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«  October 2014  »

My historical background: I am American by citizenship, but I was born and raised in Burundi, Africa. After living and working in America for over 18 years, I moved to 

Bahrain as a Mathematics Teacher at Abdul Rahman Kanoo International. After two years in Bahrain, following a friend’s piece of advice, I applied for a teaching position to Nazarbayev Intellectual School (NIS), and I have been working at NIS Shymkent (Physics and Mathematics) for the past one and a half months. Below is a short account of my day-to-day life here in Shymkent.

My very first impression is that Shymkent has some of the nicest people I have ever met: everywhere I go, people extend their hand to help me. Because of my language barrier, I have to ask so many questions, whether it is at the store, at the bank, or in a restaurant. People try to communicate with me so that they understand what I need, and they are always ready to help me. I experience this act of kindness at school or in my neighborhood. Fellow teachers, at school, have given their time to take me to the bazaar or to the airport so that I could get what I need. This has happened on several occasions. On several occasions, I have met people who have gone out their way to interpret for me when I needed to explain my needs.

My second experience had to do with my job. NIS has made me feel welcome in Shymkent: for the first time in my teaching career, I have felt appreciated by the teachers, the administrators and the students when they planned the teachers’ Day ceremonies. From the start of the day, I and other teachers walked between rows of students who applauded and sang in appreciation for our job. The ceremony had been so well planned until the Teachers’ Day party where we ate, dance, and mingled with other teachers. That special Day will remain engraved in my memory for a long time. I even shared my feelings with several of my students.

Finally, I co-teach with the local teachers. We planned our lessons together on a regular basis. Despite our language barrier, we always discuss together various ways of helping the students. Together with my co-teachers, we are slowly moving toward student-centered teaching techniques where the students work cooperatively with their peers. We still have a long way, especially when it comes to communication, but I strongly believe that we are moving toward a common purpose. As a final thought, I personally feel lucky to be in Shymkent during this period: I am always amazed by how our students switch from Kazakh and Russian to English in their instruction. I do believe that this is just the beginning of very bright future for them. Here are some photos to illustrate my classroom experience with the students and some part of the Teachers’ Day activities.

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