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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: H is for Happy

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He looks happy

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A Happy Bull

For the letter H, this week Cee challenges photographers to post photos on their blogs that depict that which is happy. Here’s my interpretation.

If you want to see more happy photos, go here.

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Friends in Pekanbaru, Indonesia

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Travel Theme: Names

Chicago, train 027

Downtown Chicago

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Not backwards, that’s the name in Jinan, China

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Café, Pekanbaru, Indonesia

In response to Ailsa’s prompt this week, I’m sharing photos with names.

What does Names make you think of? If you fancy exploring the unfamiliar, exotic and unknown for this week’s travel theme (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

  1. Create your own post and title it Travel Theme: Names
  2. Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  3. Watch out for the next travel theme which will come out next weekend
  4. Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes.
  5. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS.
    ❤ Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack?

Steer Clear of Eton House International School

While Eton House International School in Jinan may be a good first job for someone who’s desperate to work in China, I advise teachers to avoid it. I’m writing a short ebook with more details but for now I’ll share the undesirable aspects of the school, which brings in between $800,000 to $1,000,000 revenue a year. The school staff consists of very nice people, but the school’s policies and poor communication make it a poor workplace. For 2017-18 three teachers have backed out of the position open to teach kindergarten. I’m not surprised.

Points to Consider

  1. The principal lacks experience and has only worked at Eton House International School in Jinan. She’s an example of the Peter Principle, where everyone rises to their level of incompetence. She’s a nice, young woman, but can’t prioritize and is behind in her work. For a couple years the school’s been publicizing that they’re going to be an International Baccalaureate school. The principle hasn’t begun the application. She’s getting the tutoring she needs to fill it out.
  2. Eton House Jinan does not have you sign a contract in Chinese, which is required by Chinese law and in fact is the only contract that’s actually good in China. If they change this, you should have a person who’s neutral, translate the contract for you. Often the English and Chinese wording are quite different.
  3. After you sign the contract, you’re in for numerous surprises. For example, the contract says nothing about the teacher having to pay 4 months’ rent and taxes for the apartment. It simply says you’ll be reimbursed every month for your apartment. Later you’ll be told to bring $2,000 to $3,000 for your apartment costs. Most jobs provide housing so there’s no need for you to take one that requires you to take from your savings back home and then be in arrears for months. You can negotiate for the school to pay the 4 months rent, but when you do, expect to have to remind them and do a bit more persuading so they follow through. Get any negotiated benefits in writing.
  4. Communication is horrible. The Principal’s Assistant is an intermediate English speaker with little understanding of business, education and adult activities such as finding housing. She’s your main contact. The Principal is often busy or off campus. She’s the only staff member who can make decisions. Good luck.
  5. If you have a Masters degree, you’ll be the only one at the school with an advanced degree. I can’t imagine how a school that charges $20,000 a year for pre-school lacks trained professionals of the highest caliber. Thus the conversation and thinking in curriculum and teaching is at a subpar level. Teachers just don’t discuss issues the way professionals do, though some think they do. You’ll see signs in the school for the “writting (sic) table.” You’ll hear teachers talk about the Inquiry Unit on Self-Expression about the Gingerbread Man story, a story where the lead character does not express himself in any meaningful way and where the students don’t do work where they express or think much about their opinion of the story.You’re better off getting experience in your home country and then moving to a real international school, one that already is International Baccalaureate.
  6. All the good jobs, and even the bad ones, I’ve had overseas provided teachers with free housing. With Eton House, you’ll be on your own. You get a housing stipend, but unless you want to live in a hovel, it’s probably not enough. If you teach for Eton House in a major city like Beijing or Shanghai, it will be about a third of what you need. Then on top of the rent, they’ll tell you after a couple days of apartment hunting, that there’s a 50% tax and a management fee. So all the time you’ve been looking at filthy apartments, you don’t realize that you can’t afford them.
  7. The teachers in Eton House Jinan must use the same restrooms as the children. Yes, that’s against the law in most countries — including China. Space is tight in the school.
  8. Space is tight in the school and they’ll eventually move to a new building, but for now there’s no teachers’ room. Teachers have a few tables with computers in the corridor. This lack of space and delayed move to a building that’s of appropriate size appears to be another sign of the principal’s lack of leadership skill.
  9. The school is most concerned with saving money. If you miss your flight to Jinan from a larger city, the first thing you’ll be told is that you need to foot the bill for the next flight. Concern for you as weary, perhaps lost traveler is nil. In fact, money will be a big topic at Eton House. The administration’s main concern is money.
  10. A lot of the problems at Eton House Chengdu (see this review: http://www.gochengdoo.com/en/listings/item/eto_32240/etonhouse_international_school) are evident in Jinan. That review was eye-opening. The principal in Chengdu has advised Jinan on curriculum design. Imagine!
  11. While cheerful and imaginative, except for the blatant Eton House posters which continue to sell the school, the classrooms lack a good selection of books in English or Chinese. There are a few, but no where near enough for 15 children. Like in Chengdu, there are few copyright compliant teachers manuals. The only one’s I saw were infringed copies of manuals for phonics.

