Heba El Sanhoury shares her journey of teaching in Egypt

Heba, Mrs Ghada Barsoum and colleagues Heba, Mrs Ghada Barsoum and colleagues

Tell me how you got into teaching.
International schools were not a new concept to me when I started teaching as I went to one myself in Egypt. It was a German-speaking school, and so I was soon immersed in a global environment with my peers from multicultural backgrounds, which I loved from the start. Once I graduated from school, I went straight into teaching and now 22 years have gone past. I have never looked back. My career path has opened my world, allowing me to do what I love daily. I am currently the Head of German at Egypt British International School (EBIS).

What makes your school special?
EBIS is a fantastic international school which teaches the British Curriculum with a  focus on educating students on global issues and the global economy. This assists our students to think globally about the different cultures of the world, which I feel is vital for them to adapt their mindsets to international thinking. It is also great for giving the students a clear path for choosing where to study at university. Being the Head of German, I meet with those considering studying in Germany and aim to answer all their questions about the country, whilst getting them prepared for the next stage of their education.

What is your key to success in 22 years of teaching in an international environment?
Travel with the job! I have travelled across the world and gained knowledge from every country I have visited and the people I have met. I make connections at events and conferences and stay in contact with them, giving me friends across the globe that I see again. I am most passionate about knowledge sharing and learning from others as that is how we can grow as individuals and bring communities together.

Are most of the teachers in your school Egyptian?
I would say that, in the secondary school where I teach, the majority of the teachers are Egyptian, however those working in kindergarten and primary vary more and we have teachers from all over the world, including England and America.

What advice would you give a foreign teacher coming to teach in your school?
Firstly, I would say respect the culture in Egypt. When we talk about Egypt, we talk about culture and tradition; we talk about a melting pot where multiple cultural and ethnic traditions have created a new concept of living. We also talk about a mix of customs and traditions dating from the pharaohs’ time up to modernity. Students are taught and raised to respect their culture and also other cultures – and to be internationally minded.

From the second you arrive in the country, my main advice would be to embrace all the vibrant Egyptian culture around you. Make the most of every day! Egypt is a country that will give you a lot of memories and will get into your blood. The parents at my school are always very friendly, along with students who are intrigued to learn more about where they have come from, so do not be nervous, as you will be truly welcomed. Egypt is such a friendly country that when international teachers come to teach, they usually do not want to leave as they love it so much – and as the Egyptian proverb says: once you drink from the Nile, you are to return.