Sunday, 28 June 2009

Think of us and smile

Well, what a flat out fortnight it has been. Brock and Quinn had their birthdays (on the 12th and 16th of June respectively) which saw us going out for dinner with friends each time and a couple of our colleagues from school coming over for lunch on the Sunday in between. Both boys were happy to receive new mobile phones and to hear from friends and family in various parts of the world.

This period was also the end of Brock’s GCSE exams (sadly, he even had to sit one on the date of his birthday). On Friday June 19th the last of the exams took place. That meant that Prom (the school formal for those of you who are not used to the American term) took place that evening. It was to be held at the school but Brock and many of his friends met beforehand at one girl’s house to catch a limousine. They all looked very different from the way we normally see them during the day, very mature. Brock had a magical night and it was a really positive way for him to end his time at school in the UK.

Saturday saw both boys going out and spending time with various friends for farewells. Neither of them is overly fond of goodbyes so the fact that exams and then the Prom limited the length of time they could take seemed to work in their favour. Quinn even got to go out to a nightclub in Stevenage for a friend’s birthday which saw even other children’s parents expressing their sadness that he was leaving. They have both made a big impact at school and we feel that they have benefited immensely from their experiences.

Sunday morning saw us rising at 7am to make the drive to Heathrow Airport so that the boys could catch their flight to Australia. We anticipated that it would be sad but here things worked out well; with a very quick drive and (after a short initial wait at check-in) being told that it would be about an hour before someone was available to take the boys through customs and onto the plane. We went downstairs to the Arrivals Lounge to have a drink and read. By the time the ‘goodbye’ came the boys had had a chance to look forward to the trip ahead and the delay had left them wanting to get moving. Things moved very quick as the hostess took them through security. Meg and Wayne went back out to the car and made the trip home.

The best word to describe the boy’s trip was ‘eventful’. We will leave it up to them to tell the story in their own words, but for those of you who don’t get to talk to them we will say that it involved measles, flight delays, quarantine and lost baggage. It was lovely to hear that they had arrived safely in Brisbane (and Meg jokes that she has spent more time talking to them since they left than she did in the same period beforehand). While we miss them both it is a nice change to go the fridge and find cheese or to the freezer and find that the ice cube trays are full.

We are not the only staff leaving from school and consequently the last few weeks have been very unsettled. While one or two have places to which they are moving on, others have been, like us, unsure of where we will end up. Some of the students have a parent on the school Governing Board and consequently the news of all these departures leaked out well before anyone had intended. This has led to having unsettled students as well which, in a school like ours, has made things even more difficult that they usually are.

On Wednesday morning we were very excited to receive an email from the principal of Qatar Academy. Wayne had applied for a job there and interviewed for the position but unfortunately not got it. However, the following week a position had looked like becoming available in the Drama Department and he had approached Wayne to see if he would accept this position instead. Sadly, this position did not become available after all and it looked like we would have to be going elsewhere. However, this new email said that a position had become available in the English Department and asked if we would be interested. Upon our positive response we were informed that an offer would be made to us by the end of the week.

Somewhat ironically, on the next day we received a positive response from the American School in Kosova. The idea of going to part of Eastern Europe, which we had not managed to get to during our time in England, was very appealing. If it had come a couple of days earlier then things might have been quite different. As it was, the following morning saw the arrival of the offer from Qatar Academy which included annual return flights to Australia, furnished accommodation, medical and travel insurance, flights to Qatar with an allowance for baggage, and a car allowance. After consultation with Brock and Quinn we accepted.

Consequently, we will be moving to Qatar on September 4th to live and work in an area of Doha (the capital of Qatar) called Education City. Qatar Academy teaches the International Baccalaureate Diploma (probably the best High School qualification in the world). As well as the Academy (where Brock and Quinn will be studying and Wayne teaching) there are six universities; Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Texas A & M University At Qatar, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, and Northwestern University in Qatar. The facilities are wonderful, as is much of the rest of the development going on in Doha. Meg’s intention is to study to complete her teaching qualifications and it will be wonderful for us all to have these opportunities.

As you might have guessed, we are very excited to be continuing on this next leg of our adventure. Thank you once more for all the support we receive from our friends. Emails, letters and phone calls are always so encouraging to receive. If any of you have plans to travel to Qatar give us a bell, if you hadn’t yet thought of doing so let us encourage you to think about it.

(You might like to compare the above photos of Brock and Quinn on the day they left England with this photo taken 2 days after they arrived nearly 18 months ago. Haven't they grown up?)

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