Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Letter to Former Colleague (Or: It's Gonna Kill Me)

Still floundering in the first week of classes here in my well-paid industrial zone Gulf hell. Here's a letter I wrote to a former colleague in reply to his email saying he was enjoying his retirement, after nearly 20 years in the Kingdom. I thought it would be of interest to you eager newbies; heres's what you could expect from some of the highest-paid English teaching work in the world.

I'm working for (REDACTED) here in (REDACTED) and so far, it's really making me miss (my last posting.) There's not much of anything in (REDACTED) besides the (REDACTED) compound; but most of the English teachers are contractors, not direct hire employees, so we're not actually eligible to live in it! Now most of us live in this other compound that is pretty much just an American-style trailer park. It's got a swimming pool and the restaurant is okay, but the room I had at (my last posting) was nicer than this dank little place.

As for the (REDACTED) training center, the hours are a bit harsh -- 7:00am to 3:30pm, with five 45-minute classes a day, and there's a lot of ridiculous paperwork to do -- daily official typed lesson plans that nobody ever looks at except to make sure you did them. The students have to do these submissions, sort of homework assignments, every week, and they all have to be assigned on different topics which the teachers are in charge of making up, as well as checking.

In fact, I have several students that I taught at (my last posting) -- the recent college graduates are the best to teach, followed by the new apprentices. The course program seems very complicated to me, with a lot of different books and topics -- we even have to teach Health and Safety courses at various points - but maybe that's just because I'm not used to it.

The actual (REDACTED) employees who are doing English courses are in fact the worst of them -- extremely lazy and arrogant and not afraid of anything because they already have a job and it's not really possible for them to fail. They act almost as bad as the first year trainees as (my last posting).

Then of course the delightfully extended holidays of (my last posting) are absent here -- you can take 2 weeks after 3 months, another 2 weeks after 6 months, and then 2 weeks when you finish your contract. There's no winter break at all for the students -- they study pretty much non stop from September until the next Ramadan. Teachers have to apply for the vacation time, which causes all kind of problems because it takes forever to be approved, then other teachers have to substitute their classes, etc.

Also, the facilities are surprisingly inadequate -- we have these high-tech interactive white boards with projectors, but of course they break downquite often. Not only do we not have our own offices, we barely even have our own desks -- there are two big teacher's rooms with little student-size desks along the walls. It's not a problem now because a lot of teachers are away on leave for the summer, but when they get back, it's going to be chaos. Currently there are about 6 computers to share between 30-something teachers, with a lot of stuff we need to look up constantly on the company computer system. There should be 20 more teachers coming some, and they're expecting so many new trainees (post Arab spring influx, I guess) that they're considering instituting night shifts. Even the toilets don't flush ...

So basically I'm surprise to say (my last posting)seemed to be run much better than the training center at (REDACTED). Maybe (REDACTED) just has a lot of other stuff to worry about. (One reason we don't have computers is because there were a bunch of terrorist cyber attacks on computer systems in the Kingdom last year. Did you hear about that?)

But on the bright side we get free coffee in the office, and they're paying me a metric fuck-ton of money.


Anonymous said...

you only wish Kevin Costner and Kurt Russel were in your life, pal, and you're way more than 3000 miles from Graceland.

Anonymous said...

I'd actually be interested in the letter from your colleague, to let us know what awaits us for our reward of doing 20 years in the glorious Kingdom!

English Teacher X said...

Basically he'd just gone back to the village he'd grown up in, bought a house, and was enjoying the life of a country gentleman. He expressed regret that he hadn't done it years ago and just financed the house.

Anonymous said...

Aramco, huh? Looks like Ras Ta Nura. Think I've done your KSA postings but in reverse - first Aramco 2002/3, then Jubail 2010 to now and as you say Jubail is far cushier. The money may be slightly less but the admin, or lack of it, is way less, the students WAY better and the Holidays infinitely better. I also remember those actual employees as being the biggest mother-f###ers I've ever taught. Good luck.