A Simpson graduate’s journey to the Middle East

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by Tessa Lengeling, News editor

Ever since Shanice Whitney was a child she knew she wanted to teach. She made her younger brothers play school with her and now what was once play time is becoming a reality as Whitney is starting her first year of teaching in Al Jabiriyah, Kuwait.

Whitney received her dream job offer in March of her senior year at Simpson after months of searching. “I knew I wanted to go international after graduating, but had no specific place in mind. I was accepted into grad school, but wanted to get back into the classroom,” Whitney said.

The eight hour time difference was difficult in the interview process, but an orientation committee helped Whitney link up with other new teachers making their way to Kuwait.

“There are actually a ton of American and Canadian teachers in Kuwait,” Whitney said. “The principal of my school is American and two other teachers at my school were on the same flight out of Texas.”

Whitney will be teaching second grade boys with a superhero themed classroom. “The curriculum is from the United States, but it will be interesting to see how the year goes because the boys are about a year behind in their learning levels,” Whitney said.

The students will go through guided reading and math courses to get them back to the appropriate level.

Schools in Kuwait go Sunday through Thursday, with students learning Arabic and about the Islamic religion almost every day. “There are no music exploration classes, but there will be plenty of music in my room,” said the Simpson graduate.

Whitney says she is settling in and loves learning about Kuwait and the culture. “I was nervous to leave my family behind and be in a new country on my own, but I honestly love it here and have made great friends,” Whitney said.

“I have had to get used to the culture here as it is very different from the states. When men greet one another they kiss each other’s cheeks three times. When guys are best friends they hold hands and no one thinks they are less of a man for doing these things and I appreciate that.”

“Kuwait is a very wealthy country,” Whitney said. Most people think I live in a tent in the desert, but that is far from the truth.”

Whitney has learned that most stereotypes of Kuwait are not reality. “Woman are not the only ones that wear traditional clothing, men do as well, and most women do not wear traditional clothing all the time,” Whitney said.

The only thing Whitney has missed from the U.S. while being in Kuwait is bacon. She said the heat is unbelievable and she begins to sweat within 15 seconds of being outside, but has settled in quickly.

“People are very open and welcoming. If this year goes well I plan to stay for a while. Kuwait has been a great experience and I’ve only just started.”