Gale's Christmas Letter 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Happy Holidays!

This will be my last overseas Christmas letter. After 20 year teaching all over the world I am heading home to San Clemente, California in June. It is truly amazing that I have been able to live and teach in: Indonesia, Czech Republic, Panama, Japan, Myanmar, Qatar and Egypt. How wonderful to be able to experience traveling to so many countries, meeting new people, learning about other cultures, working with some great teachers and teaching students from all over the world. Coming back home will be a whole new adventure. Who knows what job I may find. You might see me in a Starbucks as a barista or working at an Apple Store.

These last five years in Egypt have been both wonderful and somewhat stressful. During the start of my second year here was the H1N1 epidemic, the next year was the revolution, last year we had the presidential elections and now the upheaval over the constitution. This poor country just hasn’t had a break. This weekend is the start of voting on the referendum on the draft constitution that was rushed through by Morsi. Many of my Egyptian friends are very worried about the direction their country seems to be heading. There are many Muslims who do not want a stricter Islamic state.

Luckily where I live and teach in Maadi it has been calm and peaceful. Cairo American College has undergone several changes due to the uncertainty of the Arab Spring. When I arrived the school had so many students there was a building plan in place. A new elementary building was built before the revolution and the new middle school building was already in process. Since then we have about 12% less students. Plus there has also been a lot of turnover in administrators. I have had four directors and 3 elementary principals during my five years. So CAC has definitely had a hard time of it.

Even with all the turmoil I have had a wonderful time traveling all over Egypt. Seeing pyramids: Giza, Dashur and the Saqqara complexes near Cairo. Sailing down the Nile from Aswan to Luxor and visiting the temple ruins, Valley of the Kings, Karnak, etc. Heading out over the Sinai to hike up Mount Sinai or go to the Red Sea. Cruising Lake Nasser to see Abu Simbel. Then there is Alexandria, a lovely port city, or the white dessert. One thing Egypt has so much to see and do I sure hope the political climate settles down and the tourists return. The people need the money so badly.

My travels this year have taken me to South Africa over the last Christmas holiday, Turkey for spring break, California for the summer, Portugal during Eid and Lebanon over the Thanksgiving break. This Christmas holiday I am heading to Kenya and Tanzania with my cousin, Karen, and my friend, Dawn. It is budget travel with a group from Intrepid where we will be roughing it in campgrounds and putting up our own tents. Should be quite an experience.

I hope all is well with all of you. I am thankful that I am happy, healthy and looking forward to the next chapter in my life. It is exciting and a little scary but I know my friends will always be there for me. I am a very lucky girl.

Merry Christmas,