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Sunday, March 6, 2011

First Job in Taipei. (you owe me 200 notes!)

So after having many interviews in Taipei after I arrived, I eventually got offered a job.  I did not really think about it throughly and decided I would take it because I was panicking a bit thinking that I would never be able to find work here and have to go home with my tail between my legs, like a defeated champion.

The job was to be at a Happy Marian buxiban school located in Shulin City, Taipei County.  It meant I would have to take the MRT, Train, and then a bus to work everyday, but I didn't mind I thought the money sounded OK for what they told me I had to do.

They said I would only work late 2 nights a week, and be finished at 5.30 every evening and have the weekends off.  They also said they would apply for all the relevant documents I would need for my visa, health insurance and labour insurance.  The people seemed nice when I spoke to them........that was before I signed the contract!  (more on that later.)

I started working there in their summer camp.  I had to go in the day before to see what I had to do, and see how their other foreign teacher managed the work.  I thought this was a good start and so far it seemed pretty professional way of how to get a new teacher involved with the work that they intended for me to do.

My first day at work, I had to work with a mixed group of kindergarten kids.  The ages ranged from the smallest of 4 year olds to the oldest of 6 year olds.  Everything had already been planned for the summer camps so all I had to do was go there and do as the other teacher and pick up my wages.

My first day at the summer camp was OK.  I just had to help the kids work through their colouring books that was based on the Taipei International Flora Expo.  They had certain flowers they had to colour certain colours.  They also had certain flowers they had to take from the back of the book and stick into their coloured picture.

This day was very easy, and I thought everything was going well.  I was even excited about the next day there.  So I got up really early, because the second day that I worked at the summer camp they were going to the Ling Family Garden, which I believe is a heritage site here in Taiwan.  I have been to the garden before when I came to visit Jen in the past and it is really beautiful.  I remember when I was first told by Jen that she wanted to take me to a garden I was a little under excited about it, but when I got there I thought it was awesome.

Inside the garden it is all done out like an old style traditional Chinese Garden.  They have all old style buildings inside, and all the waters are tinted green.  You can really get a feel of how it would of been in the times when their was still dynasty's.

Ling Family Garden

So we just basically walked around this nice garden, and I didn't really have a clue what I should be doing so I just made sure all the kids stayed in line, and went to the toilet and didn't run off, this kind of basic thing.  Thought if in doubt stick to what you know, and what you have been trained to do in England.  I was working with another teacher who was immigrant from Burma.  She was Chinese descent but born in Burma, and moved back here.  So I pretty much just followed her lead because she was working there already, and I had just started so I thought it would be best just to keep my head down and try to work hard.

They seemed pleased with how I had worked those two days, so I thought this could be something good that I have here.  I had to wait another two weeks before I started the job permanently and thats when it started to go downhill from the very beginning of the school semester.

I met my co teacher Rachael (I don't know whether I should refer to her as the cunt now, or later).  I was expecting her to talk me through things, like what books go with what subject, which students were good, which students I would have to keep my eye on.  This was crucial information for me to know before I started working with them.  No what did that cunt Rachael do, she put in the class with a schedule and told me nothing else but "follow the schedule".

So I do as she says, and I start following the schedule and pretty much doing whatever I want, and trying to figure out which books go with which subject.  Then Rachael starts to tell me I don't know what I'm doing.  I replied to her, "yes I don't what I am doing no one has told me what books go with which subject."  To which her reply was, "well your the foreign teacher your supposed to know what to do so deal with it!"

My class and that cunt Rachael

From that first day on me and Rachael never really got on, and from now on I would like starting to refer to her as cunt!  She would often tell me in front of all the kids I am not a good teacher and I don't know what I am doing.  I wouldn't mind if she gave me constructive criticism but she basically hated me because I was getting more money than her, and she had to show me what to do.

This point of view is fair enough and I have had to do it my self in the past, and I can understand it is not very nice but if someone is going to offer me more than her, I am not going to turn around and say "no I wont take the money because cunt over there is not on the same as me!"

She would often just leave me in the class on my own, knowing that I had never been a teacher before and when I started I told them that I would like to go on training courses to help with my teaching skills.  I thought that my background in working in youth work would help me deal with the children on a personal level in the classroom and dealing with all kinds of problems that would occur but what I made sure I asked for was professional training.  This seemed like a reasonable request.  and they agreed to it when I asked before I signed the contract.  After I signed the contract they told me everything or anything I need to learn or want to know I can learn it from teacher Anton because he has been there for 5 years or something.

