Tuesday, December 04, 2012
I want to get something off my shoulders: I am not longer happy or as healthy as I should be in Russia.The last two months have been tremendeously stressful but I do believe in silver linnings and believe there will be a happy ending. I don't mean to be a dark cloud and this will overall be a positive blog---bear with me!
When I returned here in September I brought with me over 50 pounds of school supplies (which I bought!) and a month's worth of lesson plans I was bound determined to come back with my A-game. My first term in Russia had been trying no doubt. My students come from the new uber-rich (think private jets and vacation homes Dubai,) their parents do not speak English and these factors plus cultural values regarding education meant that students often would not show up for weeks at a time, letters sent home not read, children who through no fault of their own are demanding and snobby (like their mothers.) I offered every single parent a set of resources to help their child learn during the summer and no one took me up on my offer.
Nonetheless through a lot of patience and hardwork I saw those seedlings of progress and decided to return...I believe in commitment and doing the best job possible.
Almost as soon as I came back I felt different. It's not that things were different. The families still disgustingly wealthy, the school still under resourced, attendance sporatic. I was able to content myself with small victories last year but it just isn't enough now. I began to notice that *no* parents were visiting our class blog and the very lesson plans I created undermined to make room for yet another show in which students are forced (by Russian staff, not me) to memorise countless poems and songs to sing for their parents at pageants like show ponnies. Memorisation is not meaningful learning!
...and so I began to look for possible new opportunities in the coming new year. I have wanted to move to Germany for a very long time but this is a place that is actually very hard to secure work in so I knew it would not be easy. I also persued an opportunity in South America at a IB Kindergarten because it sounded like a good fit especially because I am a Spanish speaker.
Two months, 25 applications, four interviews for German prospects, five for the South American job and one site visit to Frankfurt later I am still without a "ja."
Can you imagine the stress and sacrifice? I am still reeling from an extreme dissappointment of the Frankfurt visit only two weeks ago. I was basically told a job was mine after I came to do observation---only to find out upon arrival that I was a plan B and the school seemed devoid of positive energy! 1000.00 dollars and a lot of stress (ok...anger at being lied to) came to nothing. I found out today that the South American job that I was top candidate for has been placed on hold until August 2013!
Oh yes and I was informed two weeks ago my contract is ending at the end of December. WOW!!! :(
How has my mental and physical health taken to all this stress/uncertainty? Well, we have a constantly filled drawer of cookies at the school---and I became the cookie monster! It is very hard to get fresh fruit and vegetables in wintertime Russia and I stopped making the effort to obtain them. I stayed up too late and begrudginly walked home from work (an hour.) It's that walk that saved me from gaining more than seven pounds.
Now the horrible thick ice and snow has returned (no walking,) and last week I was showing very serious physical signs of stress and was alternating between anxiety and depression. I'll tell you what I am doing about it in the next blog tomorrow....which will have a happy ending I promise :)