Thursday marked the end of my first year here in the Bahamas and my school. As an IB teacher, I’m always asking my students to review their process of reaching a goal, so it’s only right that once again I review reaching my goal of finishing a year.
Friends: I’ve made many amazing connections with wonderful people. Both those who have always called Bahamas home and those who call this island home for a short time. Looking backing I have many rich memories that I’m thankful for. There were a few goodbyes to say this year, which is hard. I’m always thankful that the hard goodbyes as the friendship was powerful. Next year will be even more and that I do look forward to.
Rowing: Early on I found a great rowing club that welcomed me in quickly. When the lungs are doing well, it’s a beautiful place to row. The friends through rowing are wonderful and nothing beats a 7AM sunrise while gliding across the lake. I’ve had to take a break due to the lung getting jealous of less time spent on them, but I hope to be back on the lake come Sept.
TOK: My co-teacher and line manager made this year fantastic and hilarious with this class. He trusted and pushed me to do more than I ever trusted myself in this subject. Every time we had to prep, talk about, or make decision for the class, I ended up laughing at something. This helps to realize everything will work out one way or another and the kids will learn in the end. Even if you have to force them.
Library Team: We made a good team after I started to figuring out what was going on. The team was nothing but supportive, helpful (buying batteries for me as I didn’t know where to go), and all around a great group. The conversations at the desk (when students didn’t need help) were between hilarious and very educational. Any question I had about culture, perspective, or life, most everyone was more than willing to help me understand what I didn’t. I’m grateful for the team I’ve walked into.
Housing: When I first arrived on the island, I didn’t have a place to live or really know a soul anywhere. During my first week I was treated to the hospitality and friendliness of many soon to be co-workers. Through a chain of emails I finally met my soon to be landlord and a cottage that I’m happily staying in. It wasn’t long before I started making connections to the local staff and making brilliant memories in the process.
Hurricanes: Not a fan. You spend a week preparing, stocking up, watching the weather channel, checking the apps, and by the time the storm is supposed to hit, your exhausted! Nassau was lucky this year as Irma turned and we were not hit, and really its was a good run through for me to know what to expect in the coming years. I can do snow storms, heavy rain, sand storms, but this was something else! The kindness of those around me really took me by surprise though, and that is part the memory that will stay with me.
All the TOK classes: So when I interviewed I had suggested I’d like to teach one class of TOK at the grade 11 level. This is what I was comfortable with and wanted to keep in the subject. When I got my schedule, I was co-teaching ALL the TOK classes. Fake it till you make it right? As long as the students believed I knew what I was doing, all was good. I’ve fallen more in love with the course and what it brings to each student’s education. At one point my co-teacher and I joked we needed to keep track of the students that cried in our class by tear drops on the wall. I also learnt more of who I am as an educator and she’s not all that bad.
Library: I’ve been less of a librarian than in the past 8 years. More of my focus has shifted to research classes, TOK classes and homeroom. While I do enjoy each aspect of my job here, I know I’ve neglected my primary passion of the library. With the team, we’ve made some small but powerful changes, but I want to do more. I want this library to really be the Hub of the school, to be a reading culture and to have several programs going on at once. This will be even more challenging as I immerse myself more in TOK and growing that program as well as trying to create a new research class for grades 9 or 10.
Culture: Any new place has cultural difference that takes time to get used to. Here for me it’s been the friendliness of everyone, the different pace of big business, and learning to say hello to everyone I interact with. The food has been good, sometimes on the spicy side. The local culture has history and I know I need to learn more about it and how the Bahamas is what we know today. The only really frustrating moments came when I was sick, trying to find my way through the back roads and having strangers asking me for money and then telling me off for not giving them anything.
Driving: They drive on the wrong side of the road, so I got a car with the steering wheel on the left. After a few days, I did get used to the switch, and most of the time I’m better with my right and left now! For anyone who’s known me, turning based on verbal commands of right or left does not always work out well. The only other thing to get used to is the potholes. They can take out your car if your not careful! I’ve had to used my skills of defensive/ aggressive driving from Dubai mixed with my skills of dogging potholes form NY. Life does work towards one common goal!
Health: This has not been fun. In Munich I had 3 different doctors tell me to find a hot climate with salt air such as FL. I thought I had done one better and found the Bahamas. As for breathing, this has been a rough and trying year to say the least. I started in Oct. with 2 tours of the ER, only to find out that the insurance didn’t really want to cover me as I have a preexisting condition. Thankfully the school worked hard on my behalf and got a waver for this year. The ER nurses were lovely but in the end I came home as I could do the exact same treatments they were doing just in the comfort of my own place. I was recommend the best lung doctor on the island, who on the second visit told me I’m above what he can help. Till now he’s being trying to get me on my feet, which hasn’t been easy. Several bouts of chest infections, antibiotics, and many days off just to work on the breathing. The team at work have been amazing and really supportive, but I’m beyond frustrated with what I seem to be getting worse. Currently I’ve back on doing the machine twice a day, oral steroids every day (low dose) and no hope of getting better according to those I’ve seen here. I had high hopes moving here for my heath but am learning to deal with that disappointment. There is always something new to try, and I’ll keep trying but sometime I just need to look at the reality and re-group on my next move forward.