Student Competition Winner: International Teacher on Running for Life

This piece is one of the 10 winners of our Profile competition 2022. You can find more here . Brienne Mittleider the author, is 17 y...


This piece is one of the 10 winners of our Profile competition 2022. You can find more here. Brienne Mittleiderthe author, is 17 years old and goes to Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in Melbourne, Florida.


by Brienne Mittleider

It was the American dream. They had a house in the suburbs. A van sat in the driveway. Their son was in kindergarten. But despite each of them working 12-hour days, she and her husband were drowning in debt. She thought, “There’s got to be a better way than this.”

During a visit to her husband’s old high school in Argentina, she found him. Within six months, the house, the car and the suburban dream were gone. His solution? To teach abroad.

For 20 years, Carinn Mariani taught thousands of students in three countries. In every culture she has experienced – be it the outdoor communal atmosphere of Buenos Aires; the new intensity of Vegas in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; or the liberating spirit of the joy of living in São Paulo, Brazil – she embraced the idea that “every day we make a choice about how we want to live. Shape your life as you see fit. To settle otherwise is a loss of life.

Since then, Ms. Mariani has transitioned to teaching private school students in Brevard County, Florida. She reflects on her experience in and out of the world of international education, particularly her time in Dubai, in this interview, which has been edited and condensed.

When did you decide to start teaching?

Teaching was not something I planned to do. When I studied literature in college, I never wondered what I was going to do with it. In my early twenties, I was a bartender, sneaking into the 1996 Olympics with no direction. When I decided to enter a teaching program, it was organic. In general, that’s how things are. You come across something, say, “That’s a good idea. I will continue and see if I like it. I appreciate that a big part of life is luck. It shows. To be present.

You seem very influenced by Dubai. Why did this affect you?

I loved the kindness of my Emirati students and their parents, to be invited into their home. It’s something I’ve never experienced in the United States. We may not build community as the cornerstone of our society as some other cultures do.

Dubai politics went against my basic instincts. I believe in democracy, in the autonomy of women and in the non-politicization of the expression of identity. I had to accept that I had chosen to live in a culture where my values ​​might not align, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t be in a classroom full of students and show them the kindness and compassion, and more, that supported my value system.

How did you feel about experiencing so many cultural changes during your move?

There is so much growth happening in every place you live because of these cultural differences. There’s no doubt that a piece of you comes off when you leave. But, listen: the students are the same, from the ultra-progressive girl from São Paulo, to the Muslim-covered Saudi girls from Dubai, to the students I have now who are going through the debutante process. There are few different interactions. There are little cultural things I have to think about because I respect where I live. But I talk to them the same way.

Do you plan to teach internationally again?

Now that I’ve had the professional positions I wanted and lived where I wanted, I don’t know if I need this frenetic life as much. Now, the little yoga studio up the street and the beach across the street might be all I need.

Is there anything else you would like to pass on?

Most of my generation when we were 17 did not consider themselves citizens of the world. Your generation has this great potential thanks to this little box of world knowledge that you have in your hands. The problem is that you have to tap into all that sensory information flooding you from the screens to find the calm and quiet path. I hope a teacher’s job is to teach you how to get rid of all the noise and find exactly what you’re looking for.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Student Competition Winner: International Teacher on Running for Life
Student Competition Winner: International Teacher on Running for Life
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