Does anyone here know what they’re doing?

Except me, of course.  I know I have a small view of the country, limited to my environment mainly.  Sometimes I step out of that when job hunting, or travelling, or talking to others.  I know the culture is different, and I know that my way of thinking in many areas is different.

However, I try and draw a line between “culture” and “common sense”.   I admit that sometimes I just don’t get it.  I try to look at things rationally to see how they reached a decision (or non-decision) and I can’t get from A to B.  Something happened this week that burned my up so much I was actually thinking of chucking this all.  However, I’m not giving up yet.

As I mentioned in my previous post I had spoken to a school in Inner Mongolia (Baotou city) that appeared to be interested in me.  They mentioned hiring Shujie when we spoke so I thought, “they must be smart to know that would be a way to get me”.  On Saturday afternoon they phoned Shujie and all looked like it was going well.

Then they sent an email offering us both positions at the school.  Good.  That’s what we wanted but for some reason I wasn’t overjoyed.  Maybe even I have a sixth sense.  They sent me a list of all the things I needed to get together for them so I started gathering them.  They sent me a contract to sign (which I sent back listing the errors in it), and told me that they would do Shujie’s contract next.

The next day I get an email telling me that they are still offering me a job but they can’t offer Shujie a job just yet, since they don’t have 20 hours of business classes for her and they would need her to teach a “test” class first.  Which is it?  No 20 hours or no “test” class?  They mentioned her teaching extended English reading and writing (whatever that is) and I told them that I wouldn’t hire her to do that.  Of course, there are very few Chinese English teachers I would hire to teach English.

So they suggested we come to Baotou, Shujie does a few 20-minute classes, and they decide.  I asked them, “who pays”?  The woman didn’t have an answer for that and I told he that if it could be arranged quickly and the school paid for the complete trip we’d do it.  I’m not paying for Shujie to go to an audition.  I haven’t heard back yet but sometimes these people have to go through 311 other people before they get an answer.

I was steamed.  Why offer a job and then take it away?  Why not say “audition first” and then if you pass we can offer you the job.  They told me that all Chinese teachers have to do this.  I don’t know if that’s true since lying is a national sport here, but regardless of that, if you want it, you ask for it before explicitly offering a job.

So it looks like that “opportunity” is gone.  It’s too bad since it met both our needs but even if they offer to pay for the audition, I have a bad taste in my mouth.  And what really is illogical is that all contracts (even mine) have a 1-month probationary period on them.  So if we screw up in the first month, they can just throw us out.  So why the audition?  Why the probation?  It’s one of the other you need (probation is better for the school), and yet these morons who don’t know their asses from a hole in the ground go along like this.  This is China.

One agency writes me on Tuesday with good news.  She has a school that wants to interview me.  Then on Wednesday she writes me to tell me that ideally they want a couple but since I have family in Baoding (where the school is) they are interested in me.  Then on Thursday I find out something but I can’t quite translate the Chinglish.  It’s annoying.

The woman who got me this job has not put forward one candidate yet for my consideration.  That puzzles me since they know me and I have a glowing report from this school.  She says “this school” and “that school” and says she’ll get back to me.  Then the next time we talk I’m not even listening because those schools previously mentioned are no longer in the running and I don’t care why.  Don’t mention them until they really want to hire me.  She’s getting on my nerves.

Everyone is getting on my nerves.  That’s bad.  I know I started the job hunt too early and should wait to start looking seriously come the middle of April..  They just don’t do things here in a prepared manner.  We have 3 days off next month for the “tomb sweeping festival”.  What three days?  Who knows, they’ll tell us later.

True story I read on a China job forum and I believe it, from a teacher teaching an adult night class.

Student receives a phone call in class and talks for a minute.

Student:  I have to go.

Teacher:  Why?

Student:  I was just invited to a birthday party.

Teacher:  Why would you want to go if you were just invited now?

Student:  She’s my best friend.

That about explains the Chinese planning process.  I’m sure not everywhere or everyone is like that, but I’d guess 90%.  It’s hard to adapt to and it gets me frustrated which I don’t want to be since this is supposed to be a stress-free period for me.

The head of the Foreign Affairs Department had a long talk with Shujie this week.  She had asked me if Shujie ever found a job (you never helped her you stupid bitch), but she told Shujie that the school year had already started so it was impossible.  Now that they’re looking for next year (ha, ha, ha), she will seriously look for a job teaching business for Shujie.  That’s their plan (I think) to ask me to stay.

