It’s been a while. I didn’t realize how long since I last posted but time crawls here and in all the lethargy I surely forgot. I mean, you have to ask your self punk, did I post last week or the week before? Well did I?
I love Clint. It seems I see a movie of his every week. Shujie likes him too but I fear I’m running out. When I watch “Paint Your Wagon” and “Every Which Way But Loose”, I’ll know I’m at the end.
So, life at the moron factory is what you’re wondering about. I have to be there from 8AM until 5PM. I knew that before I started but silly me, I assumed I could work with some students on my off class time. However, the students are in class from 6:40AM until 9PM with a break for lunch and a break for dinner. I was told I could work with students on their lunch break (it’s 2 hours and they sleep) but I won’t do that. I don’t want to take away from when they can sleep, and why should I give up my lunchtime when I go home. It wouldn’t kill them to let 2 students come and sit with me for 15 minutes and chat, but I can’t keep tilting at windmills.
I offered to have a weekly movie night. This would be no cost to the school and I would handle everything. The first question I was asked was, “How will this help them pass TOEFL?” TOEFL is an English proficiency exam that students must get a certain score on in order to start studies at a Western University. I don’t teach TOEFL to my Grade 10’s or 12’s. This school is based on getting students to get good scores on TOEFL and SAT. It doesn’t matter that you can’t study for SAT because as long as their stupid parents don’t know that, they can sell it.
So my answer to “how will this help this pass TOEFL?” was, “It won’t”. I tend (fool that I am) to believe that their training should go beyond TOEFL and SAT. They should be prepared to go West which means Culture and such. The school is only concerned with the surface and when some of these kids flunk out in the West after 6 months, it won’t be their fault. It’s crap.
I was told I could show my Grade 10’s a movie once a month. I just ignored that. I’ll show them in class when I want. It appears to me that Chinese have a serious case of tunnel vision and they can’t look at things beyond their noses. (And they have very small noses). As Shujie says of the Chinese (and I would never say this), “they are idiots”. The parents are idiots, the schools are idiots, and they have no idea that 14 hours of school a day hurts instead of helps kids. Play is important. I get so angry but there is nothing I can do. All I do is tell the students to remember this because when they get older, it will be up to them to change things. I won’t hold my breath.
I still haven’t seen some of my Grade 12 students as they are off studying TOEFL at language academies. I have no idea how they pass other things (as GPA is important) but I have a feeling the school just gives them good marks. The Grade 12’s I have are mostly uninterested. Literature bores them. I banned 2 students because they refused to read what they were supposed to read. I told them to see their head teacher and come back when they were ready to work. They just haven’t returned which is no loss.
I am still enjoying my Grade 10’s. The advantage of having first year students is that they are not poisoned yet by other teachers. They are enthusiastic (not all of them), and they make an effort (not all of them). But I keep encouraging them and I think I’m building a relationship with them, which pleases me. Of course, I could be deluding myself, but I hope not. I don’t have a hate on for any one student (which is a minor miracle). If you can get them to talk to you one on one outside the classroom, their English is much better. They don’t worry about being embarrassed in front of their fellow classmates. They are just good people which is much more important than being good students.
I asked a few students what scared them the most of one of them told me, “my mother”. I’ve heard of mothers beating their kids when they failed an exam. We have a short phrase for that in the West. It’s called, “child abuse”. But I can’t change it. I just tell them to try their best for themselves (as the better they are, the more doors will open to them), and while they should listen to their parent’s advice and consider it, they should do what they want (with regards to what they should study). If they tell me their mother wants them to be a dentist, I tell them to tell their mother to be a dentist.
I have still not been reimbursed for my plane fare (ha ha) and Shujie called the office in Beijing to talk to them. They did a big song and dance that ended with the Beijing office telling her that all the other teachers (even the foreign teachers) hate me. I love getting good news. When I went to school that afternoon I told my supervisor that she should fire me as I would. I wouldn’t want a teacher who no one likes hanging around. She had no idea what I was talking about as no one had complained to her (and I believe her). I told some of the foreign teachers that I knew that they had complained about me and they looked at me like I was crazy so I had to tell them why I said that. What a place. Don’t honour your promise to reimburse for plane fare and change the subject to everyone hates me. Interesting.
