Expat marks the spot?

Sheikh-Mohammed-3-FingersThree years ago today — September 8, 2014 — I first set foot in Dubai and took the first of many steps that have led me to my new life as an expat. Although emotionally anchored to my two amazing sons in Los Angeles, Jacob and Max, Dubai has revealed to me new friendships and opportunities I could have never realized in the United States.

Included among these opportunities is the very real possibility that I can finally earn a PhD, thanks to the American University in the Emirates (AUE). On a more personal level, my time in Dubai has opened my heart to new love, which has in turn filled me with hope and faith, two things with which I have long struggled.

I am thankful for Jumeira University, which first opened the door to this incredible experience, AUE for providing me with the next step, and for everyone who played a part in my process of self discovery and development. I am also filled with pride for my sons’ accomplishments and appreciation their increasing ability to understand why it was necessary for me to go overseas; despite being far from them physically, they are always close to my heart.

Most notably I am grateful to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and ruler of Dubai, for making Dubai a place where even the wildest dreams can come true.

Guest speakers offer a wonderful way to bring textbooks to life and show your students how they can connect theory with reality. I’ve had many exceptional individuals share their insights and experiences with my students.

MGT 100, Guest Speaker, Tony Quartararo, 2015114, Photo 4So I was thrilled when, on Saturday, November 14, 2015, Anthony Quartararo stopped by my MGT 100, Principles of Management class at American University in the Emirates (AUE).

Mr. Quartararo is the President and CEO of St. Petersburg, Florida based Spatial Networks, Inc. Spatial Networks is the developer behind Fulcrum, a mobile data collection platform that you can use to build, deploy, and collect data with customized iOS and Android apps.

He founded Spatial Networks in 2000 and has been involved in business activities in Central and South Asia, North Africa, Near East, Latin America and East Asia. In total, he has more than 20 years of experience in the geospatial industry. He holds a BA in Geography/GIS from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and spent 3 years working towards an MA in Geography/GIS from Portland State University.

His professional tenure includes positions managing multi-year international map production projects, analyzing business and competitive intelligence, managing human capital, collecting field data, procuring data, and both acquiring and visualizing human geography data.

During the 90 minutes he spent with my class Mr. Quartararo spoke about five main topics: 1.) Management Style and Issues, 2.) Integrity, 3.) Technology, 4.) Mediocrity, 5.) Human Resources/Career Paths. He also answered several questions from students.

Video clips of each segment follow; or you can watch a playlist of all five videos:

Empowerment and Failure

Integrity and Cultural Context

Technology

Mediocrity

HR and Career Paths

For more information about Anthony, Spatial Networks, and Fulcrum please visit the links below:

• Anthony Quartararo LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/anthonyquartararo
• Anthony Quartararo Twitter: https://twitter.com/tonyquartararo
• Fulcrum Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fulcrumapp
• Fulcrum Twitter: https://twitter.com/fulcrumapp
• Fulcrum Website: http://www.fulcrumapp.com
• Fulcrum YouTube:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp9XRb4VJpWTtFhPsyN5rWg
• Spatial Networks Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/spatialnetworks
• Spatial Networks Twitter: https://twitter.com/spatialnetworks
• Spatial Networks Website: http://spatialnetworks.com/

“I have to work on my birthday?”

For most people, the idea of working on their birthday is anathema. For me, it was an advantage. More specifically, the “presence” of my students during part of my recent birthday was a priceless “present.” Teaching is my passion, but I would not be a teacher without students. I am therefore thankful for my students, my priceless “birthday gifts” with whom I am privileged to learn.

Case in point: I celebrated my birthday yesterday, February 22, and was fortunate to end the day teaching a “Marketing Research and Strategic Applications” class for UCSB Extension (where I have taught marketing classes since January 2008).

February 22, 2012: Celebrating My Birthday at UC Santa BarbaraTo my surprise, and sincere gratitude, my students — many of whom I  taught previously in a “Buying Behavior” and/or “Principles of Marketing” class — had baked and brought a cake, brownies and other treats.

They also sang “Happy Birthday” which I recorded and threatened to upload to YouTube, but out of gratitude for their kindness, I spared them!

It has been a long time since I experienced such kindness from people I primarily know professionally. I was never this thrilled to have “worked” on my birthday (although I enjoy teaching so much, I hesitate to call it “work”).

I spent the earlier part of the day (and President’s Day two days earlier) with my family and volunteered with my younger son’s class the day after my birthday, and planned to do the same the day after that with my older son. Definitely an exceptional birthday week!

