T Minus 175
Taking up a job in a foreign country in a city you’ve never been to and a school you’ve never visited is a daunting thing to do.
Granted – teaching is teaching is teaching and I’ve been doing that for twenty-six years.
hour by hour,
day by day,
week by week,
term by term,
year by year.
Even so the role is essentially the same. Even changing country doesn’t phase me too much. I have spent (albeit very briefly) some time in a Gambian school and found that in spite of being on a different continent there were many similarities.
Classroom at BUBS, Brikama, Gambia (May 2006)
Time spent travelling in the Gambia with colleagues in 2006 was a great experience and fired up a desire to return to Africa at some point. This desire had actually been with me since I qualified in 1988- before I’d even heard about my future wife Anita who was then a development worker in Malawi.
To be honest the death of my dad, 10 weeks later put these things on hold for a few years. The needs of family were paramount for a time.
Within a couple of years I was appointed as Head of ICT at my school. This was a new challenge and one which I relished. It was exciting to take the reins and plot the future of a subject. There were pressures of course but I relished the challenge. I built a good team around me. Much of my first year was spent interviewing, it took time to find the right people and we didn’t take the first available person who applied. From the latter part of 2009 I had my Team and I believe it to be a fantastic group dedicated teachers – who I will miss very much.
The ICT Team – Admin Assistant: Sue; Teachers: Naveed, Bernadette, Debbie and myself; Network Manager: Darrell
ICT Teacher Nik (at Angkor Wat, Cambodia whilst on World Challenge)
Lord Williams’s has given me great opportunities – I have mentioned already the Gambia Trip. Our school is partnered with a national school (Brikama Upper Basic School) and as part of an Staff trip. The next opportunity arose last year as I was able to partake in a World Challenge Trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. This trip accompanying sixth form students lasted nearly 4 weeks and incorporated a combination of Treks, cultural visits, some development work and lots of travel.
For me this was a great opportunity to re-experience the developing world (especially in Cambodia) and I loved it! I especially loved Cambodia – the people were friendly and the country was amazing. Angkor Wat was a highlight but so was the week working in the orphanage. Most of the time we were painting a dorm – but I managed to sneak out a couple of times to spend an hour or so in the classroom where orphans learnt some English.
I returned to the UK wondering whether it would be something I’d like to do more permanently. A conversation with Mum in the Autumn had a profound effect – in essence she wanted to release me from any feeling of burden to stay in the UK. She was aware that I was becoming more jaded with the mood music in education – especially towards ICT. My school had decided to make ICT optional not core, partly in response to Government decisions to demote ICT from its core status, this was a concern to me.
Having reflected through Christmas I decided that I would actively seek my next job abroad. I started scouring the TES and within a few days came across several jobs in Thailand – these appealed to me, I told Anita but for reasons unknown to me I did not pursue them. Then on the 17th January a job appeared in Tanzania at Isamilo International School.
I pondered for a week by myself and checked out as much as I could on the net, quickly coming across a blog called Bousies in Mwanza. This blog had a major impact – giving as it does a real insight into expat life – I can’t recommend this blog enough – it has inspired me to write this blog myself. One evening I came across a post incorporating a video of a road trip around Mwanza, this gave such a feel of the place. Other blogs have also been inspirational – check out some of these on the right of the page.
The following weekend a conversation at the BETT Show with my brother about education in general further confirmed in my mind that I should apply for and so I shared this with Anita. Another week of deliberation and then I went for it. Elsewhere I recount the speed of the process from application to appointment so I won’t repeat it here.
So this has been my journey so far. As a Christian I believe that God has been a part of it every step of the way and this is the right time…………… and there’s more to come!