November 24, 2015

Blessings in disguise

We had a minor car accident last week on the way to work. We were in the wrong lane when a speeding car appeared and slightly bumped to our right headlight. The headlight got a small crack and  there were some deep scratches on the right side, but the other car had more damages that needed fixing.

I recalled that Michael and I were talking about the delegates of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit when the accident happened. When Michael got off the car to talk to the Saudi who was driving the other car, I was wondering if he would talk aggressively like how he did before on incidents like this. To my surprise, he talked to him calmly and even the Saudi was calm about it. I was hoping and praying that the Saudi would let it pass, but with the damage in his car it's quite impossible. I called my co-teacher that I would be late that morning because of that accident. They were calling the insurance police to report the incident but since it was still early, no one's responding through the hotline. Michael and the Saudi guy agreed to meet later in the morning to reenact the accident and to call the police, too. Sounds funny, right?

Since both cars have insurance, they just needed the accident report before we could get our cars repaired and paid by the insurance company. Anyway, when they met and called the Najm, the Najm said that Michael would go to jail since the insurance was not named after him upon checking the papers. The Saudi guy protested then and agreed that they would just disregard the accident. He later told Michael that he did not want him to go to jail because he would not get anything from that situation, and that's a lot of trouble for such a small accident. We were thankful but at the same time felt sorry for the Saudi because he would shoulder his car's repair all by himself.

On the way to school, we saw a tragic car accident and thought if the driver survived that crash. It was terrible. We couldn't help but thank God that we were safe and we only had a small accident. We are also thankful that the Saudi guy we encountered was understanding and friendly, unlike some who are angry and aggressive. It made me believe that there is still goodness in people.

Accidents can happen when we least expect them. Some accidents may actually be blessings in disguise, saving us from something more awful, especially in this world where almost everything is uncertain. We couldn't be more grateful that we are safe and sound amidst the small accidents in our life. But, we'll be more careful next time. :)

October 28, 2015

Of doing something right

I'm having a great time in the school so far. Aside from keeping me busy with something productive, I'm having fun getting to know the kids, reviewing Spanish language (for one kid in my class), and preparing lessons! It was so nice when most of the teaching resources that you need are just an inch away.

MIchael and I are also doing fine with almost everything, from household chores, to simple and big decisions making. I want us to enjoy this time together, while being far from families and friends, and while working and saving for future plans. We always think about when we'll be going home, what to do, because we definitely miss even the little things in the Philippines. Maybe that's the thing with living and working in another country, we live and count the months left dreaming of home. But, missing home doesn't keep us from having fun, happiness can be cheaper than what you imagine it to be.

Finally, I was overwhelmed seeing happy updates from friends in the Antioch community these past few days. They held a sports festival and I guessed that they really had a great time together amidst few conflicts. I remember when we had our first sports festival, there was really the spirit of competition but at the end of the day, everyone went home tired but happy. I am actually overwhelmed that these activities we started years ago were being held regularly, like the fun runs. I was taking my P.E. running class  when I joined fun runs in the university because they were required. I suggested to the community that we could plan a fun run. The first time we organized a fun run in our town with the Antioch community, it was a hit! I'm proud that we still do it on a regular basis. With all the things that I shared with Antioch, I realized that the times I spent on and with the formation are all worthwhile. I can say that I must have done something right with what God has blessed me. Oh, grateful.

I'm sharing another good song here, enjoy! :)

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
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