“Hey, hey, hey, hey-now. Don’t be mean; we don’t have to be mean, cuz, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.” — The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
Four years ago today — on September 8, 2014 — I stepped off a United Airlines 777 at Dubai International Airport (DXB) and took the first step on my journey as an expat in the United Arab Emirates. The 1,461 days since have been filled with exponential personal development as I have continuously challenged myself to be a better version of me. Not every lesson has been successful; some took several tries to get right and others are still a work in progress.
Nevertheless, I am progressing personally — in large part because of my fiancée, Sylvia, whom I met here in Dubai. She has taught shown me the strength of faith and the power of positive thinking. With her I have also discovered that, sometimes, even a simple prayer of thanks before a meal can help me reframe a challenging situation. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have plans to improve my present state, but it means I work towards achieving them while embracing the “art of possibility.”
Being in Dubai has also alllowed me to develop professionally in ways that would not have been possible in the United States. After teaching marketing and managment classes for the past three years in the College of Business Administration at the American University in the Emirates, the start of this academic year marks my shift into the College of Education. I will now teach five sections of the following three courses:
- HAP 200, Happiness Studies
- INV 300, Innovation and Entrepreneurship
- TOL 200, Tolerance and Diversity
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Celebrating the start of my fourth year teaching at @aueae! I have switched from the #College of #Business to the College of #Education where I will teach three courses: #innovation and #entrepreneurship, #happiness studies, and #tolerance and #diversity. #Expat #Travel #Teaching #HigherEd #California #LosAngeles #Dubai #LAX #DXB #UAE #AUE #AUEAE #AmericanUniversity #University #Gratitude #Anniversary #NewSemester #NewYear #Engaged #InLove
In related news, the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education selected me as one of 30 educators from a pool of more than 400 applicants to join “Cohort 3” of the “UAE Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program.” The program provides curriculum, programs, and networks to equip the next generation of UAE leaders with an innovation and entrepreneurship mindset to ensure the country’s ongoing economic achievement (this is directly linked to the INV 300, Innovation and Entrepreneurship course I am now teaching). It also included an educational visit to Stanford University this past July 10 to 13, 2018 for specialized training in design thinking, the conceptual foundation of the initiative.
Unfortunately, while being overseas opens opportunities that were not possible for me in the United States, it minimizes the time I can spend with my two amazing sons, Jacob and Max. Despite being far from my sons physically, they are always close to my heart. It is my sincere hope that one day I can make amends for my physical absence in their lives. For now, I make enthusiastic efforts to participate in their lives virtually while maximizing the moments we can share physically.
Overall, I remain grateful for my expat experiences in Dubai. I also look forward to the future with optimism and excitement, despite not being fully clear about what it has in store for me. However, I know that, with Sylvia by my side, anything is possible!
If you want to learn more about my expat adventure, I suggest the following posts: