September 1, 2008

SABIS Threats and Intimidation (and Lies) Round 4

Posted in SABIS/Choueifat tagged , , , at 11:23 am by stephshimkooo

Please refer to Round 3 for some background info:

Everything was calm for about two months. In April, E2 began making rounds in the schools to “talk to people about re-signing” but apparently meant it this time. Appointments were scheduled for all of us in 10 minute intervals.  C, R, and I were still all in the same school and had appointments right after each other.  C decided not to go at all because she was not interested in having them anywhere near her.  I decided to go out of professional courtesy.

Read the rest of this entry »


August 19, 2008

My SLO Experience – Ovenless Cooking Club

Posted in SABIS/Choueifat tagged , , , , , , at 6:36 am by stephshimkooo

As an English teacher, I was looking for ways to get the kids to engage students into learning. I cook a lot, and I know a lot of simple recipes, so, I tried to start an ovenless cooking club. Students could learn by doing, and be proud of something they’d done and they would have something to show for their work.

The disaster of the cooking club I lay directly at the feet of the higher-ups in the SLO. Read the rest of this entry »

My SLO Experience – Advanced Reading Club

Posted in SABIS/Choueifat tagged , , , , , at 6:10 am by stephshimkooo

Getting Girls to Read

Getting Girls to Read

As a teacher, I have several basic goals for my students. I want to make sure that as many students as possible are able to correctly learn material for any given class, but that’s just the beginning. I want to do my best to make my students curious people who will become lifelong learners as well as make sure all of my students improved in general. To reach this end, I tried to start an advanced reading club for the most advanced 9th grade students. The majority of the students in the school were at or below the level of the 4th grade book they were reading (in the 9th grade classes), but there were 10-12 students who were way beyond it, and they spent a lot of time being bored or frustrated in class.

I was met with opposition from the first step. Read the rest of this entry »

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. Read the rest of this entry »

August 13, 2008

SABIS Threats and Intimidation (and Lies), Round 2

Posted in SABIS/Choueifat tagged , , , , , , , at 6:13 am by stephshimkooo

Please refer to Round One for background info:

After our encounter with the SABIS executive staff, we contacted a number of people within ADEC to ask them about what was going on. Based on the information SABIS had given us, there were a lot of things that made no sense, and we had many unanswered questions: Read the rest of this entry »

August 9, 2008

SABIS Threats and Intimidation, Round One

Posted in SABIS/Choueifat tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:01 am by stephshimkooo

*please refer to the previous entry for background information.

Sunday came and went, and none of us had gotten on the bus to Al Khazna. Nothing was said, and everything went on normally. Business as usual until the following week. The SABIS executive team, comprised of the AQC, the RAQC, the woman who had been helping from Choueifat Ruwais, the Project Manager, and one of the Heads of SABIS (regular SABIS and PPP), came around to the schools to discuss the possibility of re-signing for the next year.

M was spoken to individually. They were speaking in voices loud enough for us to hear from out in the hallway, although we could not understand what they were saying. They spoke for what seemed like a long time, and in tones too aggressive to be taken as positive. After M came out, they spoke to another teacher in the hallway, and then told C and I to come in together. Read the rest of this entry »

SABIS Threats and Intimidation, the Prelude

Posted in SABIS/Choueifat tagged , , , , , , , at 4:25 am by stephshimkooo

I was working at a Girls’ Middle School in Al Ain. There were three other native English speaking SABIS teachers working at the school, two Lebanese math teachers, and no science teacher because the one we had left over the winter holiday. We had no AQC or head supervisor for two months, and no member of the SABIS executive team or higher up came to speak to us, let us know they were there to support us, or even offered any help. They sent a woman from the Choueifat Ruwais school to come help us from time to time, and she was lovely. However, what she could do was limited by her interim status.

In February, we finally got a new, full-time AQC, and on one of her first days, she was given a very ugly job. Read the rest of this entry »

July 2, 2008

SABIS, the Beginning

Posted in SABIS/Choueifat tagged , , , , , , at 2:05 am by stephshimkooo

When reading the literature sent to me by SABIS, I noticed that it said that deaths in the family were not a reason to miss work or take a leave of absence unless it was an immediate family member. I read this and respected it. Besides, death cannot be planned for, so it’s not even as if there are ways to work around this.

