The Allure of China

The allure of China


The allure of the Chinese street market lies in surprise

The allure of the Chinese street market lies in surprise

During my nearly one decade in China I noted a curious phenomenon – teachers who arrived swearing they would only be teaching one year in China are still there many years later.

As the headmaster of Kenneth’s English School (in Jilin China), I had countless conversations with newly arrived teachers. Many had very specific plans after their one year contract, for example, grad school, join a family business, etc.  And yet, many stayed much longer than the one year they planned.

Now, to be fair, some of these did meet a future mate and stayed longer in part for that reason. But that doesn’t explain the bulk of the number.

I think that a big part of the allure of China, on a day-to-day basis, is simply China is incredibly absorbing, challenging and different. And people who like interesting, different and challenging situations find China is the place for them.

Also, teaching English in China can be fun and interesting.

China isn’t for everybody.  It takes a big leap of faith, flexibility and survival skills to really experience what China offers.

The folks I considered successful in China, what I call “China tough”, were confident, skilled, resourceful, adaptive, and had well developed social skills.  At Kenneth’s English, we were fortunate to have many teachers with these skills pass through our doors and it was a pleasure to have made their acquaintance.

Whether one loves it or hates it, (and one will experience both emotions at times) China is just alien in so many ways, especially away from the big cities.  Marco Polo’s last words were, “I have not told half of what I saw.”. Those who spend much time in China will relate to this. And they will return with a stock of stories and experiences from the allure of China that forever will enrich their lives.

I won’t say, “Come on in, the water is fine.”  But, for those who have the temperament, China’s allure can be amazing.















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.