Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Frankfurt Loewen Ice Hockey 2012

For the past three years Marisa and I have been planning on attending a local ice hockey match to support the Frankfurt Loewen (Lions), but each year there has been some excuse or mishap that has botched our plans.  This season we overcame this string of misfortune by teaming up with a co-worker to check out a Friday night game against the EHC Dortmund Elche (Moose).  It turned out to be a great time with lots of scoring, a couple of fights, and a few big hits.......everything you'd want in a hockey game!

Setting the mood with some pre-game sparklers.  Looks cool, but I'm not sure it's a great idea to have a bunch of fireworks being lit in a weakly-ventilated area at one time.  The first period smelled like sulfur (or was it phosphorus?), but at least it was better than smelling hockey players.

Striking fear into the hearts of Dortmund, the next step is whipping out the inflatable.




 The team has been around for a while, but I think this is the date when they changed their names from the Frankfurt "Lions" to the more German version.

The Good.

The Bad.  How many advertisements can you find?



The Ugly.  Poor lion player had the ol' jersey pulled over his head.

This one went in.

This one didn't, but check out that stick speed.

Our company for the evening.

Celebrating the win.


In the end, the good guys won by a score of 6-3.  Nice work Lions.

--Justin

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Entertainment Evening 2012

You may remember from a previous post that each year our school has an "Entertainment Evening" in which students and teachers perform various acts of entertainment as a fundraiser for a non-profit organization started by some of our secondary students.  Last year I played "Live Like You're Dying" and "Dynamite" with a fellow colleague.

This year I took on "Little Lion Man" by Mumford and Sons as well as "Flower" by Amos Lee with the same colleague.  I only have footage of the Mumford number and I will forewarn that it's only acoustic guitar.  In hindsight it would've been nice to add some piano or bongos, but I didn't get it together in time.

--Justin



Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mixing work and pleasure #3- Savannah & Atlanta, GA

As I have mentioned before here and here, occasionally I get some sweet perks with my job. Nothing crazy like box seats at the Superbowl or anything but this latest one was big. An art school in the States invited myself and 23 other art teachers and counselors to an educators workshop all expenses paid. I was super pumped when I got invited. It was a free trip to the States which I haven't been to in over a year and an awesome opportunity to see an art school for my students. The even better part of this story is that the art school was Savannah College of Art and Design aka SCAD.  I am very familiar with SCAD as they have campuses in Savannah and Atlanta, GA and I have taken one of their continuing education classes in Atlanta. Having lived and gone to college in Atlanta, I was already a fan of SCAD and was excited to see more of what they had to offer. This was quick trip with 3 days in Savannah and 2 days in Atlanta. My schedule was packed with tours, meals, presentations and more. But I did get the chance to have some drinks with Justin's family in Savannah and some friends in Atlanta. Here are a few of the highlights from the trip.

SCAD Savannah just opened a museum using an old train depot. One thing I love about SCAD is the way they take old historic buildings and restore them in original form with a modern twist.

For any of you Sex and the City fans, the shoes from the first movie where on display in the Andre Leon Talley gallery.

Wallpaper in display in the lobby of the museum that was designed by a former student. Another great aspect of SCAD that I love is the involvement of alumni and industry professionals.

Old Savannah- many reasons why I love this town.

One of the painting classrooms


Fashion department

Reminds me of Project Runway

They even had an equestrian center

I owe my love for Savannah to Justin as he was the first person to take me there. Our reason for going was always to visit his wonderful aunt Sheila and uncle Jackie. I was so excited to get some family time in with these two.

SCAD Trustee Theatre

SCAD student center 

This picture sums up my love for this city, trees and beautiful spanish moss

Caught a night with my GTAA coworkers in Atlanta, who I hadn't seen since two Christmas ago. It is always nice to be loud and laugh with these ladies; it is good for my soul

Drinks with my college buddies Mae, Buck (who you might remember them from our trip to Thailand last April), Andrew and Meredith.

It was a whirlwind of a trip full of information and jam-packed events. Here is the whole group that came on the trip. I met some great people and found a lot of inspiration.

This is not a sale pitch for SCAD but I was truly grateful for the opportunity they provided to me. The school is doing amazing things and I would be more than happy to send any of my students to this establishment.

For all of my GA peeps that I might have missed I hope to see you this summer when we are home.

--Marisa

Thursday, February 9, 2012

International School Job Fairs: Fast and Furious Part One - Getting Our Feet Wet

There is a niche of international educators that go through the experience of hopping through 2-year contracts in different parts of the world and I've realized that the process is probably not known to many of our readers, so I decided to post some memoirs of my personal experience with the international job search for teachers.

