5 MINUTES WITH: Sophie Durand, an SISD Grade 5 Teacher

Originally posted on YallaDubai

The Canadian born French teacher has made Dubai her home since last year

Say hello to the delightful and charming Sophie Durand, the Canadian born French teacher who moved to Dubai in 2023. Here, she provides a little insight into her time spent in the UAE so far.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Sophie Durand and I was born in Montreal, Canada. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Education from McGill and I also completed my Master’s in curriculum and instruction in 2021. I have taught in French immersion classrooms all over the world, including Calgary, Los Angeles and London. While teaching, I have also been fortunate enough to have taken on additional roles and responsibilities such as the French language coordinator, design French dual-language curriculum in California and be instructional coach to primary school teachers. Currently, I am a Grade 5 English teacher in the French bilingual stream at the Swiss International Scientific School of Dubai.

How and when did you move here, and what inspired the move?

In 2022, I won a grant from the French Consulate of Los Angeles to study in Nantes for the summer and attend a series of classes and workshops. While there, I was able to network with teachers from all over the world. This opportunity sparked my interest in teaching abroad in an international school. I made the decision to move to Dubai not long after and moved here during the summer of 2023 to begin the school year.

How has living in Dubai shaped your sense of belonging and community?

Living in Dubai has shaped my sense of belonging and community in various ways. residing in such a multicultural city, I find myself naturally gravitating towards those who have similar backgrounds to me (French-Canadian and Scottish). However, I have seen my social circle expand and include people from places I have never even visited. With so many people being expats themselves, it is easy for coworkers to quickly become friends and welcome you into their social circles. This creates a little community for support that most expats rely on to not feel isolated while being so far away from home.

You might also like: Take 5 minutes out to meet Ananda Shakespeare

Can you tell us about a particular person in Dubai who has had a significant impact on your life and why?

A person in Dubai who has had a significant impact on my life thus far would have to be my co-teacher, Benedicte. We were both new to Dubai and the school this year, so we have both been experiencing a range of feelings as we got settled in. Spending every weekday together, we have gotten to know each other very well. Benedicte has not only proven to be a reliable coworker but also a trusted friend with an amazing sense of humour.

What is your favourite thing about the emirate and why?

If I had to pick one favourite thing about Dubai, I would have to say its beautiful landscape. Dubai has tons of beautiful beaches, sand dunes and mountains to explore. The weather here is beautiful and gives us the opportunity to enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities. There really is something for everyone here!

A myth about Dubai that you would like to bust

A myth that I would like to bust about Dubai is that everyone here is “fake”. Speaking from experience, this is not true. I have met so many wonderful and genuine people in my short time here. Several of them have gone out of their way to be show extreme generosity and have offered help when needed.

Could you share a memorable moment when you felt the genuine warmth and hospitality of the Dubai community in your own life?

There have been many moments where I have felt the hospitality and warmth of the Dubai community in my life. One that stands out was this New Year’s Eve where all the staff members who were residing in the staff accommodation got together to celebrate the start of a new year. We were all away from our families but got together as one big group. At that time, we also welcomed new staff members who had just recently joined or moved in. It was an incredible opportunity to meet new people and create our own little home away from home.

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