Wednesday, January 14, 2004

It's been a hectic week. The quarter ended and exams are next week. Everyday has been extra busy correcting everything that should be counted on the report card, plus exam tweaking, plus all the extra tutoring to help the kids get ready for exams. To top it all off, yesterday was contract day. We were supposed to have submitted out signed contracts yesterday if we want to return next year. Unofficially, we have another week to decide before the director goes recruiting. Oh yeah, our phone wasn't working all last weekend and for the first half of this week.

Last night, (between two tutoring jobs, did I mention that we're a bit busy) we went to for a job interview with another school in Kuwait. Even after I took a wrong turn and we were 15 minutes late for our interview, we were practically offered a job for next year. The director wants us to meet the English head and principal, for their approval, but he sounded like as long as we don't tell them they're fat and ugly and their schools smells, we could have a job.

A'takamul (the other school), would have us teaching high school classes. It pays more, about a 15% raise over what we're making now. They would give us a furnished apartment next year. But the best part about the new job would be being able to say goodbye to the school after all the headache and heartache that they have caused us over the last year in the lead-up to the war, housing, payment at the end of last year, and this year's not very appreciative contract.

We'd work harder at the new jobs. We'd teach more students - 5 classes of up to 25 instead of 2 classes of 20: more names to learn, more parents to meet with and more marking to do. High school classes would mean planning new lessons, too. The health insurance isn't as good, so we'd end up topping it up out of some of that extra money. We'd have to move. Al-Bayan is going to stop renting our apartment for us next year and just give us money instead. Our first choice would be to stay where we are and take over the lease.

I am leaning towards staying where we are now. I enjoy what I'm teaching, and how I'm teaching it and even the students (most of the time). There are some good people we work with too. Teaching the same thing as this year would free up time that I would have to spend planning and preparing lessons. It's easy to turn free time into money by doing a bit of tutoring. But we'll go see the school early next week and talk to the staff before we make any decisions.

Last year the school was planning to move all the teachers from our current apartments into cheap, tiny ones that are right on a highway in one of Kuwait's more crumbling areas. Eventually the school backed down, and let the staff stay where they are (until the end of this year). But after showing the new staff photos of the nice apartments, they moved them into the new less desirable ones. And, I don't have the details yet, last night several of the new apartments were broken into during the day. If i were superstitious, I'd say that it was a sign.

I'm only about a quarter of the way through Cambodia. And then there are the pictures to add. I made great progress last weekend, but it's been on hold since. Speaking of vacations, the visas to get into Iran were going to take too long to get. We're headed off to Oman for a week at the beginning of February with two other Canadian teachers, Greg and Martine and my favorite Kuwaiti in the world, Aziz.

In Kuwait people drive badly: they don't look, they don't signal, and they certainly don't follow any of the rules. I always feel tempted, as my western driving sense takes over and and I am forced to swerve, squeeze or stop, to just stay the course and smack into the guy in the 2003 BMW with our old and heavy clunker. Karla won't let me. But Aziz, who drives a leased car, does not get out of the way. Just the other day, we were going out for dinner when someone drifted over into us. Martine was not impressed. Our back bumper was smudged, his front fender was dented. Aziz got out and talked to him. Two minutes later Aziz got back in the car. "He said that he though I would move out of his way." It's his little grassroots plan to improve roads of Kuwait.

It helps that Kuwait has the most forgiving car lease companies. If you are in an accident, you call the company and they bring you a new car. It doesn't matter if it was your fault or not. There's no deductable, premium or service charge to pay. You just get a new car.

I'd better go and upload this before I get distracted.