For 4 months, I took weekly night lessons with a dozen other kids in a retired teacher’s home. The teacher volunteered. We learned about the countries we would see. We studied their geographies, cultures, architectures and religions. I became our 12-year old expert on Islam.
I left for my month-long trip on March 28, 1982. I still remember the date and most of what I saw. We went to England, Greece, Egypt, Israel and Turkey. I spent two extra weeks with relatives in England.
It was, by far, the best educational experience that I ever had.
Thousands of parents take it one step further. They raise their children overseas. Their kids attend international schools. These aren’t French schools servicing French children, or Thai schools servicing Thai students. Instead, they support the families of expatriates working abroad. They’re like the United Nations.
For many kids and parents, these schools are a dream. Almost every child who graduates from an international school eventually goes to college. In the 12 years that I taught at one, I wasn’t aware of a single high school drop out.
Although it may have happened, I wasn’t aware of a single teen pregnancy. Racism was almost non-existent. There was a heightened awareness of different religions, cultures and demographics, both social and financial.
I taught at Singapore American School. It’s the largest American school outside of the United States. There are 4000 kids from Kindergarten to 12th grade. Most are U.S. passport holders. But the student body represents more than 50 different nationalities. Most of the teachers have children.
In 2014, ICEF Monitor stated that there are more than 7000 international schools worldwide. Devin Pratt and his wife Dianna have worked at six of them. Devin began his career as a Social Studies teacher in Texas. He’s now the Assistant Head (Superintendent) at Frankfurt International School. Dianna works at the same school as an educational technology coordinator. Their two children, Dagan and Dominique, have lived in Cote-d’Ivoire, Africa; Saudi Arabia; Taiwan; India and Singapore.
I sat with Devin on his porch in Frankfurt. Some of the neighbor’s homes peeked through the trees on the sunny hill below. Birds chirped. I couldn’t see or hear a single car. I couldn’t hear another voice.
“For part of my childhood, I grew up in government subsidized apartments in the Dallas, Texas area,” said Devin. “We eventually moved to Plano when my mom remarried. It’s a high socioeconomic area where many of the kids’ parents expected them to go to college. Just having that influence helped me.”
Devin says that there are few negative distractions at international schools. “Almost all of the kids are focused on education and their school based activities. Most don’t consider not going to college. They’re positively pulled by their peers and by supportive communities that value global education and diversity.”
But raising kids overseas isn’t perfect. Derek Swanson is from Colorado Springs, Colorado. He teaches at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. Previously, he and his wife taught in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The couple has two sons. The youngest is four years old. The oldest is seven. “Maintaining relationships with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other family members is challenging at times,” he says. “But technologies [like Skype] help considerably.”
Derek’s children follow a U.S. curriculum. But they learn much more. “Our two boys have learned a fair amount of Vietnamese, Arabic, and Tagalog,” says Derek. “They also have a fair understanding of the conflicts in Vietnam and how that affected the people there.”
Kate Smith (I’ve changed her name to protect her identity) is another American overseas. She teaches 2nd grade at Pechersk International School, in Kiev, Ukraine. Kate, her husband, and their thirteen year old daughter have also lived in Turkey and Belgium.
“My daughter has been exposed to many different cultures, languages and different ways of thinking,” says Kate. “She has grown up thinking it’s normal to be able to speak 3 languages. She isn’t as materialistic as her cousins who live in the U.S. and she has learned to value experiences and people over things.”
Kate credits a lack of exposure to U.S. based television. “When she was younger, I asked my daughter what she wanted from Santa. She looked puzzled and didn’t know how to reply because she has what she wants and needs. She hasn’t been exposed to the advertising on American TV.”
But living overseas, for Kate, isn’t without its challenges. “Buying clothes and shoes in foreign countries is always interesting. In our current country, they speak Russian or Ukrainian (and I know neither). I have bought some foods expecting them to be something they are not!”
Gael Thomlinson and her husband, Brad, teach at the British Columbia Canadian International School, in Cairo Egypt. It follows a Canadian curriculum. As with most international schools, the students come from dozens of different countries. Gael teaches music. Brad teaches math. Previously, the couple taught in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.
Their two nine-year olds, Lisa and David (I’ve changed their names to protect their identities) enjoy living overseas. Gael says, “We’ve made great friends from so many different countries. We travel a lot and have visited places like Sri Lanka and Nepal– places I had never dreamed of going. My kids are comfortable amongst many nationalities and they get over language barriers quickly so they can play with new friends.”
Broad cultural acceptance and confidence are common traits among these global kids. Stacy Bradshaw (I have changed her name) is a high school English teacher. She’s a single mother of two children, aged nine and six. For two years, she and her children lived in Taiwan. They recently moved to Korea. This fall, her children will attend Osan American Elementary. It’s a U.S. Department of Defense School.
Stacy and her children have visited 10 different countries in the Pacific Rim region. “My daughter is now a fluent speaker of traditional Mandarin,” says Stacy. “She’s also my translator. My children love the adventures that come from exploring new cultures, which have provided a hands-on, visual learning experience that they continue to reminisce.”
Devin and Dianna Pratt’s daughter, Dominique, is now a Master’s student at Clark Univeristy, in Massachusetts. She earned a scholarship through the Global Scholars Program for international students. She grew up in six different countries. Dominique graduated from high school in Singapore.
“I’m proud of how I grew up,” she says. But Dominque admits that living overseas has created a pull to live in other places. “I don’t feel like I’m a local anywhere. I like the idea of moving on. I feel myself getting antsy about moving somewhere else.”
I asked her about U.S. based teachers. If they have kids, and a sense of adventure, should they consider moving abroad?
“If I were to have kids,” she says, “I would see it as a positive thing.”
This article was originally posted on Assetbuilder.com.continue reading