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Interview with Teacher & Artist Sandra Cailliau from France ~ Clm Centre Linguistique Méditerranéen

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Interviewer: Mahmoud Mansi

I started as a career in a nursing home as I had then realised I was happier giving support to those in need…

Sandra Cailliau

1)        HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Sandra, clearly you have lots of passion and energy to give. You have worked several jobs, can you give us a brief on them and how each job affected you?

Sandra Cailliau: Well when my parents got divorced I was studying English and Spanish at University as I always had a passion for foreign languages… Unfortunately, I had to stop in order to get a job to leave the nest that was no longer. I started as a sales manager in a Men’s clothing shop that was owned by one of my parents’ friend. He took me under his wings and told me everything I needed to know to be the best of his apprentices… I needed a job and took it as a chance to be independent… The best of memories being when I served English tourists and being able to use the skills I had acquired during my school times. Selling wasn’t my thing, but I always enjoyed seeing my clients happy about the choices I made for them, especially for the grooms to be! It’s only later that I realised that the majority of men had no confidence when it came to choose clothing and that my part was important. I left some years later to continue on sales management but in Charles De Gaulle’s airport, working in a duty free shop was the logical career evolution, using both sales and languages’ skills. Another job opportunity came up and I ended up selling advertisement for a radio station, this is when I realised that I was enjoying creating scenarios for my clients, but still, didn’t like the selling part of it. I actually left because I wasn’t selling enough! (laughs)

Ended up working as a bilingual receptionist and discovered I had some abilities in bringing people together when facing difficult situations. Then fell in love with an English man who later brought me back with him in England. New life, new job opportunity… I started as a career in a nursing home as I had then realised I was happier giving support to those in need. I discovered later that my heart was too sensitive and suffered great deal with the “letting go” of patients passing away. It didn’t take me long before I realised that the only positive last option for my overall experiences and wishes was in “teaching”.

Sandra, before being a Teacher 🙂

2)         HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How did you start your path as a teacher? And why did you choose this path?

Sandra Cailliau: I started as a teaching assistant in French courses, working in a school called “Europa Centre”, specialised in teaching modern languages. The Centre had recreated a whole village in a huge building, it was like being in a Theatre where we could all practise role plays using our knowledge of the studied language. I knew then that it was the right job for me simply because I enjoyed it. Finally sharing and bringing something as important as “knowledge”. It simply relied on my ability to create, to explain in the best possible and logical way and then to share with enjoyment.

3)         HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What were your first challenges as a teacher?

Sandra Cailliau: What was and still is… Kid’s Behaviour!

My childhood was surrounded by the artistic mind of my father and the loving heart of my mother, all this allowing me to express freely in all ways but the fact that I was a shy child never really brought any behaving problems in their life. My father’s ideology was always relying on that very true freedom of expression, especially for a child as he suffered a great deal of violence brought by discipline in his own childhood.

So you can imagine how hard it was for me to deal with certain types of violence in some kid’s behaviour that I first wanted to understand and analyse in order to improve the exchange I experienced with them.

4)         HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Being a visual artist, does this help you affect the students in a different way?

Sandra Cailliau: Honestly… I’m still unsure about it, simply because I don’t consider myself as being a visual artist. I’m passionate about visual art and still learning in my free time. Trust me, it’s a long and scary process. I get lost so easily into it… I believe we all have our own ways in seeing and as I respect everyone’s abilities and avoid comparing one to another, I actually found out that it is better to suggest than show. Through learning more about myself when expressing in visual art, I feel I may actually only show mirrors to those who are willing to seek deeper… Not even sure this answer makes any sense to you (laughs).

5)         HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Who is the teacher that mostly affected your life when you were a student? Why?

Sandra Cailliau: I think her name was Miss Renoir, she was my French tutor at secondary school. I had the bad habit of skipping school when I felt down with my own questioning about existence or frustrated for not being fully understood by others. Although she appeared as being very strict, she surprised me one day when I got caught skipping and that I finally had to admit that I was imitating my parents’ signature on homemade letters to excuse my absences… She took that teacher’s precious time between courses to try to understand my questioning. And If I do recall well, she might have been the only one who ever told me that I had a holistic ability and that I should express dreams and visions as much as I could in every possible ways.

6)         HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Do you face any conflicts with parents?

