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Sensitive Subject: Racial Prejudice & Jobs

 
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Daphne



Joined: 02 Jul 2004
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2005 6:37 pm    Post subject: Sensitive Subject: Racial Prejudice & Jobs Reply with quote

An Experience I had in Leipzig has made me wonder about that subject which is so sensitive to all Germans: Racism.

The school in question is a branch of a very famous multinational company named after its German founder (but now headquartered in Princeton, U.S.A,) and probably more admired for its dictionaries and pocket travel guides than its language centers.

The policy of this company states that once a teacher has taught in one branch he or she can automatically transfer to another center anywhere on the globe that has an opening for the instructor's native language.

I had been working as an English instructor at a branch in Eastern Europe and then decided to try for an open position in the Leipzig center. The interview which was supposed to be a formality somehow turned out to be more like an interrogation and I was asked to due a demo session which ended up with 5 observers breathing down my neck during the session and then I was told that they didn't consider me contract worthy.

The fact that I've had very strong recommendations from all my employers before and since then has made me wondered whether the fact that I'm a "hyphenated American" (as in African-American or Arab-American,) and have a name and face that is far from a sterotypical American (like say Julia Roberts Rolling Eyes ) caused this miserable experience for me.

I know that in America many minorities use the "race card" to try to cover up their real flaws (like say O.J Simpson Rolling Eyes ) and also that Germans tend to go out of their way to erase the negative preceptions left of their culture from the events that occured there during the first half of the 20th century, but I just can't help but wonder.....
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crashartist1



Joined: 06 Jun 2004
Posts: 164

PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2005 8:39 am    Post subject: Your school Reply with quote

I know what school you are talking about, and actually their dictionaries are horrible! One thing I have learned about Berlitz due to past work with them is that they are all crap from Turkey to Germany to China, they are horrible. Everything is so secretive and hush-hush, are we teaching Nuclear technology here or English? They only use the "once you work for one center you can transfer anywhere in the world with our 117 branches world wide" as a marketing tool for teachers. Sorry, but no it's crap. Were the people there racist? I don't know, but I would consider yourself lucky that you aren't going to work for them again. Now you can get some real experience with a language school that uses teaching methods that matter (No mean to disrespect you in anyway shape or form, but the "Berlitz Method" means nothing outside of Berlitz, and if you have other qualifications like a CTEFL or somehing you are much bettter off).

crash
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Daphne



Joined: 02 Jul 2004
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2005 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like I wrote in the original post my experience with the branch that employed me was fine and since then all the teaching jobs I took didn't even attempt to give me any formal training, though that's quite the norm for most jobs in the Orient.


I should have mentioned in my first post that another reason that I suspect the Leipzig branch of not being on the level is that the few other centers I've taked to since then (all the way from Prague to Jakarta,) offered me a job without a face to face interview/interrogation, so I really don't want to give the idea that this is a prejudiced company all around.
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butterbrot



Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 53

PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2005 5:09 pm    Post subject: employment refusals Reply with quote

Daphne,

I've worked in Germany for a number of years and I haven't seen any rascism directed at persons of colour who are native speakers of English. In fact, I'd say Germany probably led the western world in being accepting of inter-racial couples. I have seen plenty of predjudice toward other nationalities -- that seems very prevalent here.

Not having any experience with Berlitz I couldn't say why your experience was so horrible, despite their promises of being able to work in other branches. If something like that had happened to me, I would have been crushed! Not so much because I would have wanted to work at Berlitz or in Leipzig (for example) but because the experience is inexplicable. Though you were rejected for employment there was no understanding of 'why' and, consequently, no ability to rectify something you might have done wrong -- which I'm not at all saying you did -- or to toss off something over which you have control.

People are an odd lot, all over the world. Where you get a group of unpleasant weirdos in one place that may tend to sour you on the whole nationality, you receive unexpected kindnesses and consideration in other areas. Please try not to take that sort of thing personally. Even if it was meant personally, due to race or whatever, just refuse to take it on. It's their problem, not yours. It's easy to say, I know, and more difficult to put into practice but do try.

Encountering other cultures has helped me grow over time but not without a considerable amount of discomfort or pain. It's the 'not understanding' that makes it much worse.

Did you ultimately find another job? In Germany? Elsewhere?
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Daphne



Joined: 02 Jul 2004
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2005 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like to thank butterbrot for his concern and inform him that despite the fact that some potential employers may discriminate against me, having an American passport and a graduate degree has been more than enough to land me various jobs across Europe and Asia.


I wish I would have had enough time and money after the Leipzig disaster to go to some of the other branches in Germany which had openings at the time, because then I would have gotten a much clearer idea of whether Leipzig was just an isolated case or the norm in that country.

Somehow when 4 observers are breathing down someone's neck during a demo teaching session one can't help but feel that this is not a good atmosphere to work in.....perhaps it was all for the best.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 11694
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2005 11:36 am    Post subject: demo Reply with quote

I have always been suspicious of outfits that ask me to teach a demo lesson. Do they accept my teaching credentials and experience or don't they ? Who is going to observe and evaluate me ?

As for Berlitz.......................................
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Daphne



Joined: 02 Jul 2004
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I would have had the same experience in America I would have surely looked into filing a lawsuit.

What scot47 predicates holds even more water when you consider that I came in there with a recommendation from my regular branch--if you have no faith in your own system then......
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butterbrot



Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 53

PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Somehow when 4 observers are breathing down someone's neck during a demo teaching session one can't help but feel that this is not a good atmosphere to work in.....perhaps it was all for the best.


