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Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by laurapanda, Jun 25, 2011.

  1. Hello!

    This is my first year teaching internationally (well, actually, it's my first year teaching!) and as it's a 100% Muslim community all of the students and staff are expected to be fasting. Expat staff are requested to be respectful and not eat or drink on school grounds.

    Apparently the school runs on a reduced timetable, and we have our half term break in August, but not really sure what to expect. The students has mock tests during August, which I think think is a bit cruel.

    Anyway, I'm just looking for a bit of reassurance if I'm honest. I have a bit of a fainting habit when I get dehydrated, so a 6 hour day without water could be interesting. I hope I haven't sounded insensitive- I realise it's much more difficult for the kids,, but I am a bit worried.

    How do other international school adapt around Ramadam?
  2. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    Ridiculous how some countries enforce beliefs of one group (albeit a majority) on non believers. Sneak a bottle of water (or gin) in your bag and take the odd swig when on your own.
    When I worked in the ME the ladies had more regular menstruation patterns than normal (you can't fast when menstruating!)
  3. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Muslim staff one would presume. There is nothing in Islam about forcing non-Muslims to follow fasting. If you want to, that is up to you. If you don't, just do eat or dring in the privacy of the staffroom.
    Why? They are fasting, not going on a hunger strike. The whole country is used to it. I wouldn't go around voicing this opinion if I were you. I also wouldn't complain about the call to prayer which will happen five times a day either.
    If you have a problem with fainting if you are dehydrated then take water and drink it. Most muslims are very tolerant of non-muslims during ramadhan. Naturally one wouldn't expect you to start having ham sandwiches in public but neither one would expect you to put yourself in harms way either.
    I would be more worried about entering a school abroad without having experience behind you, but that is another matter entirely.
    If you don't mind me asking, keep the name of the school to yourself, but which country is it?
  4. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    I am guessing it is either Saudi or Kuwait (probably the latter as in Saudi they are very strict about people drinking or eating in public).
    I think I am right in saying it is RamadaN not RamadaM.
    Our Head has been in UAE for aboout 20 years and still calls it Ramadam.
  5. I'm in the Maldives, in a tiny island community in a school of about 300 kids (Grades 1-A'level) and it's one of the more conservative islands.

    I wish! Fed up of blinking resort prices if I want a (very rare!) drink. Think I may sneak a bottle of water in, though the staff room is rarely empty.

    It gets better, I'm don't even have a PGCE, and I'm teaching A'level in a subject completely different to my degree, but yep. that's a different matter.

    Thanks for the thought everyone. During our in-country 'training' programme, we were told that we shouldn't been seen eating or drinking at all in public, but I will speak to some of the experienced expats and see what their experiences have been in previous years.

    And the prayer call? Doesn't bother me, although I still forget that the shops shut for 2 hours around them, despite being here for 6 months!
  6. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    This should not be too much of a problem. If you really are starving or dying of thirst, just sneak off to the loo or the broom cupboard for a quick sandwich or a drink of water. Just don't be seen in public.
    In KSA, most people actually put on weight during Ramadan because they stuff themselves silly as soon as it gets dark. They sleep during the day, when they are supposed to be fasting, and then party all night. This is the kind of fasting I like! When I was teaching at D*** Al F*** school, I once went into my classroom during Ramadan and all of the students were lying on the floor, fast asleep.
  7. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    Fast asleep or fasting asleep? [​IMG]
  8. Dax


    "Expat staff are requested to be respectful and not eat or drink on school grounds..."
    Respectful? School grounds? Oxymoronish.
    This is quite contrary to my own experience in the Middle East, including Saudia Arabia.
    Non-Muslims, children, pregnant ladies, the old, infirm etc. etc. are all exempt. As are many, many other people.
    Someone in your school is interpreting the Quran in their own idiosyncratic way, and imposing their narrow views on you.
    Good luck mate.
  9. On the school site in an 'not an old' English school in Kuwait, eating around school was fine. On the streets, a swig of water or a drag on a ciggie was instant arrest. It is part of the culture there, or as I say, ***.

