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Be inspired: Interview with Alain Sama of DBIS

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Head of Year 12/ 13 at DBIS

Your career trajectory at DBIS has been something to behold – tell us about that?

I went from a three-month maternity cover in August last year, to an extended contract and to being made Head of Year 12/ 13 – all within four months.

You’re doing great things with the new DBIS Senior School. What are your responsibilities?

In the main, I’m raising the profile of the Senior School as a desirable and inclusive post-16 route for students wishing to gain A-Level qualifications in Hong Kong.

What do you love about teaching at DBIS?

I love the students. They still say ‘thank you’ at the end of a lesson. And the parents have been great to me. My colleagues are kind, dedicated and committed to the students in their care. I love how supportive they are of one another.

What makes you a success with students?

I have come to the realisation that all students want is for you to care for them, make learning enjoyable, avoid patronising them, praise them and forgive them. It’s not that complicated.

What new opportunities can senior students expect in the coming year?

Various leadership opportunities – mentoring younger peers and supporting major events in the community. We are working hard to secure work experience placements for them locally, and there is a drive  to develop a theme of service, whereby they can give back to the community.

What drew you to teaching in the first instance?

My degree is in Criminology and Socio-Legal studies, and I had ambitions of working in prison reform and probation. But I started out at the Times Education Supplement (TES) as a sales executive. One day, a client pulled me aside and said she thought I’d be very good at mentoring. I remember laughing and saying thanks but working with young people is not for me. The irony!

Where are you from? Why did you decide to move to Hong Kong?

I was born in Cameroon, West Africa and moved to West London aged three. After 27 years in London, I found myself teaching in an outstanding school, earning a good salary, driving a nice car, paying a mortgage and yet still feeling as if I was barely keeping my head above water. A friend invited me to Bangkok, and I realised there’s more to life! My wife Melanie and I – she’s a psychology teacher – soon started applying for overseas opportunities. Before DBIS, I was Assistant Head of Senior School at ELCHK Lutheran Academy in Yuen Long.

How do you find living in DB after Yuen Long?

The transition to DB is well timed. Our children – Niala- Elle, Ria-Elise and Jonah-Earl – are growing up and are extremely social and active, making DB ideal. I love how personable DB people are, they are connected, entrepreneurial and invested in the community. Generally speaking, I’m inspired by people who care. People who speak positively and seek solutions even through hard times. My wife is a perfect example of this.

You can contact Alain Sama at [email protected]

Photo by Andrew Spires

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