It’s been a long time since I have written or posted a blog post! It’s getting a reboot. I have “hidden” old blog posts from previous days. These old posts are still available for me to see, but they are not for public view at the moment.
Posts on here will serve as a way to disseminate information about what Eric and I are doing to anyone who is interested in reading our updates. Please feel free to share this link with interested parties.
I do not know how often I will post. These updates will most-likely not be a regular thing, but who knows. Eric and I post a lot of our pictures on Facebook. I may post a few occasional ones on here too.
To receive an email notification every time I publish a new post, you can click on the “RSS – Posts” link on the front page of this website. Or, you can sign up using your email address on the front page.
Where are you teaching?
Currently, we are teaching at American Community School (ACS) Beirut.
Do you feel safe in Beirut and Lebanon?
Initially, when administrators from ACS reached out to us, we said that we were not interested in teaching in the Middle East. Then, we decided to be more open-minded and accept the interview.
Contrary to what you may hear about and see in the media, Beirut and Lebanon have felt and have been safe for us. I can say with certainty that I feel safer walking on the streets of Beirut than I do walking in different parts of a big city in the USA like Los Angeles. Like any city or country, there are places to avoid, and we don’t go to those places. The places to avoid are not anywhere close to where we like to spend our time.
You’re teaching English, right?
Incorrect. We have been teaching at international schools over the past few years, which is very different from teaching English.
Eric and I met in 2010 while teaching English in Korea. We did that for two years. Then, I went back to school at Pepperdine University to get my teaching credential (Eric already had his credential from Michigan). We also both got our master’s degrees in education.
If we decide to move back to the states to teach, we could, since we are credentialed in the United States. We prefer the lifestyle abroad at the moment.
If you’re not teaching English, what are you teaching?
We are currently teaching at American Community School (ACS) Beirut. It follows a Western curriculum similar to what you would find in the states. I teach elementary school (second grade right now, previously third grade), and Eric teaches Social Studies/History in middle school. I am certified to teach K-6, and he is certified to teach secondary (6-12). At most international schools, teachers must hold valid teaching credentials.
What kind of students do you teach? Do they speak English?
The clientele at international schools varies from school to school. At our current school, we teach local students, children of UN or NGO workers, children of some embassy workers, children of university professors, children of journalists, and many more. Our current school has many Lebanese students with dual passports (ex. passports from the USA, Canada, France, etc.).
Students are expected to speak English, but of course, they can speak their home language from time to time. English is the unifying language at the school. If they do not know English, there are various ways students can learn depending on the school. The school is not an English language school. Almost all students at our current school speak English at a fluent or proficient level. Many students also speak other languages, like Arabic and French.
What program are you doing?
There is a common misconception out there that we are doing a “program.” We are not in any part of a “program.”
How do you find your jobs abroad?
There are generally two ways to find a job as an international school teacher (not to be confused with an English language teacher). Most international schools (not English language schools) require that teachers are credentialed.
First way: Search Associates or match-making organization. Basically, Search Associates is an organization that connects teachers from around the world to schools around the world. There are smaller match-making organizations, but Search is the biggest one. It’s kind of like a dating profile. Teachers can only see profiles of schools, and schools can view profiles of teachers. They send each other messages through the organization’s platform. Eric and I became connected with ACS Beirut through Search Associates. We then exchanged Skype information with the administrators at our school, and we had video interviews with the admin at the school. Search Associates also holds face-to-face job fairs throughout the world at different times of the year. At these job fairs, it’s basically speed dating for teachers and schools in a hotel. During hiring season (usually December – February), competition heats up, and teachers need to make decisions very quickly.
Second way: Personal connections. Like many jobs, personal connections are important. It’s no exception in the international teaching world. Many schools save money by not going through Search Associates and instead hiring teachers through personal connections of faculty.
Do you need to know a lot of languages in order to teach abroad?
We teach at an international school. Most reputable international schools have students who generally speak excellent English. We do not need to learn any languages in order to teach at our school. Arabic language classes are offered to teachers if they would like to take Arabic. I remember signing up for a Chinese class when living in China, and I didn’t end up going. It takes a tremendous amount of time, motivation, and effort to learn a new language.
