Friday, October 28, 2011

What’s absurd???

I remember when I read Tip O’Neill’s memoir, twenty-five years ago, his dictum the then-Speaker of the House emphasized throughout his book: “All politics is local.”

Oh, in the last week, as I have mused about politics local, regional, global, and back in my old neck of the woods, Tip had a good tip. “All politics is local.” You gotta understand the locals, hear their stories, see their point of view, and then you have a better idea of politics.

Like many of us, I watched the news about a month ago when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave what some consider a deliberately offensive speech describing the United Nations General Assembly as “the theater of the absurd.”

As I flipped the channel from an American news source, to a British news source, to an Arab news source, it was interesting to see who supported Netanyahu’s speech and who blasted him. From two of three news agencies it was clear that Israel has few friends at the UN, and that the world community seems very much united in its support for Palestinian rights.

As I have said time and again in these blog entries that touch on the political, I have no baggage toward either “side” in this debate—and before I came to Jordan, I spent little time wondering about the Israeli or the Palestinian “side.” But having been in the Arab world now for over four years, and reading and watching other news agencies, and listening to the locals, I have at least a more expanded view on the politics of Palestine.

I suppose the bitterest pill to swallow in this stalemate has been the Israeli penchant to build more settlements on Palestinian land, or as one colleague calls them, “illegal colonies.” These settlements keep coming, in spite of their violation of international law. And the sad fact that they are funded by US money.

Oh, let’s go back to Netanyahu’s speech (now that I am thinking about Tip O’Neill, Benjy kinda looks like the former Speaker of the House…anyway, I digress…and if you notice, it was not a sit-com digression…). As I watched the speech, I took in the theatricality of it all. Despite the difficulties facing Netanyahu at home—social upheaval and mass protests—and abroad, Prime Minister Netanyahu remains well-composed, speaking with the tones of an emperor. (Maybe I am thinking of emperors since I just finished teaching about the Roman Emperors…oooh, let’s see, which Roman emperor would he be like? Caesar Augustus? Nero? Titus? Marcus Aurelius? Caracalla? Romulus? Each one reflects a little differently on the nature of governor…)

Oh, yes the settlements. Shortly after announcing plans to construct 1000 new units on Palestinian land, the United States announced it was “disappointed.” And the Israeli anti-settlement organization “Peace Now” called it “the height of injustice.” Did you know there was an Israeli anti-settlement organization?

As we look at the situation, it becomes clearer to me that that the United States has done much to ensure that Israel’s violations of international law go unpunished; heck, worse, it largely funded these violations, and shielded Israel from any accountability. Another colleague once showed me a list she had compiled of words that the United States State Department had used when reacting to the build-up of these illegal settlements. The words and phrases used over the years include: “disappointment, disapproval, not constructive, not helpful, threat to the peace process, and obstacles to peace.”

And Tip O’Neill’s reminder rings in my ears as I hear the stories of colleagues whose families and friends have had more olive groves destroyed and homes demolished. That politics—it certainly is local. We rarely think about this aspect of it in the United States; we simply allow the politicians and lobbyists to bolster and repair the alliance with Israel. Do we think about the local politics of it all?

The Obama administration tried hard, albeit with no success, to get the Israeli government to accept a limited freeze on settlement building to enable direct talks to resume. But it is coming up to an election year and that quadrennial theater game soon goes into overdrive.

Sadly, in the wake of the Abbas Palestinian Authority bid for statehood, I read of a new push by US lawmakers to cut off aid to the Palestinians as punishment for their efforts to become a separate state…oh my, the O’Neill Corollary to Politics is singing a grand aria about the Mitt Romney declaration that “Our friends should never fear that we will not stand by them in an hour of need.”

Theater of the absurd, indeed.

But another note, we hosted a “theatrical” event at KA this week. There was a delegation of about 30 dignitaries on campus, fresh from the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sea last weekend. My advisees and I hosted two guests from the government of Rwanda at our lunch table and they were so interesting to talk with. After that, the school went to the auditorium to hear General Tommy Franks speak about leadership. Afterwards, students peppered him with questions, some of them critical of American involvement in the region, and he answered with care and grace. It was another moment of politics being local, both from the Middle Eastern side, and from understanding the American side that every action and inaction in America has consequences with the electorate.

What a great week to think about politics, on the small scale, and the large scale.

