Thursday, 24 March 2011

Authentication Dilemma No. 1

So, I am in Iowa where I want to have my diploma notarized, and I feel more confused and uncertain than ever. First I went to the Chamber of Commerce for the notary and felt certain they would notarize my stamped and sealed diploma copy (by the registrar), but the lady sent me away saying she could only notarize signatures. Than I went to the bank, but the lady there said I would need to type a letter attesting to the document's authenticity, and the bank would then be able to notarize my signature on that letter and attach it to the diploma. That didn't sound right to me, so I call the IA dept. of state, and the lady explains that a notary cannot legally notarize a copy of a copy, or something like that, and I would need to take my original diploma to a notary public, at which point the notary would make a copy and notarize it. For some reason, I had completely forgotten to bring my original diploma to Iowa with me and left it at home in St. Louis. Fortunately my mother can express mail it to me and I will likely have it by Saturday (when most notaries are closed). Ahhhh! And I thought the notary would be the easiest part (maybe it is, and now I know what I have to look forward to).

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Going to the U.S.

Ok. So I will finally be able to start getting my documents authenticated. I will be going home to the US in about three days, and besides being able to take care of some much needed paperwork, I will be able to visit with family for what will probably be the last time in two years (Aengus and I plan on doing all of our vacationing in the surrounding areas of Asia and Africa). It has already felt like a long time since I have seen my family--I suppose since my brother's wedding last October...

Anyway. I have been thinking about what I still have left to do for the authentication process and what I will need to bring with me on my trip to the US. I usually feel overwhelmed unless I write a list of sorts--something that I can see and which tells me exactly what I need to do before my trip on Monday. Basically, my mom has already received my 'official' marriage license in the mail from Oregon DHS, and the university has sent a copy of my diploma with seal and registrar's stamp along with the letter of accreditation. Here's what's left:

1. Diploma: needs to be notarized in Iowa, authenticated by IA Secretary of State.
2. Teaching license: needs to be notarized in Oregon and authenticated by OR Secretary of State.
3. Marriage license: needs to be authenticated by OR Secretary of State.
4. Make photocopies (for me and ProEx) of all documents (minus letter of accreditation) including certification pages to be authenticated by US and UAE.
5. All three documents, attachments, and photocopies need to then be sent to ProEx delivery in DC along with money order of all fees and letter requesting their services. + prepaid return shipping envelope.

Quite a bit to do. So that means I need to bring with me to the US: teaching license. Everything else is already at my mom's house. Wow! I have been worrying about nothing really. I thought I would have more documents to bring with me. Other than teaching license, I only need to bring the necessaries like clothing and toothbrush. Good to know. But I already feel like I'm forgetting something....

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Questions, Questions, and More Questions... (Any Defininate Answers??)

I wish I knew more about what to expect next. I remember being told something about being able to set up an ADEC email. The more I read about other teachers' experiences upon arrival, the more confused I feel. It seems that there are so many conflicting answers or answers that only give me more questions.

When is the next Webinar? Will I get to be on the first flight? Will I be able to rent a car when I arrive, or will I have to wait for my residence visa?  Will I even have any money to spend? Will I have to pay money for having documents translated? Will Aengus be able to get a job when he's there? What kind of clothes will I need to bring?

What is the curriculum like? Will I follow a specific curriculum plan or will I make my own? How low will the English proficiency be? Will I be able to communicate with the girls? Do the students have a bell schedule like in the US? How long are the class periods? What issues might arise with high school girls and will I be able to manage discipline problems?

What is the housing like? I wish I could see more pictures/videos on housing that is applicable to a single person or couple with no children.

I doubt I will have satisfying answers, though, until I actually get there and experience it myself!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

A moment to catch up...

So. I thought I'd take a moment to write about my experience in the application process up to this point. As of right now, I have accepted a teaching contract for high school English in the UAE!! My husband and I anticipate moving there in August, but he may have to wait and come later--depends on what the education council wants to do, I suppose. But so far, thanks to Teach Away, the application process for Abu Dhabi has been the smoothest by far compared to teaching jobs in the U.S. Teach Away takes you step by step, and the process never overwhelmed me (until authentication that is)!

First, an online application, resume, cover letter, and photograph. They don't ask up front for your license, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and all the other hooplah that comes with every single school to which you apply in the U.S. If Teach Away likes your resume, which I assume they liked mine, then you fill out another online application with contact information and times for a prescreen phone interview. Next the phone interview, and if that is successful, THEN you provide the rest of the documentation, such as teaching license, letters of rec, diploma, criminal record check, passport copy... no wasted time if you don't end becoming a candidate for the official interview (unlike in the US where you have to provide everything and you may not even get an interview)! So, onto the in-person interview, which was lovely, by the way (yes, I used lovely and interview in the same sentence)! I did my interview in London because, for the time being, my husband and I are staying in Bristol.

Anyway, I now have the lovely task of authenticating my documents (not so lovely, actually) to prove that they are real, I suppose. The only three documents that I will need to authenticate are my teaching license, highest diploma, and marriage license. The main problem for me, though, is that I will need to go to Oregon to authenticate my teaching and marriage licenses and to Iowa for my diploma, and I will have to do this once I return to the US at the end of March. I will be using a courier service to make the process a bit easier because, otherwise, after sending the documents to the US Department of State, I would have to wait three to four weeks before being able to send the documents to their final destination, the UAE embassy, and time is already zipping along the yellow brick road!

To summarize the authentication process: (1) Notarize documents in Oregon and Iowa, except my marriage license because I must purchase an 'official' copy from Oregon DHS. Also, the university was kind enough to give me an official copy of my diploma with seal and registrar's stamp, but I still need to notarize it. Also, the university sent me a letter stating their official accreditation status that I must include with my diploma. (2) Take marriage and teaching licenses to Oregon Secretary of State for authentication. I can call the Iowa Secretary of State and receive authentication over the phone--I believe they will send me a letter to attach to my diploma after they verify the notary. I am happy that I called each of the state secretaries before doing anything else! (3) Contact ProEx with the quote they gave me and send all documentation and fees to them--they will hand deliver to the US Department of State and UAE embassy, and send all authenticated documents back to me. I take all authenticated documents with me to the UAE along with the original everything!

O.K. I think I'm caught up now. More to come!