After 27 years and a life in Bahrain, Scott Barth, an American music teacher, is going home.
It was sheer chance that brought him to Bahrain. Scott had applied with Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS), a network of U.S. schools, to teach music abroad. He was offered a position in a school in South Korea, but he turned it down.
“It was for chorus,” he said.
However, he accepted the second offer for a position in Bahrain School. “It was for band,” he explained.
Scott was in fact eager to resume working with a band three years after he left his previous position. Yet, he had no idea what to expect in the Arabian Gulf.
“I had no idea where Bahrain was or any preconceived notions of it. No one I knew had ever been to the Middle East before. I had to go to the library and find a book on it. It was in the children's section,” he recalled.
“When I came to Bahrain in August 1993, it was the first time I had ever traveled overseas. I had spent eight years teaching in a remote Eskimo village in Alaska, so being thousands of miles away from everyone I knew was not anything new. I got here on a MAC flight, which left Philadelphia and made four stops before arriving in Bahrain. It was around 5:00 a.m. and since there was no one to meet me, I just followed the crowd and got on a bus that took me to the Mannai Plaza.”
Scott’s first days in Bahrain were very busy.
“There's a lot to do when you are a new teacher: CPR cards, visas, school paperwork, etc...as well as getting my room organized. It's hard to remember the first days of school, since they passed in a blur. So many new people to meet and so much to get done.”
However, he was grateful he could adapt to his new situation “instantly.”
“I slipped right into it like a well-worn pair of shoes,” he said.
In fact, Scott eased so well into his new life that he never really felt homesick although he did miss reunions with his family for major events.
“I've never really felt homesick, since Bahrain has been my home. There were times when I wished I could have been with my family, during weddings, funerals or special occasions, but those are the sacrifices one makes when living overseas.”
For about 20 years, Scott lived off Exhibitions Avenue. “I chose my flat because it was conveniently located and I loved the arches and arched windows.”
However, when the building came under new management, the landlord showed me another of his buildings in Busaiteen, which I then moved into. I loved it! It had a beautiful view of both downtown and the water. I loved watching the sunsets.”
Scott also watched Bahrain change.
“It has really grown! I remember when there used to be practically nothing in Juffair. Now it's a small city.”
He will take with him numerous memories of Bahrain in general and of the school in particular.
Some of his most memorable times were the musical productions Linda Berger, an English and drama teacher who had lived in Bahrain for 25 years, and he did.
“I also loved the diversity of our students. I learned so much about different cultures. But my best memory would probably be my most recent, and that was the school naming the band room after me, complete with a plaque above the door.”
Scott said that his memories are the greatest gift he will treasure
“When I think of Bahrain, I think of pearls, Arabic coffee pots, thobes, white beaches, beautiful architecture, the souk and hospitality.”
He added that he is taking carpets home with him.
“I have many, many beautiful carpets that will always remind me of my years here,” he said. “I would have liked an oud, but since I don't play, it would only have been decorative.”
Leaving Bahrain will make him miss the people he met here.
“I will miss the people. The staff and students of the school as well as the people I have met in Bahrain. They have always been welcoming and kind.”
He will always recall the students who stood out.
“There are many, mainly because I am still in contact with so many of my former students. I'm especially proud of the ones who have gone into music as their profession.”
“My saddest memories are remembering colleagues who have since passed away after leaving their mark on the school. I thought about them often as I passed classrooms they used to call their own.”
For Scott, Bahrain has been an amazing experience.
“If I could go back in time, I don't think I'd change anything. Any mistakes I made, I learned from.”