Sandra Cailliau: I never had the unfortunate experience and I’m very thankful about it. I always try to find the best solutions regarding some learning difficulties and take the time to talk about it with the parents. For me, it’s more about praising my students’ abilities and supporting their feelings when they feel lost… What every parent should do with kids in fact. (wink emotion)

7)         HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What teaching method do you use?

Sandra Cailliau: Student-Centered method mainly, although teaching languages requires the knowledge of grammar. I always explain to my students that grammar is the key to the understanding of every language’s mechanism. I often compare it to math’s. As we use theorems for math’s, we use grammar rules for words, so once they’ve fully digested the theorem, we can finally brainstorm together!

8)         HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What was the most difficult question you were asked in the interview before they hired you?

Sandra Cailliau: My boss made me feel welcomed from the second I entered her office. It was more like she already knew why I was here. There was no difficult questions asked but still, talking about my private life and the events that had brought me there came as a real struggle to me.

9)         HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Do you have any criticism regarding the educational system?

Sandra Cailliau: We have known each other virtually for a while now and you should know the word “Criticism” makes me cringe… as well as “judgement”… All my life I’ve tried to be as neutral as possible in everything I do simply because of a famous philosophical quote; “I know  that I know nothing”. In other words who am I to criticize if I don’t hold all the right answers? There’s one thing that I’m sure about though because it simply breaks my heart: I’ve been witnessing more and more cries of despair from my pupils when it comes to work as a team… They seem so lost when I ask them to work with one another on a task as competitiveness has been so present in their school time. That outrageous pressure to get results and these marks given to increase their self-values… All children should be rewarded; even those considered as weak in knowledge or those considered trouble makers… I found out that some artists who are worldwide recognized these days didn’t have the best records when it comes to school marks! I wish the educational system was built on one common and unique base: “Everyone’s ability is unique and should be rewarded as so”.

Sandra Cailliau’s Photography at Kenya: “My Heart goes to Them… All… We went to see them and they came to see us 3 weeks later… The Centre was created thanks to a Church that gave them the land to create protection and care… Some have both their parents but too poor to take care of them, others have single mum… and others are Orphans… I loved them all as much as if they were my own…”

10)       HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What are your ideas regarding a better world of education?

Sandra Cailliau: Every child should be observed when working and creating; their motivation should be tracked also depending on the tasks they’ve been given. I’ve seen so many kids developing skills in what they love the most in the blink of an eye and even their own parents didn’t have a clue about these abilities! Freedom of choices and encouragement should be primal to a teacher. I never blame kids who just don’t like speaking English when coming to my class and always try to let them express in the way they want to in order to allow them to create whatever they want during the time spent in my class. Teachers should be allowed some time to speak privately to every child to get to know their secret wishes as every child doesn’t always have the chance to express what they truly feel inside… And if they just don’t know yet, help them find it because it simply means they have been unselfish and are still under their parents’ wishes and values’ pressure. We never know all the artists hidden behind those children’s eyes…

11) HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What is your advice to the Middle-Eastern business environment?

Sandra Cailliau: Simply invest in those who truly care about their children’s future; those who are connected to a better world’s vision and look for solutions in accordance with nature and peace.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Thank you so much Sandra for sharing your story, experience and passion with us. Thank you for making the world a better place.

Corporate

Empathy at Work. Interview with Mimi Nicklin: Empathetic leader, Author and Business strategist

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Mimi Nicklin is an Author and the host of the Empathy for Breakfast Show & Secrets of The Gap podcast.

She is an experienced marketer and communications specialist, business strategist and a wellknown empathetic leader. She is a natural coach, writer and creative mind, and has held roles as diverse as Strategic Director, Vice President and Creative Officer in some of the world’s leading advertising agencies.

Her passion for balancing humanism with capitalism, drives her commitment to leading the practice of Regenerative and empathetic leadership, as well as her ‘principles of people’, into organisations and communities worldwide.

Softening The Edge is Mimi’s debut book – out on 15 September and available for pre-order now on amazon.com 

INTERVIEWER: Cinzia Nitti

HR Revolution: Hi Mimi, it’s our honor to make this interview and thanks in advance for what you will share with the HR Revolution Middle East Family. Many people assume that Empathy is generally about “being there” when someone is going through a difficult life path. Would you tell us more about the value of Empathy and how the whole concept relates to corporate life?

Mimi Nicklin: After thirty years of data that shows empathy is declining, we have a deficit on our hands; a corporate humanity deficit, an Empathy Deficit. The Empathy Deficit has been formed by a gap in connection with each other at the deepest social and corporate levels over many decades, and it undermines the fundamental principles of our ability to thrive in at work. Workplace absenteeism and apathy are reaching endemic proportions. Corporate anxiety, depression, and extreme proportions of burnout often complete the picture. Never has there been a time in history when we needed an intervention into our working lives more than we do today and empathy and ‘Regenerative Leadership’ is a powerful driver for this turnaround.

HR Revolution: Why Empathy in the workplace matters and how it impacts employee productivity?

Mimi Nicklin: As the environments we work within become ever tougher and sharper edged, especially during 2020, we are seeing employee productivity and performance dwindle. We have a deep problem at the exact point where humanity meets capitalism, and there is a lack of balance between the two which is impacting the performance, focus and capability of team members. This is a problem fuelled by three key parts. First, an ubiquitous obsession with growth at all costs which sees employee wellness drop in importance; second, a never-ending stress cycle which is impacting staff at all levels; and third, a widespread disconnection between our people and corporate culture at an unprecedented scale.

HR Revolution: Mimi, as a consultant and business strategist, do you have a human-centric “recipe” to develop Empathy at work? What would you suggest to HR Departments to improve their effectiveness in supporting employees through Empathy?  

Mimi Nicklin: The key of all empathetic organisations success lies in truly listening to our teams. Both overtly and directly, and through confidential channels such as questionnaires or feedback forms. After many months of 2020 have seen us working from home, as HR specialists we have had an opportunity for the first time in a long time to truly slow down and to consider the wider context of our teams and culture. We can’t expect our teams to not want to make change, to push back against old patterns and to want to work for a higher, more impactful purpose with a more flexible approach. It is in embracing this desire that will lead HR teams to be able to innovative and make sustainable changes to employee performance and health. At the top of our lists should be to listen to our teams as they re-enter their working environments and reassess each area of our business in light of the new world we are facing.

HR Revolution: Vulnerability has been a critical factor for business leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Is there any kind of professional-empathetic method that balances both a company’s ambition and highlights the employee’s role?

Mimi Nicklin: I often talk about principles of people beyond profit. This is not to say people ‘before’ profit. Our businesses need to remain profitable and sustain our organisational imperatives, but we can lead a culture that looks at the value of the strength of our people as something that has commercial value. Empathy in leadership and culture is a data set and an input for your business and the method of balancing them reduces risk and improves uptake and trust from staff, leading to improvements across KPI’s.  Without being able to walk in the shoes of our employees and understand their diverse viewpoints, it is nearly impossible to inspire and lead teams to success, and even harder to create marketing, powerful business decisions or innovative products and services that truly and deeply resonate with people.

HR Revolution: How Empathy, Emotional Intelligence and Technology coexist in response to the post-pandemic era?

Mimi Nicklin: We have more technology to connect with each other and our clients than ever before, and more data to leverage an understanding of what people want, yet the systematic dehumanization by corporate agendas and over analysis has damaged our ability to connect. Zoom calls and team applications can brilliantly connect us and facilitate our business processes but we must be aware the technology can lead to inauthentic and ‘cold’ culture’s between leaders and teams. As HR leaders, it is our intuition and integrity in empathising with the real and honest problems that our teams have (on and off screen) that will allow us to really make an impact and leverage technology without losing our humanity and connectedness to each other at work.

HR Revolution: “Softening the Edge.” A leadership book on Empathetic Influence and Emotional Intelligence is your first book (out on September 15th). Would you give our readers a glimpse of its content?

Mimi Nicklin: Softening the Edge focuses on something I have been passionate about for my entire career—the sustainable wellness of our workforce, treating people with kindness and decency, and the future of Regenerative Leadership that sustainably promotes human values as well as the financial value of every business. It addresses the Global Empathy Deficit from within our organisations, based on my own experiences leading teams around the world, and inspired by the turnaround story in my current organisation. The goal is to create wider understanding that the world of leadership and business is critically responsible for playing a role in protecting and improving our social future. Today, many people do not enjoy their work, burnout is at all-time high, depression is impacting over 33,000,000 people and the younger generation is leaving the corporate workplace in droves. By failing to proactively nurture empathy in our future leaders, we are failing to protect our future. Softening the Edge is part business tool, part corporate culture guide and part social eye opener to a downward trend impacting all areas of life and work. It shows how by harnessing and exercising empathy for employees and each other we can reverse the trend, build happier, more productive businesses and create a kinder, healthier world.

