The Journey to School

The Journey to School: American Embassy School New Delhi

March 15, 2018


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the American Embassy School New Delhi (India), described her way to work there as follows:

The road to American Embassy School New Delhi…

I have been working at the American Embassy School (AES) in New Delhi for the past year. My journey to school starts every morning at 7:45am (March 2018) when I leave my apartment. I consider myself pretty lucky because the whole commute takes less than ten minutes and I can walk.

I am currently living at the Embassy of Bulgaria. apparently, Bulgaria had a huge delegation in India in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, but due to some financial issues, the delegation has shrunk considerably in recent years. Thus, many of the apartments at the Embassy that used to be occupied by Bulgarians are now occupied by teachers from my school. Out of twenty-one apartments in the complex, eleven are occupied by AES teachers and ten are occupied by Bulgarian diplomats.

Journey to School

(The gardens on the Bulgarian Embassy grounds.)

The grounds of the apartment complex are quite beautiful. When I leave my apartment, I can hear birds chirping and see the sun shining (at least, I can in the spring and summertime – in the fall and winter there is quite a bit of pollution). But, this time of year, March, the sky is blue and there is bougainvillea blooming everywhere. The bright pink flowers bring a profusion of color to the landscape.

Journey to School

(Bougainvillea along the walls of the Bulgarian Embassy Compound.)

The gardener waves to me as I walk past. He’s busy feeding some of the many cats that live on the compound. There is a mama cat with four kittens who always say hi. They like to hang out in the backyard of the building. Every apartment comes with a terrace and garden, which is quite nice. There is also a pool that we can use, some barbecue grills, and a playground with a trampoline for kids.

Journey to School

(The pool at the Bulgarian Embassy – it’s filled from April to September.)

The apartment complex is a walled compound and there is a guard at the entrance 24/7. On my way out of the complex, I say to the guard “Namaste, Aap kaysayhey?” and he replies “Mayen tikh hoon.” I step out of the quiet of the Bulgarian and on to the street. There is color everywhere and the bees are humming around. It’s warm and breezy, maybe 70 degrees fahrenheit, and the high for the day will be close to 90F.

Journey to School

(The outside of the Bulgarian Embassy.)

I turn right and start walking. Along the way, I pass yellow and green auto-rickshaws (the traditional mode of transport in Delhi, very similar to the tuk-tuks of Bangkok), city taxis, motorbikes, and the ever ubiquitous white Suzukis that are used by Uber drives. Uber has recently become the preferred method of transport in Delhi and the white cars are everywhere. That’s one of the reasons why the traffic in the city is so bad. The proliferation of Uber. Thankfully, I don’t have to drive to get to school.

The walk is lovely. I pass the grounds of the Russian Trade Federation and the Ravi Shankar Foundation. There are bushes and yellow flowers and everything has been newly trimmed and smells like cut grass. I think most people who come to Delhi would be surprised by how green the city is. Although it’s home to twenty-five million people, there are quite a lot of trees.

Journey to School

(The entrance to the Russian Trade Federation.)

A sweet yellow dog comes up to me and says hello. Delhi has lots of street dogs and they are, for the most part, super cute and very friendly. I give yellow dog a pat on the head and continue on my walk. I pass a giant banyan tree, it’s roots all twisted and gnarly. I like the way the sunlight looks when its coming through the leaves. Everything is golden and shimmering.

Journey to School

(Yellow dog outside the British School.)

The traffic on the street in the morning is heavy because the British School is on this street. It’s across the street from my own school and parents and drivers are dropping their kids off for the day. I side step the traffic and continue along the street. Like I said, the whole walk only takes about 10 minutes. But sometimes I dawdle and daydream.

Journey to School

(The banyan tree in front of the British School.)

Journey to School

(The yellow and green auto rickshaw waits for someone who needs a ride. Be ready to barter.)

Across the street from the British School is Vivekanand Camp. The people living in this community have been there for generations. It’s a miracle that the camp hasn’t been torn down yet – it’s the only one still left in the Embassy area, Chanakyapuri. It’s estimated that as many as 2,000 people live in the camp. They don’t have running water. Sometimes, on my way home from school, I see the municipal water truck parked outside the camp entrance. The women come outside with buckets to fill up from the spigot on the side of the truck.

