What’s It Like To Be an Introverted Teacher

After our professional development training last Wednesday, one local teacher (Indonesian) asked me why I don’t hang out with my Filipino colleagues. Told her the truth: “I don’t want to, it’s draining sometimes.” It’s not exclusive to Filipinos by the way. I regularly turned down party invites back in Thailand, because, well. I like spending time with my boy and clean the house (I kid you not).

It’s not their fault, nor mine. It’s just I do get drained when I hang out with people, especially those who don’t get it. Sometimes it can even be like “go away”. I’m an introvert and possibly the most boring woman you’ll ever know.

Don’t get me wrong, I love people. I am not shy too. I can razzle dazzle people in presentations. I can host a party. I can party! I hold an interesting, long conversation. My colleagues think I’m funny and bubbly. Hell, I am a teacher, which gives me an opportunity to be in front of the crowd for seven solid hours everyday. However, I have to say, it can tiring. I don’t hang around after school most of the time, by home time, I pack my bag and leave the room to head home because nothing beats the freedom of being able to lounge around in your undies while lying on the couch, eating chocolate coated digestives. Do yoga. Meditate. Work out.

What’s the difference between introversion and shyness? According to Susan Cain, “Introversion is really about having a preference for lower stimulation environments. So it’s just a preference for quiet, for less noise, for less action. Whereas extroverts really crave more stimulation in order to feel at their best. Many people believe that introversion is about being antisocial, and that’s really a misperception. Because actually it’s just that introverts are differently social. So they would prefer to have a glass of wine with a close friend as opposed to going to a loud party full of strangers. Now, shyness, on the other hand, is about a fear of negative social judgment. So you can be introverted without having that particular fear at all, and you can be shy but also be an extrovert”

My brother and I talked recently and he was moaning about how people get to waste his time by “doing them a favor by saying yes when they ask you to hang out with them and end up sacrificing some beliefs or protocol when it comes to social situations” or basically saying “I don’t like what you’re doing, I’ll just go home now to surf the net”. He claims people think that going out with friends and family is a great fun thing but no, not for him (for us). We’d rather be at home with our books, internet and laptop.

I am grateful that my boyfriend is the same. We get each other (I think we are meant to be together because of this!) and we have the same needs. I don’t mind when the house gets quiet too as we need the peace, some alone time, but because a strange twist of fate called love, my alone time has to be punctuated with his presence, or at least, his voice filling up the room when we call each other. He is the extension of myself, my thoughts – he is the icing on the cake of my alone time.


Quiet Quiz: Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert?
Excerpted from: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

To find out where you fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum, answer each question True or False, choosing the one that applies to you more often than not.

1. ______ I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.

2. ______ I often prefer to express myself in writing.

3. ______ I enjoy solitude.

4. ______ I seem to care about wealth, fame, and status less than my peers.

5. ______ I dislike small talk, but I enjoy talking in depth about topics that matter to me.

6. ______ People tell me that I’m a good listener.

7. ______ I’m not a big risk-taker.

8. ______ I enjoy work that allows me to “dive in” with few interruptions.

9. ______ I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale, with only one or two close friends or family members.

10. ______ People describe me as “soft-spoken” or “mellow.”

11. ______ I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it’s finished.

12. ______ I dislike conflict.

13. ______ I do my best work on my own.

14. ______I tend to think before I speak.

15.______ I feel drained after being out and about, even if I’ve enjoyed myself.

16. ______I often let calls go through to voice mail.

17. ______If you had to choose, I’d prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled.

18. ______ I don’t enjoy multitasking.

19. ______ I can concentrate easily

20. ______ In classroom situations, I prefer lectures to seminars.

The more often you answered True, the more introverted you are. This is an informal quiz, not a scientifically validated personality test. The questions were formulated based on characteristics of introversion often accepted by contemporary researchers.

From Quiet by Susan Cain. Copyright 2012 by Susan Cain.


Why are white people expats when the rest of us are immigrants?

This article originally appeared in The Guardian


In the lexicon of human migration there are still hierarchical words, created with the purpose of putting white people above everyone else. One of those remnants is the word “expat”.

What is an expat? And who is an expat? According to Wikipedia, “an expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of the person’s upbringing. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (‘out of’) and patria (‘country, fatherland’)”.

Defined that way, you should expect that any person going to work outside of his or her country for a period of time would be an expat, regardless of his skin colour or country. But that is not the case in reality; expat is a term reserved exclusively for western white people going to work abroad.

Africans are immigrants. Arabs are immigrants. Asians are immigrants. However, Europeans are expats because they can’t be at the same level as other ethnicities. They are superior. Immigrants is a term set aside for ‘inferior races’.