Marisa and I are currently working at a school in Frankfurt, Germany because three years ago we said that we wanted to take the opportunity to go and travel, live abroad, and hopefully take some steps towards a goal that we have of opening schools in developing countries.  I should emphasize the word "step" in the previous sentence because I completely realize that Germany is not a developing country and no, we're not thinking about opening a school here.  So the dream was in place during my third year of teaching at my old high school in Georgia......the illustrious East Paulding HS in Dallas, GA.............and we started figuring out how one goes about moving abroad to teach.

Like many things in life - there's a hard way and there's an easier way.  The "hard way" would be to individually research international schools in countries that you have a desire to live in and send your resume to all of them as you would in the U.S. when looking for work in a public or private system.  The "easier way" consists of joining one of several hiring agencies such as:  SEARCH Associates or International Schools Services.  Both are similar in that you pay them a couple hundred dollars, put up your personal information, resume, references, etc. onto their online databases, and search for member schools that have openings posted.  Your registration fee gives you access to the database until you are hired, or up til three years (for SEARCH anyways) - whichever comes first.  The registration also typically covers the fee to attend one of several job fairs for international schools that are held between January and April in various cities across the globe.  In this day and age you can do quite well by finding schools on the databases and contacting them and/or having a skype interview if geography is prohibitive of having an in-person interview or if that particular school won't be attending the same job fair as you.  So your best bet is to contact schools that you're interested in and try to be at the job fairs that they will be attending to get an in-person interview.  In a nutshell though, hundreds (if not a couple thousand) of candidates and recruiters converge on hotels in major cities over the course of a single weekend and may go from initial conversation to accepting two-year commitments to pick up and move yourself and family to another country.  Needless to say, there can be an awful lot of anxiety taking place over a short amount of time at these job fairs.  That's the overview - now back to my experience.

  In 2009 I signed up with ISS and started contacting schools.  I registered for a fair in February in Philadelphia and as the time approached I didn't have a great feeling about the list of schools that would be in attendance.  However, I had some interest from a school in Berlin that was excited about me, but wouldn't be at that fair.  Instead, they would be at a fair a couple of weeks earlier in Boston.........with the other hiring agency (SEARCH).  I made a game-time decision to register with SEARCH (so paying both agencies) and attend their fair in Boston.  I flew up on a Thursday night and checked-in to a hotel to prepare myself for interview sign-ups the next day.  Marisa would be flying up to meet me on Friday.  Friday at the fair is very similar to speed dating.  After you register and meet your "associate", who is basically your agent that gives you the scoop on any schools that you're considering and helps you process everything, you have a period of 1-2 hours for "interview sign-up".  Imagine walking into a large conference room with tables set up around the perimeter.  Every table is a school (alphabetical by country) and there are large posters that have the positions listed for which they are hiring.  You walk around with a stack of resumes in hand and when you see something you like, stand in line and meet the recruiter for about 2-minutes to determine if they want to put you down for a 30-minute interview slot for later that day, Saturday, or Sunday.  At this fair I had a range of responses from taking me to the side and saying "we're looking for someone with a little more experience than this", to "let me hold on to this resume and I'll let you know", to "how bout 2:30?".  In this time frame you're trying to fill up your time sheet with as many opportunities as possible.  After the sign-up I looked down at my list of interviews:  Khartoum, Sudan; Cairo, Egypt; Belgrade, Serbia; Frankfurt, Germany; Berlin, Germany; Trinidad and Tobago; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  You're encouraged to keep an open mind with these things so that you'll have a better chance at getting a position, but I definitely had some initial doubts.  So after a quick lunch the interviews begin.............at the hotel..............in the recruiter's rooms.  You don't have to tell me that it's kind of weird, but this is how it's done because there aren't many hotels that have a couple hundred meeting rooms in order for each school to conduct interviews.  The interviews go about like you'd expect them to go, with the exception that in many cases the recruiter would ask for Marisa to come for the follow-up interview, since she would be making the move as well.

The interview day is exhausting because you're constantly trying to dig up info about the school/country that you're about to interview, reflect on an earlier interview, and send/receive written messages through a job fair mailbox system with prospective schools.  There are big mind games here because you typically aren't sure where you stand with a school or where that school stands with you.  You don't want to shut doors too soon, but you don't want to lead people on either.  Each school has their own timeline and agenda too - some want to make offers and seal deals that weekend, while others are attending other fairs and aren't in a rush.

The one constant seems to be sudden turns of events at these fairs.  After our first interview day we had met with the school that I came for.........the JFK School in Berlin.  The recruiters were super nice and very interested in offering me the position...........except they had one more candidate to interview the next day, but it seemed to be more of a formality from their standpoint.  So Marisa and I end Friday talking about how much we're going to like Berlin and how we would be taking that offer the next day.  I stroll into the candidate lounge and check my mailbox the next morning and find out otherwise.  "Dear Justin, I am terribly sorry to have to tell you that we interviewed the other candidate and didn't expect it, but he was more qualified and we don't really have much else of a choice.  The offer was made and accepted.  Good luck with your search."  Curveball #1.  We then quickly discuss what our second choice would be and decided on Trinidad and Tobago.  The director was really cool and living in the Caribbean couldn't be that bad could it?

