Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Getting a Job: the set-up

Before I get to my job, let me get to my study abroad program. I've received several questions about whether I will still be in China for this summer, and the answer is yes. The details of that are not completely nailed down yet, but just yesterday I found a program that looks really good. It's in Beijing from mid-June to mid-August. That gives me a good amount of time to relax and travel after this semester, but also a good amount of time learning Chinese. It's at the Beijing Language and Culture University, which is very well-known, and costs less than the Harbin program. The best part is that it offers the chance to live with a Chinese family, which I think would be really beneficial for my Chinese. I'll probably apply in the next day or two.

Last Wednesday I had my first day of a job teaching too many little kids English. Here are the details of it.

I might be starting to see how having guanxi (connections) works in China. When I was with the Chinese family during Chunjie, I was trying to figure out what the wife's job is. Then she asked if any of us were going to work while we were here, and I said I wasn't sure. I didn't need to financially, but if it didn't take a lot of time, it'd be fun. Then she asked how much I would want to be paid, and what days I would be available, and how transportation would work. (Hypothetically, of course.) I had an idea of what we were really talking about, though, so I wasn't surprised when, at the end of our conversation, she said, "Okay, well, when Chunjie is over I'll give you a call and let you know when you'll start working."

Since tai chi has ended, I don't have class on Wednesday, so that's the day of the week that I go teach. My job is to teach English to about 40 Chinese preschoolers at a time, and people are willing to pay big money to have a real American teaching their kid. I was talking to my language partner yesterday about wages for her friend who just got a job. Her friend works as a waitress nine hours a day, six days a week, for a monthly salary of less than 800 kuai. I, on the other hand, will earn 250 kuai for three hours.

As for location, the school I'll be at is in a small town outside of Chengdu. It takes a little more than an hour to drive there. When I was talking to the mom about it originally, I said that sounded pretty far away, but the mom said that she's willing to drive me there and back. That means that not only do I have a job, I have two hours to practice Chinese every week. The mom speaks no English, but is so nice about speaking basic Chinese that I really like talking to her.

I still don't understand the situation fully, but I think I'll be teaching several classes each time I go. Little kids can't handle more than half an hour, but as far as I know I'll be leaving after lunch and not returning until around dinner.

Last Wednesday was my trial run, and it sure was an interesting time. I'll talk about it in my next post.

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