Even with a very busy spring here at Teach Away, we still made sure not to forget dad’s special day. We all took the time out to celebrate with dad this Sunday, and hope you did too. Happy Belated Father’s Day to all the deserving dads out there!
With an even busier summer just around the corner, we would like to announce that the Teach Away Telegram will be on ‘summer vacation,’ and will be back to grace your inboxes this fall. Make sure not to miss our last issue of the season! Learn about the education-related charity that Teach Away made a donation to this month, and if you’re feeling extra generous, you can donate too! Parents heading to the UAE this August might appreciate a father’s perspective on bringing his wife and child with him overseas. And dads and dudes alike are sure to enjoy reading about the dos and don’ts when driving in Japan.
On behalf of Teach Away, we wish you a safe and relaxing summer vacation. Stay tuned for the next issue of the Telegram this September…
Happy Summer! -The Teach Away Team
In this issue:
June isn’t simply a great month for fathers – it’s a great month for Teach Away and for the non-profit organization, ACCESO International. Earlier this month, Teach Away held a fundraising party “of the millennium,” where friends and family came to show their generosity and, of course, to partied hard!
Given Teach Away’s goal of facilitating the flow of qualified, skilled educators to improve the quality of education worldwide, it seemed only natural that we get involved in a fundraising campaign which helps fund educational institutions in less wealthy areas around the world. So, we joined forces with ACCESO International, planned a party, invited everyone we knew, and raised $600 to donate to ACCESO.
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why you should teach abroad, or what difference it would make in the lives of your students, read the following interview to get inspired – to teach, to donate, and to apply online now!
Kathleen: Christine, could you please tell us about ACCESO International? What is its main purpose and how does it work?
Christine: ACCESO International is a Canadian international development organization that supports all levels of education from preschool to post-secondary in twelve countries mainly in Latin America and the Caribbean, and with one project for refugees and immigrants in Canada. The main purpose is to provide greater access to education through these three main ways:
a) Bursaries that cover tuition, transportation, school supplies, uniforms, backpacks, shoes, etc.
b) Teaching and learning materials for preschools, primary schools and high schools
c) Human rights training mainly for girls and women
K: Can you share with our readers what inspired you to start such a selfless organization? Who makes sure it continues running smoothly?
C: I was inspired to start ACCESO International because I was very grateful to have received scholarships to complete all of my post-secondary education, from my bachelors to my doctorate, and I wanted to share that privilege with students and families who struggle with access to basic education in countries where loan, bursary, or scholarship programs are not as readily available. I had also witnessed the sacrifices that families in countries, like the Dominican Republic and Peru, make simply to send their children to school. I was inspired by their determination and I felt compelled to support their efforts.
We are very well supported by a team of approximately 30 volunteers, the majority of whom live in the Ottawa area and are originally from the countries where we have projects. Our volunteers and board members are a talented group of mothers, teachers, engineers, lawyers, nutritionists, doctors, policy-makers, students, etc. We share the tasks in a non-hierarchical way and we collaborate based on consensus-building and parity. Volunteers contribute in areas such as project management, fundraising, marketing, translation, administration, etc.
K: What made you decide to focus primarily on education and literacy?
C: We believe that education provides life-changing opportunities not only towards employment, but also (and especially) towards greater self-realization, empowerment, independent thought, and therefore, liberation.
K: As you may know, each month Teach Away sends dozens of skilled teachers to countries in Asia and the Middle East to take part in what is becoming a worldwide phenomenon of teaching English and ESL abroad. As someone whose life revolves around education, what words of advice might you have for teachers, young and old, who are considering this life-altering move?
C: It is an opportunity of a lifetime, but it is one where you may be experiencing more life changes than creating them. Be open to being changed rather than assuming you will be changing others. As Westerners, we assume so much about our culture, language, and beliefs but we have much to learn from others. I recommend that you forge relationships with fellow world citizens as ones based on solidarity and mutual respect, rather than hierarchy and privilege, and the outcomes should be much more effective and meaningful for everyone involved.
K: Any final words on why our readers, most of whom are teachers, may want to donate a few of their hard-earned dollars to your generous fundraising campaign?
C: Education empowers and liberates. It enables people to lift themselves out of economic uncertainty, political instability and gender inequality. Supporting education through ACCESO International guarantees that 100% of your donation is allocated directly to our projects since administrative expenses are covered by the founder, her family, volunteers and corporate sponsors. So your donation is a direct investment in the lives of our students, their families and communities.
How to Donate:
For readers far, far away who wish they could have attended Teach Away’s Around the World Summer Kickoff and Charity Fundraiser, your donation is still very much welcome and appreciated. You can donate at: https://www.accesointernational.ca/english/donations.html.
