I'd never had anybody run off looking for a Japanese interpreter to find out what I wanted until this morning. I got to the Swissotel/港澳中心 and was about to walk into the foreigners' job fair, but I wanted a glass of water first. I walked up to a table in the foyer that looked to be serving drinks and asked "你有水吗？"
"Do you have water?"
And then she asked somebody to come over and translate from the Japanese I was apparently speaking. So I raised my voice a little, thinking that the background noise may have contributed to the misunderstanding and said "什么日语？我问你：你有水吗？" and finally she realised I was speaking a language she was more than capable of understanding, and pointed me in the direction of the other table serving drinks.
Well, the good news is I wasn't there to look for a new job. I shouldn't need a new job, having been promised a contract for next year at this school. And I'm perfectly happy here. Work's interesting, even if it is only oral English classes. I mean, it's not intellectually challenging work, but it does mean meeting a wide variety of people with some really cool stories to tell. There's no career in this and I have no intention of trying to make it a career, but it's a good job with a competitive salary and enough free time to pursue other interests like improving my Chinese reading and writing. I have every intention of staying here for another year. But I thought I'd go along to the job fair and see what else is out there.
Well, there were some pretty interesting options there, one or two offering extremely good salaries compared to what I'm used to, and not just good money, but work that would be great to have on my CV, too. Some of those were teaching jobs, others were in the editing/polishing and proofreading/translation fields. I handed out a few copies of my CV and told them, I'm very happy where I am, so if you like what you see and you want me, you'll have to make me a very good offer indeed. Perhaps a bit arrogant of me, but shit man, I've got to sell myself, and I know my abilities well.
Anyway, I don't particularly care if any of them offer me a new job or not. I'm good for next year. I just wanted to see what's happening and what else I could be getting myself into, mostly for future reference. But we'll see what comes up.
Actually, the jobfair was much better than last year. Last year was mostly just universities and a few other schools offering regular foreign teachers' jobs. Ok, but nothing spectacular. This year there was a lot more variety of jobs on offer, including more than a few that actually look like real jobs with a real future to them, the kind of thing that could actually lead to career advancement. That's something that no regular foreign teacher's job comes close to matching. There were quite a few people there this morning, which means quite a bit of competition, but still, I think one or two of those better jobs I could have a go at.....
Anyway, my plan is to spend the next year here and in my spare time keep working on my Chinese reading and writing with a view to moving on to something better in the not too distant future. There's only so long you can be a foreign teacher..... For now it's good, but it goes nowhere.
And then I saved the most fun till last. There was a department of a fairly prestigious institution looking for foreign teachers to teach more 'academic' English, but they were offering so pathetically little.... I talked to them last year, then saw them again this year, and thought, I'm going to have a word with them, and so I did. They tried to justify their absurdly low offer by saying they paid 11 months' salary for a 1o-month contract and offered free accomodation, utilities, internet and so on. I said everybody else there was offering a lot more. They started rambling on about how China has two kinds of colleges (look at my CV before you make a fool of yourself with this patronising shit) and private colleges can offer more..... But ordinary state universities looking for ordinary foreign teachers for ordinary foreign teacher jobs are offering much more than you. But private colleges.... I'm not talking about private colleges, I'm talking about ordinary state universities.... But we have to work within state policy; that Tsinghua University Continuing Education Centre over there has more freedom to offer.... I'm talking about ordinary state universities offering ordinary foreign teacher jobs and they're offering much more than you. But we also give free accomodation and.... But that's a state regulation. You have to provide foreign experts with free accomodation and all those other universities offer the same plus a much better salary. What kind of teacher do you want? With an offer like this, you're only going to get clowns, you need good teachers but good teachers like me are going to go somewhere else because you're offering essentially nothing. I know it's not your fault, but you need to talk to your boss and tell him you are not going to be attracting talent until you start at least matching what the rest are offering.
Honestly, last year the very short negotiations I had with this institute were so frustrating (you want me, after all this experience I'm bringing you, to work for what?!) that I just relished that opportunity to let off a bit of steam.
Anyway, the rest of the jobs on offer were at least decent, and some were very interesting and competitive. But still, I'll stick around here for the time being and use my spare time to keep polishing up my language skills. Some of those other options were really very interesting, and I'm sure I've got enough to start looking around at those other options, with a bit more to boast about I'll have more options opening up.