If I were counting it would be 10 weeks and 4 days

But I’m not counting.  However, if I were our plane to Toronto departs on June 27th.  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone and eating everything but I must admit the thought of 2 months there without an income or a car is a little intimidating.

After the hello’s, the hugs, the kisses and so on, what do you do?  This thought is driving me crazy.  I keep seeing about 60 days waiting to be filled.  It’s nice that we can live at my sisters (she has an “apartment” in her basement) so that’s good.  I try and think of things we can do, but everything comes up dollars.  I’d like to visit some places, go to some ballgames, see some movies, and I can’t think of other things.  They all cost money (doesn’t everything).  The big purchase will be my new MacBook and I’m hoping I can sell my old one on Craigslist.

We got a decent price on a flight.  We’re paying about $1,125 each which is a lot cheaper than the $,1.700 I was seeing everywhere.  Going to Canada requires a plane change in Vancouver, which is always a pain, and time is short.  Coming back to China is a direct flight and once we get to Beijing we need to get another flight to Baotou (about 90 minutes).  We’ll be anxious to get there and check it out and I think I’ll be adding lamb to my regular food intake.  They grow sheep up there so it should be good.  Lot’s of BBQ and I love BBQ lamb.

I’ve decided to do a final exam for the little darlings.  It will be quite brief.  They will be one on one interviews.  What did you learn?  What did you like about the class and dislike about the class?  What grade do you think you deserve and why?  I know what I want to give them but I’m willing to up it if I can a good argument.

The electives I teach once a week at the other campus are a joke.  The kids barely speak English and you can’t teach it for 80 minutes a week and expect to get anywhere.  Eleanor (my co-teacher) and I have decided to make a couple of recommendations to the school.  We will talk to June (head of the English department) but it will do no good.  I’ll feel better thought since I’ve stated how I feel and what I think they should do.  They really have no idea on how to use their resources of foreign teachers and they probably don’t really care.  This place seems to be a huge clusterfuck.  It’s disorganized, filled with thoughtless teachers, filled with disinterested students, and so on.  It’s a good thing I like it here or I’d complain.

Wang Jing was here after school 2 nights in a row to blow off steam and bounce ideas off Shujie.  I’m thrilled she thinks of Shujie as a friend.  Because Shujie doesn’t work here but has an idea of what goes on and knows some of the players involved, she can understand.  This latest episode started when the head of the Foreign Affairs Department told her she couldn’t go to North America for a training session (in English) this summer.   Wang Jing teaches English here too.  The reason was that she got to go to North America last summer as a tour guide for a bunch of kids.  I don’t think you can compare the two and that depressed her.  Then it got change in that there would be a special exam for teachers (who knows who’s writing it and marking it) that all interested teachers can take and if they do well, they can go.  I thought to keep it fair, Eleanor and I could write the exam and grade it.  However, they claim it’s being written and graded by an outside school.  Do I believe them?  No, I don’t since it would cost money and they wouldn’t pay it.

She went to complain to her bosses boss and he said this exam will be fair and he would like to see others besides English teachers go.  How brilliant.  Let’s send teacher’s who don’t speak English.  That’s a brilliant use of money.

So this “exam” is supposed to be this weekend but Wang Jing is away this weekend and can’t participate.  When she asked if she could write it another time she was told that if she isn’t here, she can’t write it.  Not nice.  I have no idea why her boss hates her.  I can’t say I’m very fond of her boss (and either is Shujie or Eleanor).

So she came and ate and blew off steam and discussed things (mostly in Chinese) while I offered some of my foreign opinions which Shujie passed along.  Now it seems that after 10 years here she’s going to start looking for another job.  I think that’s good because if she’s unhappy, she shouldn’t be here.  She’s such a sweetie that I’d hire her in a minute.  She’s competent, she’s responsible, she’s friendly, and she knows what she’s doing.  This place is a joke.

But it’s been a good year.  I’m starting to burn out a little.  I don’t feel as humourous as I was before.  I start counting the days.  I’ll make it until the end but I’m a little tired when I still have to pull teeth to get some students to talk.  It can’t be worse in Baotou (of course it can), but I’m sure I’ll have a higher level of students.

I hardly had any students for my Tuesday movie (Edward Scissorhands) since late in the day a teacher told one class that they had a “class meeting” that night.  I was annoyed.  I had to remind the kids that they have the right to say no.  They are allowed to tell a teacher who wants them on a Tuesday night that they already have a class with me.  This has been cleared with the office but I guess they either forgot or they can be bullied by anyone.  These last minute deals are par for the course as it’s against the law to be organized and plan in advance in this country.

We have a holiday on May 1 but we don’t know how many days or anything about it.  I realize it’s only April 14th so I shouldn’t be in a rush to make any plans.  I’m sure it will be announced around April 27th.  I don’t think I’ll ever adjust to this lack of preparation or should we dare to call it “common courtesy”.

And forget the myth of respect in Asian countries.  There is none.  You bow to the boss but everyone is just someone you fight with.  This place isn’t going anywhere until long after I’m dead.  Corruption is an institution.  Of course these comments are generalizations and there are many who are not like this.  However, there are too many that are.  It’s annoying.

We went to Nanjing yesterday on a drug run.  I had Burger King for lunch (don’t ask me why) and I brought home a sub from Subway for dinner and I loved it, as always.  We watched “All the President’s Men” last night.  Shujie found it quite interesting as she knew nothing about the Watergate scandal.

Monday we go to Zhenjiang for me to have this pseudo-medical so I can get a form saying I’m healthy that the new school can use to get my work permit.  On Wednesday I’ve been asked to be a judge (or the judge) for a speech contest at the other campus.  I would rather stick steel needles in my eyes, but I said yes.  June asked me without falling to pieces (for some reason I intimate the hell out of her).  I’m happy to help.  After that Shujie will be giving a lecture (and getting paid for it) on living in the West and the different cultures.  She’s looking forward to it and I’m thrilled they asked her.  It makes sense.  She’s rather pleased and she’ll be getting paid the same as a visiting professor.

That’s about it for now.  The weather is getting nice so I might be trying outdoor classes soon.  We’ll see how that goes.  For all my little complaints and my feeling or burning out (how many months can one be humourous?), I really have enjoyed this experience.  I’m looking forward to the new year and I’m looking forward to Falafel’s and Chicken Fajitas.


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