A Peek into our Colleagues’ Interests and Hobbies Outside School

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

I teach art and design at Westminster School, Dubai. In my spare time I combine my love for art and accessories and design hand-painted handbags, laptop bags, iPad covers and other fashion accessories. It gives me immense joy to see my art used in everyday life. I specialise in paintings inspired by the masters Van Gogh and Claude Monet, who are my favorite artists.

Rukhsana Chowdhary,
Westminster School Dubai

I can recall distinctly the first trip I took with my family. Back then, maps were paper pamphlets and figuring out your location involved some thought and getting help from actual people. You did not have the luxury of pressing a button on your phone. Also back then, cameras still used film and the anticipation of seeing photographs developed prolonged the wanderlust for a few days after the holiday had ended.

Fast forward to 2019 and I can know all there is to know about a location, restaurant, place to stay and things to do with the click of a button. Sure, nothing beats spontaneous discoveries, but I am still so thankful for Google, Zomato, Uber and all the new travel apps.

Moving to the UAE as a 22-year-old fresher right out of my B.Ed course was one of my best decisions. Since then, I’ve travelled to 22 countries and I’m currently planning my 23rd. The world really is a wonderful place and the people who live in it are incredible, too.

Sydney Atkins,
Our Own English High School, Al Ain

Apart from being a member of the support staff at Our Own English High School, Al Ain, for the past 18 years, I have always maintained my interest in music and dance. I compose music, teach students how to play the keyboard and also teach the traditional Oppana dance from Kerala. I have won several awards for choreography in the UAE.

Kunhinileshwar Mohammed,
Our Own English High School, Al Ain

Before working at GEMS, I was a freelance makeup artist in the Philippines. Prior to that I used to be a college instructor. I stopped teaching because I decided to be a stay-at-home mum. I have never regretted that decision, but a part of me missed work. Since I love makeup, I decided to teach people how to apply make-up properly and made it a part-time business. Now almost every weekend I help brides look their best or attend events such as fashion shows and photoshoots where my skills as a makeup artist are required.

Hazel Faytaren,
GEMS Founders School

My name is Jasmina and I graduated from the Wall Painting Academy of Applied Arts in Belgrade, Serbia. I also graduated in solo singing from the High Musical School Stankovic in Belgrade. I’ve lived and worked in Dubai for seven years and before I started teaching art at GFS I was employed in a tailoring saloon as a master pattern maker.

Tailoring is one of my passions. I started sewing and pattern making when I was in high school. Ten years later, my hobby brought me to my first job abroad in Dubai. This job was a wonderful experience, creating designs for parties, working with fabrics such as silk, lace, organza and seeing extraordinary hand embroidery works, beads and colour combinations. All of this brought unforgettable memories.

Teaching art is also my passion. I love being actively engaged in art exhibitions, calligraphy and everything related to art and music. I love working at GFS and I am very impressed by how gifted our students are. They certainly appreciate my teaching and passion for art.

Jasmina Tomasevic,
GEMS Founders School – Dubai

I have a BA (Hons) degree in silversmithing and jewellery and my passion is producing craft-based items and making jewellery. I am obsessed with beads and semi-precious stones and have collected them for as long as I can remember.

I currently make rings using vintage mother of pearl buttons and I like the fact that every button I use is unique to the wearer and has a history. I also twist and wrap wires of varying thickness and colours into bands and patterns. It is important that the jewellery I create is comfortable for the wearer. Luckily for me, I have a lovely group of friends who seem more than happy to wear my new creations. Some of them even have a sizeable collection of my designs.

Naailah Karen Ashiq,
Wesgreen International School, Sharjah

When I first moved to Dubai I hid behind work and used it as an excuse not to look after myself. That decision negatively affected my sleep, my diet, my mood and something had to give. That was until I found Desert Barbell and started my powerlifting journey. I went into the club looking for something that challenged me and stimulated me, more than just an exercise class.

I started training three times a week and eventually built up enough strength (and courage) to enter my first powerlifting competition. It was so amazing to give a different part of myself to something outside of teaching; I was even awarded with a bronze medal after ranking third in my weight category, which was completely unexpected!

Strength training has not just strengthened my body but it has strengthened my mind. When it comes to developing as a teacher, it has given me the confidence to put myself out there and improve my practice and leadership. Powerlifting has led to something much more meaningful for me. I am counting down the months until the next competition.

Heather Howard,
GEMS Wellington Academy, Silicon Oasis