Why Is Saying Goodbye Hard?- Last Days of Venezuela

Goodbye Friends.

Hope to see you soon. It was a pleasure to work with you. We won’t say goodbye but see you later. This is truly the hardest part at the end of a school year.  It is the time of the year where you know you may never see this person again. You hope you do and some friendships can last through social media and WhatsApp. Maybe a few relationships will continue through Skype. You could also be lucky enough to work with another international teacher in another country in the future. Maybe you will both travel to the same country? But the realization that the last days at a school still hurt each time and it does not get easier every time. It gets harder because the hope you have that all the beautiful friends you met here may never talk to you again. It is hard realization.

 

Tips for this hard moment

  1. Find a way to keep in contact. Both parties should agree if keeping in contact is through Facebook. Maybe, you decide you will skype occasionally? Like family members back home, make time for those who are truly special to you. Exchange contact information or update your contact information as you change countries. I find comfort in knowing I can speak to the amazing friendships I made in Kuwait and China. So, knowing that I have lifelines in Venezuela feels good. I make it a goal to send a message to my close friends bi-monthly. Yes, sometimes I miss a month. But I want them to know I am thinking about them. I also want to keep up with their lives. Although we do not live in the same country, I want to know all the new adventures they are going on. Even if their adventure is binging on Netflix! I binge on that too!
  2. If you can or have the ability to plan a face-to-face visit, do it! I met my best friend in China. I have seen her every other summer since we met in China. Or is it every summer? Either way, both parties tried to make sure we see each other for at least a few days. It does feel like you start from where you left off. You laugh at the moments you experience together. But you also celebrate how different your lives are now. I know my BFF is a mommy of twins. She moved to a new state and recently went back to school to further her degree. I am traveling the world still and did end up meeting the man I will marry. Both of our lives took a great and unique direction. The most important aspect is we celebrate each other for what they are doing now! She also has never made me feel guilty for my choice to work abroad. It is sometimes the easiest to talk with her because I am not expected to fit her mold of a successful life.
  3. The hardest part for me is comparing new friends and colleagues to previous friends and colleagues. Everyone is different. All the friendships that you form will be different. One close friend, I only speak to twice a year, but that is A LOT! While others I message virtually monthly. I also compare how the friendships turn out. I remember thinking in Kuwait. “Wow, I like working with non-teachers. They are easier to get along with.” I move to Venezuela. “Wow, I like working in a larger school. There is more opportunity for friendship.” But, China was only 8 foreign hires in the city! I find myself also looking at the greener grass instead of celebrating and appreciating the green grass I have in my life. I am sure in Mongolia, I will wish I have a Mongolian mommy who loved me like one of her daughters.

 

Stay Positive

While everyone cries the last day, stay as positive as you can! Make sure you give and show the love to the people who matter to you in the school year. Make sure they know how much you love them. This can be gifts. But this can also be just your warm presence.

 

Remember and talk about all the fun times! Remember and thank them for all the times they stuck by you and helped through that difficult time. Remember that they were an intricate part of your life and it is your decision to decide if they stay that way. Obviously, it is extremely difficult to talk to all the staff you worked with. However, I do find that I have a close relationship with 2-3 people a year.

 

I found myself done this over the past few years is pull away. I think this is a protection strategy. I know I will cry but I do not want to cry in front of people. It is a fear, but I always find I cry in front of people once during the year. I cried yesterday, so maybe I can stay strong until I get home. Peter get those tissues ready!

 

Letter to My Venezuelan Momma

Dear Daniela,

Since last year, maybe you did not know it, but I always felt the closest to you. I felt like we are the same person but born a few years apart and in different countries. Over the course of this year, I met your beautiful family and fell in love them as well. You are truly and beautiful person. Although my Spanish sucks and you believe you speak like the step mom on Modern Family, we found common ground and love that can’t be explained or taken away. I send my prayers every day for you and your family and I hope that one day we meet again. Maybe in Venezuela! Maybe in the USA! But, I still hope and pray that our paths will cross again. I hope we WhatsApp throughout this time apart and I hope we continue to find common ground and connections miles and countries apart. I will love you and your family forever!