Don’t take my word for it. The Wall Street Journal, the leading financial information magazine in the world, has a blog dedicated to the life of expats and recently they featured a story ‘Who is an expat, anyway?’. Here are the main conclusions: “Some arrivals are described as expats; others as immigrants; and some simply as migrants. It depends on social class, country of origin and economic status. It’s strange to hear some people in Hong Kong described as expats, but not others. Anyone with roots in a western country is considered an expat … Filipino domestic helpers are just guests, even if they’ve been here for decades. Mandarin-speaking mainland Chinese are rarely regarded as expats … It’s a double standard woven into official policy.”

The reality is the same in Africa and Europe. Top African professionals going to work in Europe are not considered expats. They are immigrants. Period. “I work for multinational organisations both in the private and public sectors. And being black or coloured doesn’t gain me the term “expat”. I’m a highly qualified immigrant, as they call me, to be politically correct,” says an African migrant worker.

Most white people deny that they enjoy the privileges of a racist system. And why not? But our responsibility is to point out and to deny them these privileges, directly related to an outdated supremacist ideology. If you see those “expats” in Africa, call them immigrants like everyone else. If that hurts their white superiority, they can jump in the air and stay there. The political deconstruction of this outdated worldview must continue.

Mawuna Remarque Koutonin is the editor of SiliconAfrica.com, where this blog was first published. Follow @siliconafrica on Twitter.

Join our community of development professionals and humanitarians. Follow@GuardianGDP on Twitter.

Job Hunting: How To Make Your CV Stand Out

Job hunting is a tedious task, especially if you are tailoring each application for very specific positions. Whilst you have to present your best in a matter of a single (or two) pieces of paper, there are some things that you have to remember when you submit your CV.

They say it only takes 20 seconds for an employer to decide whether your CV is for the bin or not. Unfortunately, that is true. My mother has been an HR Department Head for an international organization for long time in her career, and she confirmed this.

Lucky for me, I got her to teach me how to stand out from the pile of applicants. Here are some things that mama knows, and trust me, even if some of these points seem to be common sense, you will be surprised on the quality of CVs she received.

Use a single, standard photo

Choose a photo that would be your default one, no matter how you’re tailoring your job hunt is. You don’t need to stand in front of a black board if you’re applying for a teacher, or behind a shop counter if you wanted to participate in sales. Choose an ID picture quality photograph because that’s what it is – identification. Boring white background for the picture? You bet. It’s the first thing that the employer sees so you better make the right impression.

Use a professional-sounding email

If your email is cottontail55@yahoo.com, well, employers will think that you don’t make an effort to be professional, or at least, change from personal to work email, which is worse. You’re definitely not making a good impression here.

Research on the company you’re working for

At this point, you’ll show dedication and resourcefulness to your future employer then. Tailoring your cover letter is a serious task so do some research on the company, on your head of office. Figure out how you can link your skills and experiences so that you know you’re a perfect fit. Be personal and use the name of the person you’re addressing to rather than stick to the usual “Dear Sir/Madam”. It all helps.

Practice brevity

Keep it short and sweet, as employers don’t have time for bullshit – they don’t need to know you’ve won Spelling Bee 2003 in Barangay Santa Cruz. Make sure the information you put in is relevant and job-related. Make it easier for the employer to have a one page CV and letter. My mom says CV is like a trailer of the movie – the interview is the more important part to decide if you’re a perfect fit.

Attach files

And also, name it correctly. I am guilty of this. After spending A LOT OF TIME tailoring my cover letters, I sometimes forget to attach my CV. I am so lucky that gmail has that command to remind you if you forgot to attach something. Helps a lot!

That’s it. Short and sweet so as not to take your time if you’re looking for a job. Good luck!

Teacher Files: Morning Hacks

Monday tomorrow. The day I dread. I get to have an observation with the principal too. Get ready? I always feel ready! Ha! Ready like a student waiting for her defense panel.

I sometimes feel like I’m still a student. My morning routine hasn’t changed ever since I started school. Screw morning routine – my life has had a more or less similar routine ever since I since I was five! I think of it this way: Instead of getting grades as compensation for my hard work, I get wages now. Same same, but different.

Even the pattern of the routine is similar. My school when I was in Kindergarten/Elementary days is just 300 meters away. Guess who’s always late? My school now is a 15 minute brisk walk away or 20 minute lazy walk. It is a pleasant walk: tree-lined path, bike lanes, grass – I can’t complain. Naturally, because it’s beautifully close to my house, I wake up at 6:30 am to get to school by 7:15 am. Now I set my target to arrive in school 7:10 the latest so I must leave the house by 6:55. 25 minutes to prepare every morning. If you know me, you’d know how much of a slow poke I am. I remember my boyfriend being amazed at how fast I can prepare every morning when we were back in Thailand. To be honest, I don’t know how I do it.

