#Diverseathon2021: Only in India: Adventures of an International Educator by Jill Dobbe
Only in India: Adventures of an International Educator
Author: Jill Dobbe
Published: August 2, 2018
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 27- December 4, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
“We’re moving to India!”
Travel along with two international educators who take the leap and move to Gurgaon, India, to become principals at an Indian/International school. Excited by the opulent marble hallways and the grandness of the school, they quickly learn it lacks even the most basic supplies, like chalkboard erasers. The couple, however, make a go of it and ultimately adjust to the dizzying day-to-day life of Indian society where sacred cows stop for red lights, women wear glittery saris while planting rice, and dreadlocked sadhus go about renouncing all their worldly pleasures.
Part memoir, part travelogue and part tragic comedy, readers will marvel at all the couple has to endure only to end up leaving the school and India abruptly, without even so much as a Namaste. Despite a catastrophe or two, their go-with-the-flow attitudes and kindred senses of humor help them to endure the overwhelming bustle of India, while recognizing and appreciating its distinctive allure.
I read Jill Dobbe’s previous memoir of living in Cairo, Egypt titled Kids, Camels, and Cairo several years ago. Having been to Egypt, her writing brought me right back to Cairo and those wonderful memories of my family trip I was on with my aunt, uncle, mother, and sister. That was to be my final trip with my uncle as he passed from lung cancer just two months later. Needless to say, I looked forward to reading Only in India and taking a trip without ever having left the house!
Jill and her husband left Cairo and then India was their next destination in their teaching adventures. India is not on my bucket list, but I have seen Bollywood movies, movies in general, and tv shows taking place in India and enjoy all the colors that are present. I honestly do not know much about India, but reading Dobbe’s memoir I definitely learned about the country, culture, religions, and history. I now definitely want to see the movie Gandhi that stars Sir Ben Kingsley, it is sad to say that this ignorant American did not know about the circumstances of his death.
The memoir actually starts at the end of their time in India when she and her husband had to suddenly leave due to visa issues. As I read of her time in India, I enjoyed going on her journey of remembrance with her, as I ‘experienced’ India for the first time. There are definitely huge culture differences and she shows us the culture shock experienced by her and her husband.
It is written similar to a diary, so the memoir is honest and full of their experiences, good and bad while also seeing how the Dobbe’s react to certain situations. They are presently living in Honduras, so I look forward to a memoir that takes place there, so I can journey to another country I have never been to!
I have had this memoir on my kindle for a few years, but just now picked it up. I read it as a part of #Diverseathon2021, and this month’s prompt is a book set in India. December’s Host is Natalie @ One Sleepy Reader and she is hosting at Instagram and You Tube. She is also be having a giveaway: See her You Tube and Instagram pages for information on the giveaway.
For full details on this year long read-a-thon, please click here.
And don’t forget about the awesome GRAND PRIZE at the end of the year. Click the link here for that information.
If you are interested in travel memoirs or teaching in foreign countries, I definitely recommend looking into Dobbe’s books. I wish it had not taken me this long to read Only in India, but there are so many books and not enough time! She has one more memoir written that I find myself wanting to read!
Only in India: Adventures of an International Educator is recommended!
Kids, Camels, & Cairo by Jill Dobbe
Author: Jill Dobbe
Published: May 28, 2016
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 12-16, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Each morning my eyes popped open the second I heard the call to prayer resound through the air. At 7:00 A.M., I walked out onto a rare quiet Cairo street and waited for the school van to pick me up. Climbing onto the van, I found a seat alongside the foreign and Muslim teachers, where I was only one of a few women not wearing hijab. It was Sunday morning, the start of another Islamic week of trying to discipline rich and apathetic students.
Traveling across the globe to work in an international school in Cairo, Egypt, was not exactly the glamorous lifestyle I thought it would be. I cherished my travels to the Red Sea, delighted in visiting the Pyramids, and appreciated the natural wonders of the Nile River. However, I also spent days without electricity or internet, was leered at by rude Egyptian men, breathed in Cairo’s cancerous black smog, and coaxed school work from students.
KIDS, CAMELS, & CAIRO is a lighthearted read about Jill Dobbe’s personal experiences as an educator abroad. Whether you’re an educator, a traveler, or just a curious reader, you will be astounded at this honest and riveting account of learning to live in an Islamic society, while confronting the frustrating challenges of being an educator in a Muslim school.
Jill Dobbe has written her memoir of her two years of life in Egypt while working in an international (though mainly Egyptian) school. She was there with her husband and daughter. Dobbe is from Wisconsin and that is a whole world of difference from Cairo, Egypt! We experience the cultural and religious shocks that she experiences.
I was looking forward to reading this memoir as I visited Egypt back in 2006. Dobbe really delivered with her descriptions of Cairo which included the dirtiness of the city and the extreme differences in the poor and wealthy. As I was reading, I felt myself returning to Egypt myself and remembering some of the places that we both visited. We also lived through her two years of teaching, which at times was difficult for Dobbe, in particular not knowing the language. It seemed at times she was unprepared for the cultural differences of Egypt compared to the USA. Though adjusted, it did not seem like they researched Egypt before moving there. I felt for her daughter who moved with them during her senior year of high school. Senior year is a special time of change for a student and I feel Dobbe’s daughter missed out on some of the usual experiences that a senior faces. Granted, her daughter did get a once in a lifetime experience: a year of school in a foreign country. I just would not have picked my child’s senior year as the year to move to Cairo.
We were able to take trips with Dobbe and her family as they took vacations to various parts of Egypt that many Americans may never get to see. Dobbe describes everything very well, you really feel like you are with her while reading this novel. Dobbe also includes a few pictures of her time in Egypt which enhances the read. Reading Kids, Camels, and Cairo had me wanting to go back to Egypt again! Reading this memoir helped me to remember my trip fondly.
I enjoyed this memoir and look forward to reading Dobbe’s other memoirs.
Kids, Camels, and Cairo is recommended! I received a copy of the memoir from the author.