Thursday, August 23, 2012

International Schools - "So what exactly would you say you do?"

After spending six weeks in the USA this summer and catching up with our friends and family, one thing that has become very apparent is that many of them aren't really sure how this whole "international school" thing works.  Thus, I have been inspired, nay, compelled to write a post that will hopefully clarify our involvement overseas.

Since the world is ever-flattening and many companies are expanding to all parts of the globe, there is a demand to have English-speaking education available that is both of a high standard and completely transferrable to universities everywhere.  Whether you're a diplomat or business person, you don't really want to uproot your family and move them to a far away land without some assurance that your progeny will be able to continue their education in that new place without any gaps.  Therefore, nearly every major city around the world has one or more "international schools" to meet this need.

Now, there is a large variety of international schools.  Most are independently run, but some of them are members of a group of schools that is corporately run.  Some schools are "for-profit" while others are "non-profit".  Most of these schools offer all instruction in English, but some of them are bilingual or taught completely in other languages (i.e. French).  There's even a variety in the curriculum offered: most offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, and many offer British, Canadian, and American curricula including Advanced Placement (AP).

There's also a variety in the student body of an international school.  Schools usually have a mix of local and international students, just like in university.  For diplomats, a country might choose to send their kids to one particular school for whatever reason.  Private companies might only pay to send kids to a certain school, or they may offer a stipend to send them wherever they want.  We noticed in Frankfurt that of the two biggest international schools, one seemed to draw more Americans and had more of an American high school feel, while the other was more international and included a larger Korean population.  Of the students that are local, some come from wealthy families that can easily afford the tuition while other families make a huge sacrifice to send their kids to international school.  It's tough to generalize, however, since each country will work a little differently.

So, when people asked us if we were "working for the same organization" when we move to Hong Kong the answer is "no" because there really isn't an organization that joins these schools, as far as employment goes.  Our school in Germany was independent, but a member of the SABIS network of schools (which provided the curriculum and organization), while our school in Hong Kong is actually an independent, local, private school.  This may be confusing after reading my two previous posts on international school hiring fairs where I mentioned "SEARCH Associates".  The difference is that SEARCH is for-profit company that provides a link between international schools and teachers.  That being said, you can think of me as a free agent physics teacher that uses SEARCH to help me find 2-year teaching contracts at independent international schools around the world.

Make sense?


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I'm on a Boat!

One of the most memorable "going-away" events was a 2-hour boat cruise down the Main River after work one day.  Our boy Kyle hooked up this event and everyone benefited from it.  We packed out this little boat with people, food, and drink and tore up the Main before being dropped off in Sachsenhausen, where we proceeded to sit and watch Germany take on Greece in the knockout stage of the Euro Cup.  The pictures tell all....

Katie brought a wonderful surprise batch of American box cupcakes, complete with sprinkles and flags that represented the nationalities of those on board.

Game-day greens 

The heavy hors d ourves  kept us afloat until landing. 

My former colleague, Elyar, joined us for the weekend away from his graduate studies in Physics in Berlin. 

The pack of fake mustaches were a hit! 

Marisa and Jago 

Kate and Tran 

 Stu and Scott in front of the apple wine building (it looks just like the glasses that apple wine is served in)

Scott, Kyle, and James 

Don't fall off! 


View of Frankfurt from the Main with the construction of the new European Central Bank on the right. 

Team America 

Main-hattan skyline 

After disembarking, the group poses for one more shot - with the guy who gladly took our recycling. 

Germany vs. Greece in Alt Sachsenhausen 

Marisa and Kate, plus a little team spirit.


Monday, August 6, 2012

One Last Schnitzel

We concluded our time in Germany with the end of the school year and flew back to the USA on June 29th 2012.  Of course we weren't the only teachers that were leaving, so the last month was jam-packed with last-minute trips and "goodbye" dinners and events.  For us, there's no way that we could leave without having one last bash at our neighborhood schnitzel locale:  zur Sonnenuhr.

The ladies decided to wear their dirndles and we were showered with a few gifts as we shared one last mushroom-covered schnitzel while watching England play in the Euro Cup.

Marisa and Katie sporting their dirndles 

Our friendly staff at zur Sonnenuhr 

Katie gave us a card with this message inside:  it's either good bye or good luck in Cantonese, along with the Hong Kong flag 

We were also gifted these cool apple-wine glass toppers, decorated with items made famous in Frankfurt such as:  apple wine, hand-cheese, heart surgery, and green sauce! 


This meal never got old:  Pfifferlingen Schnitzel with roasted potatoes and Helles Hefeweizen beer.

It was a great time had by all and no one left hungry.  I'd contemplated putting zur Sonnenuhr on Trip Advisor, but we thought better of it since it is a true locale and I'd hate to ruin that atmosphere by sending unnecessary tourists out to try it.  Instead, the secret will stay with our co-workers and we vow to stop by if we're ever taking a layover in Frankfurt again.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hometown visitors!

One of my best high school friends, Nikki, was given an awesome opportunity with her husband's job to live in Naples, Italy for 3 months. Even more power to her, she was pregnant during this adventure and did I mention she has an adorable son, Landon, already? Nikki, Nate and Landon took full advantage of their short time in Europe and that included a trip to Germany! They were gracious enough to come and visit us in Frankfurt for one of their last weekends. Nikki was 34 weeks pregnant and rocking it. I have to admit Nikki had more pictures from the visit so check out her blog.

Landon enjoying a subway ride

The whole gang!

One rainy afternoon we went and hung out with my friend, Mari, and her two adorable kids.

We didn't let the rain stop us and we explored Old Sachsenhausen

A visit isn't complete without some Apple wine!

I can't believe this visit was almost three months ago...I guess I need to write more often on the blog. Since their visit Nikki and Nate have had a beautiful baby boy named Parker. It was great seeing some hometown peeps and I can't wait to see them again in Cali this summer!

I hope we can catch on the last few months of our time in Frankfurt and our fun summer in the USA!

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