Tag Archives: art

Dressed in Green

Adventure never ceases.

Last summer, before moving to Chennai, I watched this video:

Today marks one week until school is out for the summer. Wanting just one more adventure before I leave, I set out with a friend to find this place. When looking it up, we discovered that Birdman of Chennai is an actual “place” on Google Maps. We drove straight there, more or less. We were looking for a camera shop, and there wasn’t one, but we recognized the neighbourhood from the video. And then we saw a big sign with birds all over it, on the second story of a mattress shop and upholstery shop. We got out, and the merchants told us, in broken English, that the birds would come soon. We had about 20 minutes to wait for the magic to begin.

In our research, Google told us that it “opened” at 4:00pm. Once we arrived, we learned that the birds gather to eat two times per day, 5-6am and 4-6pm. There are different flocks that gather on different “shifts” to eat. A colleague and professional photographer, Shannon Zirkle-Prabhaker, photographed the Birdman and the birds for an article in Silkwinds Magazine. Her photos are shown here and the Silkwinds article explains it all.

I didn’t realize that I chose green clothes, matching the birds, until one of the thousands of Rose-Ringed Parakeets pooped on my head while crossing the very busy street of Bharathi Salai. I grabbed my scarf to wipe myself clean and realized how my fashion accessory matched the surroundings!

The Birdman, and his friends, explained that the camera shop no longer exists, but he still has many vintage cameras and he would like to sell them. He lives in the building across the street, and continues to feed the birds two times a day. We didn’t fully understand all that they were trying to tell us but there was something about the BBC coming and shooting film for 4 days, and something else about the building being tied up in a court case. It was an amazing experience. I’m thankful, as always.

What adventure can you go on today?

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Continued Transitions

Every week I think about writing a new blog post and every week I get so overwhelmed with all my new experiences, I can’t decide which one to write about, so I don’t write at all. I’m reasonably relaxed now, a week into my Winter Holiday break from school, and decided to put words onto digital paper.

I’m excited with my choice to live and work in India, but the transition stages of culture shock seem to be taking longer to process through, as compared to when I moved to Istanbul in 2013. In Turkey, I remember feeling invigorated to be living in a new-to-me Muslim country and experiencing life in a historically rich, city with new tastes, languages, sights and sounds. As I reflect, there were many things that were familiar to me already.

Turkey is a European country and I’ve traveled to Europe many times. Istanbul has four seasons, just like in Texas. I had been a tourist in Istanbul two years prior to moving there. Western fashion brands are common. Surprisingly, there were Victoria’s Secret billboards up on the main roads. There was a clean and modern metro to get you around from place to place. The city of Istanbul has city services in place, such as trash removal and recycling. Metro and bus cards were easily topped up. I could always find a relatively clean public toilet if I needed one. Although Turkish foods were new to me, fruits and vegetables were the sizes and shapes that I knew and had used in the USA. There were so many dogs and cats on the streets and these animals were common to me. I knew at least something about several of the great civilizations in historical Turkey: Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans. Islam is different from Christianity but because Islam, Judaism and Christianity all recognize Abraham as their first prophet, they have a lot in common.

