I am once again facing an uncertain future. I will teach my final class tomorrow in Huzhou. Their beloved American will arrive Saturday and can start teaching Monday which effectively makes me irrelevant. In order to assuage the concerns of Chinese contacts I agreed to at least grant a hiring agent an audience. It was supposed to be for a well-regarded boarding school in Zhuhai, just across a narrow strip of water from Macau. It wasn’t that at all. It was an agent for a Chinese firm that places language teachers with foreign nationalities with schools that need them. Despite my disgust I went along with it just to get it over with. No need to be rude to strangers, she didn’t mean any harm.
She asked a question which enraged me – so much so that I could taste the bile inching up my throat. She asked me why I “quit” after only a month. No, my good lady, I did not quit – I was forced out for the temerity of having been born in Europe and for being very much a product of the continent of my birth. No, Madame, I did not quit. Whatever the faults of the school are I very much enjoyed working with most students. I was getting better and making due with a difficult situation. I did not wish to argue or kick up a fuss. To avoid a conflict I had to lie which made me feel sicker yet. I told her that I asked to go elsewhere because I was ill-suited to work with children.
Over the last week I sussed out the circumstances surrounding the early demise of my Chinese teaching career. The school in the recent past was excellent and its tuition reflected that. However, in recent years the school has declined markedly, mostly due to poor administrative choices and the inability of the school to retain enough qualified teachers. I was merely a sacrificial lamb by an incompetent head teacher who wanted to look resolute without actually changing anything. This will buy him a few months. It was also assumed that I’d quietly fade away – take a few thousand pounds, transfer to another city or even province and then leave. Instead, I’ve refused transfer, will still receive several thousand pounds in damages and leave China by the end of the month. This will force them to pay fines for cancelling a work visa early.
At first I will fly to California for a few months, just to collect my thoughts. I will continue to work part-time at college and resume my responsibilities at the state park where I volunteered before. In February I will probably go to Germany for a few weeks before flying to Spain to start my next adventure.