  10. Gosh, I will have to spell it out r-e-t-a-r-d-e-d.
  11. kemevez

    kemevez Occasional commenter

    Some local muslims will be sneaking off for a quick bite or a swig of water or gin. They open their mouth to eat and drink but keep it closed in public. Follow their lead and you will be fine.
  12. Spot on Stoppers! Ramadam is the start of a line in the Showaddywaddy song 'Blue Moon'.
    Muslims don't take kindly to ex-pats getting the two mixed up, either....
  13. Wanderer007

    Wanderer007 New commenter

    Ra-ra ra ra - Madam is Lady Ga-Ga ... and her meat outfit! You can't blame the locals... They were "Born this Way" so don't be a "Judas"! Look out for the local police and "Paparazzi". Don't be sad... "Just Dance"! [​IMG] (my Poker face...)
  14. to the OP: am just wondering what your school terms are

    here, in my ME country, school will be shut when it is Ramadan this year which makes things easier.

    However, when it was school during Ramadan (ours is not an international school per se, so not many westerners), the school days were slightly shorter, the staff room windows were blacked out (so anyone not fasting could eat/drink there no probs whenever they were free), there was a specific eating room for the students for their two breaks (with a member of staff on duty) - those were the main arrangements and they worked very well.

    hope it all goes OK
  15. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    I've been rather confused by the whole thread.
    I'm with Hobbes. In my experience, schools usually have designated eating areas for students (younger or non-Muslim) and staff. There are many reasons why Muslim adults might not fast, and in some cases are not even allowed to fast, so even in schools which are completely Muslim there should be possibilities.
    The country's laws are the country's laws, and in many countries ban eating/drinking/smoking in public. But they do not mandate what happens in private. And schools generally set things up to suit various needs.
    If you are Muslim, and banned from fasting, say because you are breast-feeding, then you are required to eat regularly. To fast under these circumstances would be as bad as not fasting for Muslims in general. So it is not really acceptable, the way I understand it, for a school to ban eating and drinking entirely.
  16. nemo.

    nemo. Occasional commenter

    Just take a bottle of water in and discreetly drink it! Having said that fasting isn't that hard I did it for years as married to two Muslim women one of which was Maldivian. I thought the islanders drank toddy (alcohol from distiller palm) but not in Ramadan but you may have a real nutty island head. Most maladivians I met drink but only when overseas
  17. Don't know what all the fuss is about.

    Ramadan will end around the 1st Sept 2011, so when you start the new academic year, Ramadan would have been over.

    And if you are in the KSA or most schools in the ME, they will be shut during Ramadan, so I think, for some the experience of Ramadan is all from the past, of which several years ago!
  18. So let me get this right - many of the posters rpelying and the OP have chosen to work in an Islamic school, presumably in a Muslim majority country, yet do not seem to get the drift of the expectation of them during the Holiest month of the year?
    Read between the lines - you are ebing asked to not eat publically within the school. Similarly Muslims that are not fasting would refrain from eating in front of fasting Muslims. If really in doubt, leave the school grounds for a quick bite to eat during your breaks. Unless in a country where this is forbidden - if so the school's request is even more reasonable IMO. But then again I am a Muslim that always abides by the expectations of host countries I am a guest in.....and think this is perefectly reasonable...
  19. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    No, that is not what the posters have stated. Read the actual lines - not in between them - and you will see the following:
    The school, as the OP has written, has requested that no-one eats on the school grounds. Not even in private if you are non-muslim ( which non-muslims are allowed to do in Islam ).
    The responders have written that most muslim countries do take this into consideration and have rooms set aside for non-muslims and those not able to fast to go and eat discretely.
    Try to get off the moral high horse. Muslims come in all varieties.
  20. Some may make allowances, but as a guest in these countries you must surely accept their rules.
    Maldives state it is forbidden for ANYONE to eat in public places - of which a school would also be -:
    State Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed explained that in all Islamic countries it is also prohibited for non-muslims to eat or drink anything on the streets during Ramadan.
    ”Non-Muslims should respect the month of Ramadan, and our beliefs and culture,” said Shaheem. ”That doesnt mean that they can’t eat in their homes, in their private life.”
    Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said that police would take action against foreigners observed to be eating publicly during the holy month of Ramadan, ”and as for Maldivians, we will send cases to the Prosecutor General’s office and to court. With foreigners also we will take action according to suggestions from the PG.”

    Thus, I would say the HT was very reasonable and indeed forward thinking to prewarn teachers. TBH any teacher entering into a contract in an Islamic country and not doing some homework about such issues is rather foolish.
    Sadly there is a whole world of difference between what Islam states and the actions of countries that are supposedly ruled by Muslims. This issue being one such case. Allah knows best.

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