A Concerned Citizen’s Perspective on Kuwait
Brings Many Positive Comments
As evidenced by reviews on the ISR web site, plenty of teachers have had less than favorable experiences teaching in Kuwait. Recently an expat teaching in Kuwait posted an article titled Kuwait Culture Shock. In response to this article a Kuwaiti Citizen sent his reaction to the article. His article went live on ISR and prompted readers to submit their take on his perspective. The majority of those comments supported his defense of Kuwait. You can read these comments below.
POSITIVE REPONSES TO “CONCERNED CITIZEN’S” ARTICLE
Mr.Al Rumaih tells it as it is. Our experience in Kuwait, while perhaps a bit boring, was entirely enjoyable. We were treated with respect and dignity by almost every Kuwaiti we met and always by the expatriates working for these Kuwaitis. Arab hospitality and generosity towards their guests is famous worldwide and a few who fail to live up to that image do NOT represent the majority. We made some wonderful friends among the students, staff and parents of the school we worked in. We were treated fairly and in fact quite generously by the owners of the school and while my wife did have a few occasions of being harassed, she still felt quite safe with the security and behavior of the majority of Kuwaiti men she met. It is unfair and unconscionable for people who write articles on the ISR to paint all Arabs,Muslims and Kuwaitis with the same brush. Yes, Wasta is a big part of Kuwaiti life, yes it is a traditional country and very distinct from the USA but so is Canada! or the UK.
We have as many issues and problems with influence peddling and corruption in North america as they do in other parts of the world. Our experience in Mexico confirmed this. We go overseas to experience and learn from these differences and to enjoy diversity and unusual, unpredictable experiences, not all of which are pleasant. As we say where I come from, ” C’est la vie”.
I agree with the message conveyed in this article. I lived in Kuwait and taught at the American School of Kuwait for two years. While I decided it was not the place for me, I did enjoy all that Kuwait had to offer. I found it difficult at times to adhere to some of the foreign customs, such as Ramadan. However, I immensely enjoyed the welcoming nature of the Arab culture that I found in Kuwait. I enjoyed the parties in the desert, smoking shisha with friends and talking for hours over tea while going through the motions of purchasing a beautiful hand-created carpet.
There were definitely times that it was not easy for me, as a single white North American woman, but I learned a lot from my students and their families. In fact, I still keep in touch with some of them and remind them of how much I enjoyed my time in their home. I even tell them that at times, I really do miss it.
Kuwait does have its problems, what country doesn’t? If you are not flexible enough to look outside yourself and appreciate the differences, then Kuwait is definitely not the place for you. In fact, overseas teaching is probably not the right job choice. However, if you like to experience different cultures and face new challenges, I would definitely recommend Kuwait as a first step. Many speak English and you can find many of the conveniences of the West (think Starbucks and Marks & Spencers). In fact, I recommended the American School of Kuwait to a friend that I made at my current school. She is teaching there now.
Whatever you decide when offered a job in Kuwait, know that it will be vastly different from where you are currently coming from. But also know that those differences can provide a richness to your life that you would not be able to get elsewhere.