Nevertheless, birthdays offer me a moment of self assessment: a time when I look at where I’ve been and where I see myself going. I am hopeful for the future, despite some recent challenges. I am also thankful to feel fortunate about my career.

Unfortunately, as Henry David Thoreau once mused, “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” I interpret this to mean that most people live without ever realizing their dreams or getting a chance to “follow their bliss” (as Joseph Campbell would say).

For many years I was in that predicament. Pressured to support someone else’s dreams while my own were relegated to irrelevance, I knew my situation needed to change. Fortunately, I persevered and, when opportunities arose, I took control of my destiny and finally found my bliss.

This inspires me to surround my sons with unconditional love, impenetrable support, and rational guidance. I will do what it takes, regardless of the sacrifice, to help them achieve their dreams. I will help them see challenges as opportunities and problems as purpose.

Similarly, I discovered a September 19, 2011 convocation speech by John S.W. Park — Chair and Professor of Asian American Studies and affiliated Sociology faculty member at UCSB.

In his speech, Park encourages students “instead of just picking a major, pick a problem;” with the goal of solving that problem during their time at UCSB. Quite an inspirational approach to figuring out your life’s purpose!

Looking back to my years of “quiet desperation” I am grateful for the opportunities I had to pursue my professional dreams while growing personally.

So, will you celebrate having to work on your next birthday?

On Saturday, September 2, 2006 I “officially” enrolled in my second career: teaching. It was on that date that I taught — of all subjects — my first traffic school class! Crammed with 40 students into the meeting room of a motel in Woodland Hills, CA without working air conditioning on a 100+ degree day —  it was almost literally trial by fire!

After Teaching a Public Speaking Class at National University in Los Angeles, CA (10/29/2010)In the five years that followed I have matured immeasurably as an instructor and managed to forge my own path into the world of academia. I now teach a variety of on-line and on-campus marketing, management, communication and writing classes (in addition to the occasional traffic school class).

The schools for which I now teach include UC Santa Barbara (Extension), UCLA (Extension), National University, Strayer University, and Axia College of University of Phoenix.

While teaching at these (and other) schools, I’ve had the privilege of learning with students from countries including Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kuwait,  Mexico, Mongolia, Nigeria, Norway, Paraguay, Russia, Spain, Taiwain, the Philippines, and Turkey.

For those of you curious about how I have found my way to teaching opportunities, my most common methods are through personal referrals, social media relationships, postings in the Education/Teaching Jobs section of Craigslist, HigherEdJobs.com and the jobs section of the Chronicle of Higher Education website.

Although I am dedicated to continually improving, I am confident in my abilities to create curriculum, inspire my students and manage a classroom. My students respond positively to my methods and I appreciate their consistently positive reviews. I’ve also become quite adept at driving all over Southern California to teach! On a related note, I am grateful for having taught traffic school: it helped me develop a casual, yet professional style in my classes.

Feeling Content Before Teaching a Class at DeVry University in Bakersfield, CA (1/27/2009)Numerically speaking, by my estimation, I have taught more than 150 classes (roughly 115 college level classes and 39 traffic school classes) and have learned with approximately 2,200 students! I am honored to have shared a learning experience with so many students and look forward to the individuals with whom I will have an opportunity to learn in the next five years!

Speaking of which, as a lifelong learner, I embrace Søren Kierkegaard’s idea that “to be a teacher in the right sense is to be a learner.” I join with my students on a journey towards generative learning which, according to Peter Senge, “enhances our capacity to create.” Learning generatively connects existing knowledge about a subject with emerging ideas about it, resulting in a more personalized understanding. In a classroom, a generative learning approach encourages students to individually engage material rather than passively listen to lectures.

It is for this reason that I am motivated by the motto “semper discens, semper faciens,” which translates to “learn continuously, live generatively.” To help my students learn generatively, I avoid assignments that require repetition of information in deference to papers, presentations and projects that provide a platform with which they can confront personal or professional issues. When possible, I customize curriculum to meet the needs of each class and am responsive to change throughout the term.

Acting as a “guide on the side” and not a “sage on the stage,” I combine learning with laughter and encourage students to pursue their individual ideas. Having taught students of various ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds, I am especially sensitive to the diverse challenges with which my students might be contending. Considering this, I believe an educational environment should encourage students to compete with themselves, not with each other. Learning should create community, not competition. When one of us succeeds, all of us succeed.

After Teaching a Marketing Class at UC Santa Barbara (10/28/2010)Interdisciplinary by nature, I teach courses in business, communication, English, technology and traffic safety. While each discipline is distinct, I consider their common intersection with humanity, technology and industry. I often include elements of one or more of them in every class, regardless of its primary focus. I encourage my students to shatter preconceptions and create meaningful knowledge.

