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BEWARE Canadian Education Center (CEC), Erbil, KAR, Iraq.

 
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maqueen



Joined: 28 Feb 2006
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 3:10 am    Post subject: BEWARE Canadian Education Center (CEC), Erbil, KAR, Iraq. Reply with quote

Another lovely ESL experience! Wink

Let's see, things started out fairly well, i.e. reimbursements, Iqama, salary, contracted on-client-site living/duties and benefits all in line. Then contracted client suspended English program after 6 months, because of other company training conflicts. Was professional and well received by client, students and my management. Above opportunity had Director salivating to have me working at school. All downhill from there...

Upon my initial arrival, I spent about 2 weeks at the center in mid-February. During that brief period it was quite evident that the place was working under complete and utter chaos. Felt quite fortunate that it wouldn't be my lot, as I would be living/working on client site and fairly autonomous.

Fast forward 7 months to October. I'm working at center, living in a sub-par apartment without TV, Internet or proper cooking facilities, absorbing my own expenses and working 6 days a week standard (told after the fact). All contrary to contract terms.

I said something within first couple of days about working 6 days a week and how I would do temporarily, but other arrangements needed to be made. Asked what about TV (all I had were Kurdish/Arabic channels) and Internet? It was basically poo pooed and told I could use Internet in center. Was told I was being done a favor (having a job) and they would get around to it.

After a terrible 2nd Eid holiday, I gave an ultimatum: either fix satellite, install Internet and start providing retroactive food per diem (per contract) or I walk at end of month. All was sorted fairly quickly (to minimums of course), except being low-balled on food per diem and not paying for October's retroactive.

At 10 months mark. In that time 11 full-time foreign teachers have walked through the doors. One (1) remains and they work off-site. The Director has zero management or ESL experience. After almost 2 years being open, there are almost no systems or procedures in place for administration or education programs. Since she doesn't know what she is doing everything is a shoot-from-the-hip decision.

Supposedly, has Phd in Education and taught, but routinely puts beginners with pre-intermedites, etc. and vice versa. Doesn't write like a doctor or director of educational facility, much less one teaching English. Sends texts that look like a 12 year old girl's. Things have to be explained ad nauseam, for them to be even grasped, then you'll have to do again in a couple of days/weeks.

Says things like "doesn't matter (levels) it is all English", "teaching English is easy", "the (foreign) teachers have ruined my school" and teacher retention rate is "showing success". Completely undermines teachers with daily feedback loop from students exiting class, corrects teachers techniques in front of students, nor provides proper working equipment for them to do jobs. But, is quick to say "I support my teachers and give them everything they need." The grandly benevolent "Director"!

December rolls around. Still working 6 days a week... I said it wasn't any longer acceptable after 9 weeks. Basically, was told too bad, it was in my contract (which it wasn't except with comp day) and there weren't any other options. I immediately gave some options, which then included me tendering last day the following week, as it was finish/start of new levels and natural/best time for students, center and myself.

Now, didn't pay prorated December salary (nor exit flight obviously) AND I owe her $4000 for breaking my contract, because there is contract clause that says it, disregarding all other clauses. Trashed me to clients. Threatened with police if I didn't leave immediately. Yada, yada, yada.

Don't believe a word said out of these people. Supposedly new regime starting, but take with a grain of salt (2 new suckers). Means nothing. Pure monkey business and a Mickey Mouse operation. If everything is rolling how "The Director" likes good to go, but if not....

I LOVE THIS BUSINESS! Smile

Q

P.S. Kurds are nice people. Erbil is a total shithole though (Sulaimaniya and Dohuk are villages in comparison with less). Expensive with nothing to do unless you want to overpay for mediocre restaurants, shop/hangout at mall or go to 2 or 3 watering holes and pay for overpriced drinks.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 2974
Location: Mesopotamia

PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And you're still there because...
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maqueen



Joined: 28 Feb 2006
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nomad soul wrote:
And you're still there because...


Gone. As per norm, the amount owed is less than you'll spend on lodging, food, lawyer, etc. until maybe settled in your favor.

On a related side note. There is another teacher she canned, because he wouldn't agree to her just arbitrarily changing terms of contract, who is stranded without Iqama. He lost and she wouldn't let him take days off or arrange to get a new one. Turned away at airport, lost ticket and now dealing without support with local bureaucracy and their efficiency. Looking at another week+ of expenses.

She had a "light bulb" brilliant idea a few months ago to start taking either employee's Iqama or passport (as another hook), because it was standard practice in other places in Middle East, though illegal. And of course, Kurdistan is at forefront of modernity and thought, so don't know if usual, but guaranteed illegal. I and one other refused, but a desperate one complied. At airport this "canned" teacher had problems and was eventually blubbering like a baby, because he was worked into the ground over a year or so and dealing with the crap.

For every troll who wants to jump on this thread (not referring to 'nomadsoul') and be contrary, I will just paint an uglier picture...


