Friday, November 2, 2012

Losing at The Game of Life

Asalamu Alaykom,

THE GAME OF LIFE shares its birth year with Bubble Wrap, the first Xerox office copier, the aluminum can, and the advent of the birth control pill in the United States.

Don't you hate when no one will process with you?

I have so many ideas in my head that I can't sleep.  Yes, it's after 2:00 in the morning.  Surprisingly all of Egypt is in bed (and it's Thursday so they're all making love) and I'm knocking my head against the wall.

Last night I couldn't get to sleep either.  I was thinking about Malaysia.  After a month of hearing NOTHING about a dream job, I got the email that I was going to be interviewed.  WOW!  It was like angels with harps appeared out of nowhere to serenade this sudden turn of events.

Yet, I had to keep going with my plan which was visiting one of the upper echelon schools of Egypt.  I was going to be tricky.  I wasn't calling to ask for an interview as an out-of-work teacher.  Noooooo!  I was going as the mother of a child...oh...and by the way I'm a teacher.

We toured the school.  It was a total shock.  For starters, our guides were extremely well-mannered and well-spoken young youth leaders at the school.  Seriously?  How many schools (in Egypt no less) would trust prospective parents to a 7th grade girl and a 9th grade boy?

It was clean.  It was quiet.  No one was shouting at kids.  It was beautifully decorated.  The classrooms had Interactive Boards and air conditioning.  There was a small prayer room for the girls and the boys were out on the field doing their prayers.


yes, of course there's a downside!

They were celebrating Halloween.  There was going to be a dance mixer.  It would be like this if I once again made my way into maintream education.  On the other hand, I have only walked away from two schools ever and they were both Islamic!  What is up with Islamic schools?

Let's talk price.  Alhumdulillah I was totally oblivious to the spiel from the receptionist.  I just smiled and nodded.  Yes.  Yes.

Totally reasonable.  I walked over to the waiting area with my boy and whispered to my husband, "Six thousand is good."

"No," he countered, "It's six thousand DOLLARS."

Ohhhhhhhhhhh.  Gotta get those glasses!  I opened up the heavy triptych of a promotional booklet.  Where was that brochure?  The History Brochure.  The Pathway to University Brochure.  Ahhh yes!  The Admission Brochure.

Yep.  Upon opening it I could squint just enough to make out tiny little dollar signs.

Ya.  No.  Can't afford the place.

Then my brain started working in overdrive.  If I were to get hired and got a half-price tuition and then got some money from his dad in America and then...

Of course, I reasoned...I didn't need to think too hard about it because I had that interview about Malaysia at 2:00 (and that would be pm not am).

We continued the tour.  I saw the cafeteria which offers a daily hot meal for 14.00 which I can only assume now was pounds but maybe I better double check to make sure.  It would be double what I'd normally feel comfortable spending.  I know the cost of chicken pane and it ain't that much.

As we went on, I really would try to write off the whole idea but would find compelling reasons to keep some hope alive.  The library was one of those wonderful moments.  I have never seen such a beautiful school library in Egypt. It was light, bright, and well organized.  I mean...the picture books were organized by level.  BY LEVEL!  Children are actually tested and they can come

hold on

I think I might cry

they can come TO THE LIBRARY

and they can

deep breath


and it's going to be


wait....I'm not finished

after they are done with the book

and I mean they get to TAKE IT HOME

they get to bring it back and get a computerized test on it for reading comprehension.

Isn't that beautiful???

Is there any other book lover out there who wants to spend $6,000 to have that experience for their child?

If you don't live in Egypt, maybe you don't understand the significant of that vision I had of Mr.Boo enjoying an actual lending library.  See...there are no lending libraries in Egypt.  Yes, I know that Alexandria is famous for its ancient library but basically that was IT for Egypt.  Not even school libraries seem to lend their books out.

I would love to start a library for the village community where I live.  I loved libraries as a a a woman and as a mom.  Oh whatever!  Truth be told I adore libraries.  I thought of becoming a librarian (but you have to stay quiet and I can't).  I love bookstores too but you have to spend money there and I love FREE more than I love spending money.

What I didn't love is the regimented nature of the place.  Sure, Stepford kids are fun for a while but you want them to spring a leak or pop a wire in order to revert to a child with some personality.  Mr. Boo is personality plus and I'd hate to have a school erase that in his character.

