I apologize in advance for having no pictures of my own to go with this blog post. We met many highly important people today and I was not sure if it would be appropriate for me to take their picture. First, we had the honor to meet His Excellency Dr. Mugheer Al Khaili who is the director of ADEC. He is pictured right and the picture is taken from Abu Dhabi’s Executive Council website. It was so humbling to hear him speak. He explained why the United Arab Emirates is investing so much in education. As he explained it, the oil here will one day run out, but the people will always be here. People are the most important resource and it is through the people, educating the people, and teaching problem-solving and life skills that a country continues to prosper. Since English is such a global language and a common language between all the nationalities in this country, it is wise for them to invest in English language acquisition. As he said it, the wealth of their country lies not in its oil, money, or land, but in its people. He said that our job will not always be easy because change has always been resisted. He had so much wisdom to share. What was most touching was that the end of his speech, he told us – and let me reiterate the weight of this statement – the director, his excellency, said that he is here to serve us. What a humbling statement to hear! Here is this highly important and influential man in Abu Dhabi and he is saying that he is here to serve us. Never in Buffalo would I have ever heard from the superintendent any of the statement above, let alone that he was there to serve us teachers. Never in Buffalo would I have heard that the wealth of country, of a school system, is in its people. It was really refreshing to be apart of this. Each person who spoke kept saying how thankful they are that we are in their country, how excited they are for our success, and how we are a part of the greater change that is taking place in this country. It was very uplifting – and really, that’s all teachers ever need to hear, that they are wanted, valuable, and appreciated. We were then told that 40% of the teacher here have been here for the past 4 years, and 80% of last years teachers have decided to return! While I am sure we will face many challenges and difficulties, it is good to know that the people before my have succeeded and made a positive difference here. We again have orientation all day tomorrow so if I do not post I apologize – we are learning a lot of cultural and educational information all at once and my brain needs some sleep! Diir baalak ‘ala haalak – take care everyone . . .