Great Link

International Peace Quilt Update

January 21, 2012

The International Peach Quilt project began as an idea back in September 2008, the idea being to unite schools all around the world.  Many of the schools that have participated so far are international schools.  The quilt was inspired by the Summer Olympics in London 2012.  Just recently, the International Peace Quilt gave up update on their progress.  See their update letter below:

Dear All,

Since our last update The International Peace Quilt Project has received further drawings from Azerbaijan,Chad, Fiji, Ghana, Guam, Iran, Malta, Micronesia,Montenegro, Morocco,Nepal, Romania,Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden,Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay. This brings the total number of Countries with drawings submitted to 138.

From the list of Countries we wished to reach below, we now have made contact with schools from The British Virgin Islands,Grenada, Guam (who have submitted their drawing),Guatemala, Hong Kong,Mali,Nicaragua, Peru,Trinidad & Tobago,Swaziland, and Switzerland. We expect to receive 22 drawings/countries that have been promised previously  to be submitted in  the early part of 2012 from Algeria, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Bhutan,Canada, Dominica,Estonia,Finland, Guinea,Honduras, Iraq,Kiribati, Kuwait,Liberia, Leichenstein, Mauritius,Panama, Papua New Guinea,Rwanda, Solomon Islands,and Tuvalu.

The non for profit organisation, The Haynes Foundation in The Carribean has also offered to coordinate the project in Barbados,Cuba, Puerto Rico, St.Kitts & Nevis,  St. Vincent & The Grenadines and The U.S. Virgin Islands for us. Therefore all going to plan that takes the number down to 29 Countries that we still wish to make an initial contact with.

Again thank you so much to all Directors,Principals/ Heads,Staff and Students. Without you all, this Project would not be where it is today. You can all be so proud of what you are creating here.This really is a Global message for Peace from children all over the World as a celebration of the Olympic Games and beyond.

Also a week ago we set up a group in Guisborough called the Friends of the International Peace Quilt. This group is made up of several of our quilters, a Director from the Towns magazine and a couple of other very interested people also from the town. The idea behind this group is that it will coordinate exhibitions/displays of the Quilt.The group will also help to keep on top of any quilting and help with promotion of the project. It was felt that now more heads were needed to help with everything around the project which can only be a good thing.

Just to remind you all again of the Olympic Educational Resource which is available if your school wishes to make use of it,

Looking to the future,

We see all 205 Countries who are participating in the Olympics, with drawings submitted and all joined together in the International Peace Quilt Project. We see this quilt being a very creative message from Children in every Country in the World for World Peace,all as a celebration of the Olympics 2012.

Best Wishes,

From The Guisborough Rotary Club, The Guisborough Neighbourhood Management Team,Friends of the International Peace Quilt,Our Quilters,Lucy and Trish.

List of Countries still to be involved,




Central African REP




Equatorial Guinea




Maldives  A possible, through a contact to an M.P who sits on  The All Party Group for the Maldives.






American Samoa

San Marino

Sao Tome e Principe



Syrian Arab Rep,waiting on a reply.







Many of the international schools that have participated in this project have profiles on International School Community.  Has your international school participated in this project?

continue reading

Great Link

Are you ready? The international school recruitment fair season is a few weeks away! (A Search Associates fair experience)

December 22, 2011

Highlighted firsthand-account of what it was like for this international school teacher at a Search Associates recruitment fair in San Francisco:

“Many people have asked my process of applying to teach overseas and so I will share my experiences, typical or not.  The first step, of course, was research.  Finding out what the schools that interested me considered a priority revealed that they are different in their own region.  Carefully reading the different mission statements not only showed priorities, but also gave me direction in my cover letters which needed to be outstanding.  Some schools stressed academic achievement, others developing the whole child but almost all emphasized a global perspective.  Mediocrity was not a part of any, it was super high expectations the whole way.

Each cover letter that I sent was specifically targeted with carefully chosen words that reflected my interpretation of the schools’ intent.  I connected my skills to what they required, my educational philosophy to theirs and used as many “teacher words” as I could.  The format was strictly old school business formal with the date written as day, month and year rather than the western style of month, day, year.  My first attempt to cut and paste resulted in an incomplete sentence and the wrong date being sent to a prospective employer so I decided to recreate each one.  Yes, that took a lot of time.  Yes, it was worth it.

International resumes are referred to as CV’s; Curriculum Vitae.  Many things are different from American resumes, including a recent photo, just a simple head shot, and both your age and marital status, believe it or not.  Think full disclosure.

I signed with a recruiter, Search Associates, to access their data banks of detailed information of teacher packages and recommendations, as well as the semi-security of a having an informed professional to ask questions and anticipate any possible problems.  The fee was $200 and the school has to pay the recruiter a larger fee, I believe it is $1200.  It was worth it.  This also gave me an invitation to the Search Associates International Teaching Fair in California this past February.  More about the teaching fair in another post – it was an experience, that’s for sure.

