Monthly Archives: June 2014

Year 6 Graduation proud to have been part of these young people’s lives.

One of the many traditions which have become embedded in the culture of the school I opened in 2004 is the Year 6 Graduation. This year’s was at the Westin and, like every other year, featured speeches made by Year 6 students. Awards were given for academic and personal achievements and the evening finished with the Headteacher’s awards. This was the speech I gave this year before announcing the recipients of this year’s Headteacher awards:

As I look around the room tonight I see a sea of purple. You may be in any colour of the rainbow but because you are part of our Safa family you are, without any doubt, always going to be purple. And it is the same shade of purple that I see, so it does not matter how long you have been part of our family – you are still purple!

And now the serious bit, where I try and give you some advice for living the game of life:

There are times in all our lives when we face crossroads and have to make a decision. There may be only two choices or there may be many and we will take time to weigh up the pros and cons of each option. We may take the road which most of our friends will take so we will not be alone on the journey. Sometimes we are either persuaded by other people or by what appear to be better options to take a different road, perhaps not your first, second or even third choice. There are times where the decision on which road is made for you without you being part of the choice. You have all been faced with decisions like this this year and will face many more such decisions as you journey through life.

Keeping all this in mind, I think it is not just the choice of road that will make the difference in the long run; rather it is the way we choose to travel and it is choose as we can make a conscious decision on this.

You could choose to battle your way along the road butting heads with those you meet which will, in the long run, make the journey very difficult and draining. You will miss opportunities that come your way with your resistance. You will miss out on the friendships and people who would help guide us. This may be the right road for you but you will not benefit from it as you should or could if you had chosen a different way to travel.

You could choose to question your way along the road looking for justification, validation and reassurance while being suspicious of those around you. Why am I here? Where are we going? Is this the right road? I think the other roads are better! Criticising the choice and the options available perhaps out of a lack of self belief that you cannot get to the end and the fear of failure is looming. This will make your journey hard for both you and those who are also on the same road. You will miss out on the exhilarations of the new experiences along the way which will shape you as a person. 

You could choose to set out with an open mind considering every opportunity and friendship along the way. You could welcome the challenges which face you bravely and with a ‘can do’ attitude knowing that you will have help and support around you. You may find yourself battling or questioning which is no bad thing but you will be doing so with an open minded perspective. You will share the experiences with those who are like minded and are on the same pathway establishing friendships for life.

So, to sum up…make a conscious choice on how you travel each journey in life.

There will be changes: look on every change as an opportunity, you never know what is round the corner.

View every closed door as a new beginning, open everyone: you never know what is behind it – yes it might be a surprise (booh!) or challenge but it might lead to new and better things.

I know that you leave Safa with a suitcase bursting with academic and life skills to take with you on your journey all neatly filed and labelled and ready for you to pull out, whatever life throws at you because….every cloud has a purple lining…

And no matter where you go

No matter what you do

You will always take a piece of Safa with you!

Full circle

We have all had, at sometime or another, that feeling of deja vu. In this my last couple of weeks working in Dubai there have been a few prompted by a visitor who describes this as coming ‘full circle’.

I have one of my very best friends visiting me for a final time and the phrase ‘full circle’ keeps coming up in conversation. She was my very first visitor in the early 90’s coming to see me when I lived in Ruwais, Abu Dhabi. It was a British Airways flight she came on then and it was again for this last flight with both arriving at the original terminal, Terminal 1 at Dubai International Airport – ‘full circle’.

A trip to Dubai would not be complete without a visit to our very favourite shop in Karama. The memories of purchasing branded t-shirts and polo shirts in 1992 in the very same shop with the Iranian owners chatting away in Iranian/Glaswegian accents as the bargaining began was definitely a ‘full circle. The only changes being that it was bags she was buying and sadly one of the owners was no longer being around to take part in the bargaining. Even the mid-shopping shawarma and the subsequent trip to the quality ‘tat’ shop for the obligatory pashminas and the like was part of the original and the many following shopping trips.

The malls may be different, bigger and with more shops but the ritual day of shopping sustained by multiple coffee stops and food breaks was another key feature of the Dubai trip. At the time of her first trips to Dubai it would have been the Al Ghurair Centre, the only mall at the time. This time it was a walk to Dubai Mall which is so big it takes a day to get round. The purchases: bags and shoes, our addictions – ‘full circle’

Even the bottle of bubbles we cracked open at the end of my last Safa Year 6 Graduation diner was an echo from the past. It had been my graduation, the bottle had been acquired from the Glasgow Garden Festival that she had been a part of. It was later that summer in the flower section of her father’s garden centre that I saw an advert for a job in Abu Dhabi. As it turned out those first bubbles were not to our taste and a colourful range of cocktails were mixed to make it more palatable This bottle to mark the end of our Dubai adventures and this chapter in my life needed no additional contents – ‘full circle’.



Road Dune

A grain of sand.

In the dark moving.

A single one amongst the many.

Blowing in the desert wind.

Catches on the tarmac.

A rough stone sticking out.

Out above the others.

Enough to catch a grain of sand.

But there are more.

Another grain.

Amongst the many blowing.

Blowing like a wave.

A wave over the tarmac.

Tarmac in the desert.

Then there are more.

More grains of sand catch.

They spread grain touching grain.

Behind, building up.

To the right spreading.

To the left spreading.

Further building.

Some grains escape.

Others choose to skim over.

Those who stay build grain on grain on grain.

A bronze penny rises and the wind strengthens.

Another wave of grains approach as shadows stretch.

They join, they catch, they are caught, they spread further.

No longer single grains but an entity growing, moving, changing.

Then the wind changes direction slightly, the shadows bend.

One grain, then another fly with the air, away.

Then more follow joining the wind.

The wind lures more singles.

Singles of the once mass.

Pull away, leave, off.

And more fly.

One grain.