As for all the theaters of the absurd, I like Tommy Franks’ question and exhortation to our students, “What are you going to do about these problems???”

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Third time the charm???

I have signed up for Introductory Arabic class…again. I suppose the single biggest regret of this whole I-live-and-teach-in-the-Middle-East thing is that I didn’t become fluent in Arabic. Oh, languages…I used to love learning languages! I remember being in French I class with Mr. Hall at Gamble Jr. High—I loved that class! I was the best! And then in college I started in on German (after a brief foray with Spanish and Latin) and went to Salzburg, Austria to perfect my German. I even convinced a tourist one time that I was a native. What happened to my muse for languages???

If you are a long-time reader of the blog, you will remember the fanfare and excitement with which we all flocked to Arabic class four years ago. Khalil taught us, and our class of 18 met at the end of the week for two hours. That timing might explain why halfway through the year the class had dwindled to about a half dozen. I attended class pretty faithfully, hey, I even made a stack of flash cards. I learned vocabulary—but then something happened when we went to make sentences. The sentences didn’t really form very well. By the end of the year, I attended the class with two other friends—yes, it turned out our class of 18 had reduced to three—and I even cheated occasionally off of their papers. Oh, no I just announced via the internet that I have cheated. Well, I wanted to save face in Introductory Arabic class.

In the fall of 2008, I decided I should go back to Introductory Arabic again. Khalil had a fresh batch of ex-pat recruits, and this time I was going to practice more. I think I lasted three weeks.

Since then, I have learned that one can get by in Jordan without an extensive understanding of Arabic. But still, that isn’t how I wanted it to be. I wanted to be one of the “sensitive” ex-pats, one who enjoyed the knowledge of the different Arabic dialects, and could converse with everyone from the souk bazaars to the boardrooms. I did have a great line every time a parent asked me about the ex-pats learning of Arabic when I served on panel discussions. My ready line is, “I know the three most important words in Arabic: inshallah, wallah, yallah.” Cue the laughter. [Oh, I should translate for those of you who did not attend even rudimentary Arabic classes—those three words mean, “if God wills it,” “I swear to God,” and “Yeah, come on, let’s go!”] Every time I am on the panel they beam and laugh.

I have even bought four books over the last three years about learning Arabic. I am not sure if I have cracked those books very often (“I am not sure,” he asks????? I think we all know the answer to that one!) but they look good on the bookshelf. They make me look earnest. Well, I suppose they also make me look stupid since my level of Arabic is still at the advanced introductory stage!

Last year KA hired a new teacher to help the ex-pats in their Arabic immersion. I heard she made you work. I heard she gave homework and quizzes. I heard she was feared—and good. If you saw her, you would wonder where the “feared” part came from. She is a beautiful, 24-year old who studied in the UK. At the end of last year the adult students did a play in Arabic for the school…wait a minute—no one said there would be a play!! And applause!!!

I heard that our headmaster John planned to sign up for Introductory Arabic class this year. I decided I should probably sign up for it…again. Maybe this time…cue the Liza Minnelli soundtrack please.

Okay, so I looked at the lists of who had signed up for the two blocks of Introductory Arabic class, and I decided to go with the group I thought would be the most fun. So I am back in the game! The first class we all got to pick our Arabic names and practice with the “Isme John,” part—guess what that means…”My name is John…” Yes, I am back at the beginning.

I picked Yahya as my Arabic name. In part because that is the name for Christian John in Arabic (when you go to Mukawir, the site where John the Baptist had that unfortunate tangle with Salome, one sees that name on the signs) and I chose Yahya in part because I love the sound of it. Every time I say it, my shoulders go up with a little bit of whimsy. So Lina, the lovely teacher, told us the meanings of many, many Arabic names, and the adults start choosing names because they want to be “Gift from God,” or “Lovelier than All,” or “Tough Guy,” et cetera. So our class is comprised of the following in their Arabic guises: Yasmin, Hadi, Danya, Zein (whoops! She changed her name to Fareeda because she liked the meaning of it more.) and Sara, Qusai, Ali, Bader, Tarik, Khalil, and Heba…We enjoyed the practice and had fun.

We worked on the guttural sounds that just don’t have a match in English, we learned new words and she put each of us in the “hotseat” for about sixty seconds as she plied us with questions. Lina is an excellent teacher and we are doing well. I will speak for myself—I am doing well. Of course, it is my third time in Introductory Arabic class. So I should be a star.