At the moment, I prefer pursuing other activities after school, like exercising, exploring, socializing, cooking, or simply relaxing after working all day. I think I’d be more motivated to learn another language if it were a romance language.
How long are you planning to be abroad? What are your long-term goals?
We have long-term goals to stay abroad. Of course, we love coming back to states to visit family and friends. We also love it when family and friends come to visit us!
Where do you want to go next? Where are you going next?
Our decision about staying or leaving Lebanon will probably be made by the end of January. We are open to many possibilities about where to teach next. Sometimes, teachers don’t always go exactly where they want to go. It depends on what positions are available at different schools, and which schools have positions for both Eric and me. There are many factors that go into choosing a school. Some big factors are location, housing, quality of life, benefits, pay, community/environment, administration, students, parents, curriculum, and transportation to and from work. Here’s a quick example. Eric and I were offered positions at ACS Beirut. We were also offered positions at a small, innovative school in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is one of our favorite Asian cities, and we knew we’d love the city. However, we felt that ACS was more established and that it was more welcoming. There were a number of other factors that led us to choose ACS.
What is the breakdown of the students you teach? Who is local and who is foreign?
To view the breakdown of students of ACS, please visit this link. Every international school is different in terms of student demographics. Some schools are more international, and other schools are more local.
What is the weather like?
In Beirut, it’s hot and humid in the summer, warm and mild in the fall, cool and rainy in the winter, and warm and mild in the spring. The mountains get snow, which is great for people who love to do snow activities like skiing, snowboarding, sledding, or snowshoeing. The mountains and valleys remind me of California terrain. The weather inland from the sea makes grapes happy, so there are several wineries. Some Lebanese wine is pretty good, and some Lebanese wine isn’t.
What’s the time there?
There are multiple ways to check the time in Beirut. You can simply Google something like, “time in Beirut,” or you can use your clock app on your phone to keep track of the time. Most phones have a world clock section where you can add time zones in different spots.
How can we stay in touch?
The best ways to keep in touch with us are through email and/or WhatsApp. WhatsApp is an app that over one billion people use around the world to call and text. If you’d like to communicate with us on WhatsApp, email us, and we’ll exchange WhatsApp info in private. What’s also great about WhatsApp is that people can create “groups.” There are many group chats that we participate in to communicate with people.
What is your calendar year like?
To view the academic calendar for ACS this year, click on this link.
What is there to do in Lebanon? What’s it like?
Lebanon is a fun country to live in and has a lot to offer. There are lots of events (concerts, food fests, cultural events), museums to visit, beautiful ancient ruins to see, hiking, classes of all kinds (I took a basic photography class earlier this year), nature, walking paths, farmer’s markets, bars, and the list goes on.
It’s much easier to do things here in Lebanon than in China because most people speak English. Also, if people want it, they can get delivery for everything, including hookah pipes!
We love our apartment. We have a view of the Mediterranean in both bedrooms and our living room (as well as the roof). We’re also about a thirty-second walk to the Mediterranean.
Problems in Lebanon
I won’t go into detail about the problems that Lebanon faces, but a few are below.
- Trash problem: Many people are uneducated about throwing away trash properly, which is unfortunate. It’s like this in many other countries too. There’s also an issue with where to put all the trash that the country accumulates.
- Pollution: The pollution isn’t nearly as bad as China, but it reminds me of Los Angeles. Maybe someday there will be regulations on exhaust from cars, but I don’t think there are regulations at the moment. The sea near us is also highly polluted. We have to travel a bit if we want to swim in cleaner seawater.
- Infrastructure problem: There are power outages multiple times a day throughout the country due to poor infrastructure. I believe it can be fixed, but something tells me that corruption plays a role in this. The outages don’t affect us too much because we live in an area where generators kick in within about a minute.
- Influx of refugees: Lebanon has over a million Syrian refugees. Lebanon cannot support this many people, and many refugees are treated very poorly. It’s sad how hard it is for refugees to seek asylum or refuge in other countries. There’s so much more to this, but I’ll leave it at that.