Love,

Krissy

 


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Venezuela- Weeks of Protests

Weeks

Weeks of protests. Weeks of lives being put on the line. Weeks of crazy virtual school and half day schedule change. Weeks where I was expected to help my students continue learning. TWeeks of feeling like the students are silently suffering. Weeks of hearing they are worried about their parents. Weeks were the more privileged children do not understand how many people are truly starving in Venezuela. Weeks of feeling like I am locked in my apartment for safety. Weeks where tire burning roadblocks only directly affected my hill twice.Weeks were no change was actually made by the government.

These Weeks have been extremely hard to continue teaching. I do not think parents realize how much their kids understand and see. I had to use a lot of printable resources so work will be done in virtual school. I felt like I was just giving work for the sake of work. However, TIMESAVERS for TEACHERS.com specializes in printable, spelling activities, worksheets and downloadable teaching materials designed to save teachers valuable time. This also was helpful for parents working with their students. I used so much work with these documents which saved me a headache of having to explain projects to parents. Virtual School is hard enough without having issues of parents not understanding the work due to many of them only speaking Spanish. Also to save from headaches, I used these Find affordable early childhood curriculum resources to meet each child’s individual needs and prepare for kindergarten.Educators only…Guided Reading Short Reads Bundles Save an additional 10%. I can’t express enough having materials ready and set made these difficult days easier to send to parents.

Continue reading “Venezuela- Weeks of Protests”

International Schools- Virtual School

Does Virtual School Work?

Whenever you work in a new country, you start to realize how the United States in many ways has figured out to be a stable country. Many friends, who have only traveled to Europe, are the only people who would disagree. They might mention are terrible public transit in the United States or how education is not up to par. But working and living overseas in obscure places has taught me that the United States has a lot figured out.

Working overseas many teachers will teach the elite of the country. Venezuela was no different. I only taught truly local kids in China when I made $800 dollars a month. International teachers make enough to save but sadly do not teach the true middle class without taking a pay cut to the salary.

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Blue Whale Challenge- Prevent, Preserve and Protect

If you’re a Momma and you haven’t heard about this challenge quickly look up your son or daughters phones if they are in Elementary school. That is Kindergarten or above. A new challenge that youngsters talk about is called the blue whale challenge. It is an extremely scary and dangerous.

It started in Russia. The man who started has been imprisoned, however, it has not stopped overs from copying his antics. This challenge plays off of grooming like sex trafficking does. Differently, your child is not taken by another person they are encouraged in a span of 50 days to commit suicide. This is through grooming efforts online having them complete weird but innocent tasks the first few days and they progressively get more violent, includes self-harm, watching extremely violent content while waking up at wee hours in the morning. And the final day with the selected members, the last day in order to win the challenge the youngster is encouraged to commit suicide to live a happy life and not face the evil things in the world they have witnessed through online content. They are also encouraged to clear all their history and contact with the group a day or two before it happens. So catching it early is crucial.

Like sex trafficking, it is hard to completely prevent this from happening. It requires a lot of people on board, not just the mom and dad. Children do go through phases of not liking their parents’ decisions and finding them difficult. However, blaming the parents and teachers on this is a bit rough. What we can be doing and should be doing is constantly talking about internet safety with our children and having discussions about what is age appropriate and not. We should discuss what kinds of behaviors crazy dangerous people who want to sex traffic children or who will invite for the blue whale challenge look for. Knowledge is power. Students will remember these conversations when faced head on with the problem. The 3 seconds extra a child thinks about what they are doing can be the difference of falling for a trap and saving their lives.