The process of bringing our 4-month-old daughter to the UAE was a bit of a challenge. The fear of the unknown concerned us greatly. Would they have good, healthy baby food? Would we find a good pediatrician that speaks English? Aside from all the travel arrangements, along with packing, and tying up all the loose ends, the baby’s needs were always a top concern. I was faced with the possibility of traveling without my wife and infant daughter–until an exception was made for all nursing mothers. We were very pleased knowing we would be together in sharing this new experience.
After hearing of other teachers whose families had to wait 4-6 weeks before departing for the UAE, I was very grateful to have my family travel with me. We stayed in a resort hotel for 2 months, which was a nice experience to share. Even so, there are still some advantages to having your family come later.
• Due to the unbearable heat in late August, early September, we would not go outside until the sun had set; and still, it was very hot.
• Being that I was going to workshops and orientations every day, my wife and baby stayed in the hotel since it was too hot to leave.
• With no car for my wife to leave the hotel, we would need to take a taxi daily to go to one of the malls to eat and do some shopping.
My advice to parents coming to the UAE is to search for expat communities online. There is excellent information from people who went through exactly everything you are going through while you prepare to move abroad. They have jumped through all the same hoops and have already cleared all the hurdles. These same people are usually helpful enough to spare you all the wasted hours waiting around, going to the wrong places, and learning the hard way.
To go back to my worries above, there are great doctors here. If you don’t like a doctor, it’s as simple as going to another as we did. There is plenty of medicine available here, and you will never see a more abundant display of fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, and foods from all around the world at the markets.
Life is obviously different here. But I’ve learned that this is an ideal setting in which to raise a family.
Having a lot of free time has allowed us to grow closer as a family, and truly and wholly enjoy our baby girl. I would see this as the main difference between raising our child here as opposed to the United States. Getting home late in the afternoon, tired after a long day, and needing to then tend to the needs of a baby was something that we knew we could not escape if we stayed in the States. This is by far the biggest advantage of bringing your family here. In my opinion, this is a great place for a family to live.
For responsible dads and car-loving males and females alike, if you happen to be driving in Japan in the near future, we thought you might find it helpful to learn the rules of the road (instead of unknowingly break them). If you’ve already got yourself an international driver’s license—knowing you wouldn’t be able to spend a year (or more) away from the driver’s seat—we hope you aren’t too surprised by the large number of tiny ‘toy cars’ on Japanese streets and highways. With all those narrow roads, you’ll soon agree that good cars come in small packages in this small island country.
It’s always best not to be surprised when you’re on the road though, so we’ve compiled a nice list of dos and don’ts to ensure you aren’t caught by surprise (or caught up in some unnecessary road rage) while driving in your host country. Read on to learn what you should and should not do while you’re behind the wheel in Japan…
Do be aware of the ‘leaf sticker’ system. If you see a green and yellow leaf on the back of the car in front of you, that means that the driver has obtained his/her license within the last year. If you see a red and yellow leaf, this means that the driver is an elderly person. In both cases, it would be prudent for you to use extra care and patience while driving near these cars.
Do honk your horn (lightly) or flash your hazard lights to thank a driver for letting you pass by him/her on a narrow road, letting you in, etc.
Do stop to let pedestrians cross at marked crosswalks. Japanese drivers tend to be very considerate of pedestrians, and it is always best to try and conform to the customs of your host country.
Do wear your seatbelt in both the front and back seats of a car. Recently in Japan, it has become mandatory for those in the back seat to wear seatbelts as well.
Do take note of the difference between flashing yellow and flashing red lights. Drive with caution when you are nearing an intersection with a flashing yellow light. Stop and look both ways when you arrive at an intersection with a flashing red light.
Don’t text or talk on your cell phone while driving. Japan’s laws regarding this have recently changed and become much stricter, so don’t take the chance!
Don’t drink any alcohol before you get behind the wheel. Unlike Canada or the U.S., Japan has a ‘no tolerance’ law when it comes to drinking and driving. If you are caught after having had only half a can of beer, you will be fined, and could even lose your license (and your job!).
Don’t be surprised by a cyclist who “comes out of nowhere.” In Japan, many cities have small roads and high walls which make it difficult to anticipate who or what is coming around the corner. Also, due to fewer sidewalks than we are used to in North America, it is not uncommon to see a cyclist biking in the street in front of you. In case of collision between cars and cyclists, it is always the car driver who is at fault – no matter what the situation.
Don’t forget to get your tires changed when the season changes. Snow tires are a necessity in Japan as it is rare that roads would be plowed or salted, so winter driving can be difficult at times.
Don’t drive on the right side of the road! You will either need to get used to driving on the left side of the road, or just stick to what you’re used to – depending on where you’re from.