Thanks for your precious contribution, dear Mimi. The whole HR Revolution Crew wishes you all the best!

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Employee

حوار صحفي مع سلمى صادق – ممرضة طوارئ بمستشفى جامعة الاسكندرية

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صحافة: محمود منسي

الناس كانت متخيلة ان المهم في المجال الطبي هو الطبيب فقط ـ لكن اللي مش واخدين بالهم منه انه التمريض هو اللي بيفضل مع المريض بيلاحظ كل عرض وعلامة جديدة في تحسن أو سوء حالته الصحية وانه له دور عظيم جدا في عملية اتمام الشفاء

سلمى صادق

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: ايه سر دخولك للكارير وايه التحديات اللى قابلتيها في بداية المجال؟

المجال الطبي عموما مجال ممتع جدا وأنا من صغري حسيت بشغف للمجال وبدأت ابحث عنه كتير ناس كتير قالتلي المجال صعب ومش هتستحملي اللي بيحصل فيه وشكل الحالات ف الطوارئ والاستقبال وانتي صغيرة مش هتتحملي ده، أنا اخدت كل الكلام ده على محمل التحدي وبدأت بشغفي الدراسة في المجال

أول تحدي قابلته في المجال هو نظرة المجتمع للتمريض في الوقت ده الناس كانت متخيلة ان المهم في المجال الطبي هو الطبيب فقط ـ لكن اللي مش واخدين بالهم منه انه التمريض هو اللي بيفضل مع المريض بيلاحظ كل عرض وعلامة جديدة في تحسن أو سوء حالته الصحية وانه له دور عظيم جدا في عملية اتمام الشفاء

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: ايه المهارات اللي بتميز شخص عن التاني ف المجال ده؟

السرعة في الأداء بشكل متقن لأن مش كل الناس عندها ميزة انها تلحق مريض على بعد دقايق من فقد الوعي وتكون سبب انك تعيده تاني للحياة بسرعه وده بيتمثل في انك تعمل الاجراء صح وتكون مركز جدا في كل حاجة حواليك زي أداواتك كاملة و

cooperative staff without any tensions

وحاجة تانية برضو هي

How to solve problems during work intelligently

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: هل ممكن يكون في كلاشات بين فريق التمريض والأطباء، ايه ممكن يكون سببها؟

ممكن يحصل مثلا كلاش على أساس ان بعض من طاقم التمريض غير مؤهل بنسبة كافيه للعمل أو توضيح أكتر انه على قيد الدراسة أو فترة الامتياز أو حتى حديث التخرج ويبدأ العمل في وقت لا يوجد به افراد اساسيين من الطاقم في وقت حرج فبيسبب ان العمل لا يسري بشكل جيد أو مش بكفاءة عالية

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: في ظل الظروف الحالية هل طبيعة العمل في مجال التمريض متغيرة مع الكورونا وايه المراحل اللي بيمر بيها المريض وازاى بتتعاملوا في كل مرحلة من المراحل دي؟

طبعا اتغيرت وأصبح الأمر شبيه بحالة الطوارئ وأصبحت كل الفرق الطبية على استعداد لاستقبال الحالات المصابة بكورونا وتم توفير الواقيات الشخصية في جميع اقسام المستشفى وتم تدريب الفرق على كيفية لبس وخلع الواقيات بطريقة صحيحة حسب تعليمات مكافحة العدوى اما بالنسبة للمراحل اللي بيمر بيها المريض خلينا نعتبرها الأعراض اللي بيحس بيها المريض على الاغلب بيكون تكسير في الجسم وصداع نصفي مؤلم جدا وارتفاع درجة حرارة الجسم عن 37.5 درجة وبيحصل ضيق في التنفس وجفاف في الحلق وبعض الاعراض اللي بتصيب الجهاز الهضمي زي الاسهال مثلا وحاليا بيتم معالجة الأعراض ومش لازم كل المرضى يكون عندهم نفس الأعراض لا ساعات بيكون تلت أو أربع اعراض متجمعة ف مريض أو عرضين فقط