This is perhaps the worst part. I've never heard of more than one observer in a demonstration. For some reason they were into intimidation. You might think about posting this experience on the Job nformation Journal for Germany here http://www.eslcafe.com/jobinfo/europe/sefer.cgi?Germany

I had an experience where I was interviewed by three people at the same time and was asked some fairly detailed and probing questions, though all the answers were contained within my CV and diplomas/certificates. I felt as though I was attending an inquisition and they were expecting to catch me out lying or something. All for the princely sum of 11,00 per hour and the privilege of working split hours from 8A-9P!
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poro



Joined: 04 Oct 2004
Posts: 274

PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2005 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

butterbrot wrote:
All for the princely sum of 11,00 per hour and the privilege of working split hours from 8A-9P!


Is that really all they pay? Shocked

How do people live on that? Or do they have to do 50 hours a week?
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butterbrot



Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 53

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

poro wrote:
butterbrot wrote:
All for the princely sum of 11,00 per hour and the privilege of working split hours from 8A-9P!


Is that really all they pay? Shocked

How do people live on that? Or do they have to do 50 hours a week?


Yes, that's all they paid. As far as I know, that's all they still offer. Many/most language schools around Germany vary in pay from a bit lower than that in some places up to around 17,00 € per hour. A very few pay up to 20,00 € per hour but that's usually in the larger cities where any rise is offset by the increased cost of living. Having said that, this particular company has school premises in some of the largest cities. I don't know anyone who can live on 11,00 € per hour, after taxes, pension and other fixed costs.
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Joker



Joined: 01 Jan 2005
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2005 5:12 pm    Post subject: Racism is where you find it Reply with quote

When I read these responses I felt that they were about me because I fit the racial profile and have been teaching in Germany for almost 2 decades. My marriage is inter-racial and we have a child that benefits from both cultures. I am happy to report that (as far as I know) I have been subjected to racial discrimination on 3 separate occasions in Germany. Having chosen to live here I made a conscious decision not to accept this nonsense. I didn't at home and I literally welcome the opportunity to confront it here. You see I am unique and I have skills that the German workforce needs and cannot replicate. Once I was told that I was stealing jobs away from Germans. After I finished laughing I calmly explained that my skills actually help keep Germans employed and making them more competitive worldwide. I then asked my confronter what was he doing to fight unemployment in Germany and he couldn't make any response. I won by default. Yes Daphne there are racist in Germany, just ask any skinhead. But these events don't worry me as much as the events in the States. Confused
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Daphne



Joined: 02 Jul 2004
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 3:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must let joker know that my own country's disgraceful hypocrisy is one very big reason I decided to go into self-imposed exile as an ESL instructor.


I'm also always up for a cogent debate with an individual regarding their prejudices, but I'm sure you know that usually only young punks and inebriated fools open their mouths regarding such things.


What vexes me about the folks in Leipzing and the others who assume that my name and facial features disqualify me as a "real American," is that my credentials are enough to automatically land me an instructor position at any American Public School or even Junior College for at least 3-4 times the salary that they pay out.


I guess if you combine the my last paragraph with the first one, then you will have an idea of the "vicious circle" that so many minorities get caught up in.
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Joker



Joined: 01 Jan 2005
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 5:51 pm    Post subject: Things that make you say "Hummm" Reply with quote

Life in Germany is centered around the concept of "Heimat" which arbitrarily excludes all foreigners. It has served them well during the centuries of invasion and was the only thing that held them together until the Wall fell. When jubilant East German crowds cheered "We are one people" - West Germans were shouting back - "So are we!" Now Heimat is also under threat, and every less fortunate German sees every "Ausländer" as a potential threat to their culture and economic social security. Since the Wall fell we have experienced extra taxes, double digit inflation, increases in taxes and a decrease in social benefits. Unemployment benefits have been cut (previously unheard of in East Germany) and over 5 million unemployed people are wandering the streets. It hasn't been like this since the end of WWII. There is alot of xenophobia in your neck of the woods and I would suggest moving to an area where your services would be appreciated not denigrated. Besides, the pay really sucks!
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Seeker of truth



Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 145

PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 4:47 pm    Post subject: Good exchanges Reply with quote

Joker,
I liked reading your description of a conversation with a German HR person criticizing you for "taking away jobs from Germans". Do you have any other example of outwitting Germans in typical conversations which Americans might encounter there?
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stillnosheep



Joined: 01 Mar 2004
Posts: 2068
Location: eslcafe

PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2005 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

True story:

Very young and extremely harrasssed army wife from Scotland was shopping for groceries at a supermarket in northern Germany, close to a (British) Army barracks with her two children. The eldest was playing up; grabbing items off of the shelves, generally being a pain. At the check out the child started grabbing the sweeties on display. The frazzled young mother snapped and gave her child a slap (and I don't condone slapping kids, I'm just telling it as I heard it).

Middle aged, middle class and extremely respectable German Hausfrau next in line at checkout turns around and admonishes the harrassed young mother in a loud and extremely patronising manner:

"In Germany we don't hit children..."

quick as a flash the young mother replies:

"Aye, and in Glasgae we dinnae gas Jews...".

ps I heard the story from the army legal officer that had to deal with the ensuing chaos.

pps. And I love Germany.
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