I talk to the director and he's pretty interested in me, but admits that I don't have as much experience as this other candidate that he's going to see at a San Francisco fair the following week.  I basically tell him that I will take the job on the spot if he offers it.............he takes us to the bar and buys us a drink while he tries to call this guy in California.  Eventually he gets in touch with the guy and tells us that he accepted the job over the phone when he knew that if he didn't then it would be ours.  "Ummmmm.  What was our #3 again?"  So in less than 24 hours I go from moving to Berlin, to moving to Trinidad, to staying in Georgia.  The stress starts to sink in.

On the following day we had to mentally sort through three offers on the table......Cairo, Egypt; Belgrade, Serbia; and Frankfurt, Germany.  The director in Serbia was hot for us and he seemed to be a great guy to work for - the only downside was figuring out what Marisa would be able to find for work in Serbia.  Cairo sounded exotic, but the school didn't have a very sound reputation and in hindsight thank God we didn't make that choice with all of the ruckus going down in the past year.  The only sensible choice was Frankfurt, which would be comfortable for me having taken some German, and would offer a high standard of living with more job opportunities for Marisa.  So on that Sunday we prayerfully made that decision and signed the 2-year contract to seal the deal............in the director's hotel room of course.  Weird.

That weekend in February will always go down as one of the most stressful times of my life.  It's not that I thought I would screw it all up with our choice because I knew that God would open and close doors to guide us to where He wanted us to be.  It was more just the tension between excitement and anxiety of not knowing what the hell is going to happen and where you're going to be six months from now.......for the next two years of your life.  Now, I would say that you can do anything for a year............and almost anything for two years - the time flies by.

We definitely don't regret the choice and we've had a very rich experience over the past three years.  This year, however, we decided to take the plunge again and reactivate our SEARCH account.  We updated the resume and registered for a job fair in London in January.  In the next post with this title I'll elaborate on that experience and the events that are leading to our next assignment...........

--Justin

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Winter skin remedies

Now I am not one to write about products but these products have saved my life this winter. I don't know about you but my skin gets so dry during the cold months and no matter how much lotion I use my skin still feels dry.  I have been using Origin products since I was in high school and I just love that they are all natural and good for the environment plus totally awesome. This Christmas my fabulous mother-in-law hooked with up with some great Origin products that have made me a believe that you don't have to go through winter with scales.

First, I use this Ginger body scrub in the shower maybe 2-3 times a week. Smells delightful!

Next I lather up with the Ginger souffle body cream at least 2-3 times a week. On the days I don't use the Ginger souffle body cream, I make sure to use a lotion that has a bit of oil in it. I find the oil helps with keeping the skin moisturized 

I have been loving these two products this winter and so has my skin so I thought I would share. Thanks awesome mother-in-law for introducing me.

Since I already love Origins I thought I would add a few more of my favorite products

I have been using this eye cream, GinZing, for over a year now every morning and some nights and I can honestly say under my eyes are less purple and I look more awake especially in pictures.

My mother-in-law also hooked me up with this new moisturizer called, Starting Over, and again it has helped with dry skin but also the overall appearance of my skin. Since using this I swear I have received more compliments on my skin.

I also use Origins makeup and find it very light on the skin which I like.  So if you have never tried any Origins products I encourage you to take a look www.origins.com, plus you always get a free sample with an purchase in-store or online YA!

--Marisa

Friday, February 3, 2012

NYE Frankfurt Style


In the past two years we have been out of the country over the New Year's holiday.  Both years we returned to Frankfurt and found the sidewalks and streets littered with cheap, exploded fireworks and wondered what in the heck went on over NYE.  Well this year we managed to be in Frankfurt to bring in the New Year with some co-workers and have a closer look at just what goes down on this festive evening.

Probably the most disturbing part was the number of children who were wielding these Roman Candles and firing them off every which-a-way.  There was seriously one girl that got so excited when hers was lit that she immediately started to spin around and jump up and down, firing one shot into her brother's back and a second shot that flew a couple of feet over our heads.

Everybody loads up on cheap fireworks at the grocery stores and there is a mini-firework show on literally every sidestreet.  Without exaggeration, there was a barrage of colorful explosives going off for at least 45 minutes straight - and some solo acts that carried on well into the wee hours of the morning.

Champagne and M-80's were a pleasant combination.

2012 Y'all!!

I can't take credit for these amazing shots in difficult lighting.  My boy Tran, equipped with a much nicer camera than ours, donated these shots for the blog.

We've got a lot to celebrate in 2012 with a 30th birthday for Justin and a 5-year wedding anniversary in March..........and maybe even another international move???

--Justin

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