My Farewell Tour

Years ago, sitting in class, didn't you wonder why you had to learn where Mesopotamia was? Why learn about the places so far away? What was the point of knowing about some huge desert in a place it was unlikely I would ever visit. Well, now I know why. One never knows in life what sort of interesting things will come about. And my life has certainly been interesting. But, now it's time to learn about another part of the world and depart from my safe haven of New Hampshire and head out to parts unknown in a place called Abu Dhabi.
I am calling this part of my journey, before I leave, my "Farewell Tour" because haven't you ever noticed that when a cool rock band is going to change members or break up, they have a Farewell Tour that lasts about a year? Well, I began my "Farewell Tour" at the Thanksgiving dinner table last November as I sat and looked around at my family, my cousins, aunts and uncles and I asked my mother what she would think if I decided to teach overseas. My mother responded favorably and I thought, well, then, this is it. This could be my last Thanksgiving dinner with the family in New England, for a couple of years. I mentally looked around at the family as if to impress their faces and that moment on my mind. At that point, my mother was the only one who knew that I was planning such a crazy, wild journey of my heart. I applaud her for being open to such an idea. Now that I am further along in my journey, she is still so very supportive. What more can one ask from her parents?

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's a Small World, After All

It is so exciting to open my blog each day and check out how many people are reading my blog. Today, someone from Letterkenny, Donegal took a look at what I'm writing. Donegal? Really? Wow. It seems I'm getting a lot of views...Fowlerville, Michigan, Lady Lake, Florida, Nashville Tennessee, and Cincinnatti, Ohio. That's just today. I would love it if each person would leave a little "Here I am" comment and tell me where they are from, or who they are, or why they came to my page. It's fascinating to write this blog and have it read by so many people. I live in a small town in New Hampshire, where we have no Walmart, no Target, only one grocery store, and 4 gas stations. (When you live that far from a major city, you have to buy a lot of gas to get there.) Right now, I work in an even smaller town that is an hour from home.
So, stop and visit for a bit, leave a note or comment, and hopefully you will click on one of my sponsors. Tell me what you like or don't like about my blog. Right now it's a bit blase, as I haven't actually set foot in Abu Dhabi, yet. Once I get there, I hope to have lots to say;-)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Post about Posters

I have an extensive classroom poster collection. Some of my favorite books and authors are documented in my posters. I have laminated most of them for long-term use. I have enjoyed hanging them in my classrooms, over the last 12 years of teaching in New Hampshire. Now, I am going through them to bring a good selection to Abu Dhabi. I'm aware I can't take them all. Physically, they would take up too much space to ship. But I have acquired two heavy duty shipping tubes, and I am going to roll and ship as many as I can...but that comes with a heavy responsibility. We know that teaching in the Middle East is not the same as teaching in the US. As I lovingly peruse my posters, I reject some outright...the wonderful Star Wars poster from 2005 Father's Day, proclaiming "Who's Your Daddy?" The poster proclaiming "Go and Read" with a beautiful library in the background, I reject due to the young girl dressed in her finest dress, complete with a straw boater...but her arms are poking out from the short sleeves, and you can see her elbows. I love Charlotte's Web and have used it extensively in the high school classroom when we discuss farm life, rural ways, etc. But, it has a pig, both in the picture and in the story; a strictly forbidden concept in Abu Dhabi.
I will take my posters of Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Marion Anderson, When Marion Sang, and Zora Neale Hurston, as I think those will translate into the Arabic classroom. I reject the beautiful photo/poster of the book, He's Got the Whole World in His Hands as too Christian.
I take with me the first poster I purchased for $10 from a former student and amazing artist, Wes Sweetser. It is a pastel chalk of Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley. It is a wonderful recreation and always leaves my students a bit breathless as they peer through the clear blue sky to discover the fallen city hidden in the background. Another poster I will bring, a water color created by another former student, Michelle Yount, for a classroom project of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven. I take this because I expect I will be teaching The Raven as I introduce my high school readers to Western literature.
I will take along several reminders of my American heritage that will remain in my apartment, the Jackson Covered Bridge,

a water color, painted by my dear colleague and friend, Denis Chasse, (the photo linked here is a reasonable facsimile of Denis's painting but is an internet photo) and a Josten's yearbook poster commemorating 9/11. I will also take a water color, "For Freedom" by my dear friend, Gabriel Krekk, a Hungarian-Canadian artist. And last, but not least, I will carry across the seas my reproductions of our nation's historical documents, The Star Spangled Banner, the US Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Patrick Henry's speech. I hope as I take this little bit of my academic history and our US history to Abu Dhabi I am able to convey to my students what a wide historical and literary richness can be found in these posters and paintings.


Each day I am confronted by a variety of things to pack, not to pack, or put aside to think about. I have a cardboard box for all things "schoolish" so that they are not randomly spread about the house. (Ok, most people call this organizing, but since I don't do that, this is the closest I come to being organized, yes, a box on the floor)
In today's e-mail I find this helpful little tidbit of includes things like duct tape...duct tape? you ask. Yes, Everyone needs some. See other suggestions here

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Where I'd Like to Live

Ok, if you are following this blog, you may be getting updates and nothing is here...that's because I am trying to link to the Grand Millennium and giving myself a little HTML lesson at the same time. Be patient, maybe this time it will work.
This is where I hope to live.


Things in the Middle East do not move at exactly the same continuum that they do in the US. Since beginning this process, I have been told that I would be starting my job in Abu Dhabi in August and all teachers would go over in August. Well, August is a long month, and there are lots of opportunities to either do or not do something fun during that time.
However, feeling somewhat bold during the last e-mail communication I had with my recruiter, I asked when the new teachers would be expected to go over. The response: According to the calendar for the 2011-2012 school year, new teachers would start on August 14.
Wow, August 14. Now the reality sets in. Now I really do need to finish up all the little things I need to do. Folks keep asking me where I will live. Well, since I don't know the area at all, I'm merely going with a suggestion on the Teach Away board. If I can afford it, I would like to stay at the Grand Millennium in one of their hotel/apartment suites. I will post a link for you.