A Voyage of Self-Discovery on the Nile
My journey as an educator has often felt akin to navigating a vast, unpredictable ocean. This metaphorical voyage turned into reality when one of my previous schools organised an end-of-year dinner for its staff on a Nile cruise. The day was set perfectly for a scenic journey; the boat sailed smoothly, and the atmosphere was electrified with excitement.
During this joyful occasion, I was drawn to a solitary walk on the deck, a moment to savour the beauty of the surroundings and contemplate the year that had passed. As I approached the front of the ship, I encountered the captain, a local Egyptian, steering the vessel with confident ease. However, his attire was not what you’d typically expect of a sea captain. Dressed more like a local building caretaker than a ship’s captain, his appearance contradicted the preconceived image I held of what a captain should look like.
This unexpected sight stirred a sense of discomfort within me, a feeling that stemmed not from his capabilities as a captain – the cruise was progressing flawlessly – but from the dissonance between my expectations and the reality. He simply did not fit the stereotypical image of a captain, and this discrepancy sparked introspection.
This moment offered a stark mirror to my own experiences in the realm of international schools. There had been instances when I found myself in the shoes of that captain, not fitting into the expected image simply because of my appearance or origins. Despite possessing the necessary skills and passion, I felt the sting of being perceived as an outsider, judged not by my abilities, but by my exterior.
I had always fit the image of an IT professional perfectly, mirroring society’s expectations for the role. It was a place where my skill set and image were in harmony with societal norms. However, outside this realm, in the broader scope of education, I often felt boxed into stereotypes, much like the captain of our Nile cruise.
This encounter on the Nile led me to confront and question the unconscious biases we carry, the stereotypes we adhere to, and the subtle forms of discrimination they precipitate. It highlighted the unfair expectations we place on individuals based on their appearance or origins, overshadowing their true abilities and potential.
Our captain, in his unconventional attire, symbolised defiance against these stereotypes, proving that skills transcend outward appearances. Similarly, in the face of subtle discrimination, my journey in education has been about asserting that my abilities are not dictated by the conventional image I fit or do not fit into.
The Nile cruise served as a reminder that our true worth is defined by our skills, our passion, and our dedication, not by our outward appearance, titles, or the expectations of others. As I continue my life journey, albeit feeling somewhat late in the field of education, I remain committed to challenging stereotypes and advocating for a world where skills and merit outweigh superficial judgments.