Visit from a Wayward Student

Isaac’s Back!  

           Those of you keeping up on my blog entries most likely remember the story of Isaac (Qin Haibo), a third year Business English major who loved to play games with me in theEnglish Center. 

            I never had Isaac as my student.   He just attached himself to me in the Center while visiting there for something to do. I then became his favorite person, somewhat like an elder sister of sorts to give advice or encourage.

              Isaac’s reputation as a student was of a very poor one. He always skipped classes, even important tests.  He spent most of his time playing computer games outside of the school.  He had nothing but contempt for the leaders, his classmates, our educational system and his teachers. 

            In other words, Isaac didn’t give much of a hoot about anyone or anything except himself.

And he definitely had no friends.  No one liked him due to his rude and distant behavior.

            But over the course of the year in our Center, Isaac came out of his shell.  He still had an attitude but we all got to know him a little better which made him more familiar to us than someone who was just plain weird.  And Isaac, too, started to curb his nastiness and odd ways in our presence.  He was actually making an effort to be liked and accepted.  That quality is something which is absolutely needed to succeed in the world, especially in business.

          As all 3rd year Business English majors, Isaac left for the last semester of his studies to find a job.  For our 3-year school, which is more of a vocational college than a university, this is part of the study course.  Students leave for their last semester to enter into their chosen fields but all return at the end of the year to take their final tests.  After their tests are passed, they will receive their 3-year graduation certificate if all requirements were fulfilled.  That certificate, even though it’s not a prestigious degree, is absolutely necessary to get any sort of reputable white-collar job inChina.

 Isaac Has Stories to Tell

           Despite Isaac’s promises of never coming back, he turned up on my doorstep 3 weeks ago.  It was that time of year for the 3rd years to begin their testing, even an obstinate Isaac. 

            When he showed up on my doorstep, he caught me in the company of Joe and  Ms. Nong, who were visiting me for the first time.  Ms. Nong was the classroom teacher I visited at Joe’s middle school.  She was coming to thank me yet again for my time with her students and also just to chat.

            I honestly wasn’t quite sure how Isaac would present himself when he unexpectedly came to my apartment.  He isn’t good with strangers and his mannerisms of a loner usually come to the forefront, making people dislike him immediately.  He also doesn’t like talking to newcomers so I thought he’d probably come back later, when I was alone.

            But imagine my surprise when Isaac bounded into the room and happily accepted a seat on the couch with Joe and Ms. Nong.  I did the introductions, expecting we’d pretty quickly digress from English into Chinese since Isaac was there. (He prefers Chinese to converse, especially as his English is just so-so).  Yet, surprisingly, that didn’t happen.

 A Glimpse at Telemarketing Jobs in China

          It was Isaac who plowed forward in English to tell of all his adventures during the past semester in Beijing, where he was working for some big company boss.  The president of the company took him under his wing, treated him like one of the family, toured him about and got him settled into the office as a desk worker.  The position had nothing to do with English but was just a Chinese company job, which is usual for English Business majors.  Just take the job you can find, whether using your English skills or not.

            Things seemed to be rolling along quite nicely until the boss moved toShanghaito start another company branch.  Isaac was left on his own to find another position.

            He did this with a tele-marketing firm selling Internet space to Chinese companies.  The job description was 6 days a week, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., calling possible clients to buy Net space for up to $5,000 a year.

            This kind of work also required no proof of higher education, such as a college degree or vocational school certificate.  This made it a perfect opportunity for young folk with only a high school education to make money.  Once Isaac accepted the terms, however, he found out that this kind of work was a bit more than expected.

            The job was 7 days a week in an office building filled with 500 cubicles with 400 employees making calls all day.  National holidays were included and no days off.  500 calls per person a day were required.  Plus the hours were really  9 a.m. to 10 p.m., not 6 p.m. as advertised.   No one was allowed to go home earlier, either.

            Yet the pay was quite good, between 4,000 to 5,000 yuan ($625 – 780) a month, with an ability to move upward.  Considering the average person with a university degree, even teachers, makes about 3,500 yuan ($550) per month, that’s a mighty good salary.   

             But Isaac called it quits after a month.  He said it was boring and he didn’t want to work that hard.  His option was to return home toNanningwhere he’s been hanging out at home for 2 months, playing computer games.  (That’s his report, anyway.)

 Back on our Campus

              Back on our campus, Isaac and hundreds of others have returned this week to finish up their studies.  They’re all waiting anxiously to receive their certificates, which must be picked up in person from the departmental offices

         Will Isaac receive his graduation certificate?  The news hasn’t been good.  According to many teachers I’ve talked to in the office, Qin Haibo hasn’t passed necessary exams nor has he completed all the requirements.  While his classmates will be jubilantly parading about, knowing they can leave soon with their diplomas, Isaac may be stuck returning home empty handed.

         I’m sure he won’t be the only one.

 Departure for the Summer Holidays

          For myself and Little Flower, it’s off to Nanning on Saturday, a flight to Chengdu on Monday and eventually a return to America for me.  I’ll be in the States for 2 months, visiting numerous churches in Illinois to talk about China and the work of an Amity Foundation teacher.  I’m certainly looking forward to sharing with so many, and especially showing pictures of my school to others.

      Until next time, here’s wishing you Ping An (peace) for your weekend.


About connieinchina

I have been in the Asia region for 30 years as an English language teacher. 28 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my 13th year in Luzhou Vocational and Technical College. The college is located in Luzhou city (loo-joe), Sichuan Province, a metropolis of 5 million people located next to the Yangtze River .
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