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In contrast, there is very little here in Chennai that seems familiar to my western understanding of the world. It is both bewildering and exciting. My local, Indian friends have said there are 3 seasons: hot, hotter, and hottest. It is tropical here and I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a tropical environment before. The trees, plants and flowers are so different. There are some fruits and vegetables that I know, but there are many more that I don’t know and have never even seen pictures of. And the foods here are prepared with an understanding of the medicinal effects of each food and spice. I had never traveled to India before moving here to live. Chennai, with a population of approximately 10 million, has limited city planning. There are very few city services available in the way that I’m used to. There is public transportation that the locals use but I don’t (yet) feel comfortable using the buses and trains by myself. There are many new forms of transportation to me including tuktuks, or autoricks, and so many, many motorbikes. The rules of the road are completely different to me and I can’t begin to imagine driving here. There are dogs and cats that live on the street, but also cows, donkeys and goats, monkeys, tropical birds, bats, lizards and strange insects. In north India there are also camels and elephants roaming on the street. Tigers, half-horse-half-cow sort of animal called a blue bull nilgai and so many more exotic-to-me animals live in this country. The beautiful clothes that most women wear are certainly not western. Cotton and silk are the preferred fabrics. In most cases, the recipes for cooking are completely new to me, including the spices. For many years in Dallas there were only a few Indian restaurants. The food here in Chennai is not like anything I’ve ever had or tasted in the USA. Thankfully, many Indian people have immigrated to Dallas and new, authentic Indian restaurants are now opening. Although Christians, Muslims and Buddhists live here, the Hindu religion is the most noticeable, and certainly the most different, to me. There are temples and alters on every block. Flower, fruit and oil lamp offerings are made daily and small businesses exist on the street to provide the commodities needed for these daily rituals. The smells and sounds coming from these holy places do not connect to any memory in my life experiences. There are 30 MILLION gods. Hard, manual labor exists and you see it everyday. An American friend said, “Although I’ve worked all my life, as an American, I’ve never really worked a day in my life.” And, for good or for bad, the ugly is not hidden away.

After living here for two months, I consciously passed through a new phase of transition when I received my bank debit card, figured out how to order groceries online and figured out how to take a tuktuk to/from school everyday. These three things caused my transition to blossom into positive possibilities.

After living here for four months, I recognized the amazing difference it made to befriend Indian people as they held the secrets to understanding this new way of life. Within these friendships, I could ask questions without offending. They see that I am truly curious and am eager to learn. I am so grateful for these people that have shown up in my life as they are making all the difference in my transition.

Are you aware of the transitions of your own life?

 

 

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I’ve arrived

IMG_1574

First thoughts.

There’s no way to prepare for India. Friends who have traveled or lived here, attempted to paint a picture of what I might experience. People tried to describe it with words, but there’s no way to do that with words.  Words help us describe our emotions and our thoughts, but words are inadequate to describe India. You have to experience it. I don’t have a vocabulary that easily explains a hundred different things going on at the same time, matched with how I’m feeling about those exact things all at the same time. There’s so much visual and audible stimulation in every single little city block that after two weeks of traveling along the exact same roads, back and forth, every single day, I still cannot be fully sure of ever where I am. I’m very excited by it and so glad I made the decision to come. I’m very happy. But with that said, it is so chaotic, fast – and yet also, so very slow, and in every possible way my five senses are stimulated to the point I think my head is going to explode some days.

The globalization/modernization/commercialization that has happened in Chennai in the last 4 years is unbelievable according to those who have been here longer. There are modern, technology-driven, high-rise buildings going up everywhere, yet right next door people are sleeping on the dirt and cows are freely rummaging through the trash on the street. People that are disfigured, without limbs or with strange, curious skin afflictions, are left to beg. The highways, sidewalks and train tracks that are being constructed are primarily being built by hand with very little machinery. I’m trying to digest it all. God’s nature is dramatically beautiful through the tropical plants and flowers and the powerful, mighty ocean, yet I watch fishermen, from my 4th floor balcony, come into the grassy area that meets the sandy beach and poop. Right there. How do you prepare for this? I am observing life in the raw: human beings living and making their way. Surviving. It is absolutely incredible.

What does your part of the world look like?

 

 

 

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The invitation

1 in 101.

These last few weeks have been difficult. Many Americans who reside in this land we call the United States of America, don’t feel very united. My own heart and mind have been sad and confused. The USA feels unnatural to me; almost foreign. Some things are recognizable but many other things aren’t. Just when I thought I couldn’t bear to listen to one more disturbing news report, or read one more Facebook post about this nation and our government, I got a wonderful invitation that ended up being a perfect gift as I leave this country to live in another.

