Sunday, August 21, 2011

Get me out of here!!!

            Caught in a lie, I have not been very pleased with my work this week. I was told that I would be going back to the school I have been teaching at all year and suddenly I get a schedule change going to a new school. I asked Rosa our head Chinese staff why I am not going back and she said that they do not start a new school year until September  so no teachers will go there.
            As Monday rolls around I found out that Sam, the other teacher who worked there with me is going back to teach there but does not want to teach there . I on the other hand want to go back and told the teachers I would be back. As I tried to switch schedules, I was repeatedly shut down via text by Rosa because she said she told the principal at the new school that I would be teaching there and if I changed schedules she would have lied to the principle and lying of course is bad. But the fact that she lied to me and the fact I told teacher I would be back and now wont be was didn’t matter to her . Furious I called Rosa demanding an explanation of why she lied to me and how it is bad, and asked how many holidays I had left in attempt to boycott Shane. See in an attempt to save money, Shane let 6 teachers out of their contract early as they figured they would not need them, but now the problem is that they do not have enough teachers to teach so, if one of the teachers calls in sick, they are essentially screwed as they are understaffed. I have enough holidays to cover the rest of the days remaining on my contract. In my contract
I am entitled to these days.
            If I were to take these holidays Shane would not have enough teachers to teach the classes and would be loosing money. After being hung up on, I later I received a text that I breached my contract as I have falsely added hours to my timesheet due to an error on their behalf, as I copied and pasted my hours from what they sent me. As a result, I am essentially getting blackmailed to work as they say they will take away all the bonuses that I have earned this year away which is a hefty sum along with the fees for “breaching the contract”, in which I would have to pay the company back money. It is a bit ridiculous at what a corrupt company Shane is and how badly they treat their employees to get them to do things and since I have to fulfill my contract for graduate school I feel hopeless as I cant do anything about it. It will be interesting to see what happens come next Wednesday when I finally am free of this horrible company.
            For the past few weeks my landlord has been very adamant on us moving out. On multiple occasions, I have been surprised to see him either walk in to the apartment on his own with potential renters or had him banging on the door because the door was dead bolted and he cant open it with his key, both of which are with no prior warning. I feel this is a bit of invasion of privacy and also annoying, as it is usually early in the morning, especially on weekends but its China. With that being said, my lease ended on August 19th, yet he kept trying to get us to move out before then.  All of my roommates downstairs moved out early so it was just mike and I upstairs, on the 17th he sent in a cleaning crew to clean out all the downstairs, even though mike and I still were living there and were packing, but made sure to tell us not to make a mess downstairs as it is now cleaned. He also was set on us moving out early Friday the 19th even though I had to work. After begging him multiple times, he finally allowed us to check out at 5 after I got off of work to which at 4:55 he was waiting for us to leave.
            On my schedule, I had Friday morning free but was on cover, which would allow me to pack my things up and move them over to mikes apartment before work, but of course since Shane is ridiculous, they call me up the day before and tell me I need to cover for someone who put in a request awhile back for an interview but they forgot about it until just now. I told them that I cant cover as I had to move out of my apartment and that I would take a holiday if I had because I needed to move at of my apartment. I get a call from my boss telling me send my landlords number to Rosa. She will tell him that I need to move out on Saturday no problem. Little did they know my landlord wouldn’t budge. The landlord was actually in the apartment inspecting things so I handed him the phone and she tried to negotiate with him but he was not having it. As I laugh while Rosa is getting shut down, the landlord hands me the phone to which Rosa says “Ok, John the landlord says that you have to move out tomorrow, but you still can work in the morning. You have all night to pack up your things and you can get up early and finish”.
             Holding my ground I said “No”, I refuse to work in the morning as I need to pack but I will work my normal shift in the afternoon. I told them that if you keep forcing me to work in the morning, I will take a day off you and you will need to find someone to cover both shifts. Finally Rosa says that I will not have to teach in the morning, and another boss confirmed this. I then later receive a text from one of my bosses Robert saying that they do not have enough teachers so I will need to cover in the morning. I told him that both Rosa and Caesar confirmed I do not have to work and he kept trying to insist that I needed to work. Finally at the end of the day, after having my messages ignored, I wanted to confirm that I was not working in the morning. After 4 phone calls Rosa finally picked up and said that Robert told her I was still working. After I repeatedly told her I wont show up she finally got the message. Although this is a little   issue I find it a win in my book as I have held my ground against the evil Shane. How hard is it to understand No means No! Well with that being said, less than a handful of days until I am finally free of Shane and get my soul back!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lady, Who are you?!?!?!

