Thursday was dubbed ‘Princess Day’, and literally looked like it sounds. Instead of students, we had princesses. Cute little girls dressed up as their favourite Disney princess, with dresses that lit up, tiaras to match, and a hint of rouge on their lips. It was a half day due to teacher accreditation meetings so the school decided to do something fun which worked out well! Before school started, a couple teachers and I peered through the window from up above looking out to the playground and it was princess mania! There were princesses of all heights and colors and wigs and crowns and bags; basically like an all-girls Disneyland a la Kuwait. Instead of the usual morning routine, there was a princess assembly in the playground consisting of a grade-by-grade princess catwalk, Ariel and Snow White oversized bobble heads (?!?) dancing and lots of photos.

We had to get through some ‘work’; essentially just a spelling test lol but I found a cute princess wand DIY which was a cute craft we all made together with loads of glitter and markers (my girls favorite!). We spoke about princess ‘etiquette’ and qualities of a princess (they help others, they are nice, they tell the truth, they don’t hurt people etc.) and then we waltzed! So cute! I put them in pairs, one partner with the hand on the hip, the other with the hand on the shoulder and dancing as if we were at a royal ball which equated to adorableness all around! Our classroom song at the moment is the ‘kingdom dance’ from Tangled (Disney movie) which was a perfect song to waltz to. Some of the girls had brought in food (fattayah and za’attar; fattayah is any sort of bread/pastry stuffed with something [cheese, olives, etc] or like mini pizza’s, and za’attar is kind of like an unspreadable spread; mixed herbs with sumac and sesame seeds sprinkled on bread and baked) and doughnuts and I had promised them a movie with another class so we watched Tangled, and ate, and felt sleepy, and went home (my girls anyways!). All in all it was a cute day, a first for me lol but one I don’t think I’ll ever forget!

[One of the girls in another class brought in princess cake pops for the teachers which were so cute and delish so I’ve added a picture below!]

(Hope that’s detailed enough for you Hash! haha x)

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So I had my very first open house as a teacher this past week (eep!) ! it was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time and a lot of running around to try and make my class look perfect. Bulletin boards needed to be covered with my students work and it kind of felt like I had to sell myself/my classroom to ‘the parents’ lol butt… it wasn’t what I had initially expected which was a teeny bit of a shame. I think I’m just used to open house or even a meet-and-greet being a big deal at schools back home (Canada) where we typically have BBQ’s and a bit of fun with a huge turnout of parents, siblings, grandparents etc. but it didn’t quite go down like that. 6 parents (out of my 18students) turned up just to stroll around, look at where their child sat in my class and walked out; no one even looked at my boards 🙁 It sounds lame, but I was excited to show my parents that their child was actually learning something in my class aka affirmation that I’m not too shabby of a teacher haha
Anyways, I know my mama is my number one fan so I took pictures to show her and I figured I could post them on this blog as well! Enjoy! X

p.s-my door is finally complete with the travel theme I was going for! I had the girls make their own ‘passports’ into grade2 which worked out nicely! x

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The stresses associated with the first day of school and being a teacher for the first time ever in a new country have passed (just a little), but having time to set up my classroom and organize everything helped put me at ease. Teaching at an all-girls school has its perks; everyone loves pink and purple and fairies and princesses and stickers and glitter and shiny things, so I tried to incorporate as much of that as possible! Rhinestone magnets for my whiteboard which is framed in a pink glitter border alongside pink and limegreen pencil baskets followed by ‘student princess’ of the week which includes wearing a tiara and matching earrings for the day kinda sorta excites most girls between the ages of 6-8 which works just fine for me. My girls are lovely little people and each time I stand at the front of my class staring back at their precious innocent faces, it hits me that I am playing a part in each and every one of their lives that may mold them for better or for worse. Little girls grow up to become young ladies who become women who will oneday become mothers inshAllah so I feel a little obliged to teach them some things unrelated to any curriculum. After 2days of school we now know what the word ‘independent’ means. We’re having some trouble being independent as almost all my girls have nannies and maids who literally carry their school bags for them up until they reach the school doors, but inshAllah we’ll get there!