For-profit schools have their problems and many are on display at Eton House. It’s a decent job because the salary is okay for someone who is new to the field or just seeking a job in China. The sort of professional nomad. If you have a degree in education, I’m sure you can do much better.

Apartment Hunting

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Of all apartments I was shown, this was the best, which isn’t saying much. It was a 20 minute walk to school.

I can’t get over how the Chinese don’t clean apartments to be shown.

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Apartment Hunting in China

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Living Room

Here are photos from the best apartment I saw. On this second trip I was finally told that there’s a 50% management fee, high taxes and reasonable feels for utilities.

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Entertainment Center, Living Room

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Kitchen

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Bedroom

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Structure

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1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Wednesday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient

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Fallen Cherry Blossoms

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

“Life is but a day;
A fragile dew-drop on its perilous way
From a tree’s summit.”
― John Keats, The Complete Poems

“Like vanishing dew,
a passing apparition
or the sudden flash
of lightning — already gone —
thus should one regard one’s self.”
― Ikkyu

A Shame

Recently to celebrate a friends’ birthday, four friends and I went to eat at Bon Appetit, an Italian restaurant which used to be run by an Italian American married to a woman from Jinan. About a year ago he returned to the US so his children could have a better education.

The last time I went, which was a while back, the food was good, but the service wasn’t what it used to be. This time my food and the food that two of my friends ordered was fine. Unfortunately, two other friends got terrible food poisoning and were up all night in the bathroom. The birthday “girl” was so sick that she had to cancel classes the next day.

The last thing a restaurant should do is make people sick. I emailed them and never got a reply. I would have let this problem go, but I don’t want Bon Appetit to make other people sick. I wouldn’t wish food poisoning on anyone. Last weekend I got a Chinese friend to call them. The response was very disappointing. They insisted that none of the other guests got sick. Well, we were the only table in the restaurant that night. There were no other guests. We weren’t looking for freebies. I just wanted to tell them about a problem so they could correct it and build their business. I used to want to see them succeed. Now their defensiveness has completely turned me off. I’d never return to Bon Appetit, which used to be a gem.

Those days are over and neglect has ruined a once good restaurant.

What a Week

I’m thankful to have had a good week with my classes. We’re reading Anne Frank’s diary and discussing it in class. The students ‘ discussions are good and they make excellent points and ask each other thoughtful questions.

Tonight three friends and I went to the only Irish pub in Jinan. I had “bangers and mash” — for the first time since we don’t call sausages “bangers: and my family never had sausages and mashed potatoes as a meal. It wasn’t bad, but the pub, which is in a mall, has more of a family restaurant feel.

The week has been rough in other ways. With three teachers arriving about three weeks late, the start of the semester has been quite rocky. It’s been very difficult for them to settle in. China isn’t at all what they’ve expected.

On top of that the ESL Director came to visit this week, to make sure all was well with the newcomers. Well, it wasn’t and there’s been a lot of stress as he’s not authorized to spend extra money to provide better housing or what have you. In addition, there’s some problems with the curriculum with the other Chinese school. The stress got to him. He’s wound up in the hospital with a cerebral hemorrhage. He’s had some memory loss and can’t read. It sounds like it’ll be a while before he can leave the hospital and go back home.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Road Taken

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I’ve still got to get used to the new Weekly Photo Challenge starting on Wednesday. (I’m still forgetting it’s changed to Wednesday. Habits die hard.)

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other Weekly Photo Challenge photos:

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