One way they do that at the school is to test the hell out of them.  TEST!  TEST!  All the time there's some formalized fill-in-the-blank going on.  I hate tests.  HATE TESTS.   Why would I want my son to go through that more than is necessary?  Why would I want to be an educator who teaches to tests?  There's so much more to life than regurgitation.

Another thing I didn't like is the 10th grade conundrum.   When these young impressionable minds hit the 9th grade then they have to get ready for the rest of their career life.  The school starts specializing the students in the 10th grade so by the end of 9th grade you must sign up.  You MUST choose literary track or scientific track.  Bada BING!  Bada BOOM!  I don't like that the exploration is done.  You are soooo unformed as a teenager.  Why program the rest of your life when you are a big baby?

It was time to go.  We got another taxi back.  Almost a 100 LE to see the school.  YIKES! No job yet I'm spending money like I have money.  I had to make it back for that interview.  Even though my hub wanted to talk about what we had just seen

...and I'll tell you that he was HIGHLY impressed...

I couldn't think of anything except how to get onto Skype as fast as I could.  I was almost getting a headache  by charting my course of actions.  So, we made it home and I did my best only to find...

(there's a lot of ellipses in this post)

the recruiter for Malaysia had sent me an email turning me down.  There was not going to be a Skype interview.  I was out of the running.  I had told him the truth:  my American driver's license had expired.  They needed someone starting rright away to drive all over hell and back supervising Malaysian teacher's methods in the classroom.  It had to be with a valid license so I was no longer a candidate.  It had been a dream job and it had POOFED away from me.

Almost cried!  Didn't.  The azan sounded just then and it pulled me out of the dumpster.

I still don't have a job.  My son still doesn't have a school.  It's November.  It's taking waaaaaaaay longer than I ever thought.  I've been let down about eight times in this process.  Alhumdulillah.  I'm still saying, "Alhumdulillah."

So, the moral of this story is...keep loving, keep creating moments, keep believing, and keep hoping that Allah's plan for you will be easier than the plan you keep trying to force into existence.  Inshahallah I'll be able to see the truth for what it is soon enough.  Ya Rab!


Thankful Slave said...

Assalam Aleikum Sis. Yosra,

If I were you, I would start by securing a place in a school for your son asap.
Then, why not go back to your old school (the one you just left), and once in there, you could make your searches for better place?..May be your rizq was there but you just let it go..
In my upcoming blog entry, this is all about this, and bottom line would be : "don't let a job that Allah Gave you unless it completely turns against you"..

It's never too late to rectify this situation if you can, try to put any ego aside, you are not losing at the game of life at all, rather you have been doing very good so far masha Allah, life is about struggles and ibtila, just say patient and after hardship, will come the ease!..
May Allah Grant you the job you aspire,



Anonymous said...

Assalamualaikum sister.

I have been meaning to write ever since the topic of school/job was raised by you. I know you have high admiration and full conviction that American school system is the best in this world and would wish your child to be in such system (wink wink).Some of us here in Malaysia, are working just as hard as you to send our children to learn tahfiz in Egypt...although some are also working hard to send their children to the US or UK. What I'm trying to say perhaps tahfiz school is good (in term of making him hafiz in young age and i guess the price should be affordable too) for Mr Boo for time being.At the same time, you home school him for the normal school subjects. Perhaps in 1-2 years inshaAllah he finishes his tahfiz and you are more stable in career and financially, he can then pursue back into the mainstream and inshaAllah with a degree of Quran memorization. Just to highlight, many great scholars of Islam who contributed to science and maths are also Quran memorizer.
I concluded from your entries that you are not a big fan of memorizing techniques but that has been the techniques used by Muslims since the Prophet(S) time. I wouldn't know the religious school system there in Egypt but ours in Malaysia seem practical for some parents who wants both duniya and akheerah for their children. Last but not least, I'm merely suggesting to you to look into the option of tahfiz/religious school there in Egypt as a paradigm shift? and sorry i have to spell this out: American/western systems are not the best one can get...but from the sound of it, you are a good teacher :)


Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam TS,

Ameen to your du'a.

I agree that my son needs a place. The amount of paperwork involved with switching schools is really amazing. It's a two-week task. It is not easy. But even more than that, it's not easy on my son and I to switch. I can't be wrong again. So, with that in mind, I will continue looking but not jumping.

It is frightening to think that I have risq out there and I'm not realizing it. It hurts me. May Allah make the path clear.

I do feel that the last two schools (the international one I worked for three years and the Islamic school I was only at for one month) both were unmanageable for my son and I. My litmus test is whether or not my iman is getting depleted. In both places, it was.