We met at work in 2016. Although he was originally from Mexico, he’d been living in Texas for more than a decade with a green card. He’d made his life here. His sons were born here, his career was here and his dreams of the future were here. As we grew to know each other better, I questioned this soft-spoken man about why he’d never gained his citizenship. I explained that his vote was needed. All the votes are needed to accurately represent the people of this country.

Over the next two years, with the help of our company and others, he hired an attorney and began this long process. There were meetings to attend, paperwork that had to be completed and so much WAITING. Every now and then I’d ask where he was in the process, and he’d respond that more time was needed. As time went by, and more changes were made with regard to immigrants, I was nervous that it might not materialize. I quit asking about it months ago.

I resigned from work in early June to spend time with family and friends on the west coast. I returned to Texas with only two weeks to sell my car, spend time with friends and finalize my international move. With a To-Do list a mile long, I received a text: “I have my ceremony for my naturalization of citizenship this July 19!!!!” and the text message included big, smiling emojis and a USA flag. I immediately responded to his text and quickly, within a few comments, I replied, “I would love to come.”

And so I did.

I’ve never been to a naturalization ceremony and was thrilled to be spending it with my friend and his sister. The room was filled, standing room only. Everyone was dressed so nice, many wearing the Stars and Stripes on their selected attire. Many others chose the simple colors of Red, White or Blue. Excitement was in the air. It was thrilling! Cameras were clicking non-stop.

After clearing security, he was separated from us, and was escorted into a large room with the other 100 qualified applicants. After waiting 45 minutes, the family and friends of each of the applicants, were released to take our seats in the same large room. Lucky us! We were seated across the aisle from him and were able to take photos from this vantage point.

The décor of the room, the videos, the songs and the speeches squeezed our hearts. After spending a month in beautiful California, my heart swelled at the physical beauty of this nation. Surrounded by a hundred eager faces, the visual images of our National Parks and the encouraging quotes of historical figures began to thaw my icy feelings about this country. One by one, each of the 35 country names were called out, and those from that country stood up.

Australia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Brazil

China

Burma (Myanmar)

Colombia

Cuba

Dominican Republic

Ecuador

El Salvador

Ghana

Honduras

India

Iraq

Ireland

Kenya

Liberia

Malaysia

Mexico

Nepal

Nicaragua

Nigeria

Philippines

Republic of South Korea

Russia

South Africa

Sweden

Syria

Taiwan

Thailand

Togo

Trinidad and Tobago

Uganda

United Kingdom

Vietnam

The joy of these 101 was contagious and it spread throughout the room as their names were called. There was clapping, yelling, tears and awe. The presenter mentioned that some of the 101 had been through much to get to this point, and as we all stood together, we were honored for them to join us as American citizens.

It was an amazing ceremony that left me changed. I am thankful to be an American. I did nothing to deserve it, but was simply born here and given rights and privileges that so many do not have. I feel a responsibility to teach and encourage others to dream of what is possible inside a broken world. When I arrive in my new “home” country, I will strive to be an ambassador of the United States of America, and set an example of love and truth. It will be my goal to develop empathy in my new students.

How many immigrants do you have as friends?

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Winding Down

Collection of memories.

I’ve been a founding member of the Nasher Sculpture Center Teacher Advisory Board since its inception in 2010. I fondly remember being asked to join months after my daughter moved to California to attend university, all those years ago. Because of her move out of state, I chose to delay moving overseas for another 4 years. When I joyfully accepted this position on the Board, it gave me a renewed interest in teaching, art and conceptual conversations around contemporary subjects of education.

 

 

The Nasher Sculpture website reads, “The Nasher Sculpture Center’s Teacher Advisory Board was formed in 2010 to help the education department better serve the needs of North Texas educators. Since then, teachers in this group have provided valuable feedback on programming and curriculum—from tours and workshops to online teaching materials and family days. The Advisory Board is comprised of educators who teach a variety of disciplines to students of all ages. The group has been instrumental in the creation of self-guided tour materials for school groups and new teaching resources focused on Materials and Process in sculpture.”

