Last year my job was outsourced to India. As my last day with the Firm approached, many people were very concerned that I had not found another position. I had decided to go back to school instead. With only nine classes to complete my BA, and a government grant to cover 100% of the expense of school (parking, books, tuition) I took a leap of faith. Going back to school was a worthy goal, people conceded, but what about AFTER?? What will you do then?? I became a little flippant and a little serious. "I'm not sure," I said, "but I think I'll go teach English as a second language in a foreign country. Or maybe go work for a non-profit. Either way, I'll be ok."
I graduated USF with a BA in English in August. I immediately started applying for Technical writing positions, and as I received no response, expanded to other jobs: administrative, technical, and training positions. In October, I went to a job fair at USF. I had carefully researched the companies, decided who I wanted to target, and what positions I wanted to target. The recruiters for these companies were fairly alike in their response: they handed me a business card, and told me to go on the website and apply for the position I was interested in obtaining. Before long, I had a sour taste in my mouth and my feet were killing me. I went to one last employer in the far corner of the room, and next to this employer was The Yingbo Language School of Training.
Grace, the recruiter from the school was very sweet. Very casually, and sort of off-handedly, I pulled out my resume and handed it to her. I walked away from the fair, jaded and disillusioned, and forgot about Yingbo. I started attending the Job-seekers ministry at church, and learned that job hunting is a weirdly different ball game than it was eight years ago. Then, I simply walked into a temp agency, signed up, and started taking temp to perm positions. Not so in these modern times...
I forgot about Yingbo until they emailed me a couple of weeks after the fair asking for an interview. Again, I was fairly off-handed about it, and picked November 11 off the menu of dates being offered. Around November 2, I received another email: USF was closed for the holiday on 11/11, and would I like to meet on 11/4 instead? I agreed thinking that it would at least be worth the experience of an interview.
On November 4 I was not feeling great, and almost did not go to the interview. As usual, I dressed up in my best suit, and felt extremely overdressed as I saw other candidates leaving dressed for class: ripped jeans and t-shirts. Grace and Tu interviewed me, and while Grace was beautifully dressed in business casual, Tu was dressed like the students. I felt kind of stupid. We talked for about 20 minutes about why I wanted to go to China ("learn more about the culture") how long I would be willing to go ("spring term - to start"). Tu looked at me kind of oddly at one point and burst out "are you free to go to China?? I mean, are you married?" I was a little shocked, and told her no I was not married. She said "Oh, I saw your ring and thought you were married!" I glanced at my left hand and realized that the purity ring I was wearing on my middle finger had given her a false impression. I smiled. "No, I'm free to go," I assured her. I left the interview feeling stupid. They hadn't really asked me many questions about my qualifications as a teacher. It was a strange interview.
Weirdly enough, I treated going to China as a joke. I was never serious about it, to be honest. I posted something about it on Facebook. It was the ONLY job interview I had since graduating. In spite of not being serious about going to China, I had been having vivid dreams for weeks about going to a foreign country. I was still surprised when a week and a half after the interview, Yingbo accepted me into their program. I was even more surprised when my family enthusiastically supported the idea of me flying half-way around the world to take a position as a teacher.
I still wasn't taking it seriously. I demanded to speak with someone who had taught for them. During a skype video conference, I questioned the legitimacy of the program and everything I could think of based on the myriad of warnings I had seen on different sites related to teaching in China. He reassured me on all counts, and I began to seriously consider going.
Communication with Yingbo has been primarily through email. It was a long, tortuous process. Having worked in "Corporate America" for so long, I was used to immediate responses. Emails from China would take days or even weeks to answer. I finally received all the answers to my questions, and agreed to have them send me the contract. That is where I am at right now. Here are the logistics of what I know so far:
- Airfare is reimbursed at the end of the contract. If you stay one term, it is 40% reimbursement, two terms is 70% and a year (3 terms) is 100%. They have been burned in the past by teachers coming and leaving mid-way through the term, so they reimburse airfare at the end of the contract. The year is February 8, 2012 through January 31, 2013.
- Housing and food is provided, and they arrange for the appropriate work and housing visas the Chinese government requires for foreigners.
- A small stipend is also paid on top of the food and housing already provided
- The position is with Yueqing middle school in Wen zhou, in Zhejiang Province.
- Yue qing secondary school was founded in 1939, the school has a first-class faculty and teaching resources, In recent years, the school entrance examination scores ranked at forefront in Wenzhou
- Opportunities to travel during school breaks will be provided
Yes, I am very excited. No, I do not have a plan beyond January 31, 2013. What I do know is that if I don't take this opportunity, I will be missing out on something God has for me. While the government frowns on religion, recent years have seen a loosing in regulations, and a growth in home churches. I already have contacts in Wenzhou who can help me tap into these sources. Obviously, I will be very cautious about talking about that side of my experience until I know exactly what way that wind blows, so to speak. God is up to something, and I can't wait!