If for some miracle they do find a job for Shujie, it makes it hard for me.  The people here have been great to me and I have no complaints.  I don’t mind this town.  The only down side is the quality of students.  I don’t know if I could do this again.  I want to graduate to a higher level.  If any of this comes to pass I’m trying to think of what to ask for to make my job more enjoyable.  They can always say no.  But this is China, so I’ll be surprised if anything happens.

I must be calm and patient and it will all turn out.  I have a small problem in that I need to get Shuie a job since she doesn’t really want to stay at home, and we don’t want a “Chinese” job working 6 days a week including evenings.  It’s a challenge but I’m an idiot and believe it’s possible to find such a thing.

I showed “The Godfather” on Tuesday and everyone but one enjoyed it.  The one girl who didn’t enjoy it felt it was boring.  Movies are personal and she’s entitled to her opinion and I’m honoured that she’s honest with me.  I love that film.  Every time I see it, it just flies by.

I got annoyed at a couple of kids in one of my 1st-year classes.  Every class one student comes to the front to be “teacher for 10 minutes”.  In this class it usually takes them 30 minutes since they ask everyone in the class a question and I just let it roll.  I had 2 students who gave the answers, “This is boring”, and “I don’t want to answer”.  You can do that crap with me because I can drag an answer from you, but you don’t do that to your classmates.  If you don’t have an answer, make one up.  I was very bothered by this since Asian culture puts a class in a group where everyone helps everyone else regardless of personal feelings.  I was disappointed since it is one of the “good” culture things.  I told the students how I felt and how I was disappointed.  I don’t think that will happen again.

It’s funny.  In these sessions when the “teacher” asks someone a question, they stand up and answer.  For me, no one stands up any more.  Not that I care, but it is interesting.  I have their trust, which is Number One by far so I’m pleased.

I did a new activity in class this week and it was a huge hit (in my opinion).  I wrote little skits for 4 characters with one line each.  I explained to them that they weren’t who they really were, but that they were acting and should be the person in the skit.  They shouldn’t just stand with their arms hanging limply at their sides, but they should use their bodies.  Most of them got it and they all did their bits and it was a riot.  I laughed and the students watching laughed.  It was a huge hit and the kids told me that they had fun.

I have now extended it so they add lines to their skits and do it again.  I look forward to it.  That leads to the biggie, which is that I’ve prepared an outline of Romeo and Juliet, which no one really knows here, and the students will write their own play about it.  It can be any period in time, they can add characters, but it’s their interpretation of it.  I look forward to it.

The class where I deep-sixed the 9 students has been about 100 times better and I don’t think any of their classmates are sorry to see them gone.  The students are working and getting into things.  I’m only sorry I didn’t do it sooner.  So my 2 regular freshman classes are running just fine.

Now, my electives.  What a bunch of morons.  I don’t know where 10 years of learning English went, but I do know it didn’t go into their heads.  I don’t know why they took my class (probably figured an easy pass).  There are a few who make an effort and good for them.  As I keep saying, I don’t’ care if your English is good, try to use what you know and you’ll get better.

As we all know, I’m humorous.  More that 75% of my students think I’m humorous.  So I was getting annoyed that no one talks and they just wait for me to perform.  So I told them that next week they had to bring 50RMB (about $8) to class to pay me to perform.  I’m not sure how many understood.  I told them if they try, the class is free, If they come for entertainment, pay me.

At the end of class one student asked if they really had to bring 50RMB to class.  I had to explain it was a joke.  I wonder if some students will show up with money next week.  I do know that if the gods don’t smile on me and I get an offer to work here next year, I won’t be teaching these kinds of classes.  If I wanted this I could go to a kindergarten and make 3 times the money.

Usually when a student shows up late they stand at the door and say, “May I come in”.  I always do the same thing.  I start yelling at them to go away and of course they can’t come in.  99% of them smile and just come in.  This week some bozo kid walked away.  I had to run after him to bring him back.  Why is he here?  However, 5 minutes later he was thrown out of class since he (along with a few others) didn’t bring a pen and paper to class.  Not that they’ll write anything, but I told them on day one that they must bring a pen and paper to class.  It’s one of my ways to whittle down the class.  What student shows up at a class without pen and paper?  A Chinese student who doesn’t give a damn and has no business being in school, that’s who.

If this school didn’t exist, you’d have a lot of unemployed kids.  Now you will have a lot of unemployed young adults (with a maturity level of 12) after they graduate.  Why pretend I like them.  If you make an effort, I like you.  I don’t care if you suck at English.  It’s not that important.  It’s important that you try to use your brain.  Of course, that’s a concept that hasn’t hit China yet.

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