October 9, 2015

Of learning while teaching

Teaching has always been my passion, I guess. When I came here in the kingdom, I considered looking for other jobs aside from teaching but I still ended up searching for teaching posts. Maybe because I could not imagine doing other tasks aside from what I've been doing for the last five years.

Schools here had been posting for teachers' hiring few weeks (even days) before the start of the academic year. I sent applications to different schools and there were about four or five who responded. I chose the school with a decent pay and with probably manageable class. I ended up teaching in a school house inside a new western compound here in Riyadh. The kids are mostly westerners so yes, they speak English and it's sort of easier than teaching in a class where the majority speaks a language that I haven't mastered. I have a Spanish student and I'm glad that I can use what I learned from my Spanish course back in college. ¡Muy bien!

My co-teachers were from another Asian country and I've been having some difficulty to explain how I want to teach the children, because they came from schools with a different educational system. We are working around it and I hope that we'll somehow meet in the middle. I am thankful that we get by fine at the moment. And I am thankful too that the school has good facilities, equipment, and materials, especially the playground that I'd be so happy to play at if I were a kid (well, even now, as an adult)!

So far I am grateful for all the teaching opportunities that definitely help me grow professionally. For the last five years, I have learned various techniques and discipline in different school settings and all those molded and established my philosophy in teaching. I really do hope to use all the knowledge that I've been earning in setting up a preschool in the future. For the love of children and teaching, I pray that our brilliant plans will come to life. :)
One of the perks of a preschool teacher - playing with kids!

September 27, 2015

Where to wander around Riyadh?

Due to this year's Hajj, we were given a week or two rest from work. While the Muslims were preparing for their pilgrimage to Makkah, I believe that most of the expatriates in the Kingdom are looking for places to go during this holiday season.
I read about blogs with suggestions on where to visit and waste away some time. It was always nice to discover places through other people who've been there, at least we know what to expect and see in those places. We don't want to drive to the other provinces so that we'll have more time to rest well before going back to work. Although it was tempting to visit Al Khobar and Dammam (just like what we did last Eid'l Fitr break) where there are beaches to just swim and enjoy the sun and sand, we chose to drive to three places just around Riyadh such as Al Kharj City, Diriyah Historical City, and Red Sand.

Al Kharj

We have a friend from the Philippines who was assigned to work in Al Kharj. My husband spoke with him about our plan to visit him one of these days. Since our friend, Rolly doesn't have a fixed schedule for days off, we just went there before he came to work. At first, we planned to take trips to Ain Samhah and Ain Ad Dhile (two allegedly holes caused by meteors), Water Tower, and Kharj zoo. A friend of my husband tagged along with this plan of ours. As we entered the city of Kharj, I noticed that it is a quiet and greener city, because it's particular to the agricultural industry. After fetching Rolly from their flat, we went to the popular meteor holes.
 A peek at the Ain Samhah that looks like a small sinkhole to me
Posing with the hole, and trying not to look down at it. 
 Refreshing with an ice cream cone, on this not-so-summer heat
Looking inside the mud houses near the meteor hole
Behind them was the other meteor hole, Ain Ad Dhile, which was fenced when we got there

September 11, 2015

Know your worth

"Do you know how much you're worth?" I was dumbfounded when my co-teacher asked me. We were talking about the work that we do and the salary that we're getting. She was telling me to demand for what I think I deserve. And I am not so sure of how much I actually deserve.

Looking back to how much I earned from the previous schools I taught in back in the Philippines, I was offered more than those here in KSA. Both in the private and government schools that I taught in, the salary was fixed and non-negotiable. It's either you take it or you leave it. I've been used to decide based on given conditions, and choosing which is better. When I applied for a teaching position here, I chose the better offer. When I say 'better', I mean that the school management looks good and the salary seems alright. But wouldn't it be nice choosing the best option? And 'best' would mean that school management is systematic, professional development is a priority, work is rewarding, and the salary is what I deserve. But then again, how much am I worth in this land far away from home?

It's funny that when I was thinking about it, I would compare myself from how others teach and do their work. I am more creative than her. I am more resourceful than her. I know how to make appropriate teaching materials compared to her. I am more organized than her. Et cetera. But then, she earns more because she demanded for more. She thinks she's worth more.

I have been conditioned to the culture of mediocrity in the Philippines. Practicing honor and excellence were always reminded to us back in the university, but there is no escaping that mentality in every day. There is much more than looking always at the bright side in every dark situation. It is knowing and doing what should be done to get out of every dark situation. It is knowing what is good, if not best, and demanding for what you truly deserve. It is knowing one's worth, even when mediocrity pushes itself to you. It is a long process to get mediocrity out in one's system but eventually, I will.

I realized that I need not to compare myself to others to know my worth. I am aware of the things that I can do. I know what I am capable of. I know that I can influence others positively, and I know that I want to maximize my abilities. I know what I love and what I need. I am worthy.

