California Trip

2014 California Trip

Our students at the University of San Diego, California


During Spring Festival of 2014, seven of our Kenneth’s English students traveled from Jilin to California. They spent seventeen days creating incredible memories. Our trip included San Francisco, LA, San Diego and Yosemite National Park.

We stayed in rented private residences. Theyranged from a Chalet in Yosemite, a hilltop home overlooking Los Angles, to a “Painted Ladies” type townhouse in the historic Castro district in San Francisco.

We drove in an 18 foot extended van and traveled across California at our own pace. We  stopped and did sight-seeing as we pleased. Not being part of a formal tour group allowed us to change our plans as we saw fit. It also allowed us to do some very targeted shopping for specific requests from our student’s friends and families. Our students were particularly fond of the iphone and brand name cosmetics. Their friend and families were very pleased with the gifts.

In addition, our students were guests for two days at The Parker School in San Diego. The Parker School has more students admitted to Ivy League colleges than any other prep school in America. It was an amazing experience. The Parker School was a most gracious host, (Thanks, Tim).

Our students loved the California trip.





Redwood in Muir Woods near San Francisco, California

Redwood in Muir Woods near San Francisco, California


Jackie Chan's star in LA's "Walk of Stats"

Jackie Chan’s star in LA’s “Walk of Stats”


Warner Brothers Studio Harry Potter exhibit

Warner Brothers Studio Harry Potter exhibit



Our Students at Disneyland, California

Our Students at Disneyland, California

The coffee shop set used on "Friends" TV show

The coffee shop set used on “Friends” TV show


Universal Studios, California, Entrance

Universal Studios, California, Entrance

Midnight Runners

Midnight Runners














“Midnight runners” are teachers who leave their schools without notice, often, literally, in the middle of the night.

No two runners will have the same story. Many claim they left their schools due to unpaid wages, impossible working conditions, employer contract breaches, etc. Some runners however, leave simply to escape responsibility. Since the FRP, (Foreign Residence Permit) has become embedded, *as a sticker) in the teacher’s passport, it has become harder to run away.

The PSB has a particular interest in cases where a teacher left a school with more than thirty days validity on the FRP. Even if you do go to Hong Kong and get a new Visa, and obtain new legal employment, it is possible you may be asked to explain the circumstances where you left a school without properly closing out your FRP. It is possible you may be fined, lose your job, or both.

It is strongly recommended that you try to resolve disputes with your school in a professional manner. Document your case and seek assistance from the local or regional PSB if necessary. But first, try to negotiate with your employer instead of simply packing it up.  Understand, China is a very negotiations friendly country. Offering to help find your replacement, (provided you are not recruiting someone into an abusive relationship) can go a long way toward smoothing the waters. Make running away your very last, not first option.

China’s SAFEA


What is the SAFEA?

The State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) is authorized by the State Council. SAFEA’s main functions include:

“Designing the development strategy of foreign intellectual resources introduction, studying and formulating relevant policies, rules and regulations, approving plans of ministries and local governments for inviting foreign experts and overseas training programmes, and supervising their implementation; formulating, improving and supervising standards and the administration concerning foreign experts working in China, and overseas training of Chinese.” [SAFEA web site]

SAFEA is responsible for licensing schools that hire foreigners. Obtaining a proper SAFEA license to hire foreigners is a long and nontrivial process. It requires numerous on-site inspections. Many schools in China are not in fact SAFEA licensed. For this reason they ask teachers to teach on F Visas, (business visas) or worse, L Visas, (Tourist Visas) instead of obtaining the correct Z Visa. No matter what people tell you , this is not a legal practice.

Regardless of the “Everybody does it.” mentality, you lose important protections when you work illegally. Consider this, if you have a serious dispute with your school and need to go to the authorities, do you want the first item established to be that you are an illegal worker? How strong does that make your case?

Make sure that the school hiring you is licensed to hire foreigners. Ask them directly if you will be working on an F visa. Don’t fall for the line that you can work on an F visa as a visiting “lecturer”. If you are teaching and being paid for teaching services, you need a Z Visa, which must be used to obtain a FRP (Foreign Residence Permit) within 30 days.

There are numerous posters, posing as being knowledgeable, but in actuality serve as ex-officio “Ministers of Disinformation” on the various ESL forums. Anecdotal and third-hand hearsay is what they usually offer. Ask them how many visas they have personally processed, working directly with the PSB.

China has uniform laws which are often not uniformly enforced. What may seem “legal enough” today, may be utterly illegal tomorrow. Local officials change, headmasters and school owners change, and enforcement focus changes. Your safest bet is to ensure you are working legally.