Speak to your child about online safety and what that means. Get acquainted with how and who predators are attracting. I believe the biggest skill you can teach your child is confidence in themselves and love for themselves. With these two qualities, predators have a more difficult time. Also, have your child come up with 3 to 5 people as their inner circle to speak to whenever they feel uncomfortable about something in real life or over the internet. If they have a group of adults who put the child’s best interest at heart, guidance from the adult can help a child overcome challenges they may face. Make sure these adults understand to take everything your child says seriously and to tell you after he/she confides in them.

Tell your child they can confide in you about other children. I know most of the time, a child will tell their best friend something before a teacher. This way, you can update the teacher what you heard and he/she can continue with a report.

It is best to be proactive than reactive to problems.

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Checklist for Moving to A Foreign Country- Easy to Follow

Moving abroad can be hard. Especially saying all of those goodbyes can break hearts. But this checklist makes packing for you new and exciting adventure easy. Remember, ask what products are in the country and what you can find. The less materialistic you are the easier it is to live anywhere.

      1. Passport with at least 6 months validity. (You can always get a new passport once you move to a new country at the USA Embassy. Make sure you fill the new job’s requirements. Sometimes they would like at least a year.)
      2. Clothes for the seasons you will be living in. I always found I could buy clothes abroad. China is harder the heavier you are or for bigger sizes. I could only find form fitting clothes there and during my time in China, I preferred baggy clothes.
      3. Keep all important documents in two places. I bring a folder with me with ALL my health checks and documentation. Copies of my passport, birth certificate, Social Security, Credit Cards, and anything else important. I also keep a copy at home. Therefore, if something happens I have two copies made and can fix any paperwork dilemmas quickly. I never needed to thus far. But you never know. I know many countries want you to get an STD check. Clicking the link, you get $10 off your purchase. http://www.stdcheck.com/?coupon=10OffOrder
      4. Figure out the top 5 things you can’t live without. Ask if you can find these products or brand names in the country your moving to. If you can’t bring at least a 6 month supply. If shipping is not good, bring a 10 month supply so you have those items and feel comfortable and at home.
      5. Money to exchange or local currency. I would say about 300 to 500 dollars for the first month of working can have you be fairly comfortable and depending on where you move can help set up a few things such as new furniture (if you are a nester) or pieces of artwork. This will come with time but it is not to not feel like your waiting for a paycheck.
      6. Ideas and plans for travel. As an international teacher, you get more breaks than I feel my United States friends do. You also have enough money to get in a few international destinations check off the bucket list. Having a few ideas of what you want to see is great. Air tickets are cheapest about 8-6 weeks before travel. Also, check what kind of visas are needed for tourists and most of the time this paperwork can be done in a host country. If not get VISAs over the summer for your bucket list destinations.

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    1. Charity thinking: Ask the school if there is something the local teachers need. They love getting goodies from their international teacher friends.
    2. Ask the school if school supplies are needed to purchase. What can you find in the country? What would you need to bring?

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Teaching in Venezuela- The Good, The Insane, The Danger


I will miss Venezuela when I leave in June. However, protests, economic disaster, tires burning as road blocks, and the fear of being robbed will not be missed.

 

To say the least, my two years teaching in Venezuela have been exciting. I had a near mugging experience at 7:00 AM waiting for the school bus to drive up the hill to take me to school. I was worried about my fiance who was misdiagnosed and the medicine that we found made his health worse not better. I had the class labeled, “the worst in elementary.” I had a student write “Miss Kristina es punta,” on a falta lleve form which is a reflection form given to the Ministery of Education and child services here. I had my card rejected a bunch of times after waiting 1 or 2 hours for food.

Although it feels like Venezuela handed me a terrible hand, there are so many awesome memories too. It feels like sometimes you need to take 5 bad things in Venezuela for the one magically, awesome life experience to happen.

I got free cake and shots at a bar when I was trying to ask if it was appropriate for me to buy shots for another table (because it was a lady’s 50th birthday party). I went on my first yacht on a girls weekend and got a ton of sun and swimming in crystal blue waters. Also, got to see dolphins up close! I attended a beautiful dinner with my best friend Daniela and her amazing husband. The chef was amazing! I went to my first Marine Ball. I went to a Marine House Party. I got to travel through Belize, Curacao, Cuba, and Brasil. I become closer to my finance and got engaged in our favorite steakhouse restaurant.