When I look up for a reminder to keep me grounded and focused, I saw this verse from the Book of Romans 12:2 which tells me of what I should seek more and be of.
Being appreciated by people around you and being recognized for what you do give good feelings and increase one's esteem. I especially believe to appreciate your worth, it helps to

August 25, 2015

Films worth your watch

"What do you usually do on weekends?" our school head asked me yesterday. Aside from doing chores at home, traveling to malls for groceries or window shopping, we also spent our time watching movies and interesting series in the comforts of our own room. What's else there to do? We seldom go to parks because it's too hot outside, it's better to stay at home.

Before finally dozing to sleep almost every night, we would watch a film from horror, thriller, or romantic-comedy, or drama genre. It happens that we sometimes run out of films to watch, so we switched to continuing TV series we missed. Sometimes, my husband is too sleepy to finish what we started watching, so I ended up looking out for the film's ending on my own. I actually found pretty decent films that are worth your time and I'd like to share those here.

Dial A Prayer. This movie came out early this year. It is surprisingly nice, actually and does not only cater to Christians, but to the general audience. The story deals about facing the consequences of one's actions and second chances. This movie reminds me that when you're genuinely helping other people, that goodness will come back to you in ways you may never know. It takes faith to change. This may be slow-paced, but it's worth watching.
"So, where are we headed?"

Someday, This Pain Will Be Useful To You. Released in 2011, I think it's not too late for me to have found this gem. Firstly, the title suggests that it's a sad movie, but I liked it that it has a hopeful ending. The story is about a teenager who does not know how to socialize with people his age. He prefers to be alone and to not pursue college, which concerns his family. As I followed the main character through the film, I can say that I empathize with him when he finally accepted and knew what he really is. Slow-paced story but the soundtrack is great!
"Do you know how to dance?"

Before We Go. There has been a lot of stories about two strangers already. Richard Linklater's Before trilogy is one of my faves. This movie is actually likeable. The main characters are not flashy and their back stories can be believable. Upon seeing the movie, I got the feeling that I was part of their few hours of adventure. If you enjoy watching two people exchanging dialogues, you won't have a problem seeing this one, not to mention the interesting quotes from the characters. Chris Evans did great in acting and directing in this film.
"Well, what if you're wrong?"
I'll just share this three films for now with the song by Taken by Trees in the background. :)

August 14, 2015

Some music on the road

As a member of an astronomical society back in college, I loved the stargazing nights and meteor shower observations we had to attend to. I learned how to set up a telescope the fastest that I could, but I guess I've forgotten that skill by now. 

One of those stargazing nights, a friend told me that when she finally gets a car in the future, she would love to have road trips with me. She said I would choose the music to play while she drives to somewhere. She liked the songs that I like, the music artists that I follow. She was glad when I suggested that she listens to Baz Luhrmann's Everybody's Free To Wear SunscreenFew years forward, we haven't had road trips together and almost lost connection, thanks to social media, we're able to communicate once in a while.
Since I came here in KSA, I've been liking road trips - however short or long they are. They are escapes from routines at home. As I can see, music is essential in every road trip. It sets the mood, especially during long drives when you need to stay awake even when you are just in the passenger seat, simply to give your driver some company. My husband drives and I feel guilty when I fell asleep at times during travels. I find it fun to update our playlist for road trips - looking for old and new music to sing, shout, or hum along to. We made this one favorite folder of music from Filipino bands with female vocalists - and all these songs can be found in Youtube! I think these songs are one of my precious finds in the internet. I'm sharing the songs below, in no particular order.

Belinda Bye Bye by Barbie's Cradle. Barbie Almalbis, the frontwoman, has such a quirky voice and a sweet face that boys can't get over with. The band had many hit songs until Barbie decided to go on solo. This upbeat song is my fave.

Call Center by Cambio. Half of the disbanded Eraserheads joined a new band back in 2002, Cambio. Kris Dancel takes the lead in this song, which represents the graduates' choice to work in a call center while waiting/ preparing for a better career.

Pagbalik by Fuseboxx. I didn't know about this band and was glad to watch them in Youtube. This song has some heavy feels in it.

Hiling by Paramita. Ria Bautista was the drummer and the vocalist of this band. What I like about the songs that they released was their poetic lyrics that do not sound too cheesy. It was also a plus to see a female drummer in a band, which is pretty rare.

Torpe by Hungry Young Poets. This is another song with Barbie Almalbis in it. I remember the time when a friend and I sang out loud to this song while in a taxicab. The driver was cool with it anyway and wished he had a longer ride jamming with us. Ha ha!

Rainsong by Imago. I think only a few knew about this song. And I think these few understood what this song meant. The lyrics is incomprehensible when you hear it for the first time, but when you found out about it, you'd be amazed and would try as much to sing along to it.

'Wag Ka Nang Mambitch by Keltscross. My husband heard about this band before. They are a girl band with post-punk styles. Their lyrics may sound harsh especially to the audience back in the 90s, but funny and creative to those who appreciates their music. I wished I knew this song sooner back in college.

Sulat by Moonstar88. This song was a hit when I was in high school. Aside from being a time of adjustments and stress, I think high school was also a time to like love songs like this, even when you're too young for love.

High by Save Me Hollywood. When I heard this band from a local radio, I thought they were a foreign band, they even sounded like Paramore. Anyway, it was nice to hear they were actually from the Philippines. "How do we get so high?"

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