I arrived on Friday evening and was welcomed by R with a messy apartment and an overwhelming sense of elation at what lay ahead. This euphoria lasted until Sunday when I had my one and only interview and then reality began to set in. I applied for a “Controller” job of middle school at an international school. I knew nothing about the school, but just before I left the States, someone contacted me to see if I’d be interested in interviewing. I was psyched and looking forward to the possibility of getting a job so quickly and without assistance from R. R agreed to take the afternoon off from work to drive me to the school for my 3:30 pm interview, which was extremely generous because I didn’t want to have to take a taxi which would have created a whole slew of issues (i.e. calling a taxi without a cell phone (mine’s not ready yet, it has to be “unlocked” and won’t be ready for three days), giving the driver directions to my home–I’m not sure where I live yet…).
I arrived at the school and was yelled at by a guard who spoke no English. I tried to explain that I was looking for the office because I had an interview. He looked angry and pointed off somewhere. Thanks for the help. I found a bookstore and inquired in there, but the guy working inside had a hard time understanding what I was saying. I walked up the stairs and found a building that said administration. I walked over to a woman in a window, similar to a bank teller behind a glass wall, and told her that I had an interview. She asked me to take a seat. I tried relaxing, but I could feel my heart racing. It’s one thing to be nervous for an interview, it’s another to be nervous about navigating in a place where English is a second language.
Eventually someone came out and asked for me. I followed her into an office where I sat down and she began the pleasantries of how I was doing. She made some small talk about me and inquired about my last name. Apparently there’s a family at the school with the same last name so she thought I was married to a Jordanian. She asked if I had any children, to which I replied no, just a dog. She said, “Well, hopefully soon.” She asked to take a picture of me for my file and printed it out and stapled it to my paperwork. I might add that the picture was heinous–I looked bloated. She told me that first I would be interviewed by the Controller, followed by the director, and then if I made it beyond this point, I would come back to observe in a classroom, followed by a teaching demonstration, and finally interviewed by someone who would fly in from Lebanon. Another woman walked into the office, exchanged a few pleasantries and then whisked me off to another room with the file and the ugly picture stapled to its the front cover of the file folder.
We sat down and the “Controller,” took out an interview checklist. She proceeded to go down the list of questions: Tell me about yourself. I gave her a quick overview of my professional qualifications from classroom teaching to university teaching. She said, “So, you want to get back into teaching?” This was the first clue that this was not an interview for “Controller?” She asked what year I graduated from college. I asked, “You mean, undergraduate?” I couldn’t remember and asked if she had my CV. I pulled it out so that we wouldn’t have to continue this way since it was all in front of her. She asked me to describe three of my best traits. I felt like I was interviewing for my first job going through this trifling list of questions. Eventually, the job description came up: teaching English. So I guess because I’m a native English speaker, that’s the only thing I can teach? No, thanks.
Next we moved onto the SABIS system, an educational system developed in Lebanon that the school uses. I described to her what I had gleaned from the website. I found her description in sharp contrast to what the web touts as a back to basics type of program. SABIS schools essentially dictate what is taught, how it’s taught, and when it’s taught, followed by weekly tests to insure that the subject matter has been mastered. I had my teaching portfolio and some class made books with me to share, but based on this type of program, I don’t think creative writing samples with accompanying artwork and pictures of my amazingly decorated classroom would have won me any fans. I let it go.
Finally we got down to the money question. She wanted to know what my expectations were. I explained to her that four years ago when I left the classroom, I was making 72k, USD, so naturally, it would have to be somewhere in line with that. The look on her face said it all. This was not going to happen. In fact the interview was over. She told me that the average salary at the school was 20k to which I added, but I have a PhD. No response. She explained that I would only work for ten months, but get paid for twelve. Really? Does that logic work with Jordanians? In the end 20k is insulting and their school day is from 7:30am – 4pm. I could work three times the hours for one-quarter the pay? End of interview. I didn’t even move onto the next step, the interview with the director.
So the interview was terrible. I put all of my hopes into landing a job quickly so that I wouldn’t have to face my reality. I’m stuck here, in an apartment with no friends, no access to anything, completely codependent on my husband until I can drive, which he assures me I will be able to do next week. In the meantime, it’s depressing and frustrating. There’s nothing to do; I’m limited to two TV stations that stink; there’s nowhere in the immediate vicinity to go, and the prospect of finishing my organizing of the apartment is daunting because then I’ll really have nothing to do.