The school leaders of Qiqihar
Trip Start Sep 14, 2009
91Trip End Aug 31, 2011
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Where I stayed
A couple of events have happened recently, plus, I'm finally going to post the entry I made with detailed information about how I got out of my contract back in January.
Here is the journal entry I wrote on January 20th, but never posted.
Knowlege of culture can help you adapt...and help you play people for exactly how you want. In China you either
get it your way or you get it somebody else's way. That somebody is
never looking out for your interests.
I got my contract release
today. It's rare for me to be in a position that I control a majority of
the outcome, but then again, I've never been in a position of
significant power before.
I knew coming back from Harbin last week that I was in a position of significant power. I had friends here. I
had contacts in Harbin now. I had contacts with headquarters in Taiwan.
I should be in pretty good hands. With that, I set my plan into motion.
In China, the worst thing you could do to someone is make them lose face.
For a boss, the worst thing to do is make them look and feel small.
Thus, I made it my goal to make my boss lose face. A big risk and gamble
on my part, but I knew if I was to get anything positive for me out of
my situation it was to make it seem like I blew my top and had gone flat
out crazy. I was already halfway there, so it wasn't hard.
conversation Last friday started out fairly normal. I had some small
grievances, but I quickly escelated them. It turned into a shouting
match. She said I did some very bad things by going behind her back. I
said I had no choice because she was doing a poor job. I was lectured to
about how nice of a person she was (whenever someone lectures me about
how nice of a person they were and to ask other people they've always
been a huge asshole). Finally I went into a rant of how horrible of a
person she was, that she doesn't treat people with respect and that she
is the worst boss I have ever had in my life. It was at that point that
she fired me. I laughed and basically told her that she couldn't fire me
because she had no reason. She said she did. Me complaining to
headquarters is against my contract (obviously it's not) so I kept
laughing at her. My coworker tried to pull me out, but I pushed his hand
off of my arm when he grabbed me. She told me that I should learn to
treat the boss with more respect. Now, I took that as a call to action. I
ran through my head what were some of the worst ways to disrespect
someone while not yelling at them. In these few seconds, my bosses door
was opened and she started conducting other business with other
Now, China is a country where it is very fashionable
to humble yourself. People get uncomfortable if you get on your knees
before them because they feel like you're saying you are lower than
they. Even if it's not the meaning, that's what they feel like. I was
tired one day and talking with my friend, so I got down on my knees. She
became so instantly flustered that she couldn't talk to me until I
stood up or sat down.
I applied this with my boss. I got down on
my knees and was in front of her desk and said in Chinese "Please don't
order me to leave! I need this job!" and ran around to the other side
of her desk closer to her, got on my knees again and said, "You're a
great person, please don't do this!" And I stood up and just laughed.
One cowoker was horrified. The other I think was laughing. The one who
came in to conduct some business ended up telling the entire office what
happened. The one's who talked to me after that respected my actions.
next day, Saturday, we had our civil meeting. We both talked and she
decided to release me so I could find other work. This is fine because
this is what I wanted. She still needed to talk to Harbin, but Sunday
would be my last day. Monday she would get back to me.
didn't really get back to me. She told me that it would take several
days to do and that I would still need to work. Seemed kind of odd.
Since I felt like it was a trap I felt I had no choice but to go. She
promised that on Tuesday I would get a call from someone who could
translate into English to clarify what she said over the phone (which
was that she needed my passport to cancel the visa). It ended up turning
into an e-mail, which said..
very worthless and stupid of you to say bad things of Joy to others
behind of me after old issues have been solved and agreed on, you made
trouble out of nothing, to be serious, it can be considered as contract
breaking as trust has gone.
We agree to give you an agreement
declaring that the contract is terminated and you will be free to find a
new job, but we must cancel your working residence because we did it
and paid it and it should exist only when you work for us, otherwise, we
should be responsible for whatever happens in future if you stay in
China. Therefore, you are requested to provide us your passport which
will be returned to you after the cancellation.
I took about an hour to write a reply. It was lots of
type/delete/type/delete. I wanted to get my point across that we had
never fully agreed upon anything before and I had told my coworker to
tell her that "by not signing a new contract we will have problems in
the future." However, that message did not go through. I decided to
remove that part. Instead, this is what I sent.
I cannot in good faith give you my passport without you giving me a
release letter first and a receipt saying that you have my visa for
purpose of cancelling my visa and when I will get it back. If you cancel
my visa and hold onto the passport for 15 days then I am in legal
trouble. I want my passport back the day you get it back. You have
turned on your word to me before and you haven't even honored the
contract as you set up from day one. I cannot trust Joy School with my
passport without those documents. I want to leave your organization.