It’s a different system that what I’m used to; there is only one 45-min lunch break for the entire day and school runs from 730am til 230 pm. Yes it’s long considering I have to be up uber early and get the ‘teacher bus’ at 630 when I should really be sound asleep! This has kind of been written in chunks when I’ve got time and saved in a worddoc file until I add some more, so as of today I have officially finished my first week of teaching! (yay me!) I want to come home to a mom-hug and have her share my relief of completing a kind of big step and accomplishment in my life but I have to resort to whatsapp which kind of stinks:(

The most pressing thing on my mind this whole week which confirmed my thoughts and confusion and anger today, is an invisible yet subtle hint of racism amongst the Kuwaiti people. ‘People’ alluding to the mums and dads of my students who have proven that there is definitely a stigma attached to ‘Muslim’ or Arab-looking teachers. Basically if you’re a Muslim or even have a hint of some type of ethnicity that does not match up to what the authentic American or westerner should look like (in other words if you aint white), you lack the skills, knowledge, and English proficiency to teach their child. And lord forbid you also wear hijab 😮 ! On the second day of school I had a father ask me I was the teacher’s assistant…because I looked Arab and wore a hijab. He then proceeded to remind me today that his older daughter has been at the school for five years and has never brought home as many books as his second grader has been and that no teacher has ever done this, to which I responded that I was not stupid to send home a shitload of books to break his daughters back; her failure to listen to instructions given in class seemed to bypass his intellect.

On the fourth day of school, I had a mother interrogate me as to where I was from, if I was Muslim, if I spoke Arabic, how long I had been teaching etc etc. Feeling unsatisfied with, well, me, she proceeded to file a complaint to my principal that I wasn’t qualified enough to teach her child and she wanted her daughter placed in another class with one of the white teachers. (lol). (yes this really happened). My principal, being of a racial minority herself, thankfully stood up to me, but it makes me wonder what would have happened if I had a white-American principal. I don’t mean to sound racist and I have nothing against people of different races or cultures etc. but it gets to me and confuses me because this is something I would expect back home, in Canada. From say a white parent who had something against a Muslim or a hijabi teaching their child. But the thing is, it’s never happened to me in Canada. I’ve actually never felt, or received any time of discrimination based on the way I look in any Canadian classroom, from people who don’t even share the same beliefs as me. Yet people who look like me, dress like me, my fellow ‘brothers and sisters’ in faith, whom I was so eager to ‘salaam’ and befriend have disgusted me in some respect. That might be too strong of a word, but the attitude and demeaning looks I’ve received equate to such a feeling.

It’s been one week and I’ve picked up quite a lot. There will be no more ‘salaam’s’ to parents picking up their children, no more ‘inshallah’s’ or ‘mashallah’s’ to praise their child. From here on in, ‘hi!’, ‘hello’s’, and ‘see you tomorrow’s’ will be played into effect. And when asked if I know Arabic, I will simply smile and state, “no, I only speak English”.

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it’s been two weeks and three days since Kuwait has become our home for the year. So far so good alhamdulillah! The people are lovely, kind hearted, and beautiful as is the country itself. Feelings of anxiety and nervousness have passed somewhat but I still (and most likely always will) miss my family back home x The constant noise and a 10persons presence within a household is something you miss when it is reduced to 2people in a 2bedroom flat; which is nice and all but you get what I mean.

After having somewhat of an ikea makeover, our flat now has a homely feel to it which is great considering much of the day thus far has been spent indoors. Not because we’re lame and don’t want to explore, but because it’s hot. Hot ya’anee hot hot! When my plane landed at around 1am and the pilot announced it was 40degrees celsius, I thought it was a joke. Until I stepped outside and inhaled a whole lotta hot! It’s getting better, temperatures are meant to cool down in October-ish when people supposedly get out their winter jackets and boots, but after surviving winter in Canada I think it’s one of those things I’ll have to see it to believe it. We tried it our first day, being tourists and walking on the street to get groceries in the middle of the day wondering why there was not a soul in sight. 2minutes later we understood why and headed to the nearest bakala for a bottle of water!

The gulf is less than a 5minute walk from us; palm trees and sandy beach included which is beautiful and something I’ve always wanted. We get a glimpse of it from our balcony, so sometimes when the AC gets too cold its nice just to step out and gaze into the distance. There’s also a masjid less than 2minutes from us which ensures that salah times are never missed. Hearing the adhan 5times a day is one of those beautiful things you just don’t get back home. Alongside halal food everywhere you go lol but there’s something about being in a Muslim country that just makes you happy. Saying salaam to everyone becomes your favourite word, as does ‘khalas’ and trying your hardest to pull out whatever arabic you know which often results in “….sorry only English!” It also doesn’t help when people mistake you for an Arab and stop you on the street to ask for directions, but then they laugh, and you laugh, and that’s the end of that!

School has also started, both for myself and my students, but that’s another post in and of itself!

salams ’til then xo.

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