August 14, 2008

SABIS Threats and Intimidation (and Lies) Round 3

Posted in SABIS/Choueifat tagged , , , , , , at 5:21 am by stephshimkooo

Refer to Round Two for Background Info:

C and I went into the office and sat across the table from two members of the SABIS executive staff, “E1” and “E2.” We knew what the subject matter of this conversation was going to be, so we were less than receptive, especially after the threats of unemployment and deportation the last time around.

E1 was half asleep, obviously bored and not wishing to be in attendance. He had his face slopped into his hand with his elbow on the table. He smiled at us when we came in and played with his phone as E2 greeted us to began the meeting. We sat down at the table and said that if this meeting was regarding Al Khazna, that we wished to go since the conversation would be moot. E2 smiled and started talking by asking us an easy icebreaker question, “So who benefits from the PPP program?”

Silence.

“Well, lots of people benefit, but who benefits the most?”

Silence.

“Okay, so let’s talk about the different ways people can benefit…”

“The child, obviously.” C answered.

E2 congratulated her on her correct answer and started explaining how the children in Al Khazna needed to benefit from us, since we were two of their best teachers based on our reviews. We had never been reviewed.

Expensive Necessary Medication

Expensive Necessary Medication

Since they blew their intention right from the beginning, I got up to leave. I was not going to submit myself to more verbal abuse and threats for the same situation. E2 realized that he had acted too quickly, albeit politely this time. He backpedaled a bit, and began to apologize for what had happened the week before. We sat and nodded as he spoke. I asked him if he understood that I would not go because of my medical condition, and that it was in their interest as much as mine not to put me in a potentially dangerous situation. He said of course he did, and I said that I was extremely offended by their attitude and interrogation regarding my diabetes. He again apologized and asked what could have made it better, and even went so far as to ask if a letter of apology would help. I said his verbal apology was enough (although in hindsight I should have taken it) and the meeting continued. E2 said that he had something else to discuss with us.

It was not something else. He began, admittedly more gently this time, to tell us about how great Al Khazna was (despite the fact that we knew all the teachers that work there and knew what it was like). We forcefully said no, we were not going to discuss that, but E2 was insistent. E1 was still playing with his phone and occasionally rolling his eyes at E2. He played to our hearts:

“Think of the children. The children in Al Khazna need you.”

“The children here deserve me just as much. All the children deserve the same opportunities.”

“Yes, but the children in Al Khazna have no teacher. There’s no one to teach them.”

“So they’re all just sitting in a room with no teacher or supervision?”

“No, there are teachers there.”

“So they’re fine then.”

“No, that’s not what I meant.”

Think of the Poor Children

Think of the Poor Children

This went on for quite a while. I will admit, my tongue became sharper as my patience waned. Finally I said to E2, “Well why don’t you go?”

“Excuse me?” he replied.

“Yes, you can go. You know the point system really well, you’re a regional manager so you must be a very good teacher, and you obviously care about the children a lot.”

They didn’t know how to reply to this, and they obviously didn’t take kindly to it. E1 tried to compose himself and started asking us “why we were being so rude when they had always been so kind towards us and tried to take care of us.” I asked if he remembered when I had to BEG over an 8 day period when we arrived to have a working refrigerator which I needed to keep my insulin cool. He said he had no idea about that situation (at the time, other SABIS representatives had told me that I “needed to be patient,” and “It can be hard living away from home for the first time,” when I’d lived abroad for the last three years and thought refrigeration was a pretty basic and reasonable request).

E2 then told me that they were there because they cared about us. I told him in that line of reasoning I thought it odd that he had been at my school twice in two weeks for this and we hadn’t seen or heard a WORD from him for two months when we had no management in the school. He accepted that as legitimate criticism.

E1 then tried to “explain” things to us. He said that this was all just a big misunderstanding, and that there had been a meeting with ADEC and SABIS in October, where they were told that they had to teach MOE curriculum (SABIS was teaching their own material at the time) and that they tried to explain that this could not work because their teachers were only trained for SABIS material. He said that ADEC had these old fashioned ideas that a degree and experience made a good teacher (remember that C has a degree and experience, while I had experience) while they at SABIS thought that that was exclusive and unfair, and that with SABIS everyone can be a good teacher. My favorite quote from this meeting was “Don’t worry about us. We know what we’re doing. We know how to handle ADEC.”

I knew full well from the people in ADEC that this was not the case. They had no idea about the threats and intimidation until we informed them of such. I told him that I knew what he was saying was untrue. He continued trying to make ADEC out as the bad guy, and said that ADEC had a list of people that they wanted to get rid of, but that SABIS wouldn’t let them do that because they cared about us so much. In reality, as mentioned in part 2, we had been granted “temporary approval” until the end of the academic year. The truth was that SABIS shouldn’t have hired us in the first place. Had I known what the job was really meant to be, I never would have signed up for it. They had lied to us, it had come back to bite them, and now they were trying to make ADEC out to be the bad guy. Here were two senior executive, lying to us to our faces, and withholding information that affected the professional and financial lives of dozens of people.

I’d had enough. I was so angry and insulted that my face was crimson. I announced that I was leaving, and they said goodbye to me and instructed C to stay. I stopped and turned around when they said that because I wasn’t going to leave her there alone, just as she was saying “don’t leave me alone here with them.”

I sat back down and they worked at her for a few minutes and she refused and refused to go. We insisted on leaving after it was again apparent that they only cared about making us try to go. E1 began to say something about the list again, but before he could get it out, I whipped around and said

“By the way, her name’s not on it and my name is misspelled on that list.”

Both of their jaws dropped. “How? How do you know about that list?” E1 asked.

“I know people,” I said as we left.

to be continued…

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2 Comments »

  1. Fiona T said,

    Hello: I’m wondering if you would mind writing me an email. I will be interviewing for a job with SABIS for one of the schools you have mentioned. I’ve been reading some pretty negative stuff about SABIS. Please write if you get a chance.
    F.

  2. Hi there, just became alert to your weblog thru Google, and found that it is really informative. I am going to be careful for brussels. I will appreciate if you proceed this in future. A lot of people can be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!


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