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August 24, 2006

Q and A- Is China is a safe place to work?

Hello Readers,

I've noticed that there have been some posts about the safety of working in foreign countries on a few of the websites that I frequent. Though the question below is related to China directly, I think it's a good example of how no matter what country you decide to move to, you are responsible for doing research about the place where you will be living.

Here's a question from Jason.

Hello Everyone,

My friend sent me this link a to a news article on the Associated Press's website. It scares me to think I am
going to take a TEFL course and teach in China when so many English teachers are complaining about...

... abuse and in one case, murder!

Here's an excerpt of the article...

By Audra Ang, Associated Press Writer | August 5, 2006

BEIJING --Tanya Davis fled Jizhou No. 1 Middle School one winter morning in March before the sun rose over the surrounding cotton fields covered with stubble from last fall's crop.

In the nine months Davis and her boyfriend had taught English at the school in rural north China, they had endured extra work hours, unpaid salaries and frigid temperatures without heating and, on many days, electricity.

Hearts pounding and worried their employer would find a pretext to stop them leaving, the couple lugged their backpacks, suitcase, books and guitar past a sleeping guard and into a taxi.

As they drove away, "the sense of relief was immense," said Davis, a petite, soft-spoken 23-year-old from Wales. "I felt like we had crossed our last hurdle and everything was going to be OK."

It's a new twist on globalization: For decades, Chinese made their way to the West, often illegally, to end up doing dangerous, low-paying jobs in sweatshop conditions. Now some foreigners drawn by China's growth and hunger for English lessons are landing in the schoolhouse version of the sweatshop.

In one case, an American ended up dead. Darren Russell, 35, from Calabasas, Calif., died under mysterious circumstances days after a dispute caused him to quit his teaching job in the southern city of Guangzhou. "I'm so scared. I need to get out of here," Russell said in a message left on his father's cell phone hours before his death in what Chinese authorities said was a traffic accident.

I need reassurance and advice.

James

PS. To read the article in its entirety, you can click here

Hi James,

If you're going to a developing country like China, you're going to have
to expect some things to not quite work right. In most cases, like the
electricity going out, little heating, etc., this is the norm for not only
the foreign teachers, but for the residents, as well. So, some of the complaints
made in the article, I believe, were simply resulting from culture shock
and lack of preparedness in living in another country.

And honestly, yes, there are schools out there who will try to get as much
out of you as they can. How do you avoid that?
* Talk to people who work at the school before you sign a contract.
* Sign a contract- don't be content with verbal agreements.
* Don't allow the school to keep your passport or other special documents for you.
* Make sure that you have control over your things.
* Buy a return ticket when you first come so that if you need to leave at a moment's notice, you can.
* Always make sure that you have some extra cash stashed away for emergencies (death in the
family, poor working situation, sickness, etc.).
* Make friends with some people in the company who will be able to help you
in some way later on down the road.
* Try to get your last month's salary before you leave.

Basically, you need to know your limits and stick to them. If you are
asked to go to the countryside for the weekend, and you don't want to go,
tell them that you are busy and can't.

Yes, some of these things have happened to me, but no, I've never had my
life in danger.

This kind of thing can happen anywhere. I've lived in China for seven
years and would still recommend it for you.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Good luck!

Carol Rueckert
Writer, ESL Lesson Plan
E-mail: crueckert@eslemployment.com
Blog: www.esl-lesson-plan.com

"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand." - Chinese Proverb

*To read more ESL Questions and Answers, please click HERE!

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About the author of this entry:
Carol, a native English-speaker who hails from the small town of St. Joseph in Minnesota, USA, has lived and worked in China since 1998. During that time, she has worked with students that range in age from three to more than sixty years old. She’s worked in universities, private language schools, grade schools, international schools, as well as private tutoring. Besides teaching, she’s also worked as a head teacher, an education manager, and a material development manager. In addition to working on this newsletter, she currently writes a monthly column for Time Out Beijing as well as working as an ESL instructor for the Australian International School of Beijing. Carol is also enrolled in Oxford Brookes' MA TESL program in Oxford, England. Look for her posts on the ESL-Jobs-Forum discussion boards!

Posted by crueckert at August 24, 2006 07:15 AM

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