I am humourous

Actually, I wanted to say, “I am Spartacus”, but that will have to wait until Tuesday.  I’m going to show Spartacus (a must see) and when the film finishes I’m going to stand up and shout, “I am Spartacus”.  Then I’ll get Shujie to stand up and say, “I am Spartacus”.  Then Eleanor (the other foreign English teacher) will stand up and say “I am Spartacus”.  It might be a dud, but it might be funny.  And if you’ve never seen or remember the film the above paragraph is meaningless to you.

Spartacus is the first movie I remember Elana (my eldest, 29) ever crying at.  I think she was around 10.  I was shocked and touched.  I wonder if she remembers crying.  It’s a nice memory of how this film got to her.

This week I think was our smallest turnout for a movie.  I showed “From Here To Eternity”.  It was great but I always say that.  I think the 15 students who showed up enjoyed it.  The hit of one week never translates into the big crowd of next week.  The week before I showed “The Godfather” which was a huge hit.  I think the reason that there was a poor turnout was that I couldn’t remind my classes on Tuesday there was a movie.  They have the attention spans of gnats (no offence to gnats intended).  I sent an email on Sunday letting them know the film and the time.  I thought giving them notice was good.  There were no classes on Tuesday since this school was hosting high school college entrance examinations.  That’s a joke.  Everyone gets in here.  But most of the students are not capable of retaining information for 48 hours.

In one class this week over 20% of the students weren’t prepared for their debates.  I’m trying debating now and I gave them their positions a couple of weeks ago so they could prepare.  Why weren’t they ready?  Let’s see.  There were those that forgot and there were those that didn’t like their topic.  I told them they wouldn’t pull this crap on a Chinese teacher except I didn’t say “crap”, I said, “shit”.  I also used the “fuck” word.  When I’m annoyed, I’m always annoyed with a smile on my face and I never raise my voice.

Who doesn’t do an assignment because they don’t like the topic?  And if you’re dead set against it, you go and talk to the teacher right away.  You don’t wait until delivery day and announce that.  What garbage.  As for forgetting, one student told me they never get homework in advance.  I don’t think she’s a liar, but I can’t say I believe her.  According to her, homework is for the night before.  And there I was thinking I was being nice and fair giving plenty of notice.

This girl also told me that they don’t do their work because I’m the nice foreigner and I’m not Chinese.  I don’t buy that either.  I don’t punish, I don’t yell, they all feel I treat them with respect.  I believe that many don’t do it because “Martin is a nice guy”.  Fuck ‘em.  No one fails but they don’t know that yet.  We’ll see if it happens again.

So over 75% of my students would say I am humourous.  I was speaking with the head of the foreign affairs department (my bosses) and she told me that I am humourous.  I wanted to punch her in the face.  Of course, I always feel like punching her in the face when I see her.  Wang Jing asked if she had asked me about extending my contract yet, and I said no.  So I think Wang Jing told her I’m seriously looking and she should get off her fat ass and do something (or words to that effect).  But this woman isn’t too quick, which is just as well.  I just don’t think I can do this level of students again.  I need new and better jokes and I need a better class of student who can understand them.

My Tuesday afternoon elective classes are still a bad joke.  I threw 6 kids out in one class for not having a pen and paper.  I threw 2 out in the other class for doing their homework for other classes.  I’m not sure any Chinese teachers would notice students doing homework for other classes in their class.  The Chinese teacher comes in and talks for the whole time and then says goodbye.  If they notice, they don’t care.  If they’re too wrapped up in themselves they don’t care.  However, I do give a bit of a damn so I do make an issue of it.  And they are so stupid.  They should know I’m looking.  I tell them I’m looking.  I guess they figure they’re invisible.  I tell them in my classroom they should forget they’re in China.  We do it my way.  My way is that the class participates and just doesn’t listen to me babble on for 80 minutes even if it feels that way.

I’m getting a little warn out from all this performing.  About 2 ½ months of classes to go and I should survive.  I think there is a one-week holiday in there but I won’t know until about 24 hours before it is to begin.  Wednesday April 4th is “tomb sweeping day” when you go to the cemetery to clean up the graves.  So to make it a “long holiday”, they are giving the students Monday and Tuesday off.  The catch is that you must do your Monday classes on the Saturday before and your Tuesday classes on the Sunday before.  Just give them 5 days.  Shujie says they can’t do that because the parents would be upset.  So the parents are stupider than the kids if they think they’re little darlings are actually accomplishing anything here.  A few are, I think, but the majority are for the garbage.  Good thing I like them or I’d say something negative.

The job hunt.  What doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger.  Or so they say.  The school in Mongolia that had offered Shujie and I jobs, then took back Shujie’s job, wrote again.  Now they say Shujie doesn’t have to come and “test teach”.  It seems the only sticking point is my insurance.  They say they can’t get me insurance.  Why they can’t and all other schools can is beyond me.  They told me to buy my own and they would reimburse me.  However, I can’t buy Chinese insurance.  I have to buy out of country insurance, which isn’t cheap (about $2500).  So I’m waiting to hear back from them.  Again.  But the time has come to fish or cut bait.

In the meantime I’ve been offered another job towards the south of China.  The average temperature in January is 18C.  So that’s pretty good.  The pay is the best I’ve ever seen for a University.  Everything sounds decent so I’m playing along like I’m going to take it.  The only sticking point in the contract is the salary is based on a 12 period minimum of classes a week (45 minutes a class).  That’s part-time to me.  I want a guarantee of 16 hours minimum where they could pay me my regular pay for the first 12, and then pay me overtime for the next 4.  That’s what they would do if they wanted me to work more than 12, but I want a guarantee.  The head of the English department said 16 hours would not be an issue.  The Foreign Affairs Office told me they have foreign teachers who have their 12 hours and that’s all they want.

There is no job for Shujie there (but she hasn’t spoken to the business department yet), but she says she prefers Zhuhai (where the school is) because it’s warmer.  I think Mongolia would be more of an adventure and Shujie would have a job that she’d enjoy so I’d feel more comfortable.

So that beat goes on.  I figure it should all be settled this week, but who knows.  Just when you think you understand something, you realize you understand nothing.  These people are crazy but I enjoy most of them and it’s been fun.  People ask me how long we’ll stay in China and I always answer, “Until it’s not fun anymore”.


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