Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Serenity amidst madness

We have a fantastic secretary in the English cluster. She is super organized, bilingual, and a real hoot. I am so glad I've gotten to meet her and I really think if we'd worked together in the States that we would have been friends there too.

Because she's got such a sweet disposition, I feel like she gets taken advantage of. She often has to do menial tasks that should be done by the principal's assistant or the librarians. One such case is the English resource library.

Granted, it's not a major leap to understand why the librarians passed this task off on her: she speaks English, the books are all in English. But that's where the logical connections end! She's not a librarian, and she wasn't hired to be a librarian's assistant. But, as with most things in education, the tracks of logic are pretty short. Saudi Arabia is no exception.

So she's got to catalog these books. There's some sort of computer system that the library uses, and they showed her how to enter the books on it. Get this: The information that the librarians require includes the title, the author, the ISBN, the number of pages, and the height.

That's all.

No Dewey decimal number. No topical category. Just a physical description.

Our cluster secretary is just OCD enough that she's taken it a step further. She went to the Aramco librarians, and asked for a list of the Dewey categories so she could at least categorize the books.

I found out this information and my jaw dropped. And then I had a moment of clarity: When I went to the library a few months back searching for a Jon Scieszka book, the librarian asked me if it was a tall book...BECAUSE THAT'S HOW THEY CATEGORIZE THE BOOKS! Fiction or non-fiction, then height!!

I was ranting about the stupidity of this system--I think I said something about John Dewey rolling over in his grave--when I noticed that one of my colleagues who has a desk next to our secretary's was looking at me with a hopeless expression and saying something. I couldn't hear her over the screaming inside and outside my head.

"What are you saying?" I asked her. She didn't stop to repeat her words, she just kept on truckin'

"--to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

I exploded in laughter! The Serenity Prayer has definitely become my new motto in my new home.

Vicariously yours,

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