I continue to work at this. Inshahallah, some break in the clouds will come.

Thank you for voicing your thoughts. I need some!

Wa Alaykom Asalam GC,

Love that you are writing from Malaysia! :) It looked really great and I was totally thinking of going there. Ahhh well. Someday inshahallah.

Your points are very interesting and memorizing Quran for Mr. Boo is a thought. I will look into this inshahallah.

I am not against memorizing Quran. I just have a hard time doing it. Don't we all?

What I don't like is memorizing facts in school and spewing them out. Knowing how to give an answer is not the same as knowing a concept. I teach towards concepts and real life applications---not computerized tests.

Alhumdulillah I do feel I'm a good teacher. I would love a good opportunity to use the talents I have. Inshahallah.

For you also, thanks so much for voicing thoughts. Sometimes (like now) I really need some input.

Love and Light to All!

Thankful Slave said...

Thank you Sis.Yosra, I am sure the situation are in is certainly not an easy one, and I understand your concerns for the right spot for your son.

Just as a thought, have you considered posting an advert in the newspapers and offer private tuition for ladies? I am sure there are many people out there searching to learn English, you could start making a good living from that and then take it from there..
Many of my family members are teachers/lecturers, and some of them are really making good living with private tuition..

Keep it up and never ever give up!


Anonymous said...

Assalamualaikum again sister.

I should make some comment indeed about your unsuccessful Malaysian interview. I presume, it would be great indeed to be able to go or migrate to Malaysia on your behalf,if it is a comfort to you, i can say it is also a lost in our part for not being able to make full use of your talent and dedication to teach Malaysian children/teachers.(I'm not in any way related or know about the organisation that contacted you) I'm just a mother who if there is opportunity, would love to have you as my children's teacher (and my friend too :) )
Anway, all in Allah's hand and we agree He knows what is best. May Allah grant your doa to come and live in Malaysia one day and there are many Malaysian students in Egypt who can perhaps gives you more idea about the people and the country.
As of difficulty in memorizing Quran.I agreed fully. That's why it has to be full time job (get into a madrasah or study with muaallim) and young minds are like sponges which can absorbs better and faster, thats why its better to be done when they are young. As a saying goes, perhaps by Umar RA, teaching Quran to your children at young age is like carving on a rock.
May Allah make your task and my task easy and make us among the sabar always. Ameen


Mai said...

As salaamu alaykum.

I might be missing something really big and key here, but why don't you homeschool Mr. Boo? And why not do some kind of private tuition work, which I know there is plenty of demand for, for some income? There is so much to be said for freedom.

In this way, you control your child's education and have a chance to grow as well, especially when it comes to his Islamic studies, inshaa'Allah. Also, in doing private tuition, you will have more time for your family and have the freedom to schedule classes when it suits you.

I homeschool our children, although I don't have or desire a job/career at all alhamdul'Illah. We do Islamic studies in the morning from 8-12 noon (4 different areas)and mainstream subjects in the afternoon. It is a far more dynamic day than schools have ever offered and I feel every day is validated, pleasing to Allah in both our Islamic growth and making the connections in secular education with Islam. It all becomes worship, mashaa'Allah.

It is a beautiful thing to be able to teach well. I say that because I went back to college for Elementary and Early Education myself, when my oldest daughter was 1 year old. However, I did it so I could educate my own children. Considering the rights they have over me and my accountability for them, who could deserve the best of my abilities more?

I'm not much of one for giving so much advice...Allah is the Knower of His Plan for you and the Guide. However, if there is a chance that this is part of that Plan and I'm the messenger, then at least I gave you my little penny.

Sometimes you have to go all around the mulberry bush to get to what Allah means for us...better enjoy the mulberries in the meantime!

Umm Timo said...

I agree 100% about the library situation. There is 1 library in all of Bahrain where you can check out books (others belong to uni's). The lack of reading material is driving me crazy! Have you though about teaching in the GCC? The pay is excellent and even international schools follow Islamic principals (not all, but a lot).

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom TS,

Please forgive my lateness in replying to your thoughtful suggestions. Every time I sat down to reply something happened (electricity going out, a minor emergency in the home). Eventually, I decided to let your ideas sit in me. Sometimes we need to do that.

I really did ponder why I'm not going after money right now. Actually, money is very seldom my main motivator. People (like at my last school this fall) who want to dangle promises of money or who threaten taking it away just don't faze me. I'm not about the cash.