There are always kids from the camp hanging out on the street. In the morning, they are headed to school. They wear the white pants and red sweaters that signal the government school uniform. In the afternoon, the boys play cricket. They harbor dreams of being the next Virat Kohli. He’s the current captain of the Indian national team. The camp is a stark reminder of the wealth inequity that persists in India and other countries in the developing world to this day.

Journey to School

(Boys hanging out outside Vivekanand Camp.)

I cross the street after passing Vivekanand Camp and I am at the entrance to my school. The school is surrounded by high walls and security guards. Men stand patrol at the gates and there are armed soldiers present. The campus is secure and safe. It’s right next to the American Embassy. I go in gate number 4.

Journey to School

(A woman walks past Gate #4, one of the entrances to AES.)

Once inside, it’s a short walk for me to the middle school building. The AES grounds are approximately eleven acres, and it feels a lot like a college campus. There are separate buildings for the elementary, middle, and high schools, athletic fields, a theatre, a cafe, a gymnasium, a pool, and even a climbing wall.

Journey to School

(A campus directory points the way to some of the different buildings that make up AES.)

The campus is known for being home to many different species of butterflies and birds. The biodiversity is incredible. Especially if you are used to living in a grey urban landscape. The number of gardeners who work on campus must number close to fifty. There are so many flowers to water and plants to take care of – they do an amazing job.

Journey to School

(Flowers on campus. They change with the seasons.)

I consider stopping to sit on a bench and enjoy the sunshine, but it’s close to 8am already. Teachers have to be at work at 8:00, although classes don’t start until 8:30. I’ll go to my classroom to do some prep and get ready for my classes.

Journey to School

(Benches and a garden outside the entrance to one of the elementary school buildings.)

I’ve made it to the entrance to my building. I give thanks for the nature that surrounded me on my walk, blink once more in the sunshine, and go inside to greet my day.

Journey to School

(A bulletin board next to the entrance to the middle school. Go AES tigers!)

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author, Megan Vosk. Megan Vosk is a middle school MUN and Humanities teacher at the American Embassy School in New Delhi. She loves helping young people become more compassionate and engaged citizens. When she is not teaching, she likes to spend her time reading, watching movies, practicing yoga, and dining out with her husband.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Asia?  Out of a total of 201 international schools we have listed in Asia, 59 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

American International School Dhaka (53 comments)
American Embassy School New Delhi (39 Comments)
Good Shepherd International School (411 Comments)
Indus International School (Pune) (43 Comments)
Kodaikanal International School (53 Comments)
Oberoi International School (36 Comments)
SelaQui International School (36 Comments)
Woodstock School (58 Comments)
Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana (53 Comments)
Abraham Lincoln School (Nepal) (36 Comments)
Colombo International School (64 Comments)
The British School in Colombo (41 Comments)

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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Highlighted Articles

Highlighted article: Which international school job fairs do you recommend and the job fair circus!

November 26, 2011


In these two blog entries by Greg Clinton, he discusses the topic of the international school job fairs.  He is currently working in the international school community at American Embassy School, New Delhi.

Parts of the two entries we’d like to highlight:

Job Fairs: Which One Do You Recommend?

“The international school community is known for relatively high change-over rates in faculty, compared to schools that are rooted in a particular community “back home”.

The most traditional way to get a job overseas is The Job Fair.  ”Are you going to the job fairs?” is a question we will all hear and ask more often as the end of the calendar year approaches.  But job fairs are expensive to attend and some candidates have to travel thousands of miles, without the guarantee that it will net them a new job.  More and more interviews are being conducted over Skype and more connections are being made through online services such as TIE Online’s resume service and databases like the NAIS candidate pools.

Question for administrators:  Is it necessary to meet a candidate face-to-face, or can hiring be done effectively over Skype?  Also, which job fairs do you prefer, and why?”

As we write this blog entry, some of the staff at International School Community have friends that have already informed us that they have received and accepted offers to work at their next international school.  No job fairs were involved, just Skype and over the phone.  Also, in a few of the situations, the power of the people you know in the international school community has helped.  You work with a director at one international school in Europe and then that director moves to a school in South America.  Four years down the road, you find yourself being offered a job at the director’s new school.

