Zoom into the UAE

Communication is key! In the UAE the way we communicate has drastically changed in the last five years. When our family first came to Abu Dhabi Video calling was difficult, at any given moment the government could shut down those capabilities. This was based on intelligence decisions to safeguard their citizens or for reasons the public will never know. This forced communication back to real telephone calls or email and text. With Covid the need to communicate, educate and do business has changed. Zoom has become a reliable platform in the UAE for all these tasks.

Business could not stop any more than necessary under the Covid restrictions. Communication has now been required to be more reliable for their citizens. In the past, disabled video calls crippled social media’s ability to connect its users. The effectiveness and reliability of commonly used Facebook or WhatsApp was a challenge. One could say Covid helped make Zoom in the UAE a trusted tool as a result.

If you do not have a zoom account it is easy to get and essential for an expat! Most friends and family of expats live elsewhere. Navigate to the Zoom website in your browser or go to the App store on your phone. Sign in using your Google Account. This is much simpler than creating profiles in every app or platform you use. Most have a choice to link your accounts.

Communicating as an Expat has never been easier! Keep those you love close, with Zoom!

Online Again

Upon our arrival our kids were transitioning to Gem’s American Academy in person school. The school is beautiful, and the staff is friendly, as well as helpful! The teachers work hard to connect with the kids, and some have a bit of a language barrier if you are an American English-speaking student.

Transitioning to a school out of the country can have its challenges, but when you add Covid on top of it all transitioning becomes even more complicated. Teachers and staff are tested every two weeks and the students were tested upon entry to school. The society at large moves freely to the mall and restaurants with masks and social distancing. At restaurants once you are seated at your table, your mask can be removed. The staff and kids then filter into a school that have more strict guidelines to adhere to, as well as enforce.

At Gems this week, a teacher or staff person has tested positive and all students were moved to online distance learning from home for 14 days. The school itself is new and highly technical already so the transition seemed easier than what I have witnessed in the states. The teachers are more organized and well versed in interaction with their students online at home. Every student was already required to have a laptop and was operating paperless in person at school. Teachers were utilizing the superior technology they were already amazingly comfortable with to bring to online platforms.

Tuition is exceedingly high but is often partially paid or completely paid by the employer here in the UAE. We have six kids, and some have or are currently enrolled in college back in the states. The Gems tuition feels like college tuition. But I must say for the quality of what my kids are receiving as compared to public education, it also feels well worth it.

I am a strong supporter of public education, but our teachers have not been able to keep up with technology in many of our classrooms. Part of the problem is simply the technology is not available for schools struggling to stay funded by the community and keep enrollments up for federal funding. The other issue is training. How can you train and use technology confidently if it isn’t available to practice and use regularly? Covid has forced the issue, at least it did in our little rural community.

As a parent, it becomes a real difficult decision to keep with what feels like a sinking ship by having our kids in public education and on top of that in a rural school that experiences even more difficulty. The technology gap is just too large now to be ignored. Adaption is key! These kids in rural schools are getting caught in the middle; especially for those who are forced because of financial issues to stay in a less technologically equipped system. Outdated technology is not the answer and does little for the rural kids having to compete in the real world with kids who have more advanced technology available and updated consistently.

For expat families, I consider the education a reason to be here. Your kids will have an advantage above the majority of publicly educated kids in the US and even around the world. Education is no longer a memory game for college and testing, it has become a race into teaching your kids how to work and be productive in a technologically advanced world. The world will not wait for your public-school kids to catch up! Education is another example of the UAE doing things right!

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