I had a bad feeling about the day and did not want to get out of bed. I was to head to the West end of town, the location of a second branch of our ESL school, for training. Training with Happy English, in Jinan China, so far had been a disorganized mess. For two days we had spent hours in front of PPTs guided by either Chandler, our “foreign teacher” supervisor, who claimed to not know he was in charge of training until the day of, or with one or another “Chinese teacher”. The Chinese teacher would often end up going through the same PPT with us that Chandler had gone over earlier in the day. None of it had been training for the curriculum or teaching method used at Happy English, and there had been more “breaks” where we were sent to sit in the office with nothing to do, then there was “training”. You might understand why going across the city for more poorly planned “training” exercises had not seemed like a thrilling prospect.
We have been in China for about two weeks now. I feel like I’m just keeping my head above water at work, I’ve already had food poisoning, and the culture confuses me at every turn. Still the experience so far has been amazing. Every time I feel overwhelmed I just have to take a deep breath and remind myself that I’m in China. I’m fulfilling a long time dream to travel and teach, and that is amazing. So I rolled out of bed, pulled an outfit out of the closet, bought a sandwich from across the road, and waved down a taxi to take me across town. I was on my own today, Nate had class so he was not being sent to this training session with me, and the prospect of traveling across the city on my own for the first time was exciting.
I had my laminated address sheet that Lainey had left for me and Nate, and I used that to point to the school I wanted to get to. I tried to talk to the driver but only got as far as “Nihao” (hello), and “Nihao ma?” (how are you?)
As I walked into the office I was greeted by a surprised Chinese teacher. “I’m Jenn, I’m supposed to be doing some training here today.” I told the woman.
“Uh, really?” She replied, standing to shake my outstretched hand. “I will check.” She stood up and walked out of the room. I could hear her speaking loudly to another Chinese woman. It sounded like they were in an argument.
I had once asked Lainey, our Chinese supervisor, why everyone in the office sounded so angry. Lainey had laughed, “That is how Chinese people talk!” She’d informed me.
After a few moments Vivey walked into the room with a young American man in tow, “This is Damian,” She introduced him, “He will do training with you today too.”
“Hi,” I smiled, shaking his hand.
“You can have a rest,” Vivey told him.
“You’ll get used to hearing that,” I laughed as he sat down at one of the computers next to me, “Any idea when training’s supposed to get started?”
“No clue,” Damian flicked the computer on, “They lost my luggage at the airport, so Vivey’s supposed to take me to pick it up.”
“Great,” I moaned, that meant I would be waiting around the office for quite a while before anything started. I flicked my computer on too, I might as well get comfortable.
It was a weekday, and I had been asked to work at 8:00 am. No one else started work until 1:30 pm, so I was left in an empty office for 5 ½ hours. It took about an hour for me to get all of my lesson planning done for the next two weeks. I was not impressed with the four hours I had left to kill. When the training did happen it covered the demo I had already been teaching. And that was it. At least I got to go home 20 minutes early.