By: Yasma Baalbaki, Opinion Editor, Mascha Cenia, Staff Reporter, Maryam Alamoudi, Staff Reporter, The Pawprint
Ms. Jones is a History teacher here at DAA. She is originally from the United States. Ms.Jones enjoys watching television, quoting from Dave Chappelle’s comedy repertoire, cooking, baking, listening to music or a good true-crime podcast, and reading (usually a mystery or thriller). During her Childhood, she hopped from country to country with her family. Ms. Jones has lived in 11 countries overall. In fact, she boarded every state along the West coast of the U.S. Ms. Jones is very excited to add Dubai to the long list of places she resided in. In the interview, Ms. Jones explained the journey through which she discovered her purpose in life by sharing postcards from her past.
There wasn’t a place Ms. Jones called home. As a child, she constantly relocated because her dad was in the military. She grew up in Japan, England, and several other places in California. However, she was born in Texas and considers the Pacific Northwest her base. Living in the global village as a child grew on her and magnified her to pursue a sort of nomad life-style.
Ms. Jones claims that moving to different places has always been her norm. We can consider that she admires change and is hungry for new adventures. Furthermore, she believes that the change of environments and surroundings has opened her eyes to the diversity found around the globe. She said: “It is a really cool opportunity to get to know what people who are different from you are like, and I think that’s something that has stayed with me since I was young.” The exposure to different cultures, people, places and languages has nurtured her curiosity. She dragged her curiosity with her everywhere she went, like a suitcase that paved the way for her personal growth and development.
Ms.Jones’s identity developed and grew with those experiences. The exposure to different cultures has widened her horizons and shaped who she is today. For example, it has made her more of a social butterfly. She didn’t fear making new friends and she is still today very outgoing and interested in meeting new people. These experiences have also helped her find the balance between building a strong personality and being able to adapt to new environments. This personality has lingered till this day as she yearns to chase that feeling of excitement.
Moving to new places wasn’t always sunshine and butterflies for Ms.Jones. “Whenever I’m put into a new situation, it’s always nerve-wracking but it’s also always exciting for me” she explained. As a kid, her being the one with a rather “abnormal situation” was stressful. Additionally, interfering with people who have been friends for a long time and changing systems repeatedly was indeed a challenge for her. Amid the anxiety and nervousness, Ms.Jones aims to focus on the positives. She highly appreciates the fact that her situation was not as overwhelming as it may be for others as constant change has always been her norm. She also realized that: “There are always those threads of connections anywhere you go no matter how different the places are.”
Students here at DAA can relate to Ms.Jones as a lot of them are international students that constantly replant their roots. So, Ms.Jones is the perfect person to talk to about change, confusion, nervousness and adaptation.
Ms.Jones’s most recent destination was Beirut. She decided to go there after attending a conference in San Francisco for international schools. She really connected with the values and goals of a particular school in Beirut and decided to move there. She was absolutely clueless about what to expect. She didn’t know much about Beirut and the living style there. Although she lived there during Covid-19 and the economic crises, Beirut is a special place for her. Ms.Jones established many deep connections with other international teachers especially during lockdown since they were living in the same apartment building.“Having my co-workers and friends but also making connections with my students was a really good way to get through it” mentioned Ms.Jones. She refers to this group of people as a community and “a built-in family away from home.”
On the subject of co-workers and international teachers, Ms.Jones considers the educators she met the people who inspired her most. She affirmed that: “A lot of international teachers are on the same boat, they have that wanderlust and that excitement for moving somewhere. You are always learning about the experiences they’ve had, why they’ve done something, where they want to go next, what their passions are and it’s really infectious.”
Diving further into Ms. Jones’s past, she had the privilege to participate in a double major program at university. She got both a bachelor in history and in education. She studied different types of history including modern Chinese history and ancient Greek history. Ms.Jones claims that: “It was really great that both of those things are my passions and I was equally able to study them fully in university.”
The reason why Ms.Jones decided to embark on the field of education is quite an interesting story. She started gymnastics in late elementary school and pursued this passion of hers until early high school. When she was 14, she was the oldest one in her team. The coach of her team was late on several occasions as she had another job. That is why Ms. Jones decided to take control in leading the class during the lost time. After a while, the owner of her gym noticed the fact that she was taking initiative and asked Ms.Jones if she wanted to coach little kids in the upcoming gymnastics summer camp. While coaching the kids, she was startled by the idea of being part of someone’s learning process even in something non-academic like gymnastics. The excitement on the children’s faces and having the ability to share her knowledge with younger kids really touched her heart and encouraged her to become a teacher.
On a more personal note, Ms. Jones has a very eclectic music taste. She is also a big fan of Ed Sheeran. Lastly, her favorite genres for books and movies are thrillers and mysteries. The connection between her film and book taste and her life is very evident. They both have a base of mystery containing the element of the unknown. Ms. Jones strongly believes that “there is something exciting about the unknown.”