… the Bad …

On The Nature of Teaching

Written on November 17, 2017

Teaching can be really challenging, but it can also be very rewarding. Many teachers, like myself, enjoy helping students learn and grow. It’s definitely not about the money, because in both the United States and China, teachers’ wages are nearer to the lower end of the spectrum.

I’m writing about this because I love learning, which is why I accepted this teaching position in China. I wanted to learn about another culture, and the best way to do that is by experiencing it firsthand. I enjoy teaching ESL because it will help my students experience another culture themselves. This is also why I have been a volunteer with AFS Intercultural Programs since high school. I enjoy working with the international students, and helping them learn to navigate a new culture and learn to communicate in a new language is wonderful and inspiring. It’s also a lot of fun meeting young people from all over the world.

I’m also writing this because something happened this week which upset me. As I wrote last week, my new friend A went to IKEA for me during her trip to Guangzhou and picked up a dish drainer. Since she was doing me a favor, I had agreed to do her a favor – be a guest speaker with her class of 7-9 year olds on Friday night since she was out of town. Her employee, D was in charge of the class and I was never alone with the students. I was given a script and did some short dialogs with the kids. “Hi, I’m Mike, what’s your name? My name’s Robin, how are you? I’m fine thank you.” Then I was given a vocabulary list and asked the students “Do you have a pencil? Yes, I have a pencil. Or no, I don’t have a pencil.” This took maybe 30-40 minutes and I came home.

On Sunday morning I went back and spent about an hour with her nephew, asking him questions about his trip to the US last year so that he could practice his English. Then I came home.


On Tuesday morning, the office sent a message to all the foreign teachers:

Reminder: Liuzhou Foreigner Expert Office found that there are foreign employees have part time job and work for other companies during the weekend, which is considered to be illegal by the Rules. The Guangxi Foreigner Expert Bureau will send this “black” records to China’s Ministry of Public Security if  there is any, Foreigners with black records are restricted to entry China. Pls take a note .


Since I had to go to the Immigration Office that afternoon, I asked S about it. She said if was just helping a friend and not being paid then it was ok, but she said if I was inside the other school then it might look like I was working there.

Ok, cool – I was just doing a favor for my new friend and didn’t get paid. And I really don’t want to do it again, because it took time from my weekend.

But today, I met M from the office going in to dinner at the Canteen and we ended up sitting together. She asked me about my friend A, and I told her that I had just been helping her kids and nephew with practicing conversation. I have enough classes to teach here at Liugao and I don’t need to make more money.

She told me that A had reported me as her employee to the government!



I was also quizzed by two other staff members about my relationship with A over the next few days.

C even took my phone to look at A s profile, saying that she would have to report her!

Luckily, I did not know A ’s Chinese name.


Am I being followed? ?   This is so creepy!





Post script

I asked A about this and she said she did want me to teach, but understood that I did not want to. She asked if would speak English with her sons to help them practice, and I said of course. That is what friends do. A was really helpful during my time in China, and invited me to several events where I could socialize with other English teachers.


And it did freak me out that it seemed like I was being watched….

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