 

I suspended my Board membership when I moved to Istanbul (2013-2015), but when I returned to Dallas in 2016, the Nasher Education staff welcomed me back with open arms. I was grateful, as I’d been suffering from reverse culture shock and had found it difficult to make my way back into American culture. Since then, I’ve regularly participated in meetings and events with this strong team of art educator friends. I will miss this monthly gathering of friends as I venture away from Dallas on my next international educational experience this summer.

Our last meeting of the 2018 school year was held at The Warehouse, an exhibition, storage and library building in North Dallas, in which the Howard Rachofsky and the late Vernon Faulconer’s contemporary art collection is housed. What a delight! Thomas Feulmer, Director, gave us a private tour of the new exhibition and I was happy to see that many foreign artists were on display in this unimaginable private art collection.

I arrived early and upon entering the industrial type building, I needed to wash my hands. Stepping into the Women’s Restroom, just beside the uncluttered, white and pristine entryway, I was in for a shock! The black and white patterned markings of Japanese artist, Shuji Mukai, surrounded me in every direction. I felt as thought I had walked into a painting; I was a part of my surroundings in an unfamiliar way. It was magical to see myself reflected in the big mirror amid the powerful pictographic signs. After washing my hands, I lightly touched the paper, hand towel. I was careful because I wanted to take it with me! I couldn’t bear tossing it in the bin because it was also adorned with the artist’s markings. After photographing each of the stalls, and leaving the room, I knocked on the Men’s Restroom door and spoke, “Is anyone in here?” With no answer, I opened the Men’s door. Not feeling 100% I was alone, I chose to NOT walk into the space, but from the doorway I clicked my camera, focusing on one urinal.

Afterward, I drove home and crawled into bed feeling grateful for the Nasher Sculpture Center and Warehouse staff and my NTAB friends. Each of them have deepened my understanding of contemporary art. The relationships that have grown out of this connection cannot be duplicated. I will miss all of you. I reflected upon how it felt to be surrounded in an environment so different from what I was used to. I will soon experience this feeling again as I take my new job in Chennai, India this summer.

What new experience, or environment, will you put yourself in this week?

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Playing The Game

img_5973Bam. Dot. Crak.

One of the things I miss the most about living overseas is having global friends from many countries. I’ve searched to find international connections in Dallas but it has been difficult. Although Dallas is a large city with a multinational population, many live in the suburban areas surrounding the metroplex and I live near downtown. I’ve found that these populations segregate themselves together in neighborhoods of people like themselves. This is so different from Istanbul. Every kind of person lived together, in close proximity, inside the crowded city. It was common to walk everywhere, so you saw, and heard, foreign people constantly on the sidewalk beside you. Here in Dallas, there are many miles between us – in more ways than one. I’ve participated in several Meetup groups hoping to find friends who have lived overseas but for one reason or another, I haven’t made the connections I’ve hoped for.

When I moved back to Dallas earlier this year, I moved to an area of town I was unfamiliar with. Hoping to find new friends close to home, an out-of-state friend mentioned that I might like to learn how to play American MahJong. This popular game has a Chinese history and is played worldwide. I searched in my area but had no luck in finding an established group. I posted a humble notification on the Next Door app to members of my new local community, and to my surprise I had 30 responses from strangers who also wanted to learn how to play. I set up a meeting place at a local restaurant and the rest is history.

In the months that followed, others jumped in to help organize and smaller groups formed based on weekday, weeknight or weekend play date availability. New friendships formed between the members and this week we celebrated our new friendships by having a holiday progressive dinner party, between three homes, right here in my neighborhood. As I looked around and observed the laughter and enjoyed the delicious food and drink, I felt so proud to have started this group and brought so many people together.

I also attended my first Internations Meetup this past week and it was so enjoyable. I sat with four women from Ukraine, Jamaica, Ireland and India. They all encouraged me to attend the upcoming holiday party. Sometimes I get discouraged because it is more difficult to find global friends here but I’ll press onward. A person can never have too many friends.