بالنسبة لدورنا في المرحلة دي هو اول حاجه اننا نطمن المريض انه هيكون كويس في أقرب وقت ممكن واننا بنحاول بقدر الامكان نكون سبب في شفاؤه بجانب طبعا التحاليل اللازمة له والأشعة والمسحة اللي بتأكد لنا المريض ده ايجابي ولا سلبي وتوزيع كورس العلاج المناسب له على حسب الاعراض اللي حاسس بيها

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: كيف تم تأهيلكم للعمل في نطاق الحجر الصحي وايه هيا التدريبات اللى لو كنتم اخدتوها كانت هتساعدكم أكتر في شغلكم؟

أولا احنا اخدنا دورة تدريبية في كيفية التعامل مع مريض الكورونا من أول معرفة أشكال الواقيات الشخصية المختلفة وكيفية ارتدائها وخلعها بالطريقة الصحيحة على حسب تعليمات مكافحة العدوى بمنظمه الصحة العالمية واتعلمنا ازاي نحط خطة نشتغل عليها في نطاق الحجر في المستشفيات

اظن ان من اهم الدورات اللي مفترض تكون في خطة مواجهة الفيروس عموما سواء في نطاق العمل مع مرضى الكورونا في المستشفيات أو خارجها هيا كيفية مراعاة شعور المريض لان نفسيه المريض بتساعد على تحسن حالته الصحية بنسبة كبيرة فمن وجهة نظري اننا لازم نتعلم كلنا ازاي نساعد المريض نفسيا انه يقدر يتخطى المرض ده

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: هل تم اصابة ناس من فريق التمريض وكيف تم التعامل معها؟

للأسف تم اصابه بعض الأشخاص من الفريق المعالج ودة أمر وارد انه يحصل بسبب بعض الأخطاء اللي ممكن تحصل في عدم توخي الحذر اثناء خلع الواقيات الشخصية وما شابه

لكن تم عزل الزملاء اللي اتصابوا وتم بدأ عمل تحاليل ومسحات لهم وبدء كورس العلاج لهم حسب الأعراض وهكذا

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: ايه أكتر الحاجات اللي بترهقكم في شغلكم أيا كان صحيا أو نفسيا أو عقليا؟

أحيانا اللي بيرهقنا نفسيا هو حالة المريض اللي بنحاول بكل طاقتنا اننا ننقذه من الألم والمرض اللي هو فيه وبنتابع معاه من أول ما بيدخل المستشفى مرورا بالعناية المركزة وبنحاول نوفر له أكياس الدم والبلازما اللي محتاجها مثلا وبيصارع الألم بعدها وبنكون مقدرين كل الألم ده وللأسف مبيكملش حياته والأمر بيكون مسألة قدرية بحت وطبعا على الجانب الاخر ضغط الشغل نفسه في المستشفيات الحكومية بيكون عالي جدا وعدد الحالات الكبير لما بنشتغل معاهم بننسى نفسنا وساعات مبناكلش كويس مثلا ومبنهتمش بالتغذية السليمة اللي تدينا الطاقة الكافية اللي نقدر بيها نكمل شغلنا ـ أحيانا ده بيعود على الفرق الطبية عموما وبيأثر على صحتنا بالسلب للأسف لما ناخد عدد نبطشيات كتير دة بيخلينا مرهقين جدا وممكن يأثر على كفائه الشغل نفسه فبنحتاج نفصل أو ناخد بريك يخلينا نشحن طاقتنا تاني عشان نقدر نواصل مسيرة شغفنا واختيارنا للمجال نفسه 🙂

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: ايه الحاجات اللي ممكن تحصل عشان تساعدكم في صحتكم النفسية والجسدية وايه الحاجات اللي لو اتغيرت تخلي شغلكم أحسن؟

أظن ان من أهم الحاجات اللي ممكن تساعدنا في استعادة صحتنا وقوتنا في العمل هو تخفيف عدد النبطشيات في الشغل وتظبيط الاجازات وزيادة عدد العاملين بالمجال وده هيضمن كفاءة عمل كويسة جدا وهيكون سبب في شفاء عدد كتير من المرضى