In summary, although it can be as challenging as it is rewarding, teaching allows me to help shape the lives of others while giving my life greater meaning.

By coincidence October 30, 2008, marked two very special events in my professional life: my first anniversary at DeVry University in Bakersfield and the day on which I learned that I was hired as an adjunct instructor by National University.

3384976248_1a320a0753_z

My tenure at DeVry has been nothing short of life altering. For me, being hired at DeVry marks the moment when I officially became a “real live” classroom teacher. Although I had already been hired to teach online courses for Axia College of University of Phoenix, there was something incredibly validating about being in a classroom.

I suddenly felt like a legitimate teacher — as if I had finally emerged as an educator.

I can partially thank my experience with Axia as one of the reasons why, as a relatively unproven teacher, I was hired at DeVry (though I did teach traffic school, so that must have counted for something, right?).

I must also acknowledge Center Dean Barry J. Bailey for taking a chance on me.  His decision to let me initially teach two courses on a trial basis has fundamentally changed the course of my career (and, to be honest, my life).

Since embarking on my relatively new career in academia, each new school at which I am hired leads to another opportunity. There is something affirming and encouraging about this experience (and it is one that I hadn’t encountered for some years prior to venturing into teaching).

I have also realized how intertwined my experiences have been at every school where I have taught and am teaching: I continuously learn from each situation, thereby improving my overall aptitude as an educator.

Whether it is sharing best practices with colleagues, receiving guidance from my supervisors or as simple as listening to my students, I am in a constant state of learning.

In the year since I started teaching at DeVry there I have taught 16 sections of the following business, computer and English courses:

  • BUSN-115 (Introduction to Business and Technology)
  • COMP-100 (Computer Applications for Business with Lab)
  • COMP-129 (PC Hardware and Software)
  • ENGL-032 (Developmental Writing and Reading)
  • ENGL-092 (Intermediate English)
  • ENGL-112 (Composition)
  • ENGL-135 (Advanced Composition)
  • MGMT-303 (Principles of Management)
  • MGMT-404 (Project Management)

I continue to grow and mature as an individual and instructor at DeVry and look forward to many more years at this respected and forward-thinking educational organization. I am also anticipating teaching some new courses in the coming months, which should provide added energy and excitement to my experience there.

National University promises to be another exciting step in my career development.  Once again, I have Los Angeles Craigslist Education and Teaching Jobs to thank for this lead and Bettina Moss for giving me another wonderful opportunity.

Again, I can’t stress the impact that a few key individuals have had on my professional progress. Their generosity is even more notable considering that other individuals who I already knew and asked for assistance have sometimes been less than helpful. This is definitely a lesson in “paying it forward!”

As explained on it’s website:

“National University is the second-largest, private, nonprofit institution of higher learning in California. Founded in 1971, National University consists of five schools and one college, including the Schools of Business and Management; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and Media and Communication; and the College of Letters and Sciences.”

Additionally, National is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and is also non-profit — a notable distinction. I previously had known National University as a resource for individuals seeking a teaching credential and an avenue for active educators seeking advanced degrees.

However, National University also offers more than 50 graduate and undergraduate degrees — with more than 1,200 courses online.

National University courses are a quick four weeks in duration: eight four-hour classroom meetings during the week and two four-hour Saturday sessions.

In comparison, DeVry courses are eight weeks in length (with one or two physical meetings a week depending on the course type) and Axia courses are nine-weeks of entirely online education.

I am also teaching for another school, Florida Career College, which recently launched an online program with six-week sessions.

At first I will be teaching traditional classroom-based courses at the Los Angeles Campus (which is near Los Angeles International Airport), but eventually I might teach in a hybrid model similar to that which DeVry uses.

The courses I was hired to teach include the following (though as of today I have only been scheduled to teach one section of the first course, COM-103, Oral Communication, which is set to begin at the end of November.

And, so it is with great gratitude that I look back to my last year of teaching at DeVry and even more excitement that I look ahead to another year of continued career development!

Time flies!

On March 20, 1996 I completed my last undergraduate class at UC Santa Barbara. Notably, I finished a quarter early — thanks to a handful of advanced placement courses in high school (and by petitioning to have some classes count for several requirements — strategy!).

UC Santa Barbara: 1109 North Hall

My last class was English 40, English Literature 1800 to 1900, with Eloise Knapp Hay. Sadly, this was her last class as well: she passed away a few weeks later on April 30, 1996 of inoperable brain cancer.