They told me I had to sleep when the kids slept to make sure that they were OK if they woke up,  Rachael demanded that i had to clean up sick and piss of beds that the kids slept in, when I told her no thats your job she went crazy too. The only reason I told her that it was her job was because she kept pointing out to me that "Mark, this is your job." All the time she would say that to me for everything.

She criticised me for everything I did at every oppurtunity, when the kids were eating she would even ask the kids what they have learnt in front of everyone in the rooms.  Then when the kids I was with couldn't sing their songs, and their meal chants she would say "oh thats because our foreign teacher is not good!"

She always made sly comments like this.  She would never say anything to your face.  I felt like she was trying to constantly make me leave.  I was never going to leave though, the reason for this was in the contract it said if I broke the contract that I had to pay them a fine of 20,000 nt dollars.  This is the equivilant to over £400!!!

One of Rachael's gems was "don't keep asking me things!" So we were making sushi one day, and I started giving the kids more rice because there was some left over, and then the cunt bag Rachael said "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!!!" and I told her "using up the rice." Then she went mental telling me what to and what not to do, so I said to her "Rachael I am thinking for my self!"

Rachael done one more thing what really made me so angry!  There were 2 new little girls in the class, and they couldn't speak any English.  This didn't make Rachael help me any more with these 2 girls.  She expected me to be able to communicate with them perfectly.  One day one of the little girls, Dora she was trying to ask me something.  So I was trying to figure out what she wanted....asking do you need help with your work?  Has someone said something bad to you?  etc etc.  Then all of a sudden she pissed her pants in the class.  

Then she blamed me for not letting her go to the toilet.  I was so angry because off course I would of let her go to the toilet, I just didn't know what the hell she was saying.  That was supposed to be why Rachael was there in the class room with me for those kind of problems that came up.  Instead of her helping me, she just made everything more difficult, I felt so sorry for the little girl.  She didn't hate me though which I was glad about, I think maybe she was too young to realise what she had done and how bad it looked.  I really hated Rachael so much after she stood by and let that happen though!!! 

I always thought if she wanted to say something she should of just came and said it to my face, instead of making snidey comments all the time behind your back to other people when your there trying to get you to react.

I had to mark all the homework in my break time, write up the weekly posters in my break time, I had to put the beds out in my break time, had to sit with the kids and make sure they ate there lunch in my break time, I had to eat lunch in my break time.  This is the only time you would get to do all the work they wanted you do.  They would always say just make time.  That used to be one of their main sayings.  "Just do it when you find time."

This translates to, there is no time for you to do it.  So instead of saying there is no time to do it, they always said just do it when you find time.  That way your still expected to do everything they want, but they wont give you any extra time to do it in.

When I brought up the fact that she was willing to send me on training courses before I signed the contract she just went into one of her crazy rages.  Screaming and shouting at me like i'm some stupid little small child.

At this point I had only been there a few months and I was starting to get tired of all the shouting and arguing.

After the first few weeks, she started making my hours gradually longer every week.  At first before I signed the contract she said I would only work 2 nights per week.  Then it ended up every night I was there till 7.30 apart from Wednesday's I got to finish at 6.30.  I had to be there at 9am every single morning also.  She didn't stop there either.  Some kids couldn't make it to the school in time for their class, so she told the parents (without asking me) that I would be willing to stay there until 8pm and help them after all my classes, so I was not getting home until 10pm then had to plan when I got home and put up with Rachael's shit telling me I hadn't planned for the class.  In the end I did actually just stop planning things, because she kept telling me I didn't plan, so I thought what the hell if she always says it, I might as well not make any plans and do whatever.

Then I started having problems with the owner of the school, when I started there they wanted to make sure that I had all my documents before hand ready.  This was so they could apply for the visa and everything I needed to live in this country legally as soon as possible.  Which was fine, but I asked her how long it would take to get them back and then she just started to go crazy with me, shouting at me in front of all the kids and other teachers because I asked her long it would take.  This went on for weeks and weeks of me asking her, and her going crazy that I would ask her important questions.  It got to the point I actually tried to avoid asking her questions.

The promise of the health insurance, labour insurance and my work visa didn't seem like it was materialising I was getting worried about it.  Then they said I could go to the office and they gave me all the documents I needed.  When I looked at the letters they gave me, the dates on them were from a month earlier which means they had kept them from me for over 1 month!!!  

