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What to do when a country is no longer peaceful

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by ed717, May 15, 2019.

  1. ed717

    ed717 New commenter

    Hi all,

    As a few of you may know from my sporadic ramblings, I have been living very happily in Sri Lanka for the past three years. I really love the school, my colleagues, my students, and my friends here.
    Recent events have changed the country completely for the foreseeable future. I went to Vietnam in the easter holidays and feel like I have come back to a different country. School attendance has been rock bottom for the past 3 weeks, with schools closed for 2 weeks after the bombings on Easter Sunday. The headteacher told us that in the 1980s, when the Tamil tigers were the most active, schools were closed for 3 months and parents stopped paying the fees, therefore teachers were not paid.
    I know that terror attacks can happen anywhere, yet in Europe things get back to normal very quickly. Here it is dragging on, with the whole country under curfew again the past couple of days after anti-Muslim riots. Muslim owned factories and shops have been destroyed, with one killed. The government is weak and corrupt and many are worried that things are going to spiral out of control. It also looks like America is getting involved, which probably will not end well.

    Have any of you continued to live in a country where something like this is happening? In your experience, would you wait out the storm, or decide to leave? I have already signed my contract until July 2020, but the situation seems very uncertain, therefore I am also beginning to feel uncertain. Would really appreciate some advice on this as I want to stay, but I'm starting to get hounded by family and friends that its not safe etc etc.
  2. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    I love Sri Lanka, and it's really heartbreaking to see what is going on there. The terrorists have taken advantage of the political conflict between the Prime Minister and the President, and neither of them seem prepared to compromise with the other for the benefit of the whole country. We visited in 1998 and it has left a mark on us - friends visited in January of this year and found it so beautiful and peaceful then.

    I think you have to make a judgement call based on your own circumstances. If you have a family, then I would speak to your school about leaving which I think is a no-brainer at the moment - the US has recently recalled all children and family of diplomatic staff, and the UK is advising against all but essential travel. If you are single, then it's really your own decision based on your knowledge of what things are like there. You will face some lifestyle decisions - places where you previously went you may no longer be able to go - and you have to think about how that might compromise what you like doing.

    I doubt that any sensible school to which you apply at this time would consider this an unreasonable breach of contract (because that's what it technically would be) given the circumstances, and - especially if you are a UK or US citizen - your school would need to be particularly unreasonable if they were to hold you to it. You are probably not the only person thinking this in the school, so it's probably worth talking to colleagues to see what they feel.
  3. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    I lived in Kuwait for a few years after the first Iraq war with some saber rattling, but I never felt personally threatened.

    The attacks in Sri Lanka were against the general population and a few western hotels and the death toll was saddening.

    If you think you are being targeted as a foreigner I would leave the country. If you think it would only be an attack of random chance against yourself I would probably stay. The number of knife attacks in London puts me off ever visiting the city again.

    But where in the world would you be safe from Islamic terrorists?
  4. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    As many of you know, I stayed in Tehran throughout the Iranian Revolution and for a year afterwards. There were a couple of hairy moments, but I never really felt personally threatened, and I felt a strong emotional commitment to the school I was working at and so I stayed. Never regretted it...
    SPC2 likes this.
  5. 576

    576 Established commenter

    My friend is in Sri Lanka.
    I've never been in your position but I agree that if you choose to leave most schools will understand.

    But it is mid May so you should decide soon and as part of the decision making process evaluate how long you can live on your savings for if you can't line up a job for next year.
  6. mikemcdonald25

    mikemcdonald25 Occasional commenter

    I was in Argentina during a coup and never felt really threatened but then it was a coup aimed at the, then government, not the general population or foreigners so a different beast entirely.

    Good advice from amysdad.
  7. taiyah

    taiyah Occasional commenter

    I have at least 10 colleagues who stayed in the Middle-East during the Gulf War. Their cars were bomb checked everytime they entered their compound. Was advised to carry a ready to leave backpack with passports and other valuables with them everywhere they went. They are still here admiring the sand.
  8. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Is he trying to tell you something?
  9. kemevez

    kemevez Occasional commenter

    Indeed. Some schools, in this kind of emergency situation, say quite unequivocally that you can leave and we won’t hold it against you, we will pay you up and we will facilitate your exit. Others, for a host of reasons, don’t. He probably is trying to tell you something.
  10. gone east

    gone east New commenter

    Blimey! I didn't know that. Which schools in Iran? I was a student there then, first in Tehran and then in BA.
  11. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    Iranzamin and then Parthian School, both in Tehran...
  12. teachtronic

    teachtronic New commenter

    my thoughts exactly, it could be you may no longer be paid if the unrest continues. start looking for jobs elsewhere is my advice.
  13. SPC2

    SPC2 Occasional commenter

    With reference to the OP, out of curiosity I just googled the current FCO advice for Sri Lanka:

    The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka, due to the current evolving security situation following attacks on 21 April 2019. This advice does not apply if transiting Colombo airport, providing that passengers remain airside in the airport.

    Any views on how reliable/accurate FCO advice is? I'm guessing it might vary by country.

    In times past, I had access to Control Risks services, which were top-notch: comprehensive database on countries, facility to sign up for SMS updates (which stopped me heading out to an area in SE Asia that had flooded the night before), 24 hour help desk. Worth mentioning to any school in a time or place of crisis IMO. Their Asia Pacific Risk Map still has Sri Lanka at Medium https://www.controlrisks.com/-/medi...18-11-29-riskmap-2019-map-regions-asia-a3.pdf
    ed717 and adrixargentina like this.
  14. frogusmaximus

    frogusmaximus Occasional commenter

    For me, if i had a family I'd probably leave but as a single guy i'd think differently. If I were happy i'd remain.

    When i was in Saudi, certain 'friends' told me I was selfish for staying - in terms of being a father to a young daughter at that time - when a westerner was beheaded after being kidnapped from the mall car park i visited each week. Stayed for four years and never had a problem. Always felt safe but equally never did anything to make myself vulnerable and never traveled alone.
  15. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Danger was always in the air when we were in Kenya, everything from matatus to mambas to mosquitoes. One teacher we knew had a curse put on her by the local witchdoctor. Her dog died mysteriously, a mirror was cracked and there was a nasty smell in her bungalow. She found out what the problem was when the maid rushed out of the house in tears and remained at the far end of the garden, screaming and crying. The maid had found the hex hidden behind the sofa when she was doing the cleaning. And that is the kind of thing they won't warn you about in a TES job advertisement!
    blueskydreaming likes this.
  16. rachel_g41

    rachel_g41 Established commenter

    You can't just leave it like that!
    Did they remove whatever was hidden behind the sofa and did bad things stop happening?
  17. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    She got in the local Roman Catholic priest. The RC chaps usually know what to do. (Usually the hex or curse is a collection of bones and feathers, tied together.) It all stopped and the bad smell disappeared.

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