وهيضمن مستوى صحي بجودة عالية وطبعا لازم يكون في تجديد وعرض لكل ما هو جديد في المجال زي ما حصل قبل كده واخدنا كلنا دورة كيفية السيطرة على الحريق ودي حاجة فعلا كنا محتاجينها جدا

من الحجات المهمة جدا اللي مش كتير واخد باله منها هيا نظرة المجتمع للأطقم الطبية لأن ده بيأثر بنسبة كبيرة جدا على تقديم مستوى أفضل للرعاية الصحية

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: هل بتلاقي وقت في روتين يومك تعملي الحاجات اللي بتحبيها؟

“Great things never come from comfort zones.”

دي عبارة اخدتها كمبدأ في حياتي

ان فعلا الحاجات أو الانجازات العظيمة مش بتيجي أبدا وأنا مريحه وكسلانة

في حاجات أساسية في روتين يومي زي قراءة الكتب مثلا ومشاهدة حلقات ل تيديكس، والتمارين اللي بعملها ف البيت، اختيار الأكل الصحي المناسب ليا

بجانب بقا اني بتعلم لغة جديدة ومؤخرا اكتشفت ان التعليم الالكتروني ممكن فعلا يكون أكثر فاعلية واستفادت منه كتير جدا

 ساعات مثلا أصور صورة حلوة واشيرها مع أصحابي كنوع من أنواع المحافظة على دائرة الصداقة اللي خارج نطاق العمل بتاعي

بعمل مثلا تطوير للمعلومات بتاعتي في مجالي ولو اتعلمت حاجة جديدة مثلا بروح ادور عليها أكتر وأتفرج على فيديوز عنها وأفهمها كويس جدا

 أنا بحاول بكل الأشكال اغير من شخصيتي للأفضل بأخلق وقت لقراية كتاب جديد أو لعمل اكلة جديدة حتى وأنا في المواصلات مثلا

 اهم شيء هو اني أمشي ورا الشغف بتاعي، لأن ده اللي هيخليني أوصل للي أنا عايزاه وهيخليني أنجح وهيفتحلي أبواب كتيرة جدا بالسعي في الطرق دي

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: نصايحك ايه للناس اللي حاسة انها مصابة ومش قادرة تروح المستشفى؟

أول نصيحة هيا الاهتمام بالنظافة الشخصية بتاعتهم والتزام البيوت وعدم الخروج الا للضرورة

غسل الايدين لازم يكون أكتر من مرة في اليوم بعد كل عمل بتعمله ولو خرجت برا البيت لازم تلبس الماسك ويكون معاك كحول ايثيلي 70% سواء جيل أو سبراي واي تعامل مع أوراق مالية أو تعامل شخصي مع اي فرد برا البيت لازم تستخدم الكحول بعدها مع مراعاة المسافة الآمنة بين الافراد

واتمني السلامة للجميع

شكرا جدا يا سلمى على الإخلاص في عملك والمقابلة الصحفية الهامة دي

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Employee

Interview with Sally Khalil – Teacher and Librarian at New Horizon School, USA

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Interviewer: Mahmoud Mansi

“I’ve always wanted to be an actress and students are my beautiful audience who admire my tales with their wide-open eyes and curious questions. I like reading out loud and roleplaying from picture books to the little ones. This is when I know how rewarding it is, just from the happy look in their eyes…”

Sally Khalil
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWEE

Sally is an ESL teacher, tech and media associate, and librarian at an elementary and middle school in California. She has a BA in English from Alexandria University, Egypt, an MA in English from Chapman University and an MA in Arabic from Middlebury College in California. She worked briefly as a Google rater and shown interest in the tech field and became a Certified Microsoft Administrator in 2004. She has worked as an ESL/ESP teacher for 20 years in different work fields.

THE INTERVIEW

1-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Sally, it is very interesting that you have been through a lot of career experiences that all revolve around “books”, as a learner and an educator and now you work as a Librarian. Do you consider this as a career shift?

Sally Khalil: I sure do think it’s a shift, and I am all the happier because of it. I have always been curious what Americans like to read. There was this huge gap of knowledge that I needed to make up, because I haven’t lived in the US all my life. Now I have a decent idea what children love to read, and I make sure that I have those books in my library. While teaching, I used books as tool. As a librarian, they are my treasures.

