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Published: March 29th 2011
The teaching gig has ended, for me anyway.
The language school (henceforth to be referred to as “those rat bastards”) opted to end my contract just two weeks short of completion. This was a shock to my co-workers but especially to me. Abrupt, early termination is quite common among the language mills: end the contract and then they don't have to pay the agreed-upon airfare home. The language mill franchise is a “for profit” business after all and they don't teach kids out of the goodness of their hearts. I am out nearly $1000, and for that, I am bummed big time. Of course, I am also saddened, bewitched, bothered and bewildered , though I know that it was strictly an issue of money, not my teaching. My students love me, the parents were happy and their feedback was, overall, quite good.
Towards the end though, Weishan itself had worn out its welcome with me
. After the Aussie had fled China and gone back to his Uni, I was the only foreigner left in Weishan. I was left with nobody to talk to, was often the object of unwanted staring by rubes and I was getting pretty close to
running out of butter.
After living in China for six months, I can't honestly say that I know much of anything about it. I was isolated in a small, gray, flat town in a rural area miles from anywhere of importance and didn't have contact at all with the rest of China. I can only tell you about Weishan. It is, in my eyes, a town with little to offer the portly foreigner and besides, finding Mexican food in Weishan is impossible.
On the other hand, the people of Weishan are happy with Weishan: there is no crime to speak of, it has a cheap cost of living and comparatively little traffic. There are groups of middle-aged women in the park who do synchronized exercise to the bleats coming out of a tinny boombox, there's free ballroom dancing under the streetlamps for couples in the evening, elderly men who bring their caged birds out for a walk in the park every morning. Weishan is, in general, a slow, family-centric community. One with way too many firecrackers, but not a bad place except for that tiny language mill owned by “those rat bastards”. Overall, the people of Weishan were
nice to me and I will miss my students. I know that I made a difference in their lives.
I packed up my stuff, got on the night train to Beijing and checked into a very nice hostel
I spent the first few days enjoying the clean sheets, hot showers and didn't really go outside all that much. After sufficient decompressing, I went out to explore by Beijing subway (wonderful, clean, modern, efficient and quiet), shop the markets, eat Peking Duck and even shopped for a turtle. (One turtle: ¥ 5). I also committed tourism and went on an organized tour: as I write this, my feet, my calves and the rest of my cattle are sore from hiking a steep section of the Great Wall. The turtle is busy making new friends here in the hostel's Koi pond. I fly home shortly.
Will I teach again? Most likely so, and I'll probably teach again in China too.
Just not in Weishan. They eat turtles.
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