Case Study: Vance

A Canadian family in Oman

  • Name: Vance
  • Subject and level: High School Chemistry
  • Citizenship: Canadian

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

I am teaching in the Sultanate of Oman. For those of us who like to travel, I don't suspect we'd bother to leave home if we always got what we expected. However, I must say that the widely-available guidebooks on doing business or living in the Middle East are helpful. There is little specific information published on Oman, but what little there is, is quite accurate. In addition, my school provided me with a sixteen-page document—before I was even offered the job—with a very candid portrayal of life in the town where I am living. My wife and I put in six months of research on what to expect when we arrived, so there have been few earth-shattering surprises; but I must say I'm glad we took the time.

Why did you want to teach abroad?

My family is pretty mobile; we go where the work is. We love travelling to new lands and the concomitant experience of having one's mind cracked open and infused with linguistic constructs, orientations to time and experiences of the divine that had been hitherto unimaginable. But at the end of the day, it really is about opportunity. There is a dearth of good teaching jobs in our part of Canada right now; but such jobs are plentiful abroad. So if one loves (or at least has the constitution to) travel, why not?

How did Edvectus helped you find your job?

After the initial screening interview to determine that I would be a good fit for the program, Edvectus moved very quickly to learn more about me, my goals, and the realities of my family. This was very positive—the more my agent knew, the better chance he had of finding a suitable placement. I think I had an interview with a school within a week or two. It was the job I wanted, and it was the job I got. Edvectus did the heavy lifting of finding the right match for my qualifications, my preferences, my personality, and my family's needs and goals.

Were the Learning Portal resources helpful in the job searching process? 

Yes—they were great places to start. The videos helped my family to decide that Oman was ultimately where we wanted to be, which helped us to know how to focus our efforts. Prior to Edvectus' program and discussions with my Edvectus agent, I had frankly never considered Oman as an option. I knew that it existed, but there was nothing in my experience that had suggested that it was a good place to go. I'm obviously glad that Edvectus went to the trouble to explain the realities of all of the countries where there were placements, because Oman turned out to be the right fit for my family.

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

I work at a very professional, student-centred, community-oriented school with high academic standards. Every school says that about themselves, but this one really works to achieve it. The kids are awesome. Compared to schools in the West, there are virtually no discipline problems—and those that exist are minor compared to what a lot of us have come from. There is a lot of mutual respect between students, faculty and staff. The level of administrative support for what I'm trying to accomplish is so high that most days I can hardly believe it. Morale is high, the atmosphere is positive, and I am given the resources I need, in terms of material and time, to do the very hard job that I have. For folks who are coming from a Western school, when you work here, you literally have to keep pinching yourself to be sure you're not dreaming.

Omani people are lovely. They are kind, gentle, patient and very open to your presence. They also expect kindness, gentleness, patience and openness. The whole society works on the basis of everyone being kind to each other, and for the most part, it works. This country is very safe. I haven't seen a firearm since I set foot on the ground, not even among the police, of whom I've seen maybe ten in the past six weeks. Children are welcome nearly everywhere with their families. There is virtually no "drama." It is a good place for my young family to be.

For Westerners, the only folks to whom I am remotely qualified to give advice: read, read, read. "I want it all to surprise me" is a very rookie attitude, and a very dangerous one. It will surprise you, no matter how much you read; you won't be disappointed. But you need to have some idea of what you're getting into. If you've never been out of the West before, talk to Westerners who have been to the region you are going, as much as you can, before you go. Decide before you make the commitment to a job that the conditions that are being described to you are conditions that you can live with.