About two months ago, my daughter's homeroom teacher was asking all the parents where their kids were going to junior high at next year. I didn't have an answer for her. The majority of Z's classmates will go to the nearest junior high down the road, and a few who come from educated parents (parents who are teachers) are having their kids go to the bigger, more academic schools in Yilan City. I moved from the city into the mountains to be closer to my school, I don't want to commute, and besides, there's more than just academics and homework for a kid's education.
As for us, I had and still have no idea where my kid is going next year. I had assumed and hoped she could come to the school I'm currently teaching at. My school's recruiter visited her class back then, showed a movie about how our students volunteer abroad and my kid's classmates (who are well-to-do) had second thoughts. My daughter had talked to the recruiter and he told her with my "foreigner's salary I could afford the school's tuition"- which was mighty presumptuous, considering tuition is like 100,000NT (3,300 USD) a semester and my net salary is 2,165USD a month. When we ran into him a week later he asked us if Z was coming to our school and we told him no, tuition is too expensive. Then he told us with a teacher's discount it was like 7,000 a month, which was totally doable.
Then my managers called the Finance office who said that foreign teachers don't qualify for the discount because our salaries are higher. That's a first, I worked here ten years in private schools and always had a teacher's discount. Whatever. This is the first time a foreign teacher's kid would attend here and obviously, they aren't looking at the big picture. Already my students are asking me if my daughter will attend here, and instead of answering, "I don't know," I'm just being honest, "No she's not, it's too expensive for me." It's really up to the principal. Supposedly, the recruiter will have a meeting with the principal and Finance office director and ask officially on our behalf. I'm not counting on it.
It really is the school's loss. My kid is bright, 2nd in her class, her Chinese is better than the local kid's and her English has a positive influence on her class. I was told that even if she came here, she would have to follow the school's schedule of 7:30am -6pm which is pretty ridiculous if I'm a paying customer. Besides, what they do between 7:30-8 and 5-6 is nothing that would hurt her grades (self-studying and practice testing). My daughter does better on her grades clearing her head with music at home.
I have let go of all expectations of my school to do the right thing by me as a hard-working teacher here, or a single- parent. It might work out better for my kid if she wasn't here because it is a kind of overly regimented prison for rich kids, but her math and coding would be so fantastic! So we checked out the other two nearest options. My manager suggested the one which is an alternative school and a 25-minute commute one way. Great school, beautiful, small, even more in the countryside, but there's the whole commute thing and no school bus. I hate driving in Taiwan and especially with my car. That was the whole point of moving closer to my work, - no commute. This school would be happy to have Z and isn't it so refreshing to be wanted!?
The other junior high school is the closest public one and the one the majority of her classmates would go. My kid was opposed to this, her first choice was mine, (because of the academic challenge of course). She also wanted a fresh start with new people. We visited this local junior high and everyone was very welcoming and nice but then one office lady took a look at our address and said since we lived on the other side of the river, we were in a different township and had to go to a school in Jiaoxi, which is even further (I still don't know where it is), which was discouraging. My kid's current homeroom teacher said foreign kids could legally go anywhere, and I told that to this woman who disagreed. So who knows still?
In the past, I worked for a private (and expensive) preschool-kindy in Tainan, where Z went from age 2 1/2 until she started grade 1 at a local public school. My then employer charged me with a teacher's discount 14,000 NT (465 USD) a month (for 4 years), which seems steep considering my next job. It was one foot forward two back in terms of saving, which I never could. We moved to Yilan and I worked at ChungDau, another boarding private school. I taught kindy, elementary and middle school classes, my kid then was in 3rd grade and with a teacher's discount, her tuition was only 10,000 NT (333USD) a month which seemed pretty fair.
Maybe this whole "where will she go to middle school" is a sign? The final straw to come on home back to Denver? I considered homeschooling for a millisecond. As an only child to a single parent, I believe she needs people, others, she needs teachers and classmates and connecting. I am just praying and trusting Higher Powers that the right doors will open and the wrong ones will close and that ultimately the Universe has our best interests at heart. So I'm not worried about it, but I am curious.
- Kathy (杜 言 艷)
- 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.