2nd Time Around Part 2

I knew that I would want to reapply. After all, I had mentally prepared myself to leave the states. So, I was on the hunt again. 

I ended up returning to my school (good thing I hadn’t resigned), and was able to continue to work extra duties for extra funds. I was also able to eliminate some debt that would have otherwise been lingering over my head while overseas. God surely works in mysterious ways. 

By the end of 2016, I had secured several interviews for 2017, had been offered a few private school gigs (that I would ultimately turn down), and was looking forward to undergoing the interview process yet again. 

Fast forward to February 2017. I had two (2) interviews scheduled in Houston: one with Edvectus for a private school position, and one with Teachaway. My Teachaway interview was during the week, so I had to make plans to leave heading down after work one day. The Edvectus interview was on a Saturday, so that didn’t pose much of a problem. 

Both interviews went really well. I was offered both positions. Both had appealing packages, as well as pros and cons with both. 

Some of the pros and cons of Edvectus: 

  • I knew where I would be placed and what grade I would be teaching, 
  • The salary was almost $1,000 less with Edvectus, but all utilities were paid, and the apartment was furnished, 
  • The school was fairly new, and I had been tentatively offered a leadership position within the school, 
  • A good friend of mine (Hey Kway) had moved to the exact region where I would be teaching, and was fairly familiar with the school, 
  • I would be able to leave when I wanted to, which would eliminate the waiting game. 

So, I had in my mind decided that Edvectus was a go. That was until I reached out to one of the ladies who had recently gone over to the UAE. Her offer had also been rescinded with mine last year, but she had secured a private school position. I asked her if she knew anything about the school and placement that I had been offered. Boy did she give me an ear full! After that exchange, my zeal and enthusiasm about accepting that position was pretty much extinguished! So, back to the notebook of pros and cons. 

Some of the pros and cons of the Teachaway position: 

  • I was familiar with the process and what to expect, 
  • All my documents had been authenticated and scanned, and were ready to be sent, 
  • The salary was much higher. Since I had another year of teaching at my current school, that also boosted the salary, 
  • I’d made friends and contacts with lots of folks working within the program since we had initially started the process together. They would be (and had been) my support system. 
  • Though much regarding the departure was unknown, I’d have contact with many people who had recently completed the process and could walk me through it. 

I had a serious decision to make. I talked over the pros and cons with my husband, and prayed on it. Both offers had to be decided upon on the same day. I ultimately turned down the position with Edvectus and returned my signed offer letter to Teachaway. Was I crazy? I deduced that ultimately God was in control, and prayed that the same thing wouldn’t happen twice. 

2nd Time Around Part 1

It’s been quite some time since I’ve last posted. Needless to say, a lot of has happened. For starters, I’m still in the Lone Star state, when by my calculations, I should be in the UAE. Things did not go as planned last year. 

On June 7, 2016, myself along with an unknown number of others received an email from our recruiters. For unknown reasons, our offers had been rescinded. At the time of the email, I was in Washington D.C. participating in an annual leadership conference for high school students. Needless to say, at that very moment, I couldn’t break down, cry, scream, or really show any emotion because there were 15 exuberant teenagers looking to me for guidance, direction, and hope. So, I did what every “strong” person does: suck it up, smile, and keep moving. My husband was also present with me at the conference. I showed him the email, and he was as equally disturbed as I was. He told me that I needed to find out what was going on. So, I found a way to sneak away for a minute. I logged onto the FB hopefuls group that had served as my insight into the UAE, and saw a flood of posts from others who had also been affected. 

Before I could reach out to my placement coordinator, she was calling me from Canada. She wanted to know if I had gotten the email, and if I had any questions. She also wanted to reassure me that I wasn’t the only person, that this had never happened before, and there were supposed plans in place to prioritize and transition those who had been affected to similar programs. By this time, the reality had set in that my plans to leave would likely not happen, or that maybe it wasn’t meant to be. My emotion finally got the best of me that night as I lay alone in my assigned dorm room at Georgetown University. I remember crying out to God asking why this had happened to me, how I should proceed, and if continuing to pursue this opportunity was even worth it. 

I was in for a ride that I definitely had not planned for. 

To Resign Or Not To Resign: The Conclusion

Over the next week or so, I rustled with the decision to resign. As much as I loved my school, the students, and people I worked with, I believed that my season at my current school had ended. So, why was it so hard to turn in the blasted letter? Allow me to introduce myself…

My name is NiaShanta and I’m a control freak. I like to know what I’m doing, when I’m doing it, who will participate in the doing, how long the doing will take, and what my role in the doing consists of. Long story short: I had to go with the flow.

I have no problem with going—okay I lied. I tend to have a problem going with the flow, which is why I had arrived at the predicament. Structure, stability, and security were all present at my current job. I had proven myself, worked my way up to a leadership position, and was no longer the little fish in a big pond. Leaving my district would not only thrust me into a new country on a different continent, but it would also thrust me into the sea of unknowns.

Fast forward to June 2, 2016. While obtaining signatures for summer checkout, I stopped into the library, and chatted with the librarian and instructional media specialist. I informed them about my impeding move. They offered a sense of comfort and support that I needed. Ms. Debbie, the media specialist, shared a story with me about her niece and her husband who had been living abroad for several years. Something about the story really resonated with me. She said that they had grown closer as a couple primarily due to the fact that they were all each other had. 

