Elizabeth Davis, Spring Term 2017

Submitted by admin on 29/03/2018
Person Name: 
Elizabeth Davis

What to expect? Having heard little about Oman previously, discovering the country through life at The Sultan’s School was a great joy and privilege which has left me, I’m sure, with a lifelong affinity with Oman and working with young people in an international environment. 

I can’t praise the school staff enough for the way they made us feel welcome on campus. We were living in a humble apartment 5 minutes’ walk from most classrooms and amongst our neighbours from the international teaching community, who we knew we could call on for favours and advice at any time. The school campus is landscaped like a park and very safe and secure, with a gym, swimming pool, sports field, canteen and after-school computer access on-site. There is a small shop and food/drink takeaway nearby, and a ‘hypermarket’ which contains decently priced food, clothes and household items. These are a walkable distance, although we of course had the use of a car. 

As an Arabic language graduate, I was keen to use and improve my language skill whilst on placement. Most all-school events are conducted in English and most people will speak to you in English knowing you are from the UK, but there are plenty of opportunities to use Arabic - sitting in on Arabic, Social or Islamic Studies classes; borrowing books; reading newspapers; engaging staff (who are from many different countries, including Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia) in conversation in Arabic. Language skill was also particularly useful when we were traveling around the country, as not all Omanis are fluent in English as an impressive number of them are. Certainly, using Arabic, although not absolutely necessary in most situations, will earn you popularity points (especially with students)! 

More than specifically ‘teaching’ assistants, we worked with students from KG through to Year 13 on a wide variety of school activities: guided reading, in-class English support, art, ICT, swimming, sports lessons and competitions, performances, celebrations and events, and the Eco Committee. We were encouraged to follow our strengths and interests, and the flexible nature of the programme meant that we were in a position to make suggestions and offer help to school life to make the most of our time there, in a way beneficial to both the school and our own development. 

The Society was always there to support us remotely and I thank them for their encouragement to go out and experience as much of Oman as possible, alongside school activities. We only had a handful of ‘lazy days’ over the 3 months - thanks goes to Sean and Laura Griffin who took us out exploring and wild camping. Over weekends and the term break we managed to visit several forts and wadis, mountaintops, beautiful (and stormy!) beaches, the desert, Royal Opera House Muscat, Muscat Festival, Sur, Ras al Hadd, Salalah 1000km to the south, and several of the luxury hotels around the country. … to name but a few of our adventures! We were also asked on a few occasions to accompany school trips - giving us an insight into workplaces and attractions not often seen by foreign tourists.

What did I gain from the experience? Opportunity and a framework to contribute my own strengths and interests to individual students and the school community; professional experience working in an international, multi-generational team; renewed confidence and focus towards the next steps in my career; knowledge of Oman and the Gulf context; wonderful new friendships and connections which taught me a lot and sparked ideas for the future. Thank you to everyone involved!