Ma to me: from the front you look smart. That outfit is neat. Then you turn around and it’s OH, my LAWD… That Bootay! Lol not so sleek anymore. Me: you hurt my feelings, Mama. #mama #notnice
I packed. I secured my home. I hired a property manager. I wrote my parents a letter of gratitude and I prepared for the journey of a lifetime.
Leaving the USA for the UAE started with a spark of interest. The spark was light by my older brother, Jamar. I was visiting home during a break from undergrad and he told me about a place I never heard of called, Dubai. “What’s that?” I asked while not trying to be completely clueless. He showed me some videos online about the UAE and we read articles together that featured statistics and beaming prosperity in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. We both made it a mission and commitment that one day we would go.
Today is one day.
I’ve taught English at the high school level for the past six years. My first year of teaching, I won a “Teacher of the Year” award from the City school district. During the last few years, I taught at an international school with an amazing principal. All of the teachers at this school came from other schools. It was an awesome experience because I could see that each and every teacher I worked with was used to being “Teacher of the year” at their other schools. We dedicated ourselves entirely to our students.
During my time here my principal gave me the honor of being the liaison for our International studies school network and school English department representative. I was able to travel all over the country studying global education and representing my school. Some of my favorite places… Columbus, Ohio… Denver, Colorado, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Plano, Allen (Texas), Baltimore, MD and NYC. I then got the opportunity to come back to my home school and teach my colleagues what I learned by leading professional development sessions on literacy and protocols for looking at student work. This work allowed me to be noticed and recruited for an opportunity in the UAE, teaching English.
So again, I traveled from Rochester to NYC for a life changing interview. I was myself. I told myself be honest and if the opportunity is for you it will be yours. My nervousness went away and I had great conversations with leaders from all over the world, superficially Atlanta, GA, Great Britain, UK, Vancouver, Korea and Abu Dhabi. They were impressed with my skills and told me I’d be hired. It wasn’t long after that that I received my salary offer. I started doing more research about Abu Dhabi, Oman and other regions in the UAE. I networked with teachers recruited by several different agencies, public schools and private institutions.
Daddy drove me to my interview and waited outside. This was our ritual. He’s my good luck charm. He accompanied me to another interview that I received an offer from but I decided not to take it. Anyway, I was confident with my approach to my parents this time. When I graduated high school I wanted to join the Peace Corp. They said no. I can respect their rejection of the notion, prior to that I had asked if I could become a nun. In college, I considered studying abroad (London) but fear set in and I questioned everything from graduating on time to whether or not I could “make it” that far away. So I didn’t go. This time I’m going. I’m not asking my parents, because I’m telling them. I said it with my chest and they didn’t object. Instead they volunteered to care for my house and take care of their grand-dog, my dogter, Emma.
Emma loves my family but I still plan to have her imported if the process and my apartment allow the transition with the comforts she has become accustomed to.
Due to visa processing and security clearance, I didn’t leave when my recruiting agency initially told me to. Looking back on photos from my “Going away” party I know that everything happens for a reason. I needed more time to prepare for the transition on all levels. I developed my doctoral study proposal more in depth. I reconfigured my methodology and rationale to lend itself to my career aspirations. Post-going away party, we had a “For-Real Going away, Dinner”. I requested a fresh menu of salads, fruits, veggies, sparking water, wine & fish. I knew there would be automated insertions of other items like chicken… Knowing my family.