I guess it’s only right that I should devote a bit of time to Bali International School (www.baliinternationalschool.com) since it is the reason we are here. In February, Stephen received a rather urgent request to replace a teacher here who had broken contract before the ending of the year and her credentials fit nearly perfectly. She is currently teaching 11th and 12th grade chemistry and biology and 10th grade general science; try and find someone to do that on short notice!
The school was founded in 1985 to serve expatriate children and now numbers about 300 students from pre-school through grade 12. The students are from many countries, principally Europe, North America and Australia; many are from marriages of mixed nationalities such as Japanese-British. The faculty as well come from all over the globe so the students get to hear a variety of English accents; most of these students are skilled English speakers which is different from the other places we have been.
This school like most international schools fills a need for quality education that is recognized worldwide. It, like most, belongs to an international accrediting group and like many uses the International Baccalaureate (www.ibo.org) program to give its graduates global standing. This is particularly important in parts of the world where educational standards may be poor or difficult to assess. Students must meet certain academic qualifications to enroll and of course they need quite a bit of money. For the most part the students are hard working and capable and since it is a private school it is rather free of the myriad problems besetting public schools at home; it’s a great place to teach.
The campus, in a quiet residential neighborhood of Sanur, was created by combining several properties and their villas and a variety of building types and styles. Its well tended tropical grounds and air conditioned classrooms make for a pleasant learning environment and it has what is needed to provide a quality education, including a library, auditorium, music rooms, playing fields, a swimming pool and so forth. Each student has a computer so can find plenty of resources online but effort is made in all fields for hands-on learning as well. We got to see an exhibit of student art work last week and it was impressive. One student had created a series of endangered Indonesian animals using waste plastic and packaging materials, another had created a collage titled “war is terrorism with a bigger budget”; these same students are enrolled in higher level IB courses.
We have gotten splendid support from the school. They pay all our travel expenses, provide housing, sent us to Singapore to renew our visas and even put us up in a hotel in Ubud for one weekend when our permanent lodging wasn’t ready. Staff at schools such as this are usually paid pretty well by teaching standards with transport, moving in and relocation costs, health care and other benefits covered. Career international teachers move from place to place every two years or so and therefore need to plan carefully to be prepared for retirement; US teachers don’t pay taxes and do not participate in Social Security. Of course, for us it has been a post-retirement adventure and overall has allowed us to travel to all sorts of places. Some such as Jordan, Egypt and Israel and Hungary and Spain from the relative closeness of Turkey, and Peru, Colombia, Cuba and Chile from the closeness of Ecuador. We went to Italy from Azerbaijan just to escape a bit; we went to Georgia and saw decrepitude worse than Havana. Best of all though is living in a place for a time to get to know it not as a tourist but with a deeper familiarity, its people, places, history and food. Turkey, Ecuador and even Azerbaijan were that way. You could go back to places or spend more time there than if you were on a fixed itinerary. How many times did we go to Cappadocia or visit the Grand Bazaar. How many times did we travel the backbone of the Andes or sink down to the coast on those never-ending descents from 11,000 feet to sea level. Here it’s rice paddies, in Turkey it was apricots, figs and wheat, in Ecuador it was bananas. All of them have volcanoes. The world is a fascinating place and international teaching has been a great door for us.
Well, I guess I didn’t say that much about BIS, did I.