The day after we arrived in Egypt, we were in the hotel getting to know the other new teacher’s at my wife’s school and the principal mentioned due to the recent political instability a few of the teachers that they had hired would no longer be coming. They asked me if they were unable to fill them, if I would consider teaching one of the grades.
At first I thought she was joking. She knew I was a dietitian and had no teaching training.
She was serious.
Apparently they’d done this sort of thing in the past. I told them I’d be open to it if they were in a jam, but realistically I was hoping they’d be able to find someone else. While the notion of having a job immediately after arriving here, not to mention a well-paying one at that, was certainly appealing, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to competently do the job.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and fortunately the school was able to fill all of their teaching jobs. Whew! That said, I have been added to the substitute teacher list, so I may end up taking a few shifts here and there. I suppose we’ll see how that goes. At least I won’t have to worry about planning lessons, evaluation and all that other good teaching stuff.
But now that that’s settled and we’ve started to acclimatize to our new life here in Maadi, I think its time for me to try to find a job – that is a nutrition-related job.
When I first told people that I’d be moving to Egypt, people inevitably asked what I would be doing for work. My response was always the same. I wanted to accomplish two things career-wise while over here – 1) I wanted to find something nutrition-related and 2) I wanted to contribute financially at least in some way. If I could meet both criteria with one position all the better, but if I needed to do a combination of things to make it work, I was open to that too. I also wasn’t all that keen on finding something full time. One of the biggest reasons we moved here was so that we could take time to explore the country and do some international travelling. The last thing I wanted was to not have the flexibility to travel while my wife was on one of her (many) breaks from school.
So where to start? When my wife accepted her teaching position, she asked the school for advice on where I might be able to look for employment. The principal suggested the Community Services Association (CSA) in Maadi. The CSA is an english speaking community centre for expatriates in Cairo. They have all sorts of programming to help people adjust to their new lives in Egypt. After a quick internet search back in May, I was able to find that they had a fitness centre, but no nutrition services.
So I sent them my CV.
I thought that perhaps I could offer some group classes, one-on-one counselling sessions or even I could write articles for their monthly magazine. I heard back after a couple of days and they expressed interest in meeting to discuss things further when I got settled in Cairo. Yesterday, I sent the manager a message to inquire if they are still interested in working with me. I’ve yet to hear back, but I’m optimistic that something will come of this. I really believe I can nicely complement the other services the CSA already offers.
If nothing comes from this CSA opportunity, I plan to touch base with one of the local NGO’s. I’ve found that Plan International has offices not too far from our apartment. CARE international also appears to be doing some health & wellness program work, so that might also be an option. The only small downside of working with these organizations are that the positions will almost certainly be volunteer. But like I said, as long as I’m able to contribute financially in some other way (ie. substitute teaching), it’s by no means a deal breaker.
Networking is probably going to be key to me finding a job here – even more so than back in Canada. Very few potential employers seem to post anything online (or even have websites for that matter!). In fact, even just speaking with other teachers and their spouses, I’ve gotten a few other leads. One of the teacher’s husbands pointed me to a couple of websites that may have local dietitian jobs (UN jobs and Relief Web) – nothing nutrition-related in Cairo yet, but they both constantly post new positions, so something may come up there.
Language may be an issue for me finding work quickly, which is why I signed up to take Arabic classes soon. Unfortunately they are not starting until mid-October, so I’ll try to learn a little on my own until then (basics like the alphabet, phonetics and numbers). My wife and I have studied Spanish in the past, but Arabic is on a whole other level. The script and pronunciations are so different than English, it’s going to take a lot of work, but seeing as we’ll be here for at least two years, it will be worth it.
That’s where I’m at so far. I’m hoping the next post I make about my job situation will be announcing my new position!