2 down, 498 to go

Boy, not even a month since my last post. I guess I might have some news. As Shujie says, starting a business is like being a farmer. You must plant the seeds and they will sprout. I hope she’s right.

Flyers are meant to be thrown in the garbage. We’ve hung out outside Primary schools (where the parents come to pick up their kids). We hand out flyers and Shujie talks to the few that seem interested. But as we all know, talk is cheap. No one is calling. They like the look of me and they claim they want spoken English for their kids (since they don’t really get that in school), but they lie like rugs.

We have 2 students or maybe 3. One is on the fence. We had our first class yesterday and I had 2 8 year-olds and a 6 year-old. The 6 year-old is very shy and doesn’t speak. However, she pays close attention so I can only believe something is getting through. The mother will decide today whether to keep her kid in. The mother is getting on my nerves with her waffling so I really don’t care.

Here is a pic of our little get-together yesterday:

1st class

I’m tired of handing out flyers. As I said, we really only cane do it at primary schools as that’s where the parents go to get their kids. Middle school and High school kids can take themselves home. However, I had a plan which Shujie ensured me was impossible and as usual she was wrong. The schools have guards and gates so not just anyone can go in. I felt I could go in. I just announce myself as a Canadian who wants to see the principal. We went to one school on Friday and we got in and had a nice chat with the principal. He brought in his English department. What we’re offering is oral English classes (for a small fee) along with permission to hand out flyers (but not do any sales pitch). They wanted 3 free classes (one for grade 7, one for grade 8, and one for grade 9) and then they would decide. We agreed. There are about 50 kids in a class so it will be a little much. What a country. Too many people and ridiculous class sizes. However, I hit it off with the teachers and they seem pleased with me coming in and not as a threat. Public schools cannot hire foreign teachers but they wouldn’t be hiring me. They’d be hiring Shujie as a consultant and I never get any money. It’s not the job so much as the opportunity to get to these kids so maybe they like me and tell their parents that this is the English Academy they want to go to

I do two of my free classes tomorrow and the 3rd one on Wednesday. I’m sure it will work out. Kids like me (I know, it sounds weird). I’m not worried. We will hit other middle schools and high schools with the same offer. I hope it’s not a problem for them. As for Universities we will lurk in halls and go to English Corner (an hour or two at night where students go to speak English). And we will keep giving out flyers.

I thought we had a good one but I think I’m too wordy. I’ve now decided that we should emphasize that Shujie is from Boading and we’ve come here to be in my wife’s hometown. It makes me seem like a nice guy and I sound safe for little kids. I don’t speak Chinese is another spelling point because it means “English Only”. And the 3rd main feature, believe it or not, is that I’m Jewish. Shujie tells everyone I’m Jewish because Chinese people love Jewish people. It’s weird to me, but hey, whatever works.

“Have a Jew from Canada Teach Your Kids”. What a slogan.

I’ve set the ridiculous target of 500 students (aim high) so we’ll see. It will go in fits and starts I’m sure and patience is the key. My main problem is I don’t want this job. I could run a school but I don’t want to teach little kids. How do I keep getting myself into these messes?

The office is shaping up but there are still things we need. . I bought some Play Doh and boy, I still love that stuff. We will have to go to Beijing to buy some stuff (like flash cards) that I won’t buy online sight unseen. We can’t go this week because the big wedding (Shujie’s son) is next Saturday. I keep asking Shujie questions and she doesn’t seem to know much. It’s so much different from the West. They hire an M.C. (but ours is free because she’s a good friend of Shujie’s), Shujie has no idea if Qi Ji (her son) has ordered his suit yet, and the mothers don’t go out and buy new outfits. There are enough strange things that will make this all very interesting for me.

We had dinner last night with the future in-laws and it was fine. I realized another big advantage of not speaking Chinese. People like you. You can’t put your foot in your mouth and every time you say a word in Chinese they think it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever heard. I think even if I knew Chinese I’d be better off pretending I didn’t.

As to the actual plan for next Saturday I hear it’s very interesting but I won’t find out until next Saturday. The concept of advanced planning is very strange to the Chinese. I just hope all works out.

Shujie has to get 7 cars for the day of the wedding. Why? I don’t know and I can’t get an explanation. As I said, it should be very interesting.

Shujie’s friend had given us her ebike to use, but it was too small and I was fed up with riding on it with Shujie. We bought one this week and I love it. It cost about $500 and goes about 40km. before it needs a charge. It makes more sense than a car here.  Here is our baby:

ebike

So that’s it. Sales go on and hopefully this will be a good week. Stay positive Martin before you go postal.

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