Little did I realise as I turned up for work 12 months ago that it was going to be a life changing day. The thought of teaching overseas had grown in my mind for several months – rekindling a fire which had burned low for the previous two decades.
The previous months had seen me questioning the way British Education was going and despairing at the decisions of my school to downgrade ICT to an option at GCSE. I needed a change and having spoken with Anita in the New Year and having talked through the option with the children I embarked on a lot of research. The first post which came up was in Thailand – I thought long and hard but felt this was not right for now. I then saw two jobs both in Africa, one in Isamilo (Mwanza, Tanzania) the other in Malawi. Funnily enough it was the Tanzanian job which appealed more (given Anita’s previous experiences in Malawi this was a surprise to both of us). We looked at blogs written by ex-pats living there and did a lot of research. After nearly two weeks of investigation I made the application to Isamilo in the early days of February (just four days earlier).
Everything was unreal even after the interview – as ever I second guessed myself, convinced I had ‘muffed up’ and ruined my chances. At the same time it was still unreal as no one had actually employed me and I was still safe in England – though increasingly unhappy with education there. Then it all changed….
My timetable at school last year had me at Lower School from Thursday morning until Friday lunchtime, which since I had an office at Upper School meant I was in the Team Room during my non-contacts. I finished teaching my first lesson and logged onto my email during break and ahead of my non-contact period. I saw immediately the email from Isamilo and feared the worst. They had said they would be contacting me after the weekend. Opening it I read the message – stunned that I had been offered the post subject to references. The unreality of my new teaching career had suddenly become very real. I tried to phone Anita – she was in work but unavailable and I could not leave a message. We had already agreed that a job offer would be accepted, but I really wanted to share the news. I sent a text and hoped she’d get it soon. I replied offering my acceptance of the post – still a little awed by the decision I was making. Now I had to phone my Head (in Education you let your Head Teacher know you are applying for jobs ahead of Interview and are expected to give notice of any job offer once. received), I needed to let him know ahead of any reference request. I think he was surprised – he had known about the interview but perhaps did not imagine that I would be successful so soon.
As an ICT teacher I know the power of Social Media and the need to manage news. I wanted to tell family (my family already knew about my interview and intentions as did Anita’s parents as we wanted prayer support in such a big decision), but I recognised the need to tell my faculty also ( who didn’t). As a Head of a large ICT Faculty I had 4 other colleagues to inform. Two were at Upper School, two were at Lower School, one was commuting the other was not – so there was no way of communicating with everyone face to face at the same time. I arranged to see three colleagues in the first part of lunch and the other at the end. I wonder what they felt at my decision to call them to the Team Room – it was very short notice! I t is very strange telling people you have led and worked closely with for over 5 years (in some cases nearer 10) that you are leaving. I believe we had a strong team and it was going to be sad to move on. They were quite shocked but wished me well.
I had managed to speak with Anita by now who was thrilled. Coming home I went for a wander around local lake – to look at the flooding which had occurred.
It gave me time to ponder the decision I had made – then I picked up Anita from work and went for our usual Friday night Costa coffee. As we talked she was very encouraging and supportive of the decision to move abroad (as she had been throughout) and we started to think about what lay in store in the coming months. We both felt that God was in this – the speed of the decision alone was an indication, but we both felt at peace with the way things were going (something we would increasingly feel in the coming months)
Next I wanted to tell the kids. There were problems in that my son had a rehearsal at school until quite late (for a forthcoming play) so I told my daughter and then waited until 9pm when he arrived back. Neither took it too well to be honest, my son just quiet, my daughter cried – I felt awful but I also knew that we were going as a family and that in the end they would settle (they have!), and it would be a positive move.
My next job was to tell family however, one person who preempted my phone call was my mother-in-law who phoned me to ask about the interview and was informed I had got the job – I think she was somewhat taken aback (as anyone would be), though I was of course congratulated. I phoned mum and then my brother, slotting other pieces into the jigsaw which preempted my announcement on Facebook (the easiest way to spread news these days!). Both were pleased and congratulated me. The final person who needed to know directly was Anita’s sister and I felt Anita needed to make that call. When Anita shared she had some news,her sister joked about pregnancy, but Anita said it was bigger than that. I regret we had not let her know earlier – it was a mistake!
Anita texted her boss just to indicate the need to meet for some important news on Monday and since Anita’s work colleagues were not part of my Facebook circle I decided to post something, with the rider that it should not be shared further.
It had been quite a day – and suddenly we had to think about how on earth we were going to make the move. As all this took place pre-blog there is only the briefest summary of these events in my earliest post (Wow!)