2-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What other duties do you do as a school librarian? Do you enjoy them?

Sally Khalil: I read to students aloud from Pre-K to fourth grade when they do their weekly visit to the library. I’ve always wanted to be an actress and they are my beautiful audience who admire my tales with their wide-open eyes and curious questions. I like reading out loud and roleplaying from picture books to the little ones. This is when I know how rewarding it is, just from the happy look in their eyes. I also enjoy choosing books related to the various monthly themes. For example, in February during Black History Month, we read stories about the history and lives of African Americans.

Now the fact that I’ve majored in English literature, it becomes easier for me to do storytelling of a classic story to the older students. Sometimes I show short documentaries or scenes related to a book. They totally appreciate that and love their competitive spirit when they attempt to quickly answer the questions.

3-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: In your current role, you have led a couple of projects which include book fairs. How did you prepare yourself for these projects? What were your challenges and how you assured it was a success?

Sally Khalil: My school hosts a book fair every year. When they told me that I had to contact a certain book fair company to set up a book fair, I panicked. I’ve never done that before. Luckily, another teacher, who had worked previously as a librarian, provided help and suggestions. Things went smoothly soon after, and the book company came with several transportable bookshelves organized by genre. The students and teachers were able to purchase books for themselves and their classrooms.

Another challenge was the fact that I’ve always been a teacher since graduating college and have never worked a cash register job in my life. But during the fair, I had to learn quickly the first day. And thank God I did because the book fair was a big success. Depending on the company, the book company gives a certain percentage of the profits that you make selling their books and allows you to select books for your library for free. Because of my efforts, the school made a good profit that hadn’t happened in years. I felt proud and accomplished. Then the school made me arrange and host a mini-book fair for only one day. I thought it was going to be impossible to achieve any success, but it was another big one with another profit. I think I have a hidden talent in marketing.

4-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: It is not usual to have an ESL teacher who works in tech and media. How does it feel to be working in an area a bit far from your expertise? What are your duties as a tech support in school? Were they affected by Covid-19?

Sally Khalil: Sometimes it feels challenging but I’m a fast learner. Luckily, I am patient, and I love doing troubleshooting. As a young kid, I used to fix our VCR, cassette recorder, my uncle’s PC and even my friends’ laptops all the time. I think I was destined to be doing that type of technical work one day. As for my duties, it is basically setting up laptops, iPads, and Chromebooks, installing security settings, troubleshooting, and doing inventory. I also teach Computer basics and office. My tech supervisor has always been very supportive, because she understands the many different responsibilities I have to juggle. She always fixes what I can’t fix. My duties changed a little bit as we switched to online learning. Teachers would report the students’ technical issues. I would give them a call and try my best to help, something like Vodafone customer service in Egypt.

5-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How has Covid-19 affected your job as a librarian and a teacher?

Sally Khalil: I’m sure that it affected all teachers everywhere. The school closed, so my role as librarian temporarily came to an end. As a teacher, I applaud for my school supervisors who organized the remote learning process and always kept teachers and parents updated. The school faculty did a great job providing the same quality education online. The teachers and students worked hard to make sure everything works despite some technical issues that the students encountered. Beside uploading assignments, we had online Zoom sessions. We had to submit weekly assignments, fill in the pacing guide for the rest of the academic year and the learning gaps if there are any affected by the online work.

6-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How are the American students different than the Egyptian students?

Sally Khalil: They’re basically the same. Most of American students are of an Arab origin, and they are the most adorable well-behaved students. I consider myself lucky teaching them. I’ve had similar exciting experiences teaching Egyptian students. What I noticed is the authority of teachers in US is different than in Egypt, that is it is not accepted that the teacher has a complete authority over them.

7-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Last but not least, we would love to take some “reading tips” from a librarian.

Sally Khalil: I would have started by saying visit your local public library, but it is not an option now. Use technology to your advantage. There are many free e-books. You can also rent or buy from Amazon and read on Kindle. Listen to audiobooks through audibles and iBooks. Now there is much time staying at home, this is the perfect time to commit to reading by dedicating a certain time for reading every day. Joining a book club will also motivate you to read.

THANK YOU SALLY

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