Work ‘n’ Culture shock

I had never had to job hunt on the island. I was either recruited for summer jobs when I was younger or I did translating and editing jobs piecemeal, or I’ve worked in the University. That’s it. I’ve job hunted in the US but never here. It was frustrating watching Mag try and try and try to find work here and fail repeatedly. The system by which jobs are procured in the US does not work here.

In the US you buy your Sunday paper and you look at the classifieds and Monday at the butt crack of dawn you start faxing, calling and running around to try and occupy the desired position. Not so here. Classifieds are used sometimes for jobs in the San Juan area (3 hours away from us) but not even then. Instead, you hear about it from a friend. We get our jobs via chisme. So if you are lucky enough to know the right person, voila, you have a job.

I have started applying at many private schools here which don’t require a teaching license which I do not possess. Nevermind that I am doing a Master’s in English Education, the program is not conducive to certification. Go figure. Allow me to digress in order to explore one of those paradoxes which are along the lines of the 8 hotdogs to a pkg, 6 buns to a pkg order of magnitude:

1. Parents pay–often LOTS– to send their sweet little children to private school.
2. Private schools also receive government subsidies and grants and denomination sponsorship.
3. Private schools also get a cut of sales from books, uniforms, gym pants and notebooks with the school logo.
4. Private schools also get money from fundraisers, alumni, etc.

Then… how on earth is it possible that

Private schools pay UNDER $1000 per month in most cases??

Of course they have incredibly high turnover because you can’t live on that much money and when teachers get offered better jobs or get a chance to enter the public schools, which pay better although not well, they leave. The private schools don’t have substitute lists in place for the most part.

Of course they don’t have the best teachers because they don’t pay enough to get the best teachers.

So, where is all that money going? I don’t think it all goes into curricular design because I’ve seen the curriculae. It’s a mystery. And why would parents pay lots of money to send their kids to schools with underpaid teachers…?

Anyway, culture shock. Yeah. Applying to these schools implies a whole different set of codes. Starting with what the hell to wear. I had a debate that paralyzed me in the bedroom with clothes strewn all about me. Clothing has very much to do with my philosophy of education. If I am teaching elementary school and I have a hands on style and I move around a lot and get dirty, I don’t want to wear dry clean only suits and heels to school. To me, nice clothes for teaching are comfortable and washable clothes for teaching. But no. See, image is important at these schools. I watched while teachers walked in, or should I say tottered in, in their sparkly high heels with gauzy dresses on and runway makeup. I at least wore heels with my jeans. *sigh*

I sat in offices while mothers gossiped about other mothers, about money, about cars, about the teachers all while I filled out the application and debated lying about which religious denomination I belong to. I mean really, will they check?

I am applying to enter a world which is completely foreign to me. I understand education, I understand the classroom, I understand children. I don’t understand elaborate pecking orders, name dropping as a necessary qualification for employment or the disdain some teachers express for their profession. Why again would you take a job for under 12000 per year if you hate it? Sears pays more than that. Only reason I’m not applying at Sears is because that job would kill my soul, teaching for peanuts would not.

Mag got a job. She was called one night by the owners of a pizza place and told to ‘come in tomorrow to work.’ They called once and didn’t leave a message, then she called back. Had she not called back, would she not have a job? Notice, I didn’t mention any interview. That’s because there wasn’t one. Just come in tomorrow to work. Wow.

I love my island, I truly love my tropical paradise… but sometimes we can be pretty ass backwards.
So, while Maggie is making pizzas (or trying to despite the lack of training) I am trying to crack the code in order to fit in enough to get hired somewhere to teach something, anything, for peanuts. Peanuts are good.

My appeal is scheduled for the 24th and I should have news by 1:30 PM. I still harbor a tiny nugget of hope that I’ll be allowed to enroll this semester and carry-on. All prayers, happy thoughts, chocolate cakes and support are most appreciated. Don’t worry I won’t check the denomination or religion.



  1. hugo Said:

    If you need help hating, I mean understanding private schools email me. I survived la presbi for a semester and la inmaculada for 2 1/2 years.

    …in both i was labeled a satanist because i always wore black.

  2. thealeticia Said:

    Shit! You mean they do check the religion you put down! 😉

    I guess I won’t be putting you down as a reference oh dark one! LOL

  3. hugo Said:

    If you dare mention my name you’ll be banished forever. When i quit la presbi for the AIC i received a letter from the landlord, i mean principal, where he asked me never to step again in his kingdom, i mean school (this is true, although I burned the letter I can recall the medieval language)

  4. thealeticia Said:

    LOL! Perhaps I should revise my cover letter and write about how evil and bad it is to try and do extra-curricular activities at schools, how conformity is god and how conservatism and prejudice are important values to teach our children. In fact, I’ll be put ‘conformity’ in the space for religion on the apps from now on 😉

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