So we arrive at work this morning at 8 o’clock, under the illusion that it’s just another day. The same three of us who always go outside behind the office/trailer with our toothbrush and a bottle of water to brush our teeth do that and, after a bit of sorting ourselves out for the morning’s lessons, we walk over to the Iraqi Air Force College to start our English lessons at 8:30 and find the cadets carrying the furniture out of the classrooms and out of the building!
Ok, we’re all middle-east specialists here; we’re used to the unexpected and unexplained but… what the?????
I saw two of my students carrying a desk. One of them spoke to his friend in Arabic in an urgent sort of tone and they quickly put the desk down. An explanation, perhaps.
Mustafa: Miss! Here is your pencil sharpener. (Big smile)
Me: Thanks. (collecting thoughts) Where are you going with the furniture?
Mustafa: Today is move, teacher. Today is not class.
Me: No class. Oh. Really??? But, Mustafa, who said to move?
Mustafa: (Shrug) I’m sorry Miss. I’m not know.
Me: Was it General Khuder?
Mustafa: Yes Miss.
This is how things happen. Suddenly, unexpectedly and, very often, with no warning or communication to any involved parties. If you’ve never lived outside of “the west” (a loose term which actually includes many eastern countries), this might seem particularly odd. After all, a reasonable person would probably expect that if a General decided to move an entire school of air force cadets, including all furniture and whiteboards, it just might be prudent to let the teachers know. Or to let someone know. Not a bit of it. The General had not deemed it necessary to inform his USF-I counterpart – and official mentor – Major Shea, of this minor detail. He had told no-one at all; the cadets, themselves, had only been informed of the move – and of the fact they would be doing the actual moving – when they arrived at the college at 8 o’clock with their books and pencils, ready to study for the day.
Still feeling a little disoriented, we all walked back over to our office and waited to see what would happen next. For several hours, nothing at all happened and we occupied ourselves with various pastimes. Eventually, around 11 o’clock, General Khuder suddenly appeared outside our window and went into the computer lab, not something I’d ever seen him do before. As Major Shea had the morning off, Capt. Williams went over to see what was up. Seems the General had come over to inform us that we must all go over to the new building at 2pm that afternoon to see our new classrooms. Then she shrugged with her hands lifted up and went back to Charlie trailer
Alrighty then. Early lunch!