Case Study: Brandon and Jennifer

A family in the Middle East

  • Names:  Brandon and Jennifer 
  • Subjects and level:  School Counselor, Middle & High School & Special Educational Needs Teacher

In what country are you teaching now and was it what you expected?  

BRANDON: I am currently working as a School Guidance Counselor in the United Arab Emirates and to date the experience has been totally AWESOME!  I am honestly learning as much from the students/parents/teachers within this culture as they are learning from me.  This experience has totally exceeded my expectations.   

JENNIFER: I am currently teaching in the United Arab Emirates. It is and it isn’t what I thought the experience would be. For instance, I expected the teaching experience in the UAE to be new and exciting for me and my students.  The students have not had much exposure to African American educators and some of them are very curious about me and my culture, which often leads to informative learning situations for me and my students. On the other hand, teaching in the UAE is different for me than it is for my husband. Being a tall African American woman often invites others to look, stare and sometimes comment on my appearance.  With this excessive attention comes and opportunity for (my students’ and I as well as other stakeholders in my learning community to engage in) deeper dialog about how we are more alike as individuals than we are different. Overall, the experience of living in the UAE is very new and extremely exciting. 

Why did you decide to teach abroad?

BRANDON:  I initially decided to work abroad because I wanted to travel with my family, but I also wanted to continue my work with students within the school.  So working abroad seemed like a natural and seamless transition.   

JENNIFER: About 3 years ago, my husband and I decided it was time for us to do something different.  We knew we wanted to travel and we both loved working in the field of education and desperately wanted to continue working with students. By working/teaching abroad, we could fulfill our dream of traveling the world and we could continue our passion of working with students’.  Working abroad seemed like an opportunity of a lifetime!    

Did Edvectus help you?

BRANDON:  I was lucky enough to cross paths with the one of the BEST recruiters on staff at Edvectus.  Through our long transition, from the US to the UAE, Mr. DeCoste (JD to me and my family) quickly became more than just a recruiter…He became an extended family member!  It is truly because of his attitude and honest responses to our concerns that we currently function as employees at this fantastic school today.  He was the deal maker.

JENNIFER: After locating the Edvectus website online, my husband and I created individual profiles, were assigned a recruiter and later conducted successful interviews.  Edvectus, primarily Mr. DeCoste (aka JD), was the driving force behind getting us hired in the UAE. 

Did you use the Learning Portal?  

BRANDON:  The learning portal was extremely helpful, but our recruiter was the driving force to our transition to the UAE!

JENNIFER: I am sorry to say that I did not spend much time on the learning portal.  Our recruiter wore many hats, one of which was the “learning portal”.  When questions were raised related to things that may have been covered on the portal, our recruiter (or my husband) simply pointed me in the right direction within the portal or emailed us the suitable resources. 

What do you like about your new teaching position and country? 

BRANDON:  I like the challenge of my new position.  As I embarked on this journey, I was encouraged (,by JD of course,) to look at this opportunity as an adventure into something new and exciting.  I reiterated this sentiment to my family and we have viewed this opportunity in exactly that way… What an ADVENTURE!

JENNIFER: What I like most about my new position is the overall excitement and enthusiasm of the student learners. They are learning as much from me as I am learning from them. 

Any advice for teachers going abroad for the first time?

BRANDON:  Think of this opportunity as an adventure into the world of education!  Open your mind into the world of other cultures and give of yourself and your culture with equal measure.   

JENNIFER: Keep an open mind and embrace this life changing experience.