During this wait to return to China, I’ve done fairly well not to wallow in a depressive state at still not being at my school.
I was doing fairly well, that is, until recently, when my students and colleagues began sending pictures of the 120th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the college.
First, I was sent the link from the newly created write-up on a website for hiring new teachers.
At present, I am the only foreign teacher and it most likely will stay that way for some time, even though we are now at about 15,000 students. LVTC (Luzhou Vocational and Technical College) pays a very low salary, only 4,200 yuan (roughly $660 a month) whereas private elementary schools, public junior high and high schools pay anywhere from 12,000-15,000 ($1,900 – $2,380 per month), with free housing included. Granted, the work load is quite challenging compared to teaching college courses but it’s a great way for foreigners to either pay off student debts or save for that future return to his/her own country.
As an Amity Foundation Teacher, money to me is not important. My students are, and being able to help China’s English Education majors become the best they can in their future classroom is my goal, not making a lot of money.
This commitment over the years has paid off in numerous ways.
One is that my school nominated me for the highest honor of foreigners in the province, the Jin Ding Award. This was in 2008. The paperwork involved to do this was quite extensive and time-consuming. Most colleges wouldn’t have bothered but my school did. How very humbled I was to receive this in the education division. There were 5 others chosen, all males who were experts in various other fields (medicine, factory technology, science). We had a wonderful weekend together where we were wined and dined, then had the ceremony where top officials presented us with our prestigious awards.
This photo was taken at the presentation and now is displayed on the campus on the newly erected Distinguished Faculty Honor board.
The translation of the text reads something like this: “Connie Wieck, An American English teacher. She has been engaged in teaching at the school for more than 20 years, making the school her home and having a love of teaching. She has won the honor of Sichuan’s Excellent Foreign Teacher, the top Jin Din award.”
And I know exactly where my plaque is located, too, in my China apartment. It’s a treasured item, one which I definitely want to carry with me when it’s time to retire from my China home and return to the States for good.
Other Pictures Sent
Also included in photos sent by students and colleagues were these, the celebration performances on the sports field. I imagine it must have taken days to get this set up and weeks of practices by students and teachers to create the best show possible. What a spectacular event!
If you want the full feeling of “being there”, see the video below, with the playing of a well-known pop song of a young man’s love for his girlfriend, “The Brightest star in the Night Sky”
The lyrics during the video clip: “I would rather leave all the pain in my heart, than forget your eyes; Give me the courage to believe again and go beyond the lies to embrace you; Whenever I can’t find the meaning of your existence, whenever I lose myself in the dark night, you are the brightest star in the night sky.”
Getting Teary-eyed, But Not Losing Hope
Like I said, I was doing very well staying positive and upbeat here in the States until this came my way. Darn!!! I really wanted to be there in person.
Despite my downcast spirits during those moments of viewing the above, my college’s International Affairs Office director, Mr. Chen, recently sent me a note. He said, “I have reported your situation to the leaders and relevant provincial and city officials. We can’t yet authorize your invitation letter but please be patient.”
The fact that I am still wanted, that the college is willing to jump through as many Covid hoops as possible to get me back into the classroom, is very touching. At present, I know of several foreign English teachers from overseas who have been given their invitation letters by several private schools in Shenzhen. Another teacher has also been approved for Shanghai employment.
Many of us are guessing that China will open up more after hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics. That has been the rumor so I will continue to wait until May of 2022 which was set as one possible date by Chinese officials for the country to allow more people to enter.
In the meantime, China continues to tout their Zero-tolerance Covid stance. As of today, only 300 cases have been reported in total (out of 1.4 billion people) with many lockdowns taking place, contact tracing and officials fired who let those few infiltrate their cities and areas. I understand why Luzhou government authorities are very unwilling to have any overseas person come into their midst. Despite the required 3 weeks of hotel quarantine, and then being monitored daily for another 2 weeks in an apartment home, there is still a risk. I’m just hoping the risk factor will dissipate a bit more in May.
Until then, I continue to connect with my students and friends via WeChat, create cultural videos and photo lessons to share with anyone who wants them, treasure this time with my mom (she turns 88 in November!) and keep that positive outlook of a China return high on my list of goals and hopes.