Do you live in a new place and are you lonely? What might you do to bring people together? You will be delighted at the results.

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Things I Learned

nov2016imageRemembering.

During the past few weeks, I’ve been writing schools and checking out websites of potential employers. As of this morning, there are 58 Art Teacher openings posted on the Search Associates website. As I contemplate the possibility of moving to a new country, I am reminded of all the learning that one goes through upon immersion into a new culture. I am both excited by it and unnerved by it. The adrenalin rush that an expat feels upon arrival in a new country is not easily forgotten. Cleaning out some old documents, I came across this list I made of a few of the things I learned in Turkey:

 

  1. How to pee in a hole. I will never forget a sweet, female Turkish friend bending over in laughter when I asked her how to do this. Through gulps of laughter, she shut my art room door and acted out some important strategies that all Turkish girls are taught. This knowledge forever changed my life in Turkey.
  1. How to say, “Kas lira?” (How many lira does this cost?). Then learning how to count to 30, and finally how to negotiate/haggle. I became a confident buyer before too many months.
  1. How to tolerate the smokers. Smokers are everywhere. Smoking is what people do. Both young and old people smoke. I remember thinking, “Well maybe smoking won’t actually give you cancer like we’re taught to believe in USA. There are tons of old people here and they all smoke!” I still wonder about this…
  1. How to be a calm passenger in the backseat of a taxi, with a crazy driver, and not wear a seat belt. Seat belts exist in taxis, but they are all “adjusted” so that they don’t work. Now imagine this, staying calm, with loud Turkish music playing on the radio, and slipping and sliding down very steep hills covered with snow. It was during these rides that the carefree taxi drivers would ask me, in broken English, “Where from?” When I said, “Dallas, Texas”, they would often say, “Ah, Dallas!! JR!!” I learned that people in Turkey love the show, “Dallas”.
  1. I learned who Ataturk was and why he is important to the nation of Turkey. I now know more about Ataturk than I do George Washington, and I love him too! Ataturk’s picture hangs in every classroom and in many homes. His picture hangs on street-side banners and permanent signage all over the city.
  1. How planning ahead is of no use in many countries outside the USA. The ability to organize my time, that I’ve become so good at, didn’t work in Turkey. Things change. Their cultural understanding of every thought, every decision is, “Inshallah”: If Allah wills it. I learned better how to roll with the punches and live in the moment. I’m not an expert at it, but I’m better at it now than I used to be.

As I venture onward into this recruiting season, I am faced with another season of transition. I know the excitement of moving and the hardships of immersion. Finding the right “fit” of a country, and a school, is of upmost importance. Decisions should be made carefully and wisely, and for me, with a lot of prayer.

What questions do you ask yourself to know if a big change in your future is a step in the right direction?

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London It Is

Banksey in London

Banksey in London

Plans.

In February of 2013, I attended the Search Associates Cambridge Job Fair for international teachers and administrators. It was a stressful and depressing weekend, further intensified by a “nor’easter” hitting the Boston area. I wrote about it in an article called Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

My weekend experience was competitive, emotional and jarring based on the number of stressful decisions that needed to be made in a short amount of time. I walked away from that fair without getting a job. Either the jobs I wanted were not offered to me, or the ones that were offered to me I did not have interest in. Many will agree that these fair weekends are not for the faint of heart, but you can learn a lot by attending them. For example, many schools in attendance give interesting presentations about their school and the country that their school resides in. It is always a great idea to network and introduce oneself when attending these presentations. Once you break into the international world of teaching, it is “a small world”. Before long, you will know many people who live all over the world.

Wanting a different experience this year, I have made a decision to attend two job fairs in London, each hosted by different agencies. These two fairs are being held one week apart in January 2017. The Search Associates London Job Fair is Search’s largest fair.  Approximately 650 candidates and 160 schools will be in attendance. The following weekend is the Council of International Schools Job Fair (CIS) . Many competitive job fairs are held on back-to-back weekends, in January and February, as the schools move around the globe, sweeping up teachers and administrators.