Reading the school’s websites was crucial to understanding exactly how to apply.  Some wanted a cover letter and cv, some had an online application form, others would only review applicants through one of the recruiters.  No matter what the route, I put effort into making each sentence, each question answered, the best possible.  High level schools are looking for teachers with high level skills and an incorrect subject-verb agreement or misspelled word will definitely stand out – negatively.

Part of my process was my notebook.  I kept track of each letter, each response and tons of printed information of the schools I had applied, in addition to a chart comparing things like salary, contract length, etc.  Without it, I would have been lost and confused.

Remember timing.  International school are actively hiring January through March.  Are you ready?”

Check out the over 100 comments and information about international schools and their hiring policies and other recruitment fair information about a variety of international schools on International School Community’s website.

continue reading

Great Link

Great link: 2011 Quality of Living worldwide city rankings – Mercer survey

November 30, 2011

Who works at one of the 7 or so international schools in Vienna? If you do, then you are living in one of the cities deemed to have the highest quality of living by Mercer.

It sounds great to be living in the city ranked number one, or even in the top 10.  At a certain time of your life and in your international teaching career maybe one of these top cities just might be the perfect place to settle down.  That is though if a vacancy pops up at an international school there, and by some stroke of luck you get the job.  It is all about luck and timing.  It is even more so about luck and timing when it comes to securing a job at an international school in one of these supposedly top city locations.  The international schools in these cities do appear to also have attractive benefits packages.  When you couple attractive benefits packages and a top city to live in, the schools find that there are a higher number of teachers staying long-term instead of the shorter tenures we usually see at other international schools in “less” desirable locations.  Long-term teachers at a school means a lesser likelihood of vacancies popping up.

So, how do these decide the quality of life in cities across the globe?  They use criteria from the following ten categories:

1) Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement, etc)
2) Economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services, etc)
3) Socio-cultural environment (censorship, limitations on personal freedom, etc)
4) Health and sanitation (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc)
5) Schools and education (standard and availability of international schools, etc)
6) Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transport, traffic congestion, etc)
7) Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure, etc)
8) Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc)
9) Housing (housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services, etc)
10) Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters)

Indeed there are many factors to consider when thinking about accepting a job at a great international school, but maybe not in the best location.

From the article, here is what Mr. Parakatil said about the following regions around the globe:

“The disparity in living standards between North and South America is still considerable. Though a number of South and Central American countries have experienced positive change, political and safety issues predominate in the region. In particular, drug trafficking, drugs cartels and high levels of street crime, combined with natural disasters, continue to impair the region’s quality of living.”

“European cities in general continue to have high standards of living, because they enjoy advanced and modern city infrastructures combined with high-class medical, recreational and leisure facilities. But economic turmoil, high levels of unemployment and lack of confidence in political institutions make their future positions hard to predict. Countries such Austria, Germany and Switzerland still fare particularly well in both the quality of living and personal safety rankings, yet they are not immune from decreases in living standards if this uncertainty persists.”

“As a region, Asia Pacific is highly diverse. Countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Singapore dominate the top of both our general and personal safety rankings, in part because they have been continuously investing in infrastructure and public services,” said Mr Parakatil. “In general, the region has seen a greater focus on city planning. Nevertheless, many Asian cities rank at the bottom, mainly due to social instability, political turmoil, natural disasters such as typhoons and tsunamis, and lack of suitable infrastructure for expatriates.”

Middle East and Africa
“The recent wave of violent protests across North Africa and the Middle East has temporarily lowered living standards in the region. Many countries such as Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen have seen their quality of living levels drop considerably. Political and economic reconstruction in these countries, combined with funding to serve basic human needs, will undoubtedly boost the region as a key player in the international arena.”

continue reading

Great Link

Great Article – How to Break into International School Teaching

August 29, 2011

International School Community would like to highlight this article by Clay Burell – How to Break into International School Teaching

It is a good overview of what you need to think about if you are a person that is wanting to join our international school community.

Parts of the article we would like highlight are:

“Give yourself months to complete the registration process for these outfits; in fact, just get started now, since I think your file will remain active for at least a year, possibly more, after you sign up. You have to submit an online resume, cover letter, educational philosophy, copy of your teaching certificate, recommendation letters, teacher evaluations, and gobs more stuff to their database.”

We liked the phrase “just get started now.”  It is true.  It is better to get started on the process sooner than later.  Some of the applications for recruitment fairs like Search and ISS can take months to complete.  Especially the confidential references that you need to get your references to submit.  But we thought it good to note to newbies that it is NOT necessary to go to a recruitment fair at all to find your first job.  There are many other ways (Skype, contacting the school directly, etc…) that you can do to get your foot in the door.

“There may be a bit of a “career ladder” to climb to get a job at the top-tier schools. Many people start in less selective schools, build a resume there and establish themselves as international school teachers, and expect their next fair to land them a job at one of the better schools.”