None of us knew she was sick nor would we have believed it had she told us. Incidentally, the author of her obituaryFrank McConnell — another teacher I had at UCSB — died three years after her. In class we mainly studied the works of romantic poets such as William Wordsworth and William Blake — in whose honor I launched “William Blake: Cybersongs of Innocence.”

It was also the last class for another student: we completed our final exams at the same time and we lingered in the hallway just outside of the classroom. I had a large brownie and, perhaps in an act of poetic preparation, she had a small bottle of champagne.

browniesWe celebrated our achievement in a platonic way befitting the class. We shared the brownie and champagne while reminiscing about our undergraduate experiences and discussing our post-graduation plans. It was a bohemian way to finish our romantic poetry class and our undergraduate college experience.

This date is also bittersweet because, while it marks a positive milestone, it also signifies my first step towards a time in my life that was often wrought with challenges and obstacles.

Thankfully, as a result of ongoing introspection and guidance from friends and colleagues, I am now aligned with my purpose in life: educationI am grateful for the opportunities I have been presented by institutions at which I am now teaching, have taught, or one day will teach.  Each one gives me a unique perspective on teaching and allows me to work with exceptional students with bright futures.

Most importantly each one also allows me to continue learning. And so, despite my mixed feelings about the years after I graduated, I look forward to the coming years with hope and optimism.

So, I’ve got a brownie — who has the champagne?

This past week has been one of exceptional transition for me on multiple levels: physically, metaphysically, emotionally, personally and professionally. I am sure I left out a few other relevant words that also end in “lly” but you get the idea.

After realizing that an “employment experiment” into which I recently endeavored was not a fit for me, instead of postponing the inevitable, I made a conscious decision to recuse myself before things became untenable. After a reasonably painless, but seemingly too long final two weeks, my last day was this past Friday.

I am now filled with an empowering sense of pride and excitement. Interestingly, this feeling lingered in the back of my mind on and off for several months, but never found a conduit through which it could blossom. However, it began to emerge during New Student Orientation (NSO) at Fielding Graduate Unviersity and has been a constant undercurrent ever since.

UC Santa Barbara: 1109 North HallSomething about the experience really “flipped a switch” and confirmed to me that teaching is the path I need to pursue.  After NSO I felt as if I had to heed this call; nothing else would satiate it. I primarily see myself as a classroom teacher and secondarily in a corporate training role, although these two incarnations of the same concept are not mutually exclusive: I can envision serving in both capacities concurrently.

Beyond being inspired by the whole NSO experience on an emotional level, I also experienced tangible changes happening on a more physical level. There was positive energy in action. From connections I made during NSO to my interviewing with and being hired to teach at UC Santa Barbara Extension on the same day NSO ended,  there was a palpable energy in the air that finally seemed to be connecting all of the right dots for me. It was as if NSO — and by extrapolation Fielding — was a conduit of opportunity for me.

I have “gone out on my own” before, but my efforts were focused on a skill, not a strength — and that has made all the difference. During previous attempts I tried to stake my claim as a marketing consultant specializing in website design — and while I always had “some” work, I was never fully able to get into gear. And, even when I did get some kind of rhythm going, I wasn’t fully engaged by it. I still enjoy working on websites and see it as an incomparable medium for education, but now realize that my calling is not as a freelance web designer.

I am now committed to and focused on opportunities that seem to be continuously revealing themselves to me, recognizing how long I waited for this to happen and how fortunate I feel to finally be at this point.  Ironically, I enjoy teaching marketing and find some humor in the fact that it is where my interests still are. But, I realize now that with learning as my top strength, I need to focus on teaching as the expression of my intention.

When I initially made this decision, I had a few opportunities locked in, but it was far from a “safety net.” However, in just a few weeks, the stars and planets seem to be in alignment. I am again teaching online writing and communication courses for Axia College of University of Phoenix and will start teaching in the marketing professional certificate program of UC Santa Barbara Extension in January.

In the coming weeks I am expecting to be teaching writing and possibly business courses for another private university. I also plan to work with younger students in need of specialized instruction through Kaplan K12 Learning Services where I was invited on Saturday to participate in teacher training after an “audition” on Thursday! I still have a few other options in progress, and am just trying to be careful not to over-commit. After all, I still need time for studying of my own!

I think the icing on the cake came tonight when I went go get some books at Barnes and Noble where they gave me an “Educator’s Discount Card.” To paraphrase Pinocchio’s statement to Gepetto: I’m a real teacher now!