Saturday, April 30, 2011

Rejoining the workforce

Since we came came to China last September, I have not been working per se, but I have been tutoring children of various ages in my home.  While the work is rewarding, I get bored between classes.  It also happens that my wife is getting tired of the city she grew up in (Yanji) despite the large number of family and friends she has here (she had gotten spoiled, living in Texas), so we decided I would apply for a regular teaching position.  The thing is, if the position you was interested is filled, recruiters try to offer you other positions that are not necessarily to your liking. 

One thing most jobs had in common was that the pay was usually low and the area was not to our liking.  There was a few cases where the pay and area was ok, but the interview left me cold.  Most times it was because the "English Teacher or School Principal" who hired me language skills were so bad that I either did not understand them or made me wonder as to how good the school was.  I imagine I have torqued off a few recruiters who went through all the trouble of submitting my information to the school, convincing them I am worth their time, getting me the interview, having the school say they will hire me, only to lose their fee because I said in some cases not only no, but HELL NO!

I finally accepted a position that offered good pay (10,000 RMB/month) and I'll be teaching US History, English Literature and English type classes in regular Chinese Chinese high schools where the students have decided to forgo the Chinese college placement tests in favor of taking the placement tests for an American university. 

What made this school different was that the recruiter was an employee of the same people I would be working for, his English was excellent during the initial interview.  He also told me that I would be interviewed by a history teacher the next day.  Lo and behold, the teacher I was talking to was another American.  We had a short discussion about teaching methods, then he asked me my opinon about a disagreement he was having with a Chinese US history teacher about the policies of President Woodrow Wilson.  Soon afterward the recruiter told me that he would be submitting my name with a recommendation to approve to the head of the school.  My wife and I wanted to go to Shanghai/Nanjing area because she has friends there, but we will end up instead in Shijianghuang (south of Beijing) at their No. 2 High School.  Since then, my wife has talked to a friend there and they tell her that this school is the top school in the city.  She is still afraid that the city would be similar to Yanji, only bigger, but she knows how much this job means to me, so she will make the best of it.  I told her that if I do my time here and if we decide to stay another year, I can see if I can transfer to Nanjing, to which she said ok.  I am so looking forward to this new job and overjoyed I will actually be working in my major with a little English, I hope, on the side.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wife's Birthday

Yesterday (April 16th) was Ying's (my wife) birthday.  We went to her parents house in Helong to celebrate.  Needless to say, whenever we go there to eat, they put out an amazing spread of food.  Ying, her sisters and nieces all get together and make lots of dumplings.  Along with the dumplings they also have other foods which I thoughly enjoy.  Needless to say, I was so full from the huge lunch that Ying and I did not need supper or much of a breakfast this morning.  Ying made some flour tortillas, scrambled some eggs with tomato, onion, bell pepper and homemade salsa for breakfast tacos.  It made me feel like we were back home in Texas.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

About time I started...

I've been in China for the last six months and figured it was high time I began to write about living and working here.  Last month Ying my NBCNUSC (Native Born Chinese Naturalized US Citizen) wife and I went back to the US for vacation (22 March-7 April).  Part of the reason we went was to introduce Ying to realitives from my mother's side of the family.  Another was to visit family friends in Kerrville, Texas and visit their daughter, whom Ying cared for (she has ALS), but the main reason was to find the Sharp Family Cemetary in central Missouri.  My father passed away just before Christmas 2005 in Texas and my mother passed away February this year (2011) in Arizona. Both were creameted, but their wishes were to have their ashes interred in their headstones in Missouri.  My brother who also lived in Arizona (appointed my mother's guardian (she had Alzheimers)) had control of the ashes of both mom and dad.  Since neither me or my brothers had not been there since we were children we did not remember where it was.  My younger brother who lived in Oregon decided he would instead put their ashes in a memorial garden in his yard. I however decided to make it a personal quest to find it.  I researched the information I had on the family and based on descriptions had a rough idea where it was.  I looked it up on Google Earth but the detail was not such that I could pin it down exactly.  I had planned on stopping in Missouri on our way from Illinois to Texas, but the weather was cold and snowing  so I decided to hit it on the way back, which we did.  Once in Rolla, Missouri Ying and I drove out to the area to look for it, but with a child's memory I could not find it, so we headed back to town to visit the funeral home that my family used, but the people there now couldn't help me so as a last resort I decided to go to the county courthouse.  The receptionist there told me that she knew a person who was an expert on local cemeteries. Dorthy James and Ruth Adair were such great helps,  They determined the cemetary was just over the county line in Maries county. and found the map of its location.  I plotted it on my GPS and Ying and I went to find it.  As were getting closer I realized my plot was a little off.  I got to a location that I knew was past it so I decided to return and make a copy of the map.  On the way back I was driving slower with one eye on my GPS and the other on the road when suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw the headstones.  I suddenly blurted out, "There it is!" Ying asked me how I knew and I told her it was because of the headstones.  She was skeptical till she went into the cemetary and saw that most of the headstones had the Sharp surnane.  As we were taking pictures of the markers, Ying reminded me that this was "Tomb Sweeping Day" in China, so it was appropriate that we found it that day instead of a week earlier.