“I don’t know if Qatar is made for me or I’m made for Qatar but I love shopping at the malls, I like the heat, and I like exercising outdoors. One of my favorite stories is when I was running outdoors one day and it was 42 degrees outside, and an Alfardan police stopped and pulled me over. I thought that I was in trouble, but to my surprise, they wanted to give me water and to drive me home. They were so nice and although I think it’s because they thought that I was old, these great guys needed to help somebody and they chose me that day. The local people depict what the Qatari culture is about, hospitality, which is serving people.
I grew up in New York, and that’s where I started my teaching journey. After my wife and I got married, we moved to New Hampshire, then we moved to Colorado, then to Cambodia, from there to Hawaii, and then we moved to Doha. We wanted to give our children the experiences of living in different cultures. We wanted to live in a Buddhist country, so we went to Cambodia, and then we wanted to live in a Muslim country so we moved to Doha. We wanted to introduce our kids to those traditions.
One thing that these places have taught me is that as much as everybody likes to think of themselves as unique, people are all mostly the same. Everybody’s kind and living their life and they just want to give their kids a better experience than they had. So, although I’ve been told that Doha is quite different from the rest of the countries I’ve lived in, I’ve never seen it as different. I’m amazed at how people are – how they open the door for you, say good morning, or just give you a smile. The hospitality is definitely something. My most favorite memories here are of when my kids were here, the family being together, having the American New York pizza at Pizza Box (it’s a must-try!), the opening of the new ACS School when they put up the plaque, and one day maybe my grandkids will fly through Doha or my great great-grand kids will do, and it’s amazing to have my name on a plaque. At my workplace, the school, working with my team really motivated me as well. I‘m fortunate to have an excellent team to rely on.
I started signing my emails ‘relentlessly positive’ around 20 years ago. It’s that drive to just be relentlessly positive which is the only thing that matters. ‘They can take your money they can take your belongings but they can’t take your attitude. Your attitude is yours, and relentlessly positive has been a thing for me. Some people think that it’s naïve but it works for me. I’d like to call it being fearlessly naïve or passionately naïve because sometimes being naïve means you put yourself in challenging situations, but people are so good that it never seems to go wrong.
One of my core beliefs is that when you don’t know what to do, just serve people. So, when you have a tough decision to make, or you’re confused, just help people. It’s easy when things are going great. When you start doing good things for people, you’ll notice things start to get better for you too. In Colorado, when I was the high school principal, and I needed something more to do, I volunteered at hospices, and the training that they give you there is incredible. You just sit with people during the last stages of their lives and you’re just there as a company. It was one of the best trainings I’ve received because all you do there is listen. I don’t know if I was a good listener when I was younger but I hope now due to that training and just getting older and understanding, hopefully, I’m a better listener. When I retire, it’d be great to volunteer at one of the hospices.
I did my DNA test about 2 years ago, to trace my origins and it turns out I’m a small percentage from either Iraq or Syria. So somewhere in the 1600s, a relative of mine lived in this area and for me, this was the coolest thing like maybe this me coming home. Maybe I’m reconnected to that relative who lived in the Middle East.”