Last week I learned that one of our classmates jumped ship to the other class because that student felt the other adults were having too much fun and weren’t serious enough. Well, I won’t comment because I do not use the blog to vent, but SERIOUSLY!! We can be a little rowdy and learn too. I suppose he or she will study so hard and be in intermediate Arabic class soon. He or she might not even repeat Introductory Arabic class.

So last week we learned words associated with weather, so everywhere we went we practiced our words for ‘sunny’ and ‘chilly’ and ‘hot’ and ‘gorgeous.’ Oh, as long as we are reciting these words, I am at the top of the class. We haven’t done much writing yet. I am interested to see how Lina does with the teaching of Arabic writing. It’s hard. It takes me back to third grade when there were all these comments and warnings about Johnny’s messy penmanship. Let’s see how this goes…

One day we practiced the, “How old are you?” question and learned numbers associated with age. Well, that is a hoot. The oldest in class is 61 and the youngest is 23. When it came time for me to disclose my age, I looked over at the young, newbie John and said, “I am John Wolf times two.” But it was funny when someone looked at another young ‘un and said, “I have pants older than you!” We have a 54-year old, a 44-year old, a 34-old year, and a 24-year old in class. So we had to muse about the march of time.

Anyway, so far class has been mumtaz (excellent!) and I am getting the gender classifications correct and I am even about to go look for those flashcards.

I mentioned last time that this is a difficult month—it is college-recommendation-writing-hell, or as I have called it for the last 15 years—October. I have stayed on my schedule. I have written 17 college recs in the last two weeks, and I have 3.25 left to write this week. (After I finish this blogisode I should go and finish that last .25 about the wonderful child—what is her name??!! Just kidding!) Then I have to write advisor reports about my five advisees…but the German train is arriving and departing on time so far.

The other day Fareeda asked for a quiz tomorrow—Fareeda!!! Oh, by the way, the other day I walked into Introductory Arabic class one minute late, so I was the first on the “hotseat.” I missed a response to “Good night” (Hey! It has like 6 syllables to it and doesn’t follow the model for “Good morning”!!) so Lina, asked me, “Yayha, did you study?” Oh, see, there is where the feared part comes in. I looked at her and answered honestly, “La!” (Which do you think it was? I was honest, No!). So we have a quiz tomorrow and I don’t want Qusai or Fareeda to beat me. However, the young wunderkind, Khalil, will probably beat me…but maybe if I go study…okay. I will report back later how I do! Here we go again: the third time may be the charm for Introductory Arabic class!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Birthday Leftovers

Ten days ago it was my birthday. I think the biggest change since the birthday is when I go to the gym and sit on the exercise bike and have to plug in my age, it has to go one number up.

Ten days ago it was my birthday.

I’m not sure if that is especially blog-worthy, but as I looked back over the last four years of blogs, I do mention it every year. Gosh all-mighty! In 2009 I wrote, “Oh, I am glad October 4th and 5th are over. My birthday is October 4th, and frankly, I’m just glad the pressure that something might happen is over, and then the questions about my birthday are over. It was just a non-event, that’s all.

Don’t worry about me—I am not some sad clown crying in the corner acting any more needy than usual. It’s just an interesting thing, the birthday thing, to figure out and reflect upon, but rest assured I am not one of those middle-aged (gasp! when did that happen??) Bah- humbug-haters-of-birthdays. Actually I love the whole birthday thing. It’s just that this year, it was a non-starter.”

In 2007, I was brand-new and dear Elizabeth Berger organized an outing on October 4th—and that was at the time at KA when outings were few. No faculty had cars yet and we had to rely on shuttle buses or taxis to take us anywhere. I remember the excitement of going out then (and no one knew where to go either!) like it was when you were 14 and you went out without your parents…exciting indeed. In 2008 my dad came to Jordan and was here over my birthday. You know the best thing about that birthday was exactly what I don’t like about my birthday anymore—when my dad was here there was no wondering if I would go out. How funny is it that—in the absence of a spouse or partner—you wonder if anyone will ask you out. Any other day of the year, it is no bother at all.

In 2010 old friend Gary and new friends took me out—and Gary is wise enough not to wait to make plans. As another bachelor with the “plus one” status perpetually added to invitations, he understands you just want to know you have a plan.

