There is a lot of uncertainty on the part of many female applicants who are concerned about what life is “really” like for women who live and work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Who better to provide INTERLINK’s female applicants with an accurate picture of life in the KSA than our female, Saudi teaching staff.
A questionnaire was sent to a group of successful female teachers currently working throughout the country.
The following Q&A profile is with Nelressa Stallings, who has taught for INTERLINK in Saudi Arabia for more than 3 years.
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Current Job Title/Position: Assistant Coordinator and ESL Instructor
Q. Where are you located in Saudi Arabia? :
A. Technical and Vocational Training Center (TVTC) Riyadh College for Girls
Q: In what countries have you taught?
Korea, United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Q: How many months/years have you taught in Saudi Arabia?
A: I worked in Medinah for 1.5 years, and Riyadh for 1.5 years
Q: When searching for teaching opportunities abroad, why did you choose to apply for a position in Saudi Arabia?
A: My company’s contract with the government ended in UAE, but I wanted to stay in the Middle East. Most people advised me not take a job here, so I was intrigued and packed my bags.
Q: During the application process, did you have any fears or reservations about Saudi Arabia? If so, what were your fears? Where did these fears originate? Please be specific.
A: No. I had already worked in the Middle East for a year in a PYP system, so I was already familiar.
Q: After your arrival in Saudi Arabia, did you have problems adjusting to your new environment? If so, what were some of the obstacles you faced? How did you overcome these obstacles?
A: I lived in a small town, so language barriers are a challenge. If you are alone, isolation can get to you. Boredom can creep in because there isn’t much to do. Lastly, loneliness is the biggest issue most people have. The best way to overcome this is to keep a schedule of things to do each week. Keep in contact with family and friends back home, but not too often that you are relying on them too much. Take an online class, get a hobby, surf the internet, read good novels and exercise (yoga is good for keeping opened-minded). Being social is key. Find a good solid network of friends. Get a good block on your pc so you can stream you favorite TV series on Netflix (Breaking Bad fan at the moment).
Q: What do you like most about living and working in Saudi Arabia? What would you like to change?
A: The students I teach are amazingly wonderful. You couldn’t ask for a better group of girls. They are a joy to teach and seem to be the main reason people stay and keep coming back. Also, I wish there were more females in HR and the hiring department.
Q: What do you think is the biggest misconception about Saudi Arabia and its citizens?
A: That they are super conservative. Usually, they are pretty cool and laid back. But you need to wait and let them open up to you.
Q: If you were interviewing/hiring foreign teachers to work alongside you in the KSA, what kinds of questions would you ask in order to determine the candidate’s suitability to the job and environment? What answers would be “red flags” indicating to you that the candidate would not be a good fit in that particular teaching environment?
A: Suitability: Are you flexible when you have no resources and problems are slow to get solved (or don’t get solved)? Can you bear the heat? Are you super patient? Are you creative? Can you think on your feet? Are you hard working and reliable? Can you deal with being away from family for a year? Are you adaptable? Are you resourceful and self-reliant? Are you okay being single and not dating openly as in other countries? What do you do to entertain constant boredom?
Red flags: Too needy, not self-reliant, spoiled, entitlement issues, egostistical, too talkative (not a good listener), stubborn, quick – tempered, selfish, and lazy