I was almost begging them to fire me, but to no avail. And now, there is no way they are going to fire me short of possibly being drunk in class or naked. I had to leave China by the middle of October to renew my business visa because the school (idiots that they are) didn’t think they had enough time to get the paperwork done to get me a work visa.
They decided that I and another Canadian teacher should get work visa’s and some total moron (and that’s a compliment) wanted us to give them our passports which they would send to Canada and have someone else apply for work visa’s for us. I just said that, “you’re not getting my passport”. The other guy and the Chinese supervisor called the consulate in Toronto to ask about this and was told, “if you give up your passport in China you can be thrown in jail”. I have no idea whose idiotic idea this was, but these people are not only not to be trusted, they are dangerous.
So, here I am in Toronto now to apply for a work visa. We flew here on Sunday night at midnight (after a full day of work) from Shanghai (and that was after a 3 hour trip from Wuxi to the airport). From Shanghai we changed planes for a Vancouver to Toronto trip. When we arrived in Toronto Monday morning (Toronto time) we went directly to the visa office to apply. Then I came to my sisters. I think I was babbling at that point because I only slept a total of 10 minutes on the whole trip. I was up for about 2 days.
When applying it was pointed out to me that both government letters they got me had mistakes. One of them said I would start on August 15th (it was September 30th when I applied in Toronto), and the other said my first time in China would be Sept. 25th (when it was already Sept. 30). Hopefully that won’t matter but we’ll find out tomorrow. They were so worried that I would screw up my application that they didn’t check what they did.
Tonight I’m going to see “Les Miz” for the 4th time and I’m pumped. I’m taking my 2 nieces (who have never been) and although we have the cheap seats, it’s theatre and you can see from anywhere. When I heard in the summer just past that Les Miz was coming back, I was so disappointed because I would miss it. But voila, I am going to see it. This makes me happy.
Seeing my sister and family and my mom makes me happy. I wish Shujie were here because I know she’d enjoy seeing Les Miz. Plane tickets to Toronto were more than $2,500 each so there was no way she was coming. The school was paying for it. In November the price is $1400 return so October is a bad month to travel. So now that the school had invested another $2500+ in me, I’m not getting fired. I’ve really fixed my wagon now. I think it would be cute if I walked in the first day and said, “I quit”, but Shujie wouldn’t like it. I would get a huge laugh out of it.
This is a week off in China for the “National Holiday”. I’m here until October 8th. Then it will be the same old. I leave school 3 days a week at 4:05 (after my last class) and don’t go back to the teacher’s room to sit around. They don’t like that. What are they going to do? Fire me? I wish.
I think I’m China’d out. Shujie wants to live in Canada where I don’t think I could get a job. If I apply for an I.T. job (which I don’t want), they won’t talk to me because I’m old and I’ve been teaching for more than 2 years. Employers don’t look for a well-rounded experience (some may). I would love to go to Africa or South America or anywhere but China. Shujie cringes when she thinks about moving again. I grew up moving a lot (almost an army brat but there was no army in my family). She rarely moved so it’s a big deal to her.
So that’s the story for now. I return to China and school next week to see what trouble I can get into. I’m sure I’ll manage but it’s easier when you don’t really care. I came to China to enjoy myself and have a hassle-free job. I should have stuck to University where there are no office hours, just teach your class and go home. I was a fool going for a few extra dollars. I could have stayed in Canada and made a lot of extra dollars. I defeated my own purpose this year. Idiot! (That’s me). And being a super-Bozo I signed a 2-year contract so I would be paid in the summer and supposedly there is a bonus after 2 years. However, knowing them a little I’m sure they’ll weasel out of that. They’ll say I wasn’t good enough after keeping me around for 2 years. Logic and Chinese and 2 words that are never in the same sentence.