About Me

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Yilan, Taiwan
I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Querks of Work

"Ya gots to work with what you gots to work with." --Stevie Wonder
"We work to become, not to acquire." --Elbert Hubbard

The school has 2 black labs they keep in the back for the kids I guess, although the kids are never allowed to pet or play w/ them and their  guardian lets them run around the neighborhood w/o a leash or supervision. They have this happy look on their faces, as they trot side by side down the sidewalk. That would never happen in the States. There are so many strays here and also so many pets that live the good life free as birds and come home only for meals. This morning one of those strays whom my security guard feeds (leftover rice mixed w/dog food) followed my scooter to work, trying to playfully nip at my left foot.
As for work....Things have been calm lately. Usually there is some drama with teachers, but things are steady.

Meetings are so much more improved especially in time management and getting to the point. Yet there still remains that undercurrent, the blatant message of "real" (qualified teachers) verses the rest of us, me. We used to mention it to each other, the other foreigner teachers that since left and moved on,  " I guess we aren't real teachers," we'd chuckle. They were fantastic teachers by the way. I supposed from management's point it definitely matters, they want licensed teachers. Perhaps I am being sensitive, still I'd think management could be more inclusive with their language, choice of words. I suppose I am really just adventive after all.

 I knew we could only take one tea egg. I worked here for 3 years before I knew that they counted how many meatballs we could serve ourselves at lunch, until I got chided.

I'm looking forward to this Friday's annual Chinese NY dinner, and the possibility of winning some money during one of the games (could use it) . Last year I won 2000NT and my first year won a wok, which I use daily.  For our Chinese NY bonus the Chinese teachers are given a fat wad of money, the foreigners are given 2 weeks off at time and a half. I don't mind that arrangement, full paid holiday would be ideal though, the month following Chinese New Year is always hard, low pay and also higher taxes again.

Yes taxes, we pay 20% the first 6 months, no matter how long we have lived in Taiwan, then it goes down to around 6% the last 6 months of year. It used to be a foreigner had to pay 20% the first 6 months they works in Taiwan and then 6% after that indefinitely. At least that's what 99% of the schools do and in my experience in Taipei.  I thought that would mean a fatter  check back from the tax agency in summer, but my friend who works the same job, hours and pay at  one of our competitors got the same amount of money from the tax office and he doesn't have any dependents. Still 20% is lower than what my parents pay and my European  friends wow, I couldnt imagine.

We are invaded by S. Africans. There is a new one coming. They are all "real" teachers (perhaps I am an imaginary one), and very nice people. There are 2 singles and 3 sets of married couple, the wife being the worker/teacher/main ARC visa holder, the men work from home. I've heard these women say S. African men are lazy which I have never heard before, I always thought they would be macho, which means they earn the money and wear the pants.

Anyway, it is a rather generous generalization to say. The S. Africans I know and have worked with in Tainan, seem rather dependable workers and independent, but maybe its a generational thing, they were my age and my coworkers are 8, 9 years younger than me.  Yes, they have a very difficult accent to hear, I mean audibly. They must hate me always saying,"What?" whenever they speak to me but I don't hear them or I hear bits and pieces the way Charlie Brown hears adults. Maybe I should get my ears checked or turn down the volume on my i-pod. Seriously though, I noticed this in grad school, my best friend and housemate was S. African and I had to pay attention to her when she spoke or I didn't hear her. I eventually got used to it, you'd think I'd be used to it now.

I was pretty depressed and embittered for a month after I was told I couldn't go home for Christmas this year. I questioned moving from Tainan, or getting another job. In the end, my job has been a blessing. Its close, I absolutely love my class, my co-teacher is outstanding and sets the pace for me and Tainan is great for my daughter. We have a new assistant principal and its like someone has injected the energy with mojo, its just feels like there is a future there, or a negative, fuzzy vibe was been lifted. I feel a faint glimmer of hope in the possibility I might be appreciated as a co-worker.

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