Random first meeting with my manager, 24 hours after arriving at the desert to teach English to a group of students.
Boss – You know, you have a very good attitude.
Me – Oh, thanks. That’s very nice.
Boss – How are you getting on?
Me – OK, but some of the students are honestly, very, very lazy. One of them swallowed a pencil sharper.
Boss – Really?
Me – Yeah. He took the blade out of it, and put it in his mouth and they said “Teacher, I go doctor.”
Boss – Oh, dear. What’s color?
Me – What?
Boss – The pencil sharper, was it the small red ones?
Me – Er, yes. I think so. It wasn’t mine, so I don’t remember. But…. yeah… maybe it was red.
Boss – You see Shane, there is a lot to understand about teaching these people.
Me – Yes. I can see that.
Boss – There are a lot of cultural differences you will find here.
Me – Yes. I don’t recall Irish people eating stationary. Although, I do chew a lot of pens. Haha.
Boss doesn’t laugh and continues….
Boss – You know, you have to be very sensitive to their culture. It’s important if you want to last longer that the other teachers.
Me – Yes. Sorry, I am correct in saying that the other 2 teachers before me, both got fired.
Boss – No. No. One got fired. The other three left and never came back.
Me – Three? Great.
Boss – No. It was actually very bad. It wasn’t great.
Me – I was being sarcastic.
Boss – British humor…
Me – I’m Irish.
Boss – You know that if you are sensitive, it will be a great benefit to you. It’s a good idea, not to insult them.
Me – Oh, right. Shall I write that down… haha?
Boss – You know, it’s a good idea not to insult their religion.
Me – Yes. I think most people everywhere generally don’t like that.
Boss – Or, don’t tell them to shut up. The last teacher always told them to shut up.
Me – Well, sometimes people need to be told. But I will try to avoid telling them to shut up and insulting them. I’ve planned to do that anyway.
Boss – Good idea.
Me – But is there anything specific I should know? You know, like for example, I didn’t realize they have 20 brothers and sisters. I really made a fool out of myself over that one.
Boss – Yes. We do.
Me – Or, you know, like toilet paper. They were laughing at me because I use paper.
Boss – Yes, well you know that we use the… the… hose.
Me – Yeah, but what if I make a…. you know…I tried to use it yesterday, but I need to work on my aim. I actually ended up giving my back a shower and then my hair got wet… haha.
Boss – It’s a good idea, if you just learn that, rather than discussing it. But you know, try to motivate them by taking an interest in what they like…
Me – Yeah. But what do they like?
Boss – Camel Racing.
Me – I see. Is that… a bit like…
Boss – Horse Racing. Yes. Except instead of using horses…
Me – They use camels…
Boss – Exactly, very interesting. You should watch camel racing.
Me – I’m not bothered about horse racing, but I suppose I can pretend.
Boss – Yes, yes pretend. Pretending is great. Pretend to be interested in them.
Me – Right. OK.
Boss – Also, discipline. Discipline is very very very important.
Me – Right. How so….?
Boss – No eating in class, no phones in class, attendance very important. Time keeping.
Me – Yes, but honestly, I teach adults so I can avoid that problem. I don’t like discipline. I’m kind of think they already should have it.
Boss – They don’t. You need to teach them.
Me – But isn’t that teaching children?…
Boss – Exactly… children that get offended very easily.
Me – If I tell them to shut up. Great.
Boss – Excellent.