What have you done since you graduated?
"Since my graduation in 2002, I have had some amazing opportunities. I studied theater education and graduated from Central Connecticut State University in 2006, and later received my elementary education certification from CCSU as well. In 2007, I took a trip to Tonga with fellow Gilbert alums of 2002, Jill Barberet and Lauren Jones to visit Sarah LaRosa. This is where my interest in travel started."
How does it feel to be working in a different country?
“Our journey aboard was inspired by my friend and classmate Sarah LaRosa (Class of 2002). In January of 2017, Sarah and her husband Andrew were teaching abroad in Morocco. Sarah had encouraged Jed and I to look into international teaching programs. We were surprised at all of the amazing international teaching opportunities there were. We met with schools all over the world to investigate.
It was a big leap to move and work abroad. It has been an incredible opportunity to be able to teach in such a diverse school in Abu Dhabi. I currently have students in my class from over 10 different countries. Colleagues at our school are also diverse and we are introduced to new traditions, customs and foods often. While it is difficult to be so distant from family and friends, I have been able to better understand and develop an international mindedness, which helps to create rich lessons. My brother, Chris Devanney (Class of 1994) and his family visited us here, as well as Sarah LaRosa (Class of 2002) and Victoria Berger (Class of 2004).
When we first told friends and family we would be moving abroad they were surprised and fearful. The Middle East is often portrayed as unsafe and scary in media stories. The biggest adjustment when we moved to Abu Dhabi was seeing Arabic writing everywhere. Muslim women wear a shayla or hijab which covers their hair and they often wear abayas over their clothing. Emirati men wear white kandoras. Each year on National Day, December 2, our school has a big celebration, much like the Fourth of July in the United States. Students participate in activities such as dance, eating traditional foods henna paint, riding camels, and even holding falcons. My husband and I have been able to appreciate the traditions and culture here.
Working abroad has given my husband and I more opportunity to travel. We have been able to visit other emirates here in the UAE such as Dubai and Fujairah as well as travel to Italy and Sri Lanka. We have had to pause our traveling due to COVID-19."