Working with Kids

Today one of the kids from class came running up to me, “Hi, hi, hi, hi! How are you?” When I was opening my mouth to answer, the kid popped a lychee out of her mouth, all half chewed up, and crammed it into my open mouth, “This is for you!” Then she gave a great big grin, and her grandmother shoved a bunch of peaches into my hands, and off they went.

Thanks… I guess?

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Of Course I Know Kevin

I just posted about our decision to stick with the devil we know for our job in China. We don’t really like it a bunch, but there are things we like. The new place would also have things we liked, but new things to dislike too. When we were being toured around the city, the woman in charge of seducing us to come there mentioned a Kevin for a foreign teacher they previously employed. Bella said, “Oh, I know Kevin.”

The woman was certain it was a different person. After all, there are 600,000+ foreigners in China, and 1.3 billion people in China, what are the odds you would know a specific foreign teacher in this ocean of people, 15 hours away from home. The woman started to describe Kevin in order to show it was a different Kevin, “He this, he that, he the other thing.” We said, “Yup, yup, yup.” She continued, “His wife is Chinese,” we said, “yup.” Sure enough, it was the Kevin we were looking for, or at least knew.

She shot a message off to his wife with the picture of me from WeChat. She responded quickly, “Oh yes, we know him!” We made plans with them for the next day to go for some coffee.

It was nice catching up, and having a chat with someone familiar. I don’t know many people in China. We had already made our decision about sticking with our current job before we went out with Kevin, and his wife. When we were out with them, he told me about how he used to work for the company we were interviewing with in the city.

“I used to work with the school you are here to visit. They treat their teachers pretty well. The problem was when they got their new headmaster [the current one] he looked at how much money they were spending on the several foreign teachers at the school. So, he said they were doing away with the foreign English teachers because it isn’t worth the money. They didn’t even wait until the end of the semester, he just fired us all right then, and there.” was the story Kevin had to tell. This story was not meant to scare me away, just making conversation, and answering my question about what it was like to teach for this company.

His story did not make our decision, but it was one more piece of evidence we had made the right choice. If the headmaster killed the program once, there really was nothing stopping him from killing it again without giving us any notice.

What a small world it is though. A random city, chosen from a pile of job offers, and we happen upon one of the 4 people I know in this country.

Stupid Foreigner!

Earlier tonight I had a phone call from a number I didn’t know. Usually they are advertisements I don’t understand, but I decided to answer this one. This was a mistake. Buddy started his spiel, and at the first comma in his speech I interrupted, “I don’t speak Chinese, can I help you?” Apparently he has an issue with English, because he lost his mind at me when I spoke to him in English. He shouted into the phone, “Stupid foreigner, you are worthless to me!” Then he hung up on me.

I may be living in China, but you called my phone. Just another day in the life, just another day. 😐

Not gonna tell me what to do…

… and vice versa. 

Living in another country can always lead to some entertaining, frustrating, or absurd situations. One of the “norms” in the culture in my small town (and China as a whole so I’ve been told) is the gal tells her fellow what to do. 

It isn’t a discussion, or a debate, just a simple, “You’s my man, now jump.” However, Bella doesn’t treat me like this. We have a back, and forth. I don’t make her decisions, and she doesn’t make mine. 

Now, as I have mentioned before, I live in an area with a population of 1,000,000 people. There are only two registered foreigners here. If someone wants the foreign monkeys to dance to draw attention to their school (whatever) the pickings are slim. 

Bella got a call the other day from one of her teachers from her school days. Her teacher was hitting the guilt, favour, respect train hard. “Bella,” he said, “you’re with the foreigner now, right? So, I need you to get him to come teach classes on Friday evenings at a small countryside school.” The intention was Bella would be embarrassed to say no, so he didn’t call to talk to me about it with her translating, he called to set up the whole thing so I would have no say in the matter. 

I have been made aware of this (my word) manipulation. I don’t care for it really. As I said before, we don’t make each other’s decisions. The old, “ask the girl to force the boy,” routine isn’t gonna fly here. It isn’t even gonna leap over tall buildings. 