When I do I will leave it with out any problem. My apartment will be
cleaner than it was when I arrived and I will cause you no trouble once I
leave so long as you proceed with haste and without giving me
I consider this e-mail inadequate communication. I
understood all of this on the phone with you and you led me to believe
that there was something more I didn't understand. I have these
questions of you. Why do you still want me to come into work when you
want me gone. If you want me gone then let me be gone so I can go
elsewhere in China. By prolonging this process you are making more
problems for me, which is thus causing you more problems. I want to
cause no problem in leaving, but you are causing me more difficulty than
Why was my apartment deemed acceptable when
there was feces in the toilet and dirt under the furniture including
food packaging and beer bottle caps? Why did you not come to my
apartment and turn on the heat when you said you would? Why did my
insurance start 4 months after I signed the contract? Why were you still
arguing about paying me after our meeting with Jason and when my
contract clearly states how I should be paid? Why did you back off when
you said we could change to a 6 month contract? Why did I get the wrong
visa? Why did you not register me at the police station like you were
supposed to when I arrived and put me and your school in legal jeopardy?
Why have you treated me like an ant that you could walk all over from
By the way, on my schedule for tomorrow there are no
classes schedule. When I talked with Winnie it turns out there are and I
wouldn't have found out unless I asked. Today Frank had a parent ask me
if I can tutor her daughter on the side for extra money. Missing class
and taking on paid work outside of Joy School are both examples of me
breaking my contract. It seems like you are trying to trick me into
breaking my contract.
Again, I just want to leave as quickly as I can. Do that and I will give you no additional problems.
I got another e-mail telling me to be at school today at 11:00. A couple
things ended up getting changed around, but by 2:00pm I was in safe
hands with a contract release and a receipt that the school has my
passport. Of course, I don't have to go in for work anymore, but since I
still technically have a visa she invited me to come in to work to make
a little extra money. I still feel they are trying to trap me, so I
told her that I was going to be busy looking for other work and that I
probably won't have time.
After this meeting I was finally able
to relax a little. I ate a full meal (first time in several days) and
hopefully will get a full night of sleep (will be the first time since I
was in Harbin).
However, I do want to discuss her comment that
what I did was stupid and worthless here. Right now the only thing I
wanted to do was to get her to end my contract and make it so that I
could eventually (or right now) come back and work in China. By using my
cultural understanding of the situation I acted in a manner to force
her hand and got exactly what I wanted. Seems hardly stupid or
worthless. She will never realize it, but I played her like a fiddle.
About a month before I left Qiqihar I told the guy I worked for that I was going to be going back to the US for the summer. I told him when I would be leaving and possibly when I would be coming back. He repeatedly asked me this question. Even after I told him that I had done my last class and the soonest he would be able to have me in one of my classes would be at the end of the summer. He still sent me a text message if I could come in and teach his class. This idiot runs a school with basically no students but is still opening a second branch. As far as I'm concerned, I'm his best asset. According to the agreement we made once I started teaching 4 classes he was supposed to give me a bonus. Even though he had more than 4 separate class levels he only had me teaching three of them so that he didn't have to pay me extra. Instead he was trying to get another guy to work for him. He kept on blowing the school off because he knew what was up. Then, instead of asking me, those kids just had no foreign teacher. Yeah, cheap to a fault.
So why do I bring him up? He sent me an e-mail earlier this week asking me if I was coming back to China. Now, I do plan on coming back, but not to his town nor do I intend to ever work for him again. I told him that I was, but also asked him about the black man that I introduced him to. He asked me if I was in the country right now, but he also didn't know who I was talking about. So I asked him if he had any foreigners working for him right now. Instead the idiot gets all excited and is like, "You have a foreign friend that wants a job? Have I met him? Can you give me his contact information?" The first and continuing thought that permeated my head was, "What a worthless, racist piece of shit." I've decided to stop answering his e-mails for a while no matter how many he sends me (and he has sent more).
A little background to that above story. I did introduce him to a friend of mine who needs work before I left. This guy is black. The owner told me he was going to hire the guy. Both my friend and I knew that he probably wouldn't hire him, but it was worth a shot. He never ended up hiring him and is really starting to show just how stupid he is. Instead, he got a job at a friend's school. That school they really appreciate him and they treat him very well. I'm happy for him and that other school.
Heh, I wonder how long it will take this place to change, if it even can.