It is important to remember not to burn any bridges as you never know what the future may hold in terms of which school you find yourself working at next in your life.  Many international school teachers are indeed getting hired more and more over Skype.  It just might be the way of the future of getting hired at international schools.  Sometimes though it is a bit of fun to go to an international school job fair anyways as you never know what you might find there and who you might interview with at those things.  I remember seeing somebody in the elevator at a Search fair and then nine months later seeing them at the same IB conference.  We remembered each other just in that brief moment in the elevator!

The job fair that most teachers prefer is the one that cost the least money probably.  They all seem to be doing relatively the same format anyways.  One key factor though is knowing which international schools go to which job fairs.  No good going to one fair when the schools you are most looking at are not going to that fair that year.

International Job Circus

“Hiring fairs are where most teachers looking for international teaching jobs line up new positions.  Some schools and administrators have been looking elsewhere for their hiring needs, including websites and online databases of candidate information.  The International Educator, a “newspaper”/resume bank, is one such stalwart company offering an alternative to job fairs.  There are some other upstart websites that charge schools an exorbitant fee to see candidate info, but they won’t last long.  Really, it’s all about being face to face.

There are three main institutions that provide the most complete job search settings: Search Associates, International Schools Services, and the University of Northern Iowa.  They have their strengths and weaknesses, but they offer a comparable experience.

I attended the Search Associates fair in Bangkok not long ago.  It took place in a swank hotel that I couldn’t afford, but I enjoyed wearing my new suit, drinking coffee in the lobby and pretending.  There are two things I love about the fair experience, and two things I think are not so great.

Things I love:

Everybody’s there.  It’s like a gigantic, international school orgy.  The schmooze is thick, and the glad-handing is non-stop, but come on!  It’s exciting, you get to meet new people (I personally know two couples who have met at job fairs and gotten married the next year – perhaps Search and ISS should start a teacher match-making service?  Something to consider!) and you get to play the hunter or the hunted.  Right now, if you’re a decent candidate without a criminal record and no facial tattoos, you are probably one of the hunted.  But there are lean years and fat years for teachers.  Anyway, there you are, in the ballroom, surrounded by potential bosses all trying to be as nice and smart as possible.  You might run into old friends, or you might impress a superintendent and make a contact for later.  It’s an extrovert’s dream.

Note passing.  Not only are we auditioning for roles as school teachers, but we get to re-live our school days by passing secret love letters in the little bins.  What joy when you receive a note saying “I’d LOVE to sit down and chat with you…  I’m in room 275.”  What heartache when your bin is empty!  It’s all so deliciously human.  Composing your own notes is equally fun and tense.  What tone do I use?  Do I want to come across as playful?  Professional?  Smart?  Serious?  Do I just let my feelings flow: I’m in love with your school and want to spend the rest of my life with it?  Your school completes me?  You had me at “2 bedroom apartment”?  Or do I hold back, play hard to get?

Things I don’t love:

Being in a stranger’s bedroom.  I don’t see a logistical way around this problem, but it’s one of the creepiest parts of the hiring process.  Have you ever walked into an interview only to be faced with a pile of dirty clothes or someone’s underwear sticking out of a suitcase, or just a rumpled, used bed?  It’s distracting, unsettling.  Who was in that bed last night?  I don’t really want to be thinking about it, thank you very much.  I suppose the lesson is: administrators beware: your hotel room is a direct reflection of you.  In other words, arrange your most important interviews over coffee at the restaurant or something.

The cost.  This is why more and more candidates are turning to the Interwebs.  Search Associates charges something like $600 just to register as a candidate. [Correction: $200 for fair registration, includes one hiring fair.  Thanks, Jim.]  You’ll have to fly yourself there and back, and the hotels are usually up-scale.  A teacher could easily spend a month’s salary or more to attend a fair, and have no guarantee of landing a new position.  Schools spend tons to jet their administrators around, and then they pay sizable finders fees to the agencies.  Again, I’m not sure I see an easy solution.”

It is a bit weird to be going into a stranger’s bedroom at a hotel.  A person can’t get that comfortable in a hotel room I guess.  One question: have international schools been using their bedrooms for interviews since the inception of the international school job fair?  Seems like there might be a better option.  What other industries hold job fairs at hotels?

Indeed there are many things to love and hate about the fairs.  Thanks to the Wandering Academic for your excellent insight into the international school job fairs!

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