A couple of months ago when the Black Lives Matter movement picked up again because of the dreadful killing of George Floyd in the US, I decided to step out of the shadows. For many years, like a lot of people of colour, I have tried to ride the storm of the institutional racism that has affected my life and that of many others. It has been very hard to stand up and be counted in societies when you feel scared to say something.
Search Associates, a world renowned international teachers recruitment agency, sent an email out to its members on June 6th, 2020 in support of the issues and problems teachers were facing due to the corona virus pandemic. They included a photo of their team in the post. I didn't think anything of it.
A few days later, they posted an email in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The email was sincere. I thought of the email from earlier in the week and remembered the picture of their team. Not a single person of colour in the team. This is the unfortunate case in many international educational organisations. The Leadership are all or predominantly white. Here is their email in support of BLM.
Although I was pleased that Search Associates, an organisation I have been part of for many years, supported the movement, I was somewhat concerned about the lack of representation in their organisation. So I decided to send them a letter.
As you can see, I inserted the image of the different coloured hands next to their picture. I was very nervous when sending this letter. I had just secured a full-time position at my school. I have used Search Associates for many years to help me find jobs in good schools. I didn't know if I would get a response and whether it would be a positive one or not. The very next day, I received a response from my associate and the CEO of Search Associates, Jessica Mangana. I am going to only include the responses from Jessica in this blog, as I want to protect the privacy of my associate. Here is her response.
I was really pleased to have received a response from the CEO of the organisation. I sent a short email thanking them. This made me feel that people would listen, especially those in positions of influence in the world of recruitment for International teachers. With this positivity, I decided to set up a facebook group called 'International Teachers of Colour'. After a few weeks, I decided to send them another letter firstly inviting someone from the organisation to join the group and secondly asking about how they have progressed with some of my questions.
It took a few weeks for Jessica to respond, but again her response was positive. It seems action has taken place and with further reviews, in the organisation, action will continue to happen.
With this, we keep moving forward. We keep making steps to improve our situations and opportunities for both international teachers of colour and international students of colour.
Today, I was prompted to form a team and put together an action plan so we can move forward together. There are many groups and organisations out there fighting for similar things. We will push from our perspective and the needs of International Teachers of colour.