Saturday, September 11, 2010

Concerns in a New Semester

A new semester and a new school. Both seem to be going well, thus far.

Pros: Motivated students well-qualified to take the IELTS exam; a computer with a printer (although the computer seems to be the exact same one I had about 10 years ago, back in the states); housing in a nice hi-rise condo in downtown Nanjing.

Cons: The campus is huge, and my oral English classes--and office--are on the exact opposite side of it from my IELTS writing classes; my direct boss (of the foreign study program) seems to be the penny-pinching, more concerned with cutting costs on foreign teacher maintenance than on taking care of those particular charges; my office is a barren shell of a room in a building where the paint flakes from the walls like a grove of birch trees.

Other current concerns:

> Starting the process to obtain a fiancee visa for my fiancee. The outright costs look to be about $1500, not including medical exams, translation fees and suchlike. Yikes.

> I wrote (or adapted) a few nursery rhymes for Kiera's kindergarten classes. One of the kid's parents happens to work in publishing. They have an idea to publish a book of English-language nursery rhymes adapted where necessary to make the language easier for 5-year old Chinese kids to learn. They want to hire me to write/re-write the nursery rhymes. This idea has a lot of profit potential, apparently. The parent/publisher gave Kiera a 500 yuan "Teacher's Day gift" on her phone--both a practicality for future business calls and a standard Chinese method for obtaining guanxi (influence) in order to reserve Kiera's (and my) services. The parent has also suggested that the book would include some mention of the school where Kiera works. Great advertising opportunity for the school--the boss is thrilled--and a great way for the publisher to work out any problems with Kiera's main employer before they develop.

> Preparing for and looking for a proper career-type job in the States. Seattle, specifically. In order for the Fiancee visa (and then Green Card) to be issued, I have to have an income of $10,000, then $17,000 a year in order to prove I can support my new bride. So, despite having saved up a small nest egg, the job issue is a crucial one. Great timing to be looking for a job, also, right? But despite all the doom and gloom in US news reports and the perceptions of the middle and lower classes, I have a lot of faith in the economy of my home country. Jobs do exist, for people with skills, talent, and the willingness to take on less-than-perfect work as a stepping stone. I believe that, and I hope my belief is not misplaced, because now all our plans are riding on it.


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