Dear KES Family,
One never knows how the media will present a news item but this week we were pleased to see that the School’s plans to open a campus in Abu Dhabi was a) worthy of features in the Herald, on TV and radio, as well as AllNovaScotia.com, and b) was treated positively as a good news story. It was interesting to see what aspects of the venture were spotlighted and which were not mentioned at all. I was also fascinated to see that although I was interviewed pre-production, the media was quite happy to use photos and footage that they had from six and seven years ago. (Thank goodness my hairstyle has not changed!)
In our endeavors to be a leader in education and to provide an experience that promotes global awareness and citizenship, we have learned a lot ourselves. Much is environmental and cultural. It takes me back to my old Human Geography classes when we learned, sometimes reluctantly, about how our environment shapes our behaviour and values and society. This is as true for our North’s Inuit as it is for the desert’s Bedouin. The first thing we learned when opening discussions and negotiations with our partners in the United Arab Emirates, was that relationships must be established before any business is properly discussed. The value of social time, of meals and conversation, cannot be underestimated. We discovered that our partners are intelligent, educated, family-oriented, worldly, cultured, warm and friendly. As we established our relationship and grew to know each other, we created a foundation from which to create a vision for our school and negotiate how it was to be accomplished. This manner of business makes perfect sense, especially when one considers that we are creating a legacy school, one that will carry on for centuries as the main campus has done.
Sometimes, I find it hard to put aside my typical Canadian reserve, especially when meeting new people. Travelling to Abu Dhabi revealed just how difficult and almost bewildering it was to change my routines and expectations to match those around me. In Canada we value punctuality and efficiency and early suppers, as if we are always in a hurry to get somewhere quickly, get something finished, or get to sleep earlier. I learned, once again, that sometimes the best education is simply to leave home and go somewhere different.
There are a few photos below of Abu Dhabi and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre. Some are typical tourist photos but they reveal how different and transformative will be the environment of our new campus. Sheik Zayed’s words about education (as captured on the poster) strike an interesting chord as well.
This week in pictures.