So as the birthday rolls around, one wonders—who might want to take me out??? It’s okay to laugh at that sentence—I just did after I typed it. It reminds me, in a strange way of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry is appalled that Keith Hernandez would ask for help moving. Jerry reflects, well, comes close to reflection, I don’t know if any of those characters actually reflected much. Jerry thinks about what level, what class, of friendship you must be to ask someone to help you move. Those aren’t the regular friends—no!! It is that special bond of friendship. That’s the birthday thing. One might have many friends, but only a certain level, or class, of friendship is the take-you-out-on-your-birthday, or organize-the-birthday-dinner mate.

So how was birthday #5 in Jordan? Well, my students were tickled at the whole thing. Now remember, students get excited in part because they hope you won’t have class on your birthday, and so everybody wins! I don’t do that. But some of my advisees had told many people so as I walked around all day, many students wished me a happy birthday. At lunch my advisees tried to figure out a way to skip sports practice that afternoon and take me out. I advised them that we would all get in trouble! But they wanted to go out. The only problem is that I had choir practice at 7:00 and needed to be back before that, and since many of my advisees are day students, 8:00 was too late to wait to go out. So that was the end of that.

Mohammad Attar, a student from last year’s AP Art History class, delivered a gorgeous cake, similar to the cake he delivered last year from Sugar Daddy’s in Amman, and, bam, that 20th century class got to have a party for 15 minutes.

As the day progressed, the students were so enthused about a birthday and wished me well. The mail didn’t help out—no mail came, but that is hardly a surprise. So at 7:00 I went to choir practice (have I mentioned this in a blog yet? I don’t think so—I will have to chronicle the progress of the choir in a blog soon) and then went back to my apartment and enjoyed some birthday calls. At 10:30 Tristan came by with flowers and a pecan pie.

Here is where the bachelor status is most noticeable—there just isn’t anyone designated as the One to take you out. Again, here is what I wrote in 2009: “it wasn’t a day for pining, just wanting a little more of something…and then the following day when some people asked, “So, what did you do??” and I tried to change the subject to a less vulnerable topic. So October 4th and 5th ended. Regular life could resume without the pressure and potential letdown of a New Year’s Eve like day.”

This year on October 5th a number of colleagues asked what I had done the night before. I looked non-chalant and replied, “Nothing really. I talked on the phone with some family and friends.” They looked almost upset—see that’s what you want to avoid—and said, “I just assumed so-and-so was taking you out. I’m so sorry.”

That’s exactly what you don’t want at a birthday!! “I’m so sorry.”

So anyway, the days since the birthday are better because that strange pressure is off, and the person you think will ask you out, well, it just recedes into the background. And frankly, I have had some nice offers. Last Friday, the advisees got it together and we went out for a Friday lunch. Friday lunch in Jordan is not some quick affair—this is an all-afternoon event of eating and relaxing and talking and visiting. My advisees planned for us to go to Ren Chai, my favorite Chinese place in Amman. This is a swell-egant place and I had been there just once before but very excited to go again. We arrived at 2:30 (lunch is late on Fridays here!) and didn’t leave until almost 6 PM! The guys were so excited for the lunch and we had the best time. They even came with birthday presents!

Then on Monday this week Randa’s advisory group said they wanted to take me out! Maybe to rival my advisory group! So Randa organized the group and we went in between soccer practice and evening study hall. I had only taught one of the group, Hussein, but it was a delightful chance to go to Haret Jdoudna, my favorite place in Madaba, and have a nice 90-minute meal with a group of tip-top students.

Thursday—about 9 days after the actual birthday—some cards arrived by mail. My family and the Ungers in Dobbs Ferry never forget, but of course, the mail coming here is as lazy as it wants to be. In an age when everything can happen by email, it is invigorating to get a real card in the mail. My sister’s card is about how much fun I am to be a kid with, and the Ungers’ cards are always about the ideal happy life. How kind they are to remember, and how much richer they have made my life since I met them in 2000.

So today was kind of the closing of Birthday 2011—Lubna and I planned to go to the Dead Sea. Lubna is the friend at KA who is a secretary for the Office of Student Life and I am exactly two weeks older than she. Last year I realized the best gift I could give her was a treat for a massage at the Dead Sea. So we made plans to go again this year. Lubna also wanted to treat me to lunch at the Dead Sea and surprised me with a shirt and tie as well. So here we are—two late 40-somethings—giggling over an Italian lunch overlooking the Dead Sea enjoying talking about family, and surprises, and struggles, and joys and pains. When the check came Lubna quickly snatched it and smiled broadly. After that we walked around the lovely pool area over to the Spa for our birthday massages. This was the way to spend a birthday!

