My name is Aashumi Manazhy and I am now a Maths specialist teacher year 5&6 at a British international school called A’Soud Global School in Muscat, Oman. Teaching for me has always been within the bounds of years 3 and 4 and that is the age group I love and adore.
I was drawn to teaching by chance. Having a young child of my own, and noticing the difference I was making in her journey into education, I thought it was the one thing I would like to do as a ‘forever profession’. Originally in my teenage years and early 20’s my background was in diamond jewellery designing and Travel and Tourism. However, I’ve come to realise that I thrive at, and love the experience, of working with children. I am a full-time teacher for 4 years and have enjoyed every minute of it. Moving abroad to a Middle Eastern country was going to be a culture shock and I was prepared for that – in a way!
While working as an expat at an international school has many benefits, it can detach you culturally from the host country where the primary language is not English and most of the locals you meet are native Arabic speakers. The one greatest advice I could give is continuing to pursue hobbies, interact with the locals as much as you can, try to learn the basics of the local language and embrace their culture. Oman is one of the finest places to work for expats; the locals are extremely warm, kind hearted and exceptionally helpful to everyone they meet. Arabic isn’t an easy language but with some effort and perseverance I am managing to learn the basics to get me by. The drawbacks in the Middle East are the pace at which work gets done. Back in England we are so used to just picking up the phone or going online for our basic needs of online grocery shopping, insurance covers, contactless payments, Whats App calling, Face Time and more. When you are at this end of the world technology is a couple of years overdue.
The one thing was very clear in my head that teaching at an international school would present plenty opportunities to work with children from a variety of dissimilar backgrounds, countries and cultures. To say the least, being immersed in an international environment comes with its own sets of challenges. There are huge prospects of conflict amidst such rich amalgams and one primary goal as teachers is also to be aware of their social environment.
International teaching has been implausible in the first 6 months that I have been here. Who else can proudly say that they touch numerous tiny lives and make a difference in their young hearts and minds? A lot of the children I teach here have been, moving around different countries with their parent’s professions. There is vast diversity and due to that they have inquisitive minds, adventure in their blood, the families seek more within the education system so that there are no gaps in their child’s learning. Could it get any better than that?
It has been a whirlwind of 6 months but who would complain when you have the passion for adventure and travel, the sun, sand, sea and a good school with the best children to teach. I dearly miss my school and colleagues at my London school where I spent the best 2 teaching years of my life. However, what I don’t miss at all is the looming doom of Oftsed and the mountains of paperwork and assessments throughout the year. Teaching abroad has its own governing bodies like we have the Ministry of Education (MOE). But they are no way as harsh and brutal as the British equivalent. Every evening and night I don’t plough through mountains of marking, planning, assessments and data logging. I have time for my family and most importantly for myself. Having these opportunities for time keeping and managing workload within work hours, how I wish this could have been the same back in England.
Now as the 6 months have slipped through I ask myself am I finally embracing ‘Teacher Wellbeing’? Am I seeing the value of ‘me time’ and still being able to teach to the best of my capabilities? The answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no; I still feel I cannot manage workload as I cast too much pressure on myself. I feel because I’m away from England I am cut off from the British educational system. I feel I miss all the fantastic CPD which schools back home offer and don’t see any here.
Finally, what is the one thing I can say about teaching abroad? It’s an opportunity not to be missed. In such a short span I feel I have already learnt to empathise, be patient, resilient and more accepting of sudden changes (Middle East anything changes anytime!) Working abroad changes your perception of the world, you learn new things; expand the view you have of the world and understanding of things. I am looking forward to my adventures and travels as a primary school teacher in Muscat, even more now as a new academic term hangs on the horizon.