Last edited by maqueen on Sun Dec 15, 2013 9:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 2974
Location: Mesopotamia

PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

maqueen wrote:
For every troll who wants to jump on this thread (not referring to 'nomadsoul') and be contrary, I will just paint an uglier picture...

Rest assured, the picture you've painted thus far is quite oogly! Wink
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El Hobo



Joined: 28 Sep 2012
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 9:29 pm    Post subject: Re: BEWARE Canadian Education Center (CEC), Erbil, KAR, Iraq Reply with quote

maqueen wrote:
Erbil is a total shithole


I work in Soran; to me, Erbil is certainly no shithole.
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maqueen



Joined: 28 Feb 2006
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:02 am    Post subject: Re: BEWARE Canadian Education Center (CEC), Erbil, KAR, Iraq Reply with quote

El Hobo wrote:
maqueen wrote:
Erbil is a total shithole


I work in Soran; to me, Erbil is certainly no shithole.


So now we are talking degrees of a shithole or Soran is so bad that Erbil is like Mecca? Wink Will repeat: "Expensive with nothing to do unless you want to overpay for mediocre restaurants, shop/hangout at mall or go to 2 or 3 watering holes and pay for overpriced drinks."

I'm sure there will be a certain shiny happy people crowd who will say how nice, great and wonderful things are in Erbil, but they are either getting paid a lot of money (i.e. $100k+, car and nice housing furnished) and or working at a NGO/unseasoned teachers and predisposed to polishing turds.


Last edited by maqueen on Tue Dec 17, 2013 8:25 am; edited 2 times in total
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maqueen



Joined: 28 Feb 2006
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This would make Stalin or Chairman Mao smile!

Here is a nice story to showcase Director's management style. Directly out of Bizzaro World.

So, one day all staff were gathered into a meeting/classroom around the table. There were the 3 teachers already on staff, myself and other new teacher, the secretary and the Director.

A piece of paper was passed around to all of us. Reading, it basically said we were not undertaking any moonlighting work and any intellectual property developed during tenure was property of CEC. Was told to sign and date. All points covered by our contracts anyway. Bit redundant, but I was new and did because didn't see any conflicts with what I had already agreed. Everyone else did except one.

Then we were all asked by Director individually: "Are you doing or have you done any moonlighting since being employed by CEC?"

As we went around the table with everyone saying "no", it was odd for me as I had just arrived, didn't have chance and whole scene was a bit surreal. There was a couple of half-jokes with answers about working too much, etc. Finally, we came to last teacher in group (the one who didn't sign). Let the hijinks begin...

Director: "Are you doing or have you done any moonlighting since being employed by CEC?"

Teacher: "I've not been paid for doing any work outside CEC."

Director: I didn't ask if you got paid.

Teacher: Well, the definition of moonlighting is being paid for working outside normal job.

Director (now livid): I'm not asking if you have gotten paid. I'm asking if you have done work for someone while employed with me?

Teacher: That was not your original question. Your question was if I was moonlighting and the answer in no, I've not been paid for working outside of CEC...

Director: Why won't you sign the paper and just say no like everyone else (then pointing around table)?

Things just devolved from that point into word play. The teacher said he would read over piece paper and make a decision whether to sign later, etc. She was steamed and shouting. They were arguing. I just got up and walked out feeling a little used and dirty...
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El Hobo



Joined: 28 Sep 2012
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:03 pm    Post subject: Re: BEWARE Canadian Education Center (CEC), Erbil, KAR, Iraq Reply with quote

maqueen wrote:


So now we are talking degrees of a shithole or Soran is so bad that Erbil is like Mecca? Wink Will repeat: "Expensive with nothing to do unless you want to overpay for mediocre restaurants, shop/hangout at mall or go to 2 or 3 watering holes and pay for overpriced drinks."


Without being obnoxious, I've traveled quite a lot and lived in many countries. I feel your pain, 'CEC' sounds like shit but Erbil being a "total shithole" is just hyperbolic and weakens the credibility of your attack on CEC.

Less doom and bluster liberally applied to everything, and you'll have more people convinced that the Canadian Education Center is 'total shit'.
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maqueen



Joined: 28 Feb 2006
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:12 pm    Post subject: Re: BEWARE Canadian Education Center (CEC), Erbil, KAR, Iraq Reply with quote

El Hobo wrote:
maqueen wrote:


So now we are talking degrees of a shithole or Soran is so bad that Erbil is like Mecca? Wink Will repeat: "Expensive with nothing to do unless you want to overpay for mediocre restaurants, shop/hangout at mall or go to 2 or 3 watering holes and pay for overpriced drinks."


Without being obnoxious, I've traveled quite a lot and lived in many countries. I feel your pain, 'CEC' sounds like shit but Erbil being a "total shithole" is just hyperbolic and weakens the credibility of your attack on CEC.

Less doom and bluster liberally applied to everything, and you'll have more people convinced that the Canadian Education Center is 'total shit'.


