HIGH SCHOOL

Hawally, Kuwait City, Kuwait

I spent a few afternoons hanging around the American Creativity Academy or ACA in Kuwait City. It is a private all-girls-Islam-focused high school that has a lot of American and Canadian teachers instructing the courses, one of whom is an old friend of mine from Idaho.

As I got to Kuwait from Jordan, I really noticed the difference in language. I felt that I could, and did, speak to everyone in English with the general expectation that they would be able to understand and respond. And they did. It seems this is in part because there are so many Indians and Fillipinos in the city that the common language among all these mixing cultures is English. I believe it is also because of the kind of education that the Kuwaitis receieve. The high school girls at this school spoke flawless English. All of their courses are conducted in English, they read a lot of the same books I had to read in high school, and they are applying to and being accepted at schools in America and all over the world.

This was a boisterous bunch of young ladies. I tried to quietly sit in on the classes so as to not start a ruckus, but they are high school girls and there were many flurries and giggles when the camera was around. I will say, compared to the young ladies that I saw at the mall and in other parts of the city, the girls at this school were more tame in their appearance. This is probably due to the fact that there were no men around and they had a dress code. Even so, there was quite a bit of head scarf realignment and hair fluffing that went on. They were always ready to talk, laugh, and text under the table.

It was entertaining for me to see the way that the different teachers went about controlling these ladies. Some resorted to generally trying to yell over them. The physics teacher in the cream headscarf was my hero, she coralled them with a simple raise of her eyebrow. But these girls are teenagers and would inevitably bubble over in the joy of talking to one another.

These are the "priviliged" girls of their age. Most of them have their own drivers who take them wherever they need to go whenever they need to go there. The Kuwaiti families live in enormous homes and have way more wealth than it occurred to me to imagine. I will talk more of that later, but I was aware as I was with these girls that they were growing up in a very different world from any that I had ever known. Most have a maid in their home, if not several. These women are often the Indian and Fillipino ladies that come to Kuwait to work. Many of them have a chalet, which is a huge family compound on the gulf where they go for the weekend and take their boats out on the water. I tried my hand at inviting myself along for the weekend to one girl's chalet, but that suggestion only received a giggle as a response. Dang.

Like any high school, there was a mix of girls. The very studious, the very social, the mixture of the two. The sassy ones, the very quiet and kind ones. But for the most part they were very welcoming of me, and we had some good laughs over their class-turned-photo session.