            For work, I am on a temporary loan, filling in for 2 weeks whilst my school has its 2-week  "Summer Vacation".  Since I am filling in, I have no material to teach them and have been winging my lessons and reviewing basic information since there are a few new students who have joined the classes this week. It down time right now so the classes are half full as people are families are traveling or taking a break from school. With less than 2 weeks of work left before I bask in the sun on the beaches of Thailand with JD, my motivation to teach is at an all time low and the fact that the school refuses to turn on their air condition makes it that much more difficult to teach. Considering these students are not my normal kids, they are unfamiliar of my demands and do not listen and to make things worse and the worst part is one of the teachers a complete ... Think of a word that rhymes with yahtzee. Ill give you a hint, think holocaust. While I understand good teachers are usually a bit eccentric, she’s over the top as she’s always in my business and essentially is trying to teach the class. I wonder from classroom to classroom teaching English to the students and the classes are on all parts of the building. Theoretically, I am supposed to teach her class at 9:25 but considering that the classroom before hers is on the other side of the building and ends at 9:25, I usually arrive at 9:26 or 27.Heaven forbid I am a minute or two late considering I usually stay a few minutes after the scheduled time to compensate. But, she insists that I teach the full 30 minutes of English for her kids as she makes comments like “oh what time is it, yeah your late” or “class starts at 9:25?” as her clock  is running a few minutes early and making me look bad that much worse.
            As I teach her class I can feel her presence creeping behind me to make sure that I am doing everything properly. She sits there analyzing every move I make and ALWAYS has to butt in and interrupt the class if something is out of synch with what she believes is correct. While I must admit, her English is half way decent, there have been times when she has tried to correct me with my pronunciation stating I’ve said the words wrong. Remind me who’s the native speaker and English teacher?!?! That’s right.. me, but that doesn’t stop her from interrupting and trying to tell everyone what to do.
          Making sure that I fill the 30 minutes of teaching, I have used songs to fill the gap. Over the course of the year, I have been able to manipulate how long a song lasts based on the actions I use and the speed I sing the song. Typically, I can sing the “wheels on the bus” or” if your happy and you know it” and it will run about 5 minute which is great for killing time. Over the course of the past few days, as I am singing the song with the kids, the teacher interrupted me by either telling me to stop singing, then blasts the song off the computer or just turn on the music without saying anything. While I’m a big advocate of making things easier and not having to sing, the songs on the computer take roughly half the time it does for me to sing and does not include all the movements that the kids enough, which makes me run out of things to do and since I have to teach the full 30 minutes this causes a problem,
       Having accumulated a collection of songs on the computer, I’ve tried to sing songs that she does not have yet on her computer. Each day he makes me write down the songs ive sang and then goes tries to find it on the Internet, but I’ve switched up the songs each day so she is unprepared for what I am going to sing. It has become sort of a game as I try to sing songs that she has not downloaded so that she can’t interrupt me while I am singing. What really has thrown her off is I have thrown in a few Camp Adventure songs which the kids like but she cant find it anywhere on the internet, to which ive been able to sing multiple times and it makes her flustered.
       In my classroom I have these medals that I give to “good Students” who are paying attention and not talking and listening. In reality, it is a tool just to keep the kids on their best behavior because they really want the candy and sticker that I give them as a reward. While it is my special thing I do for the student, the teacher kept telling me who and who I shouldn’t give the medals to, to the point where I have just given her the medals and told her to pick the students.
       Towards the end of the class, I play games with the students, which vary from day to day. The other day I taught the kids Duck Duck Goose and she butted in telling the kids her interpretation of how to play it. As my 30 minutes were up she continued to organize who was picked and who wasn’t and had yet to give out the good students. After making settle hints to her to give out the good students so I can get my medals back and leave for my next class, she was oblivious and continued on yelling at which kids were to be picked. Finally after a few minutes waiting I took the medals from her and called up 2 kids to which she argued that they didn’t deserve it. I can confidently say she’s on a power trip but Mercy Lady just let me do my job!! On the bright side I only have one more day of teaching at the school and less than 2 weeks of teaching and then I’m free to travel, but lord help me get through this!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Well this is awkward