They gave me one morning to go and sort everything out, so I got to Taipei from Shulin as quickly as I could. Then when I got to the office they told me, I didn't have the correct documents to collect my ARC and had to go to another office to change my visitor visa over to another visa that could then be changed to an ARC.  The women in the office however told me it was too late, and I had to leave the country the next day.  This completely boiled my piss and as you could imagine I was so angry, I called up my boss and told her, I thought everything was OK with my visa!!! There not going to give me it now and I have to leave the country tomorrow!  I'm coming to see you!!!

I called up Owain to ask him if he wanted to come with me just in case I got totally mad with her and things could of ended up getting out of hand. When I went back there I demanded to see Allison.  They told me you can't because she is in the class.  So I just walked up to see her, and opened the door.  I shouted "Allison I need to speak to you now!!!!"  

She replied impatiently "what do you want I am teaching!!"  So I just told the stupid bitch, "I want 200 pound right now, for my flight to Bangkok."  

This sent her into a complete frenzy, she started screaming at me why should I pay you, I shouldn't pay you, you should be paying me.  Your not a good teacher, I pay you the same as the other teachers, so you should pay me.  This was so stupid I started laughing, and then she told me I can just take the day off because another teacher was teaching my classes, I told her its OK because I had to take it off anyway, to sort out my flight out of the country which was clearly her fault!!!

Bangkok Visa Run.

When I was away, they didn't tell the parents what happened.  The reason they didn't tell the parents what happened was because they didn't want them to know they are employing illegal teachers.  All the time at that school they wanted to give the perception that there school was awesome and that the kids got the best possible treatment, the best equipment and the best teachers.  The kids at that school are paying a fortune to go to that school and she wouldn't pay for any equipment or anything.

On top of this, they told me I had to write in the communication books, but I had 18 to write out, along with doing all the other things in my break that I mentioned.  So I just wrote them out really quickly, saying how there kids had been for the last 2 weeks.  Then the owner of the school went mad with me again, saying I made so many mistakes in the communication book, and parents couldn't read my writing.  From now on I had to type up what I was going to write in the communication books and stick them in.  I, however had to get all the other staff to check what I had wrote at the staff meetings every week.

Which brings me on to the staff meetings.  They were a complete joke, all they were used for was to gang up and shout at whoever they deemed to not be doing what they wanted or who they thought were shit.  Sometimes it would be me, but mainly it was teacher Annie.  She got so much shit from them, that when she walked out I started calling my self foreign Annie because of all the shit they threw at me.  

They told me, my accent was not like the accent of the South African guys and why is this, we are all English speaking so should all speak the same!  Then I asked them, when you speak Chinese, do you speak the same as someone from Beijing?  This sent her crazy again, saying its not the point etc etc.  Another time in the meeting she made me write out on a sheet of paper all the times I had been off, so I wrote:

I was absent from work today, because I am looking for a new job,
you are looking for a new teacher to replace me, so I am looking for a  new job.
Thats what happens.

another time I wrote:

I was off on Friday and Monday because you didn't get my visa on time, if you did get my visa on time I wouldn't of had to go to Bangkok, somewhere I hate, and spend all my savings.  And all would of been well.

Then the finale came.  The tip of the iceberg.  Like they had saved the best for the last moment.  When  I went there to collect the pay that I had worked for she told me that I couldn't have it.  I then ended up arguing  with her again, and she just said I couldn't have my pay because I didn't mark the books.  I told her thats because you sacked me isn't it!!!  She just said you will get your money when you mark the books.  So I went and ticked every book without a tick on it.  Then went back down and said give me my money.

She still refused because I didn't take my time to mark the books, and said she would pay me when the Chinese speaking teachers got paid.  I said fuck that and I want my money now.  She then threatened me with the police, I was hoping she would get the police because I felt in a stronger position than she was, unless she bribed them or something.  

Then Rachael was telling me, you still didn't do a good job did you.  I told her its none of your business is it.  Thats why you sacked me.  Then Rachael was saying why should we pay you and everything.  I had to stand and argue with her for hours, and Jen even called them and threatened them with the police, and the labour people so we could sort out the problem.  Eventually they gave me my money which they could of done at the beginning of the day and it would of solved all the arguing.

It was the best thing that ever happened to me getting fired from that school.  The reason it was the best thing that happened to me is because I now have an awesome job, and I know it is awesome because of going through hell with this job.

My only picture with the class.  Sorry its blurred.  Halloween 2010.