Whatever, it is what it is. Opinions are like a__holes, everybody has one. I'm not trying to convince anyone. Just reporting experience. Traveling quite a lot and living in many countries doesn't necessarily translate to a working/living experience. I've not? You going to the big town from the village for a weekend, of course you'd be awed, with your wads of cash...

I mean really, what did you do there that has you in such awe? Go to the Citadel, go walk in the park for a sausage-fest or what else? What I said above? Everyone is fond of saying Erbil is going to be the next Dubai. In my experience, when anyone ever says a certain place is like, or will be like, a well known certain place, it is always CRAP especially in comparison!

On top of it you're just trolling (2 of 3 ttl posts here), obviously have Kurd-fever, not posting related to topic and will just ignore forward.


Last edited by maqueen on Tue Dec 17, 2013 1:39 pm; edited 3 times in total
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maqueen



Joined: 28 Feb 2006
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Time for another exciting continuing episode of As the World Turns at CEC.

Was in Uzbekistan, when I answered ad on esl cafe, finishing up another crap job. Had escaped to Kyrgyzstan when I did Skype interview for CEC. Everything went well.

Was sent an email shortly after that I'd been hired, pack my bags, they were purchasing ticket and I'd be there soon. Wonderful. Not 30 minutes later, I received another email that said I'd need to purchase my own ticket and would be reimbursed upon arrival.

Wasn't happy. I sent a reply saying those weren't terms of ad and it was putting me in a spot, because purchasing on such short notice cost would be exorbitant. They basically said too bad (because of "problems" with other teachers [see above]), but if I did I'd be immediately reimbursed upon arrival.

Repeated above story, but said I'd make a deal. I'd fly to Istanbul and they get second leg IST to Erbil. Otherwise I'd just stay in Istanbul, they'd be off the hook and I could make other plans. They agreed. Waited for confirmation of second leg and then went and purchased my ticket.

So I finally arrived in Erbil at 4am in the morning. There was a supposed to be a taxi to pick me up. Nothing. I waited. An hour goes by. I start thinking what the hell, here I am in the middle of nowhere stranded without any bearings or even knowing where to begin if I need lodging, etc.

Another hour goes by. Nothing. No phones or Internet at airport and I of course don't have mobile service. I'm being hassled by idiot taxi drivers and security in a deserted airport at 6am. With every taxi driving up to departures there is a hope that has been dashed for last hour and a half. You can only imagine the thoughts going through my mind...

About 6:30 am the lone snack counter guy tells me he has his own Internet I can use to try and contact someone. Huge sigh of relief! I get on Skype and low and behold both contact parties are there (Director and lead teacher). Between them they were wondering where I was and hadn't figured out that their taxi arrangements had been screwed up somehow.

3 hours later I'm in the teachers apartment and the Director lives across the street in hotel. Total travel time from airport to apartment by taxi? Less than 5 minutes!...
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15600
Location: USA

PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be honest maqueen, your accusing El Hobo of "trolling" just because his/her opinion doesn't match yours doesn't reflect well on you. The Kurdish areas of Iraq don't appeal to everyone... not to me and obviously not to you, but attacking anyone that doesn't mind the situation??

VS
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El Hobo



Joined: 28 Sep 2012
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 2:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

maqueen wrote:
Was in Uzbekistan, when I answered ad on esl cafe, finishing up another crap job. Had escaped to Kyrgyzstan when I did Skype interview for CEC.

Was sent an email shortly after that I'd been hired, pack my bags, they were purchasing ticket and I'd be there soon. Wonderful. Not 30 minutes later, I received another email that said I'd need to purchase my own ticket and would be reimbursed upon arrival. [took job anyway]


I get the impression you need to either stop making poor decisions or go back to school.
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El Hobo



Joined: 28 Sep 2012
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:14 am    Post subject: Re: BEWARE Canadian Education Center (CEC), Erbil, KAR, Iraq Reply with quote

Looking back at your posts (which you've edited quite a number of times), I'm wondering if perhaps you're a non-native English speaker? Not that there's anything wrong with that at all, but it might, unfortunately, explain why you have been poorly treated.

If it is indeed the case, it may be that going back to school won't be much help to you either. Many employers will not hire non-native teachers regardless of their qualifications.

I have known many institutions, particularly in S.E. Asia, that hire non-native English teachers. You may wish to try there, though the money won't be as good, you will certainly be able to find a city more exciting than Erbil (Bangkok maybe?).

Best of luck to you.

maqueen wrote:
Traveling quite a lot and living in many countries doesn't necessarily translate to a working/living experience. I've not?


maqueen wrote:
On top of it you're just trolling (2 of 3 ttl posts here), obviously have Kurd-fever, not posting related to topic and will just ignore forward.
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El Hobo



Joined: 28 Sep 2012
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

maqueen wrote:
Was in Uzbekistan, when I answered ad on esl cafe


You're from Uzbekistan, perhaps? I would guess Eastern Europe.
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