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Friday, August 19, 2005

Canadian Teacher Describes his Learning Experiences in Bahrain

Dozens of district high school graduates will head off for their first taste of university or college life at the end of the month. And one thing’s for sure—with an education, the world will be their oyster. Former Fort Frances resident Chris Neurinski can attest to that. A teaching degree, coupled with a strong desire for lifelong learning, eventually took him from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay to Kuwait in the Middle East. Tim Woods of Fort Frances was drawn to a teaching job in the Middle East in 2003, but for different reasons than Neurinski.

Woods, who holds a teaching degree, now teaches in London, England and is studying for his Masters in Business Administration. He, too, was here for the summer holidays and has since returned to England.

“I definitely wasn’t always sure I wanted to be a teacher and actually I didn’t teach at first,” the 27-year-old admitted last week.

After French Immersion studies in Quebec and a stint of work with the provincial government in British Columbia, Woods found a teaching job at a high school in Bahrain, located in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Saudi Arabia. His motive? To learn more about the “whys” of war.

“I went [to the Middle East] because of the war—about four months after the war started,” he explained.

“I was really intrigued because it seems like there were so many questions,” Woods added. “It was really, really complicated to unpack from a distance what people were thinking in Iraq, what the fear was of the West. There was a lot I didn’t understand [and] honestly that’s why I went.”

But after six months of Middle Eastern living, teaching economics, and trying to get over the language barrier, Woods put the experience in his back pocket and moved on.

“I learned some of the [Arabic] language and just tried to have good conversations with Muslims. [Teaching] is a good way to get into a community,” he reasoned. “But there’s a [conversation] barrier that goes up and there are a lot of things they won’t talk about,” he noted. “I even went to a leader of a mosque, but we had a different conversation in English than you would have in Arabic. The more Arabic I learned, the more I realized where [Muslims] were coming from,” Woods remarked. “They put up a barrier around certain topics—controversial topics around Islam and why the West is a threat. They won’t have these conversations. There is a lot you can’t learn about people unless you talk to them in their own language,” he stressed.

On the other hand, Woods met his Australian-born girlfriend, Bettina Rennie, in Bahrain. She also is a teacher and the two have been inseparable since. After leaving Bahrain, they travelled throughout Africa, including Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. Woods found the experience changed his life and altered the goals he’d set for himself in the working world. Read More ....

Source: Fort Frances Times Online | reBlogged By: News Blog re-Blog
Filed Under: Canada, Bahrain, Teaching, Culture | Permalink

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