A Look At What Our Colleagues Get Up To Outside Of Work

What do the GEMS teachers and staff members get up to when they’re away from work? Read on to find out.

Teaching choir is my passion and my way of expressing the music within me. I am a choir conductor and organist for the Filipino Community Choir at St. Mary’s Church, Dubai. Pope Francis’s visit to the UAE earlier this year was an historic event. I was given the privilege to be part of the choir and sing the responsorial psalm as the soloist at the mass, which was attended by hundreds of thousands of people and was televised worldwide. It was a very challenging yet fulfilling experience. As a musician, this was one of the most humbling experiences, and one I will treasure forever.

Alvin Mangoma, Music Teacher, GEMS Winchester School – Dubai

One of my favourite hobbies is fishing, even though some people regard it as boring or an old man’s sport. I go every Friday or in the holidays with my family and friends, and I enjoy it a lot. Every year, I go fishing down in Al Hudayriat Island either in my boat or just off the shoreline. To my mind, each time I go fishing is a unique experience. I have caught everything from kingfish to cobia, queenfish to jush, and baby sharks to groupers. The most memorable was the eight-pound brown spotted reef cod. Brown spotted reef cods are common in the UAE but catching an eight-pound one is very rare. It was a struggle trying to pull the rod since the fish was strong and trying to swim away, but every second of it was worth it.

Asma Rashed, UAE Social Studies Teacher, The Cambridge High School– Abu Dhabi

Whenever possible, I like to get out and ride my motorcycle. It’s not always about speed for me; anything that makes me feel free and gets my blood and adrenaline racing is worth exploring. Riding is a good stress buster that helps improve mental and physical health. Riding to the Hanle Observatory in the Leh Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir through the world’s highest motorable pass, the mighty Khardung La, was my dream ride. I will never forget those 11 days of adventure. I don’t know whether I will be able to travel the whole world but in the near future I want to ride from Dubai to Egypt, spreading a message of ‘Education for All’.

Avinash Surve, Academic Coordinator, GEMS Modern Academy

I got into sneakers in the early 90s when I started playing basketball. Inspired by the streets of Berlin where I grew up and the fast-growing urban subculture, I fell in love with basketball, hip-hop, street art, graffiti and Michael Jordan sneakers. My parents could not afford the newest Jordans, so I would sell newspapers in our neighbourhood to earn enough money, or I simply picked up a one-on-one basketball game to win a pair.

From there, my passion for streetwear and urban subculture grew and I started travelling around the globe, especially to Japan and Korea to find rare sneakers. I hope that all young sneakerheads are also inspired by the messages behind the sneakers, and not only by the status symbol. One thing is certain: every sneaker tells a story.

Deniza Ibrahimi-Dzaferovic, PYP PE Educator, GEMS American Academy – Abu Dhabi

Since arriving at GEMS American Academy – Abu Dhabi, I have been able to continue my career in American football. Along with playing in the Emirates American Football League for the Abu Dhabi Wildcats, I have also been fortunate enough to play several international games while representing the UAE. Over the last few years we have played Sri Lanka, India, Romania, Egypt, and more. As an international teacher, I have been very lucky to live in countries that have allowed me to keep playing this amazing sport. As a 38-year-old father of two, I am thrilled to have the chance to have my kids support me and cheer me on all over the world.

Justin Kirby, Science Teacher, GEMS American Academy – Abu Dhabi

In my spare time I do ballroom and Latin dancing. I have been a ballroom dancer for the past 12 years and have competed in many national competitions around my home country of the UK. My highlights include being a five-time Blackpool Medallist of the Year and being placed fourth at the British Championships.

I have found a great dance school here in Dubai, where I continue to train, and hope to get back on the competition circuit soon. I am very passionate about encouraging both girls and boys to dance. Not only do the children learn to be dancers, but it also teaches them to be respectful to each other and how to work with others. Ballroom dancing is taught as an ECA is some schools, however I would like it to be available in all.

Natasha Lamb, Events and Marketing Officer, GEMS Wellington International School