I slept on that story and really prayed for God to give me ultimate peace. I think I finally got it. Though I had secure employment, a place to return next year, and the assurance that I’ve always wanted, I truly believed that I needed to let go of my current season (job). I really believed that God was trying to teach me a lesson in surrender, and I didn’t want to fail.

To Resign Or Not To Resign? That Is The Question

After interviewing and being offered (and subsequently accepting) the position, I scheduled an interview to speak with my principal. I informed him that I had been offered a position, and that I was in the midst of the authentication process. Though sad to be losing me, he was very supportive. He, too, is a Christian and offered me a sense of peace. 

Fast forward to late May. The end of the school year is drawing nigh. Administrators are scurrying around trying to ensure that staffing is in place for the upcoming year. Contracts for the new year have been sent out, and many had been returned. Less one: mine. I went back and forth in my mind about whether I needed to return it. Though I had committed myself to Abu Dhabi, my security for the last six years had been at my school and my district. My analytical (and oftentimes controlling) mind likes stability. So, why on Earth wouldn’t I sign and turn in the contract? The last day to submit contracts arrived, and I submitted it. 

The next day I received an urgent message to come visit with my principal. He wanted to know the status of my departure, and determine if I was planning on submitting a resignation letter. A position in my department needed to be eliminated, and, due to my previous conversation about resigning, all was in place. The only problem was that I hadn’t resigned. I was very candid and upfront with him and he was with me also. I informed him that departure was imminent, but the specifics were unknown. He informed me that my position on campus would likely be phased out, but that I could be placed on at the adjacent fine arts academy next door. 

All was well. Or was it? If my desire to moved abroad was so strong, why couldn’t I turn in a resignation? What was it that was forcing me to stay in my comfort zone? Why did I need a plan when God had already made a way? 

Stay tuned for the next episode… (Okay Blog Post)

Hurry Up and Wait

After submitting all authenticated documents, the next email received is the glorious visa submission email. A sense of accomplishment occurs. You’ve completed the interview. You’ve accepted the offer. You’ve endured the authentication process. You’ve scanned your beautiful documents. Now you can breathe. Now you can relax. Now you can live. Right? Wrong! Now becomes the hardest step of all: the process of waiting. Waiting to find out your departure date. Waiting to leave. Waiting to be placed. This process can last anywhere from two months to twelve months.

This, my friends, this step, separates the real from the fake. 

Authentication

Disclaimer: The following post relates to authenticating documents in the State of Texas for the United States. Each state and each country has their own set of rules related to authenticating documents. Please view the authentication guide provided by your recruiter for specifics related to your country. 

After receiving an offer letter, the initial step is to accept or decline the offer. This is done by signing the letter, and emailing it back to your recruiter. The sooner the better, but I think there are seven (7) days to do so, but don’t quote me on that. After accepting the offer, then beginnith the arduous task of authentication.

My Spring Break started the week after I accepted the offer, so I made the most of the week off, and headed for Austin, TX (the state capital) to begin authentication. Oh, let me back up. Actually, before heading to Austin, I headed to the UPS store. Here are the four (4) steps of authentication for the U.S.:

  1. Notarize a COLOR copy of the highest degree conferred and teaching certification STEP ONE
  2. Take the notarized copies to the state capital (for me this is where Austin comes in) STEP TWO
  3. Take the authenticated documents from state capital and mail them to the US Department of State in Washington, D.C. (STEP THREE)
    1. Note: This is by far the longest step. The documents are mailed to a P.O. Box this is only checked once a week
    2. Absolutely be sure to send priority (for tracking purposes)
  4. Send all authenticated documents to the UAE Embassy in Washington, D.C. (STEP FOUR)
    1. Absolutely be sure to send priority (for tracking purposes)

So, back to my story. To cut down on costs, I decided to do all steps of authentication myself. Using the endorsed agency would have cost HUNDREDS of dollars, and I did not have that type of money. So, to Austin I headed. I met up with another hopeful (who I connected with on Facebook in one of the hopefuls’ group), and we both completed the Austin step (step 2). Each document cost $15 to be authenticated, so my total was $45. I had my teaching certificate, degree, and marriage license authenticated.

After completing step one and two, I progressed to step three. My three authenticated documents were sent to the US Department of State. Each document cost $8 to process. The wait was horrendous! My documents sat in the P.O. Box a week before even being processed. But, the silver lining was receiving personally signed documents from John Kerry a.k.a. the man who could’ve been the president of the United States!

After completing step three, I was finally on to step four a.k.a. the most expensive step. All documents were sent to the UAE Embassy in Washington, D.C. Each document cost $45 to process. Like individually. Like seriously. And they only accept postal money order or cashier’s checks. Luckily for me, I only had three documents to get attested. I feel for the people who have kids’ birth certificates, custody papers, etc to get attested.

Once the documents returned, they were bound together with a shiny seal from the embassy. DO NOT DISASSEMBLE. It will invalidate the documents. They are official being bond together.

The final step was to send COLOR scans to the documents department. Yes, you have to scan the front and back of EACH document without separating them. It is hard, but doable.

TIP: Use a flatbed scanner and PDF merge.

The entire process from start to finish took about five weeks, but saved me hundreds of dollars.