Going to the Dead Sea is always therapeutic. The drive down is stunning, and now with 51 months of trips to the Dead Sea under my belt, a great chance to look in the rearview mirror of the KA experience and think about what has transpired here. You drive down the windy road that takes you from Mt. Nebo, where they say Moses died, and you head down past the multi-colored shades of brown to the oooo-la-la resorts, and finally let go of the angst of the real world. As I ascend the mountain at the end of the day, I am a rested soul.

So back from the Dead Sea, back from the birthday angst of 2011, and I decide my last treat for this year’s birthday is to watch the final episode of Friday Night Lights. On my schedule I planned to write a college recommendation, but that can wait until Saturday morning. I need to enjoy that mellow feeling and watch the last episode ever of one of my favorite TV shows of all time.

Sometime if someone learns I like that show they are incredulous…I hear, “But it’s about football?!” I guess these aren’t the people who would know you enough to ask you out for your birthday! Gary gave me the book Friday Night Lights around 1999, and I have been in love with the tale of the small Texas town ever since. It is about making your way through high school, struggling to define who you are and what is truth, it is about relationships and passions, and it is about aiming high and maintaining integrity. Actually watching the final show, watching the team and the characters I have loved—it was the perfect way to close out the birthday chapter for this year.

There is one piece of Mohammad Attar’s rich dark chocolate cake left in the refrigerator…um, yeah, I think it is time to finish the birthday leftovers!

On a final note, October is a terrible month to try and maintain blogisodes current. October is the month when we write student comments, but I also have to proofread about 500 other comments, and it is college recommendation season. I have about 30 recs to write. I have started though! I have done three of them, aim for three more tomorrow, but…that is why there aren’t many blogisodes these days. Stay tuned, I will return.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Panel Of Experts

Last Sunday we had our first of five Sundays in the school year that we call “short days.” From the get-go you need to know that these are not short days for the faculty, but short days for the students. Classes begin at 12:30 and are shortened classes a bit and the class part of the day ends, oh I guess at 4:30 before they go off to co-curriculars. For the faculty we spend the morning in professional development activities. We joke and call these “Long Short Days,” or “Short Days for the Students,” or “Anything But Short Days.” One of the new facets of my new responsibility at KA is that I am in charge of planning and executing these professional development days. For this first one Mary Tadros, long-time consultant at the school, was scheduled to conduct a workshop on planning inter-disciplinary units. I also made sure to have a component on educational technology workshops. But my favorite part of the day was a panel I created of six teachers so that they could just talk to the faculty and start our day off.

I love teachers. For all of you, this should come as no surprise. I love what teachers do and I love when teachers wax eloquently about our profession.

I wanted a panel of three veteran teachers to share insights they had gleaned in their respective long careers about the secrets to success in education. I paired three veteran teachers with our three youngest teachers, fresh from college, at the beginning of what may be a teacher career. While the newbies did not have experience prior to the month of September, 2011, I wanted to showcase their expertise as college students and ask them to share what we need to make sure we do for our students in preparation for the KA students’ college experience. They are a resource as well!

In light of the whole morning—a little over three hours—it was only 30 minutes, but still my favorite part, just to get train a spotlight on these six teachers and celebrate their insights and expertise.

The first to speak was Majid, the oldest of our faculty at KA. He has been teaching for 45 years and always has a twinkle in his eye. He spoke in Arabic—he apologized to me for that, and I had no problem with him speaking in the most comfortable language for him—and he began by saying, “I love the work we do.” As Lilli translated for him, he clearly enjoyed reminding everyone that the secret to his success is that he treats them “as grandchildren.” He spoke about his classroom that he wants “to give each student an opportunity to speak and to feel important.” In terms of his classroom management he said, “good eye contact is important. That eye contact makes them feel respected. My job is to engage them and to be firm with them.” As he spoke for his several minutes, he ended with another reminder, “Never forget that we can always learn from our students. I am always learning from them.”