She politely said, “I’ll have to ask him A. if he wants to, and B. how much he would want to charge.” Her former teacher’s response, “Why would you need to ask him? Just tell him he is doing it, and tell me how much you want him to charge (hoping for a price similar to hiring a local teacher rather than a foreigner).” Bella once again told him how I work, and she would have to call back. 

At first Bella was a little shy about answering for me like this, but it easier now because I have started her on the habit of making an obscene number of “he” statements. Her main concern was people would think she was talking. When it’s me, I have a bit more wiggle room to say nope. At least I take a little more wiggle room. 

Last Time To The Canadian Ballot Box

in 2014 I moved to China. I have been working there since. I am getting married in China, and we will be staying there until it is time to retire. Recently the courts in Canada have given me, and then taken away my long term ability to vote as a Canadian citizen living abroad. I was inspired by Donald Sutherland’s recent statement (article) regarding the decision. 

The argument is, “It will be an unfair imposition to the Canadians dealing with Canadian policies on a daily basis to have Canadians living abroad have a say in Canada’s politics.” I am choosing to live abroad, this is true. However, I am effected by Canada’s policies as well. What Canada does on the world stage effects me. As a Canadian citizen, I am left to answer for what my government does. It affects visas in foreign countries, as well as dealing with authorities. When Canada makes an ass of itself, I am made to be an ass as well. 

People vote with their own interests in mind. Business owners will likely vote for the candidate who promises lower taxes on businesses, or relaxed regulations. Families will likely vote in favour of the family friendly policy candidates. The elderly will look for the senior friendly policies, and so forth. Expats are the same, expats will vote in favour of friendly, and embracing foreign policies. This is our niche, just as other voters have a niche. We are not looking to destroy Canada with the vote, we are looking for our voice to be heard on the issues which matter to us. There isn’t a voter in Canada who would vote against the issues which effect them.

Someday I will move back to Canada with my wife from China. Then, I will be able to resume voting for the party with the smallest ass at the helm. However, until then, I have one vote left. It is for the election on October 19, 2015. While I have yet to decide the recipient of my vote, I can say this for certain, my vote will be cast against Stephen Harper. My last act for 25 years as a voting Canadian citizen is to try to help remove the Harper government. God speed to us all who will vote in that way. 

Since writing this I have had a brilliant idea. We need an Expat MP. Instead of having all the expats vote for MPs in seperate ridings, have expats vote for the representation, standing for their interests with the Canadian government. One seat, for 1 million expats. 1 seat out of 338 seats. It is about .33% of the power, for 2ish% of Canadian citizens (with estimate of 1 million Canadians living abroad). Seems fair(er), compared to the current system.

Red Lights, Hot Tempers

Yesterday I was driving to school, and the light at the last intersection before the school was red, fully red. It had not just changed, it was long changed, and timer indicated it was halfway through. The green light for going straight across the intersection was in full bloom.

The law would state that traffic lights control all traffic through the intersection, whether foot, bike, car, or other. The practice is (largely), “I’m not in a car, so I don’t follow the traffic signals.”

Noroads-HQ-1

An oldish man on an electric bike flew across the stop line and into the intersection. His head did not glance left, right, or any other direction. I saw it coming from a mile away, “Bango!” He hit the passenger side door on little silver car. The bike tumbled over, and so did the man. The door had a huge dent in it, and the silver paint was scratched off to expose a metre stick worth of metallic door.

The man quickly jumped to his feet, with his bike still on the road. He was unambiguously the cause of the accident. This little matter of fact did little to deter his fire. He started raging across the young woman in the passenger seat, at the young man in the driver’s seat. The young man got out to help with the bike, and see the damage. The old man was yelling at him, things I picture to be, “Watch what you are doing you idiot. I am old, you should have waited for me first.” The young man started gesturing at the door panel, I am assuming the words were similar to, “Who is going to fix this mess?”

After a couple more gestures, and loud words exchanged, the old man shooed the young guy away, got on his bike, and drove away. The young man, possibly shocked, slowly walked around his car, and got back in to drive away. By this time, I was through the intersection on my green light, ready for another day.