I was at home for about a month after I came home from Korea and before I left for Emirates to teach with SABIS. Six days after I got home, my grandfather was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 22 days later, he died. Since I am an adult with a good grasp of basic health needs, and since I had my summer off without children or work obligations, I spent almost every day and a lot of nights with him at the hospital, doing my best to make him as comfortable as possible.

During this time, the SABIS HR staff and the people from the travel agency that they use would call me at all hours of the night and day asking me for information about what airport I wanted to leave from and if I had all of my paperwork in order (they had given me incomplete directions regarding what I needed to do, but that’s a different story). The most frustrating part about it was that I had sent them and/or told them this information over the phone or via email, without exaggeration, at least four times. During all of this trouble, I asked them for details regarding my flight so I could prepare, and I was never given any such information.

Eventually, on the morning of August 11th, I received a phone call before dawn from the travel agent, who first of all apologized for calling me at 5a.m. She followed this up by saying she was issuing me a ticket for “later today” meaning the 11th. “No you’re not,” I said. She then told me that I had to go, otherwise I might miss some training. I told them that they hired me over two months before, so there was no reason they should be issuing a me a ticket the day before they wanted me there. I agreed to leave the following day, August 12th, equaling less than 36 hours notice. Despite my grandfather’s condition, I did not ask for more than a day’s delay, and the delay that I requested was more to get myself ready than about my grandfather. I did not ask for a temporary leave of absence. His condition was precarious but nobody knew when his suffering would end, so I didn’t think it wise to lose my job over something that over which I had no control

He died at 10:30p.m. on August 11, 2007 on Saturday. I was at the airport, ready to leave at 3p.m. on Sunday. I did not ask for a delay. I did not ask for a grieving period. I got on the airplane to start my new life all over again.

June 13, 2008

Reflections on a year with SABIS

Posted in SABIS/Choueifat tagged , , , , , , , at 11:12 pm by stephshimkooo

My New Passport Picture

So it’s over. It’s finally over. This past year with SABIS has been one of the most horrible personal and professional experiences of my life. What this company has done to myself and others is completely, in the politest possible terms, unacceptable.

I don’t know how to describe it without seeming overly dramatic, but unfortunately, emotion generally is not accurately portrayed in text. I can’t believe how… damaged… I am by the experience. I am a healthy, professional, hard-working individual, and I care so much about the job that I do. There have been times in the past where I felt unappreciated at work, but I’ve never really felt threatened by an employer before, and before this past year, I never would have fathomed working for an employer that was at least, negligent, and at worst, deliberately intending to do me harm.

Who I really feel sorry for are the people who don’t have any choice about staying with SABIS PPP or not. Most of these people can be classified as economic refugees because they did not necessarily want to leave their country, but the job markets at home were too abysmal to allow them to make a living. Most of these people are from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, as well as other places in Asia. They don’t have a choice. There are no jobs at home for them to take, despite their considerable skills, and they are tied to SABIS because of Emirati Labor law. If someone breaks with an employer, no matter how amicably, there is a 6 month work ban placed on them. They can stay with SABIS PPP (or any company they would work for, really), or they can take at least 6 months without any job or income. It’s a terrible situation.

On top of the occasional shaking and crying, I have found myself unable to write or to use my brain properly. Back in Korea, I churned out about a column a week for Socius, and I can’t even find the words to keep a personal blog going. Like I said, damaged.

So here I am in London trying to make it all fade away before I head back to the states this summer. I wish Ziad was here with me, but that’s a story for another time. I’ll get to see Johnathon and Pete this weekend, and hopefully Cat will get back to me soon. I’ve only been here a day, and already the creative juices are starting to flow, despite my excessive drowsiness from the flight.

I will document my experiences here under the tag “SABIS” for anyone reading this blog with research in mind. Apparently, some other people have been busy writing, too. Happy reading, and if you have a job offer with SABIS, Intered, or the International School of Choueifat, DON’T TAKE IT.