While my School goes on a whole two-week summer vacation, I have been temporarily relocated to another school to teach. Currently in Shanghai its been in the mid 90’s every day but the heat index puts the weather around 105 degrees making it extra hot because of the humidity. As I sat in the blazing hot computer room with 3 big air condition units surrounding me, I ponder to myself why the Chinese are so cheap and all show.  In an effort to save on  theelectricity bill they have turned off the air-condition units and hid the remotes so that only an elite few can use them. With the rickety  old metal overhead fans going, I sat with beads of sweat dripping down my face as I try to write my thesis. Suddenly, one of the teachers comes in with the precious remotes and turns on the air conditioner and relieving me of this heat; I think to myself how nice she is.
            Little by little teachers start to storm into the room and I begin to realize the air condition was not turned on for me but for them. Figuring there was a meeting about to happen I sat quietly at my computer typing away trying to go unnoticed as long as I am quite. With the room filled with about 30 teachers and staff from the school, some random elderly lady who was not the principle grunts at me pointing to my computer. I closed my computer and gathered my belongings and started to head out of the room and back to the “office”, but on the way she insists that I stay for the meeting. Waving her hands for me to take a seat, the teachers tell her that I am the English teacher, but that did not matter as she was determined for me to stay, grabbing my hand as I tried to exit the room. With all the staff watching and trying not to make a scene I put my things down and take a seat.  I sat there and watched as she rambled on for about 20 minutes continuously without out a peep from anyone. Bored out of my mind, I watched the other teachers look at me and smile, using there facial expressions to try talk with me. Finally the lady takes notice of this and stops talking for a minute to ask what’s so funny. The teachers laugh and tell her that I am the English teacher and don’t speak any Chinese and have no idea what she is talking about and I shouldn’t be in the meeting. Embarrassed and turning red, she insisted that I leave the room since I did not need to be in the meeting, exactly what I was trying to do 20 minutes earlier. I stood up and smiled and nodded good-bye to her and escorted myself out of the room as the teachers all smiled and laughed… whelp that was a bit awkward. Just another day in China.

BEACH PARTY!!


A beach in Shanghai?!?! What?. One of the best things about China is that they are known for producing fake things. If they don’t have it, they will be glad to replicate it. Right off the dirty Nanpu river lies the  “Beach” once a docking area, now filled with imported sand from Sanya.  Some call it the sand pit by the river, other call it paradise. Regardless, it was a nice get away from the concrete jungle of urban Shanghai.  I met up with a couple of my friends to go to this beach party that was produced by the entertainment company “Ice Cream Truck productions” who provided multiple djs on the turn table. With the sun out and at hot, as ever, it was nice to finally soak up some Vitamin D while playing sand volleyball, sipping on some drinks and relaxing and  of course hanging out with friends. You know what they say. The best things in life are free.






Monday, August 1, 2011

再 见少朋友 (Bye bye little friends)

      After 10 months of teaching my little rug rats, it was finally time to say goodbye as the school year came to a close. In the last week of class, rather than teaching I decided to watch Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar with them in a win/ win situation. Instead of them learning boring information and me having to teach, we both won by watching movies.  On the last day of class I brought my camera to take pictures, but, being the airhead I am, I forgot the charge the camera that was on low battery.  Sadly, I was unable to take very many pictures. After taking pictures I made a poor mans piñata and filled up a trash bag with candy and other goodies. Having never experienced a piñata before, the kids went wild as candy flew everywhere. Though we’ve had our up and downs, they will be truly missed.. On the Brightside, I have less than a month of teaching left at SHANE English and I can be free again and have a soul as I am a slave for that company.