Why Don’t I just Leave?

Every placement will hand you a deck of cards. You will have great moments and you will have terrible moments. Venezuela, if you make dollars, has many possibilities to great moments but you need to keep an open mind through all the terrible moments. Empathy really affects you in Venezuela. You learn quickly that the majority of the country is struggling, yet you can pop to the steakhouse and get a delicious meal for two, including drinks, for $30 dollars. But that same $30, is one person’s monthly salary. INSANE!

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My finance also got extremely sick at the end of last year. The lack of resources doesn’t hit you until someone you love needs medicine and medicine is just not there. Americans take medication for granted. Yes, America has a flawed system. The hit TV show, where a teacher turns meth dealer to pay his medical bills, highlights the flawed system we have. But, I couldn’t just throw $300 dollars at someone to make Peter get his medicine tomorrow. I had to rely on strangers willing to give up a part of prescription that they traveled to Miami for or the people that traveled to Colombia in order to have the medications. I had to rely on the generosity of others. Thank God Venezuelans are very generous people.

The locals is a huge reason why I did not just pack all my bags and live once Peter was so ill. They were so helpful and really go me through the tough time of spending 3 hours daily finding a medicine that was nowhere to be found. They spent hours talking to me and visiting Peter and me in the hospital. I was an emotional mess and they made sure I got time to spend it with Peter. I love the locals here.

 

The TakeAway

Find out as much information about the country you are moving to. Find out about the culture. Find out about the current economic climate. Find out about how the government is run. Find out about the weather. Find out what American stores exist in the new country. Find out which foods you can find and which one’s you can’t. Find out how banks work and how you pay cell phone bills. Ask about any information. There are so many horrible news stories about Venezuela but living here I can create an equal amount of happy stories. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask to talk to teachers there. Ask to talk to local teachers there. Ask why the teachers before left. Gather as much information before you decide if the school or country is right for you.

 

I love and adore my experiences in Venezuela but I am glad I am leaving now.

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I Have No Friends, Why?- Making Friends as an Adult

Loneliness…


It is a funny business. Since working overseas, I found being by myself is one of hardest barriers to overcome.  You want to build long lasting friendships. You want to feel included and part of the group. You want to feel like you belong. You want to fee like people truly care about you. Sometimes these feelings don’t manifest in real life. You find yourself with no friends. You find yourself not being invited. You find yourself being the outsider looking in. Finally, you find yourself questioning if people care and like you.

Good news is you can change this with your mindset.

In an earlier post, I wrote how you need to think if you would be friends with this person back home and need to know the difference between friendships that will develop further vs. a friendship for the season.

Signs to Look For- Making and Building Friendship

The friendship seems too perfect.

You have a 15 percent shot, he/she is your best friend. 15 percent shot they may be your nothing to you. Finally, the other 60 percent chance will be just an okay friend. Continue reading “I Have No Friends, Why?- Making Friends as an Adult”

Overcome Homesickness Abroad- Skype Saved My Life

 

I Miss My Friends Back Home.


When you start working abroad, you are exposed to many people and new cultures. The initial thinking is to compare everyone you meet to your best friend. You know, the person who has been through everything with you! Some people met this person in elementary school. Those people are lucky ducks! But eventually, most social people have a best friend.

 

I had a very strange experience because I really didn’t meet my best friends until college or university. After graduation, everyone moves back to their hometowns. So I always felt that I was never truly missing a lot being away during the school year.

 

The school year hits. You see new faces. You put a brave face on and try to build friendships. I learned the hard way that friendships are not just built because we work at the same school. Friendships are not just built because the school put us on the same floor in the same building. But I also learned some of my “bestest” friends are those I meet while working abroad. They inspired me and changed my life. Continue reading “Overcome Homesickness Abroad- Skype Saved My Life”