Saturday, March 24, 2012

Vacation at last...

I haven't always been a teacher or a student, but in recent years, the end of February means vacation. This was the first year in recent memory that there was no break.  Yesterday was the first day of my spring break...

Since November, we've been trying to use our Cobone to get to Ras al Khaimah and Iceland Waterpark. Every time we tried to book a date, it was booked for that entire month. I had despaired of ever using it, when the travel agency called with a one day availability. This meant leaving after work, which mind you is an hour's drive away from my home in the midst of the desert, and traveling over three hours more to Ras al Khaimah on typical UAE directions (which means confusing as heck).  After many wrong turns, and roads, we arrived in time to eat dinner and get to bed. Rob and Belle had a bit more energy and ordered room service for dessert.

Then after a leisurely breakfast and walkabout at the hotel, we headed back into the car with more UAE directions and eventually found Iceland Waterpark. After much coaxing, Belle finally tried some of the big slides and we had a wonderful day. We're looking forward to going back to Iceland again. Now, it's on to prepare for our trip to Turkey.

Vacation is off to a wonderful start.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day and one year ago

 One year ago, I left my friend Liz's home to be in Boston, not for the green beer (well, okay, for one green beer), but for a job interview to teach in Abu Dhabi.

Today, I went to the pool not quite 8 minutes away and managed to get a sunburn. Then we took Belle to her art class, so she could finish her second oil painting. While she painted, Rob & I  went grocery shopping at Lulu's.  And I did not make corned beef.

In five days, I will start my much anticipated spring break.

A lot can change in a year...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Parenting Abroad

Belle with her classmates & teacher
It is a hard decision to take your child overseas, moving her from the town she has grown up in, and all her friends, to a country her parents remember only from a Middle East geography quiz in high school.  Overall, Belle has adjusted remarkably well.

Last night we were able to experience one of her school events that helped to confirm that this is a good experience for her in her understanding of the world.  Her school had a World Cultures Day, which was very different from the Cultural Diversity days I remember having in NH as a high schooler - where we had special guests come in to introduce a small aspect of their culture for one day, and then we went on with our lives the next day - whereas Belle is every day experiencing new cultures, foods, and people, and she gets this experience in third grade! The parents and students surrounding us were truly a global representation of humanity.

The evening started with UAE National Anthem, followed by a parade of flags from around the world, mostly representing the nationalities of students and faculty associated with her school.  It was eye-opening to me that I was not able to immediately identify which country each flag represented, and even later, still relied on signs to identify the different countries. Belle is already better at matching the country to the flag than her parents.

After some more musical presentations celebrating different countries, there were booths to visit representing a large number of countries, complete with signature foods. Belle and I tried the Phillipines' booth first, and had delicious egg roll and samsoas type food. From there, we tried Syrian, Egyptian, English, Jordanian, Palestinian, Indian, and other countries. There was even a USA booth giving out hot dogs, KFC, cotton candy, popcorn and apple pie. The Canadian booth had a small tub of "snow" too! 

I think one of the best parts for me was seeing how involved Rob has become in Belle's school. The teachers and staff, and other parents, recognize him from his daily drop-off and pick-ups, as well as for the time he spends checking on Belle's progress and that of our friends' children, who he also transports. In the states, it was always the role I took charge of, so this is a new experience for us all. It makes me realize how lucky I am that I have a husband who was willing to move across the world, and also how lucky our daughter is to have a father who is happy to take an active role in her life.

The last piece I want to share is bringing it more globally. As a family, we probably pay more attention to the countries surrounding us then we did at home, with some added perspective. Last night, Belle made a point of bringing me to the Palestine booth. She wanted me to know the story of the little boy who doesn't show his face. He will only show his face when there is peace in the Middle East. This is a story that I couldn't have taught her at home, but she knows and will always carry with her because of this experience. For that, I am grateful.