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Wisdom and Experience Do Not = Success!

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Joined: 17 Jul 2003
Posts: 145
Location: Beijing

PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2003 7:45 am    Post subject: Wisdom and Experience Do Not = Success! Reply with quote

Every old hand here knows Roger. Usually he has the best advice available. He always cautions to be careful, thorough and reduce your risks of running into trouble. When trouble arises he always has a viable solution to offer. The following quote from one of his posts in another forum should be a reminder that even the most wise and experienced run into problems in China. Roger, my heart goes out to you and I sincerely hope all works out for you. To the newbies, read and realize that everything is not what is seems to be in China!

I quit my job of two years just a couple of weeks ago. 35 kids of one class made paper fans as farewell gifts for me. Their teacher and I had had one year of smooth communications and cooperation. I loved her kids, and they behaved like darlings too! Several other classes were much the same.
I left saddened and feeling exploited. Not by this class and her teacher, of course. I felt betrayed and let down by others in this school.

My first year there was almost twelve months of sunshine and mutual respect. From day one to the last day in my first year, it was like a holiday season with pay. I actually looked forward every Sunday to my lessons on Monday.
If anything ever troubled my mind then, it might have been the too-frequent presence in my classes of media people and photographers! BOth the TV and a couple of newspapers were invited to report on me. I demanded that the TV crew make a VCD of their report, and they obliged. This VCD is a selling point in my CV. However, I do feel schools are taking their liberties too far in using pictures of expats to promote their school.
Anyway, the school even invited me on a holiday trip in the summer holiday season. I got paid for twelve months. In sum, I was treated almost exactly as a Chinese. The only difference was - my Chinese colleagues put in more hours per week than I ever did.

The second year started off to a poor start, and in week two I told my waiban that I was definitely feeling unhappy there. She did not ask me why. The main reason was that the principal was dawdling over my visa, putting enormous psychological strain on me. In addition, they were trying to recruit a second expat!
I shared an office with three teachers. When the school finally had a second expat, she was moved into our office. Believe it or not, but one of the three girls that had worked with me for over one year demonstratively moved her desk out in displeasure over the hiring of another expat. She was later ordered to move her desk back in. That expat was a young English girl, and nothing was wrong with her, except the fact that she was on loan from a training centre, and inevitably, there was a falling-out between her and her employer. We had to hire another expat through the same agent, with the same result within one month. Finally, a third expat was hired in just 5 months.
These teachers cost the school a lot more than myself, of course.
Gradually, I began to feel that the school was trying to scrimp and save maos and fens at my expense. At first, I had to remind my waiban that several VCD's had disappeared, and I needed replacements. I was promised them, or rather, I was promised that she would tip our principal off. In two months, nothing happened, I had to improvise lessons without those VCD's. I finally forced my waiban to own up, and she did own up: No, she said, she would never request our principal to buy new VCD's! Why? Because the girl had had a run-in with the principal herself many months before: she had suggested that the school buy certain books from a Hong Kong publisher. These books were pretty expensive, and turned out to be useless in our school. The principal then was angry with my waiban, and my waiban did not have the guts to face her boss over a suggestion from me. In other words: I had to buy those VCD's at my own expense, in my spare time, and I did!
Finally, I was told I was using the office computer too often. While nobody in my office ever used it between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. - when our first classes began - the girl that had moved her desk out of our office when the second expat arrived found fault with my habit of surfing on the Internet. The computer was eventually moved to a larger room to which I was not allowed entry.
Well, I had to while away a full hour before my first lesson, due to the whims of bus timetables.
When the heat began to be unbearable (with our office facing right east), the remote-control of the aircon was missing. Later I knew that girl was hiding it in one of her drawers. I brought a remote control from my own home and turned the aircon on before everybody else.
A new tactic now: That girl would enter our office and leave the door wide open, then open the window too so the heat from outside could penetrate into the office.
If I was however briefly absent, she would switch off the aircon and leave the office. By the time I was back there it would be stiflingly hot and humid.

Now would anyone know how to deal with Chinese colleagues like her? I did not know what to do, whom to contact about it. I certainly did not expect my waiban to take sides with me against her colleague, and I could not seek redress through the principal either. Suffice it to say that a small circle of like-minded people eventually succeeded in making me feel so utterly helpless and isolated that I threw the towel.

The reason I advanced for seeking an early exit was that the visa I had expired before my contract expires (next month). I also have to get a new passport. The visa issue has a lot to do with their muddling at the beginning of the school year.
Instead of accepting in good faith my notice of termination, the principal got angry and highly vindictive.
At first she tried to cut my salary by one month and airfare for the last two months (prorated and added to my monthly pay). We negotiated it down to a cut in my pay for three weeks, the same three weeks that I walked out early.
In addition, she deducted an exaggerated amount of money for the purchase of those VCD's that had gone missing earlier. I asked why they made me pay ONE YEAR AFTER THE FAIT ACCOMPLI, and they said because I was leaving them.
A principal that does not take revenge is not a principal!
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Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2003 3:38 am    Post subject: A Good Post Reply with quote

A good post,Aaron.Although I have toyed half-seriously in the past with going to China,common sense always prevailed in the end.A good "rule of thumb" in TESOL is "Never go anywhere that you might have trouble leaving"
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Linda L.

Joined: 03 Jul 2003
Posts: 146

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2003 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bnix you seem like the runner type.
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