Chinese SAGAS – My new job – Part 4
I had found my new city; I had also found the school and the dormitory.
The apartment had been cleaned and now it was time to meet with the dignitaries again about my new job. The same dignitaries as before plus some new ones.
I had already met them once but now was the 2nd meeting to take care of my contract and figure out if I was ok!
In a school like this, and probably in every school in China that hires foreign teachers, there is someone who takes care of the foreigner. In my new school there were 2 of them. One was Ana and the other one was Jeanne. They were both nice girls and really making an effort to do their job properly. Ana was new and did not know how to handle huge problems, which I was, but Jeanne knew.
So, there I was sitting in front of the dignitaries and something wrong, really wrong. They had found the information from the company in Beijing that hired me, the one I had made a written contract with, you remember.
The news! I did not have a job! The school had not signed the contract and I was lost.
What was happening? I was not happy. I was furious. I had gone through the highway, twice, lost my way, found my way again, entered a filthy disgusting apartment, and I was more than 300 km away from my house in Min Hou. 300 km away from my beautiful house in Min Hou where everything was clean and even my own bed.
Now I was sitting in the conference room in a new school, in a new city, where I thought I had at least 4 months future, without having to go to Hong Kong to get new visa. This was not good. Not at all!
Jeanne who was used to deal with the foreigners and had been longer in the job than Ana took the matters in her hands. She seemed to have the situation under control.
One of the things the company in Beijing had told me I needed to do when arriving in Quanzhou was to register at the police station. I found this bizarre. I was registered in Min Hou. Min Hou was my home. There was my house and everything. My own house in my own name, the house I had bought to live in until I died. Why would I have to register in another city?
Eventually the school contacted the police station in Quanzhou, after a long and thorough discussion of course, explained the situation and of course I was not supposed to register there. Idiots!
Jeanne suggested that I came again in the afternoon to meet with all the deans and the presidents of the English section and there they would be able to make a decision if I would be hired or not.
I was supposed to teach a class, like a proof of my ability to teach or something like that. This was complicated. There were no students. They were on holiday and they would not be back until next week. Could they get some children from the neighbourhood to come? No, they were all on holiday!
Well, the meeting went on in the afternoon. I introduced myself AGAIN and gave them some insight into what kind of a teacher I would be. The head master, who I had met the day before, was late. She told the meeting she had already interviewed me and there was no need to have me demonstrate how I would teach. She told them it was obvious that I knew what I was doing. Great! I was not some idiot from Iceland trying to cheat on the school, although I had no contract signed by the school and no job, at that moment.
It was interesting how this meeting went on. It is always interesting to attend a meeting with the Chinese. Everything is discussed, again and again, no decisions made in haste, no, there are no hasty decisions made and no way to be in a hurry.
I was supposed to attend a meeting every Monday in the new school where the plan for the week would be discussed. Interesting and useful, I would say. Every Monday morning, before the meeting, there was a gathering outside the school; the flag was taken down and put up again. The students made a speech, someone was picked out beforehand. The speech was about dedication and something like that. Study hard, wake up early, was the word of the day. Then one of the teachers made a speech and eventually everyone went to their classroom. Each department had their place in the foreground and I was told to be among the English teachers.
At the meeting I had been asked how long I would stay in Quanzhou, if I would stay more than 4 months. I told them I would. It would be madness to stay one semester and leave. I would just be getting to know the teachers and the students and getting used to everything. The school was a private school and the students aged from 10 to 17. Staying in this school was perfect for my plan; to begin to teach English to the Chinese, proper English, before they entered the university.
I explained that my home, my final destiny, was China and I would not be going anywhere.
When the Chinese students come to the universities they have been studying English for many years but they hardly speak a word, or most of them don´t. Of course there are exceptions.
I was also supposed to teach English to the Chinese teachers, who taught English! That was interesting. They taught grammar but the foreigners spoken English. When teaching in Min Hou, in the university, I had often contemplated about why my students there could not say ROSE, they all said LOSE. Now, when listening to the Chinese teachers, it came to me. I asked them why the said LOSE and was told that was how they had been taught to pronounce the word. Generation after generation this had went on. Now there was a time to change. The teachers could say ROSE, and I was going to make my wonderful students pronunciation perfect. Another word was THE, they all said LE. The same problem, which could easily be solved!
The foreigner was in town, ready to change what was changeable!
In my new school, after all the confusion had been settled, I have to say that everyone made a huge effort to make me feel good there. I was happy and would gladly have stayed on. The contract had been found and the school signed. There was just one problem! I was too old! I was 65 years old but that did not bother me because I knew about some teachers over 70 teaching in the city.
Little did I know about how they managed! But eventually I learned and that story is for another day.
To be continued/