 

 

I’ve just become a member of CIS, which will give me even more access to potential employment. This non-profit organization provides services and accreditation to primary, secondary and higher education institutions, as well as to individuals. They provide professional development as well, including Child Protection and Intercultural Learning workshops. The CIS community includes 711 schools and 512 colleges and universities representing 112 countries. To become an individual member, online paperwork must be completed and three confidential references must be obtained. Additional criminal background-check paperwork must also be uploaded.

This week, Search Associates released the list of schools that will be in attendance at the 2017 London Job Fair. These varied schools represent many kinds of experiences, both in regard to locations in the world and in the kind of curriculum offered. Some schools are big; some are small. Some are in cities; others are in rural areas. Although the list is long today, I know that some of the available jobs will be gone by the time these administrators arrive at the conference hotel in January. Jobs are already being posted and schools have already started their hiring process. But some schools actually prefer a face-to-face interview. From this provided list, I will make a list of my favorite schools and regularly check on their websites for positions that appeal to me. Many schools don’t require their current teachers to give notice until mid-December, so many jobs may not show up until then. Just to give you an idea of the great variety of schools that will be present in London, I put together this quick-glance list for you.

Schools from these countries will be in attendance in London:

Angola – 1

Austria – 3

Azerbaijan – 1

The Bahamas – 1

Bangladesh – 1

Barbados – 1

Belgium – 3

Brazil – 1

Bulgaria – 1

Cambodia – 1

China – 19

China/Hong Kong – 6

Colombia – 1

Cote d’Ivoire – 1

Croatia – 1

Denmark – 2

Egypt – 5

Finland – 1

France – 1

Germany – 8

Ghana – 1

Hungary – 1

India – 5

Indonesia – 3

Italy – 7

Japan – 4

Jordan – 2

Korea – 4

Latvia – 2

Luxembourg – 1

Malawi – 1

Malaysia – 3

Malta – 1

Mongolia – 1

Morocco – 1

Netherlands – 1

Nigeria – 1

Oman – 3

Philippines – 2

Poland – 1

Portugal – 2

Qatar – 1

Russia – 1

Saudi Arabia – 3

Serbia – 1

Singapore – 3

South Africa – 1

Spain – 2

Sudan – 1

Switzerland – 7

Tanzania – 2

Thailand – 3

Turkey – 7

Uganda – 1

UK – 1

Ukraine – 2

United Arab Emirates – 7

USA – 7

 

It never ceases to amaze me at the opportunities that certified teachers have to teach and travel all over the world!

Which regions of the world pique your interest? Remember to keep an open mind. You don’t know what you don’t know.

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Bozo in the White House

bozoupclosePresidential.

Working among many international teachers, administrators, staff and families I was surprised that everyone seemed to know what was happening in American politics-sometimes more than I did. I learned that the world pays very close attention to the USA. I think it is safe to say that most people hold on to the hope that the USA will make the “right” decision on all kinds of issues. The United States provides a beacon of hope for freedom for many in the world.

While in Turkey, I thought of myself as an American ambassador: diplomatic, hardworking, respectful and honest. I was always aware of this and it caused me to be more careful in my actions and in my speech. I wanted to represent my country well. But sometimes I became upset and embarrassed about the news coming out of the USA. My Colombian friend used to laugh when I’d ask her to explain, once again, why I shouldn’t be angry over some of my country’s decisions. Time and time again she told me that she loved the USA. She explained that because of the USA, her country had made great strides over many years and was finally doing well. From her perspective, her native country was beginning to be recognized and respected around the world. She owed it all to the USA. This friend helped me see the USA from a different vantage point than my own. Because many of my global friends kept current with American politics, I became aware of the USA through their eyes, whether they saw “us” as the good, the bad or the ugly.

bozowallWith all this in mind, I recently attended an artist talk at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas. American artist, Kathryn Andrews, currently has an exhibition there called “Kathryn Andrews: Run for President“. Since my repatriation I’ve been stunned at the political arena surrounding this Presidential election. I’ve also been surprised to learn that my foreign friends are watching and wondering, with keen interest, who will be the next President of the United States. For me, I’ve been somewhat embarrassed as I try to answer their questions. When I walked into Andrews’ exhibition, I saw symbols that perfectly explained what I’d been thinking about this election season. Andrews investigates relationships between popular culture and power structures. There is a direct connection between politics, race and celebrity. The reality of this election season specifically comes to life through her artwork.