It is important to have a think about whether there are really top-tier schools or not.  There are many international schools out there that many people want to work because they think it is a top-tier school.  But in the reality of working there, many of them are just normal schools with the same issues that plague many international schools everywhere (disorganization, bad management, overworked staff, etc…).  We have seen many times newbies getting jobs at these top-tier schools.  If you are lucky and you are in the right place at the right time, then you can get a job anywhere.  If you are the right fit and have the right personality, many times top schools will not hesitate to hire you disregarding your lack of international school teaching experience.

Beware before signing a contract. If you break it, you may be blacklisted for the next job fair. Strongly consider sucking it up until your sentence ends.”

We are not for sure this is sending the right word about the lives of international school educators.  One must come to their own conclusion about whether there is indeed a blacklist or not.  It is hard to imagine school heads are taking the time to add somebody to a list, then sending it out to all the other international schools around the world and then having another school read that list and compare it to the list of candidates they are interview to see if there is a match.  If you do indeed break a contract, I bet that the school and you can come to an agreement that will be in the best interest of both parties.  If you are not the right fit, then it is best to not work with each other anyways.

continue reading

Great Link

Do you want to teach in one of the most expensive cities in the world?

June 24, 2011

I was just talking with an international school teacher friend of mine who is part of a teaching couple with 3 children.  They are looking for another job right now; their next international school.  I asked her where in the world that they would most like to move to.  She  told me that it would have to be in a city where the “living is cheap!”

I have actually lived in 2 of the cities currently on the list for 2010 of the most expensive cities in the world.  One of them is in the top half of the list and the other is in the lower half.  I’m not for sure that looking at this list is really helpful when deciding where to live internationally (if you get offered a job at an international school there, mind you).  It seems like the salary and/or benefits are typically raised in accordance to the high cost of living in the city, but not always I suppose.

Housing allowance: the main factor at play?

Some schools on the list (Canadian International School Singapore, Shanghai Community International School, Hong Kong International School, Seoul International School, etc…) offer generous housing allowances; when the school pays for all of your rent (and sometimes even the utilities).  However, I know other schools on the list (American School of Barcelona, Acs International Schools – Egham Campus, etc…) that don’t offer a housing allowance.  Not having to pay for rent (which is sometimes 1/3 of your take home pay) plays an important factor in how expensive the city is for you.  I was told by another friend who has worked at international schools for 4 years now that she plans to never pay for housing again!  I guess once you get that benefit, it is hard to go back to paying for your own rent!  There is always the money-saving option of having a roommate to help with high rent costs, but many teachers, as they get older, don’t want to consider that as an ideal option.

High-priced goods: paying 2-3 times what you would normally pay.

I know some teachers in the “most expensive cities in the world” sometimes think twice about paying 7 USD for a loaf of bread at a bakery geared towards the expat community.  Surely, that is expensive.  They would never do that if they lived in their home country.  I can’t even think of a place that would sell a loaf of bread for that price in the United States.  BUT, they actually have the money now in their budget to buy those types of things.  For sure the stores know the secret; which is that many of the expats living there don’t have to pay for their housing and have extra money to pay high prices for things that remind them of home/western-type stuff.  Especially when a new teacher first moves to a new city (when they don’t know exactly where to buy things yet and where the best prices are at different stores), there are always expats willing and able to pay high prices for western things.

There are always cheaper alternatives.

When you first move to a city, you don’t know where to get the good prices.  Once you find those places and ask your colleagues where to go, then for sure you might think the city is much less expensive than you had originally thought.  Especially if you are in a city that has a culture similar to the type of foods you like to eat.  For example, if you want to buy Cranberry juice in the United States, it is going to be relatively cheap.  However, cranberry juice is not a popular juice to drink in most other countries in the world, thus it is going to be much more expensive (if you are luckily to even find it).  Buying the local version of the products you like will for sure be a cheaper alternative.

Taxis and transportation.

If you live in one of the most expensive cities in the world, you will most likely also be paying a lot of money for taxis and other transportation.  It is especially true for cities on the list like London, Tokyo and Barcelona.  However, it is not necessary true for other cities on the list like Shanghai and Beijing.  Not being able to utilize taxis because of financial constraints can definitely play a factor in your decision to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Final thoughts.

There are so many factors that come into play when you decide whether a city is going to be too expensive for you.  It is difficult to get a good idea of how that will effect your decision to move there before you are actually living there.  I interviewed with a school in Singapore and they were really adamant about getting me to realize beforehand how expensive it was to live there.  It was difficult for me to fully understand their concerns (after looking at their salary and benefits) without actually having experienced the high cost firsthand.  Luckily, International School Community is now here to help international educators.  We have specifically designed our school profile pages to include questions about everything related to money, benefits and the many facets of the cost of living.  With new comments being submitted every week, International School Community is certainly the website to find out important information about many international schools around the world!

continue reading