I never skip breakfast, I prepare my lunch (until I realised this was expensive – time, attention, effort and money-wise – it just had to be stopped to manage my life better), I shower, I iron my uniform, I wash the dishes and prepare my school stuff. One time I had managed to squeeze in quality time with my boyfriend too (he’s in Europe now and quality time with each other is top priority), and I didn’t get late! Milagro, dios mio! How can I be like this all the time?

Hassle free, healthy school lunch from my kitchen!

I employ hacks though: my breakfast is routine (which means I don’t have to waste time deciding on it) and can be done in 3 minutes which happens to be cereal + milk (like my kindergarten self). I have my coffee in school so I don’t have to wait for it to cool down to be “sippable” if I had it here at home. So that brings 1 minute dish washing as I only get to wash three dishes. The lunch I used to prepare were usually sandwiches, so that would take maximum 5 minutes to prepare. Sometimes, I just cook my lunch the night before. There’s a microwave oven in the staff room so I take advantage of that. Cold lunch? Into the bag you go. I shower for five minutes, but it’s not the relaxing kind, more of like the Haz Mat kind. I iron clothes really quickly too, 1:30 minutes – I actually researched Google on how to iron clothes most effectively for this, so that’s cool. I got to the GQ site which I should really link here. I kinda owe them my wages for not being late! Then I just grab my laptop and chargers, stuff it into my bag and go! Easy. Peasy.

What about you? What are your morning routine hacks before you go to work or school?

Must-Knows for Vacationing/Returning OFWs or Balik Manggagawa

post originally appeared here: http://www.workabroad.ph/

OFWs go home to spend quality time with families and friends, but they must bear in mind to prepare and secure these documents to avoid inconvenience when they fly back to their employer’s country.

Filipino workers who returned to the Philippines after working abroad for a time need to obtain an overseas employment certificate (OEC) to ensure that they would be registered as a documented overseas Filipino worker (OFW). Read on for guides and information about the processing of returning OFWs or Balik Manggagawa:

There are several types of Balik-Manggagawa OFWs (BM-OFWs):

Workers-on-Leave – OFWs who are in the Philippines for a short vacation but would return to the same employer overseas and is still under a valid and existing job contract.

Re-hires – OFWs who returned to the Philippines after finishing an employment contract overseas but would return to the same foreign employer because they are re-hired.

POLO registered workers – These are returning workers whose employment contracts were not processed by POEA, but were verified by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in the jobsite. They would return to the same employer either as a worker-on-leave or rehire, regardless of any change in the jobsite.

Documentary Requirements for Balik Manggagawa (BM) are the following: 
Proof of existing employment (such as valid employment contract, employment certificate, valid company ID, pay slips)
Passport valid for at least 6 months from the time of departure
Valid visa / re-entry permit / work permit or equivalent document

How much would the processing cost?
POEA processing fee – Php 100.00
OWWA membership fee – US$25 or its peso equivalent (per contract basis)
PhilHealth – Php 900.00 (good for 1 year coverage)
Pag-Ibig membership – Php 100 (minimum)

Validity Period: Once issued, an OEC is valid for sixty (60) days, one (1) day for OECs issued by the Labor Assistance Centers (LACs) at the airports.

In case of lost Balik Manggagawa E-receipt/OEC: One cannot apply for a new E-Receipt/OEC as replacement for lost e-receipt/OEC. They should submit an Affidavit of Loss and request for a certificate indicating the particulars of previously issued e-receipt/OEC based on available POEA/POLO records, upon submission of an Affidavit of Loss.

What Is A Multiple Travel Exit Clearance (MTEC)? To save time, a returning OFW can also apply for MTEC which can be used for at least three (3) exits within the validity period of the existing contract of the worker whose contract with the same employer has a duration of not less than twelve (12) months from the date of application for travel exit clearance. MTEC shall strictly be used for travel to the worker’s jobsite.

Where can a BM-OFW apply for OEC? 
Balik-Manggagawa Processing Division (BMPD) POEA main office
POEA Regional Centers all over Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao
POEA Regional Extension Units / Satellite Offices
Labor Assistance Centers (LAC) at international airports in Manila, Cebu and Mindanao. (OEC issuance at LACs is limited to those classified as regular balik manggagawa, vacationing workers, rehires, POLO-registered workers – with confirmed airline bookings on the date of request of BM OEC issuance, and whose home leave does not exceed five (5) days. (BM-Name Hires cannot be issued BM OEC at the LACs.)
Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO)

One can also set an appointment for Balik Manggagawa processing online: http://bmappointment.poea.gov.ph/