How might the results of this Presidential election affect you, as a teacher, in an international school? I hope you are paying attention because you will be asked questions from your soon-to-be- foreign friends.

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Yes. No. Maybe.

Yoyo.

You say yes, I say no
You say stop and I say go, go, go, oh no
You say goodbye and I say hello

Have lyrics ever been so perfect for job seeking? In the last week, I turned down an opportunity from an interested school administrator. And then, I was keeping my fingers and toes crossed for another posted opportunity, and today they said goodbye. Back and forth, like a yoyo and this rollercoaster has just started chugging down the tracks. Prepare your hearts, my friends, for battle. The scar tissue is beginning to thicken. People sometimes ask me, “Anita, where do you want to go?” Are you kidding? Once you choose this path, there is just no telling where you will end up. You have to embrace this great unknown as a blessing and cast it off to the universe to decide.

The world is a big place and there are many schools in it! These schools are filled with people: administrators, teachers, support staff, students and their families. What are they like? What is the facility like? What is the principal’s reputation like? It’s nerve-wracking when you try to imagine. How do you know what it’s like if you’ve never been there and don’t know anyone who ever has?

Obviously, the first place you go to find out information is the school website. Most reputable schools have beautiful sites with tons of information and photographs for you to look through. These colorful, well designed sites make schools look fantastic with pictures of happy students, computer labs, fun and activities, but what do the teachers really think?

On the International Schools Review (ISR) website you will quickly see their tagline, “International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed”. This website hosts an online community of educators and administrators that provide personal, anonymous opinions about many schools in the world.

The ISR website has much to offer that is free, but they also offer a $29/annual membership which allows further inquiry into the approximately 160 schools that have been reviewed. The website is free to browse until you want to post comments or look up specific school reviews. The fee is well worth it when you are researching various schools around the world.

On the home page of the ISR website is a tab called, “Forums”. These open forums are offered by ISR and they have great information. Simply by reading what others have posted you can learn a lot. When you click the Forums tab you will see two open forums. One is free; one is not. When you click the free, non-member forum, and after reading and agreeing to the Terms of Conduct and Posting Rules, you will see two FREE forums that you may read:

  • Questions About International Schools Services (ISS) and Search Associates (SA) to Anything and Everything About International Teaching
  • Ask Recruiting Questions, Share Information. What’s on Your Mind?

Both of these FREE forums have valuable information. In 2012-13, when I was searching for my first international teaching job, I read almost every entry, in both forums, from 2010-2013! This took months to do! I am currently reading all entries from 2015 and 2016.

The advantage of paying the $29 membership fee is that you are allowed to look up specific schools and read reviews. Approximately 160 schools are listed. Furthermore, you can also look up Director and Principal Reports. Even if you cannot find reviews on the specific school you are looking for, you can read and educate yourself about the city and the country that a potential school is in. Not only do people comment about a specific schools and administrators, they comment on how currency works, VISAs, taxes, cost of living expenses, recruiting job fairs and everything you can imagine!

One very important thing to consider is that many reviewers have been angry about something or someone at their school when they’ve written. There are often many more negative reviews than positive. Although this is important to take note of, it is also important to understand that when things are going well, people usually don’t write. People, in general, like to complain.

Another important tab on the ISR website is the Articles/Info tab. This will lead you to the International Teachers’ Bill of Rights. This is good to review before signing any contracts.

What are you curious about? Who else has used the ISR website?

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