The next in the panel is another veteran from the first year of the school as well, the venerable Tessa. Before coming to KA she had run a girl’s school in Capetown, South Africa, and is, like Majid, an iconic presence on our campus. Tessa began by turning to her right towards the three young teachers and said, “I envy you new teachers. I envy you the chance to do all of this. Every minute is new.” As she reflected on her 40-plus year career in education she said, “It has been more treasurable than I ever expected.” She said her advice was not all that earth-shattering, but simple: “Respect other people and you will be respected. Make sure you get to know the children—know them properly. Know what they knew yesterday. You have the chance to build them, to build fine young people. Tessa is famous for taking faculty on side trips to archaeological digs and anywhere someone needs to go to learn, and reading all the time. But she admonished us, “Make sure what you teach them is relevant for them in Jordan. Relate Huck Finn to them as Jordanians.” She ended her comments with an interesting, “And if you want to see the most spectacular teaching of all, go watch the good teachers of 3 year olds. They will teach you everything you need to know.”

Our last speaker of the veteran side is a new teacher to KA named Mark. I interviewed him last February in Boston and was astonished by his excitement for teaching and what all he had done in his decades of work. Mark began saying, “I am supposed to offer you some pearls of wisdom about teaching. Well, as a science teacher, let me remind you that pearls evolve. Teachers evolve. Pearls never quite get finished entirely. Teachers never quite get finished evolving entirely. Both keep adding and removing layers.” Mark continued to refine his pearl metaphor about how he was as a new teacher and that that “inside pearl” has changed dramatically. I especially liked when he compared pearls and teachers again saying, “And just like the pearl, I didn’t do it all myself.” From there he exhorted his new colleagues that “we must enrich each other. We are all our own pearls and I can learn so much from all the other different pearls.”

Each of the three earned applause—no surprise at all—for the respect they have cultivated as well as the excellent insights about education. It was wonderful when we moved from the three seasoned teachers to the three new ones. They more than held their own. They commanded the panel and spoke with ease and conviction about what they learned about college, about the demands of college, and how one can successfully manage the college years.

John from Yale spoke first. He spoke emphatically: “More than anything, students must be able to write well in college. Besides that important task, students need to know how to deal with failure.” He stated his two choices, explained the importance of them, and spoke excellently about how we rarely allow students to fail in prep school and help them bounce back from failure. He spoke about writing, and not just in the Humanities, but lab reports, and in every class he took at Yale. Thanks, John—I probably couldn’t have picked two more important topics for us to ponder.

But Melissa from Davidson added to John’s list explaining that college-level expectations are far beyond most high school expectations. “I would say the most important things students can learn to do is #1 learn how to think independently and then #2 learn to advocate for themselves and #3 learn how to question things.” Melissa explained beautifully how these things are at the core of the college experience and asked us to consider how we are preparing our high schoolers for such expectations.

Lastly, Katie from Brown smiled and said, “I learned the hard way that time management issues are crucial” and she was shocked in college how “hard and fast the rules are.” She asserted that we must help coach them to work on time management skills and help them set clear expectations for themselves. She concluded that she also hopes students know that the close rapport they may wish with professors in college comes from their own assertions and wishes.

Frankly, I could listen to teachers all day—not the whining part one occasionally hears in a faculty lounge, which I usually just tune out if it is the drab, dreary kind. But I love to listen to what teachers hope for their students, what life-giving force the classroom gives to teachers, and how they would rather not be anywhere else on earth.

Excellent panel. A Wonderful 30 minutes.

So I am an expert after having been on this job for six weeks?

Some things have gone well, but oh, I have learned a number of things that I hope will smooth the future roads for me. I have learned that most questions from faculty are not “innocent,” i.e. when I am asked an opinion, it may be more about soliciting my support for an agenda or a “side” in a battle. And be careful of those opinions and sides. I am not just another teacher now, but my name can be used in a way I may not like. I must also ask, “Did I ask enough questions to get enough of the story to understand a sore point?” Am I seen as intervening on someone else’s territory?

None of these has been tragedies, but I stop and say, “Hmmm…this pearl can continue to evolve as I understand the hazards of my administrative job.”

But all around me are experts, from the inspiring headmaster to the indefatigable Jules to my colleagues from Majid all the way down to those newbies. And by the way, people look at those newbies differently now. They are not just babes in the educational wilderness. They are savvy young educators with talent and vigor and are gonna make gorgeous pearls.