Tossing the Pinata after it was broken

Kids Scrambling for the goodies

The Mad Dash

Class #1, My favorite class


 

Class #2 the Devil Childs
                                

Class #3


Class #4 for showing their goodies


Class #1 Modeling

Class #4 Striking a Pose






Class #5

                               

Two of the teachers



Riding Dirty


            Just like those wonderful nights in high school where boring nights always turn into epic adventures, I sat in my apartment bored, figuring out what I should do. In weekend mode and not in the mood to work on my thesis, I decided to pop in a movie and clean my room since oddly enough I like to organize things when I get bored.  Over the course of the year, I have accumulated a large amount of coins that I have thrown into a jar. It seems that in china, they love to give you coins any chance they can which is a pain in the butt because they weigh down my pockets always fall out. With that being said, whenever I do have change, I dump it into the bowl so that I do not have to carry it.
            From time to time, I will go to the store and purchase things using only coins, while I might feel like I’m back in middle school after scrounging the house for enough change to buy a candy bar, it relieves me of the burden of the change and using my bills to get more change. Since I am leaving China in less than a month, I decided I should make another middle school run and go grocery shopping with coins. Dumping the pile coins on the grown, Jill and I started to separate the coin by denomination. Similar to pennies, the yi jiao are a hassle to handle and it takes 10 of them to make a jiao. I decided to take all my yi jiao and make a Chris Slezak 7-11 shopping spree and just buy any drinks, candy and junk food that I fancy.
             To make thing easier on the cashier, we counted out 10 yi jiao and taped them together to make them into a roll and then tossed them into a little bag. We had about 100RMB worth of these rolls, which made for some Good Friday night snacks. As the clerk rang us up, expected us to pay with bills, we threw him a curve ball and poured out the sack of rolled coins. First looking flabbergasted at all the yi jiao, he laughed it off as he counted each and every one of the rolls.Trying to find room in the cash register to store them, he eventually stored some under the counter.
            After devouring out snacks, we decided we should go on a late night cruise of the city. My roommate Mike was out of town and left his scooter for me so we decided to take a 1 am drive to the bund, which is about a 20-minute drive from my house by taxi.  Having cruised around on the scooter previously without charging it, it said that there was still about 80% of battery left, which I figure would be enough to get us there and back. As we roamed the streets avoiding all the crazy taxis and Chinese drivers, we finally made it to the Bund. This adventure turned out to be one of the best times I’ve had in Shanghai as it so random and speractic. We decided to drive down the riverfront and people watch at different locations as people stumbled their way out of the swanky clubs and bars. Before we knew it the battery suddenly used up all the power and we were stuck about 8 mile from my house.
            On the scooter there are bike pedals which you can use to turn the scooter into a bike, but with 2 people on the scooter it is very difficult and tiring to manuver because of the weight and the proximity of the pedals to where you are sitting. After trying to bike for about 15 minutes and barely making it off the bund, we decided to see if we could flag down a taxi to take us home as it was already 3Am and at this rate, we wouldn’t be home until at least 5 or 6. Standing outside one of the nicer clubs in shanghai, we tried to flag down a cab but kept getting rejected as they said they couldn’t fit the bike in their car, or that it was too heavy. We even offered to pay them 100rmb, which was more than double the normal price, but still no one bit on our offer. As I kept peddling on for about another half mile, we tried our luck again and still nothing.  Thinking we would either have to park the bike somewhere and come back and get it the next day with the recharged battery, we flagged down one last cab for the heck of it.
            Without offering him the 100rmb like we told everyone else, we just said that we would pay him extra and he agreed to take the bike with us but he would go extra extra slow so that it wouldn’t fall out. I.e. milk the meter but of course in our best interest. We threw the scooter in the back of the car and off we went. The taxi driver really meant he would go slow as we were going about 5 miles per hour ,while the other cars were flying past us making it seem like we were at a standstill. As I looked outside I saw people walking past us at a faster speed, but in retrospect, it was fine by me because I didn’t have to pedal the bike. Finally, after about an hour trip, we arrived at my apartment. I pulled the scooter out of the trunk only to have the taxi driver standing there asking for more money. I looked at him and laughed and off we went.