Alhumdulillah, we do have enough to live on for a very long time. I do not feel the immediate pressure to earn money. More than that, I feel the need to get my boy back into the social aspect of school. Academically, he's fine this year to sit at home learning from me (maybe better).

My focus, therefore is not to earn quick cash but secure a future---for both of us.

The amount of money I could earn from tutoring is between 20 LE an hour from the few middle class families in this area. I've tried that. It is hard to keep on a schedule with Egyptians. They are always off schedule and forcing you to go along with them. This means that your one-hour for their family takes up a two hour slot. So, really? I end up getting paid 10 LE an hour (if you look at it from that point of view...and I do).

If I were to tutor outside of this area, I could go where the very wealthy are and earn between 60-80 LE an hour. BUT that's a 45-minute ride and it's with their driver so I'm at their mercy and their schedule. I've done that. On my last day trying it, I was rushing around to get to the street on time AND the driver forgot. So, I don't get paid when people forget, cancel, postpone. It eats up my time and my life. I hate stuff like that.

Again...if I was really suffering for money, you better believe I'd go through hell and highwater to provide for my family. At this point, alhumdulillah, it's about regaining my strength. I need to fortify my resolves. Your kind suggestion helped me, in a way, to think through where I've been (scrambling to earn money) and where I am now (fine alhumdulillah).

Love and Light to You and Your Family!

Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam GC,

Thanks for such nice thoughts! Really, I agree with them all. Malaysia is not impossible. If I am meant to go there then I will inshahallah. It's all about God's plan and not being so tight about the time frame. Allah knows the right time for everything.

I am considering the thought of Mr. Boo learning Quran at this time. He knows some, of course, but I'm talking about your idea for studying to be a hafiz. Again, I'll do my best and leave the rest to God :)

I appreciate your sound advice.

Love and Light!

Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam Mai,

Funny you should mention homeschooling! I've just been hand-delievered the workbooks for today. They are sitting on my lap while Mr. Boo grabs the chair. Yes, we are going through his old workbooks and making use of the time. I do this year round, actually. I will always be the primary teacher for my children----well, maybe I can release that duty to the university professors who have my big boy now. But, for my little guy, I'm truly going to be more important than the classroom teachers. I don't really see that I'm doing something new now. It's what I've always done. The difference is that he's missing out socially. I don't agree with homeschooling for us on this point. He's very outgoing and needs that outlet. Inshahallah he'll get something soon---as will I.

I adore your positive attitude---always have :) It's like a B12 shot.

Love and Light!

Wa Alaykom Asalam Umm Timo,

Glad to hear from another ex-pat book lover! It's such a strange thing, isn't it? Only one library in Bahrain? Wow! That's some weirdness. I come from such a well-read state in the U.S. Thank God for Kindles! I hope you have one loaded up over there. If not, figure out a way, Girl. It's a BLESSING!

Love and Light!

Anonymous said...

Salamoh Alikom,

I am a new reader to your blog.

I wanted to comment on some other things, but my net keeps disconnecting.

There are some lending libraries in Egypt. I also thought there were none and when I am in EGypt I feel like I am starving in more ways than one lol. I lived in my hometown library. :) Went every week and came home with a stack of books. Here I have nothing. Its so sad for me. I love libraries!

Is there a way to email you. I wanted to ask you something. But didnt want to post it here. I am a Muslimah living here in Egypt too by the way.

Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam New Reader,

Nice to have you here. For SURE you're in Egypt if you're dealing with disconnecting 'net.

I hope you brought a Kindle! I didn't have one the first two years but spent that second year lusting after one. I know that "lust" is a strong word but I totally mean it. I was voracious for books. I would pass by dirty used books on the sidewalk for sale and make my husband stop. Sad. I was a junkie without a fix. Alhumdulillah, with a Kindle I'm satiated. You can't buy it within Egypt. You have to buy and then bring it here. The downloads work fine (I was a little scared about that). I have the WiFi version so I can also surf the 'net with it...but it's not that easy (you have to be a little desperate).

So, you're the one who wanted to email me, eh? I appreciate your persistance. It is hard to make friends here or even connections of any sort. Truly...not even one bit of a last agreement to email went so badly that my life was adversely affected for months. I am totally hestitant to connect through this blog again.

BUT here's what I'll can send a comment with your question. I won't print it. And if you are really reticient to do this, then post it on some blog entry from long ago---it shows up in my comment verification along with the others for recent entries. I can respond to the comment you've left for me under the same entry. It's very covert and I'm sorry for that but once bitten; twice shy.

I hope you can understand.