Read Me/Disclaimer

Read Me/Disclaimer: This is a non-political/socio-political blog. It's a running tale of my Saudi Arabian adventure, great, good, bad, and ugly. It is uncensored, and I don't really care what you think of it, read it or don't. I don't care. I did not decide to do this as a means to an end, but rather to document the means with which I occupied my time while waiting for my end... All that being said, I'm an American Expat in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The opportunity to help build this system and the salary that accompanied it were to good to pass up.-Geoff

"The views presented here are just the views of some asshole named Geoff, they are not necessarily the views of my employer, my co-workers, my family or anybody else. First hand knowledge and second hand accounts were used to compile the information. These are not scientific facts and figures. These views are not necessarily supported, endorsed or even appreciated by the KSA the USA or any other country for that matter and the author makes absolutely no claim that they are."**

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Great Expectations

Now I'm a guy who loves a motivational true story more than most, really I do.  However I'm also a guy who thinks that if a wall is painted black, it's gonna take more than one coat of primer to cover it, regardless of what the ad says.  Get my drift?

I think what people forget when they think of the "motivational true story", and their place in it, is that regardless of what Hollywood or the publishing company did or said, the reality is that their were losses, their were failures and the whole thing might have only been worthwhile because of the dream of it, not the actuality of the result.  What do I mean?  Or at least what do I mean in this context?  What I mean is that I have students that are learning, that are becoming good, that are improving their English, learning how to do real assessments. learning how to perform real skills, I have students that are kicking ass.  I also have students that aren't, I have students that are really sitting around doing nothing, hoping to graduate--and the reality I know is twofold.  First that the students who are good now are already better than most of what the country has to offer Paramedic or pre-hospital "physician" (i.e Quack) wise, and second that those other students probably will graduate, that's the culture here, they pay, they attend, they pass.  We've got a "faction in Riyadh" that seems to think neither is acceptable.  They have these dreams and ideas of a day when if you get hurt in the KSA, a fluently bi-lingual American standard paramedic gets off the truck and says, "hey buddy what happened".  Whoa! Reality check time.  That is not going to happen this time around...Whats going to happen, is that were going to bust our ass to get guys to a level that's as good as they can be until things change a little more.  Were here now, we graduate the first ones in another year, they'll be better than anything the Kingdom has ever seen, and as times goes on they'll help us make the next ones even better.  So basically what I'm saying is that the class of 2013 is what they are, we can improve them slightly, but pushing them harder and harder to speak a language they don't understand just yet, forcing them to learn the skills and theory in that language and expecting them to be able to test to an American Paramedics standard...a standard that plenty of native English speakers fail every year...It ain't gonna happen, not yet.  And its not fair, its not fair to push them this way, this hard and try to force them to adapt overnight.  Adapt?  Certainly, Overnight?  No way.  It seems that some of my expat brethren forget...this is their country.  That's right folks, its the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and its a sovereign nation.  I'm a guest here, I'll be dammed if I'm gonna shit all over some Saudi kid busting his ass to soak all this up, and tell him that "nope, you fail, you misunderstood my English".  I'll train excellence, and my students will all be prepared for the day they are put into the position of saving another mans life, but the reality is that only the top 10% will really be qualified for those positions, the next 60% will be a shit ton better than what they've got now, and the bottom 30% will be basically what functions as an EMT-basic currently.  The reality is though, that even for the bottom 30%, they will have seen and performed the skills hundreds of times before I let them leave the school, they may not be able to pass an Americanized test, but they will be better than some guy off the street which might as well be whats out there now.  

I can't stay here forever, I'm willing to bet that 2-3 years is all that I've got in me, but if we start as well as we are with the class of 2013, I'm willing to bet that the class of 2020 will be the ones who really do it, the guys who really push the envelope and force the kingdom out of its comfort zone and into a modern day EMS system.  I dream of that day, the day when a Saudi Paramedic is just that...a Saudi Paramedic, he speaks decent enough English to communicate, his skills are razor sharp and he recognizes the things going on in the international medical community and applies them in his life his practice and his teaching.  More importantly, he is able to compete at the international level...he may not always win, but he can hold his own, in his own right as a professional.  What some people can't see about this is beyond me, they want it their way, right now, and I hate to be the kid with the stick running around bursting bubbles, but it just isn't going to happen yet.  I think that some people seek to legitimize their role in society and their accomplishments in life by making it exceptionally hard for others to achieve the same thing.  Barriers to entry in the field is a portion of the textbook definition of a professional (i.e. not just anybody can do it), that I understand, but lets not make it ridiculous OK guys?  Instead, lets turn out the very best product we can, identify the students with instructor potential, help them achieve that level of comprehension and leave this culture better than we found it.  It's already on the way to developing its own identity in pre-hospital medical professionalism, it just needed some help.

Oh and one more thing...If you're gonna quit, quit.  Students and teachers who threaten to quit every day, well all I can say is that you're lucky I'm not the guy with the BIG red pen, because by the second time you told me that, well lets just say that there wouldn't be a third...Pound sand buddy!

(Once when I was much younger, my boss asked how things were going, I sat down, and began on my long list of the end I said "if things don't get better, I think I'm ready to turn in my resignation".  I expected him to fall to his knees and say "NO!  Not that, anything but that!  PLEASE...we need you!"...But that's not what he said...he waited about 10 seconds, and said "well then, 'I'm ready to accept it".  Let me tell you, You ain't never seen backpedaling that fast in your life, I wonder if he still laughs about that as much as I do...)

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