Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?

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Moody Church Chicago

If we were having coffee, I’d rave about Open House Chicago, where visitors can choose from 250+ sites of architectural significance, many that are not usually open to the public. On Saturday I went with a friend to a dozen or so sites in the Gold Coast neighborhood, including St. Chrysostom Church, the Graham Foundation, Moody Church, The Palette and Chisel art center and several others. On Sunday I volunteered at the First Methodist Church of Evanston and beforehand saw American Toby Jug Museum, a distillery and an architectural firm housed in a one time horse stable. The weather this year was ideal, sunny and a bit crisp. Volunteering was fun and allowed me to meet some new people. In addition, as a volunteer I got two tickets for Chicago Architectural Foundation’s walking tours (worth $25 or so). This week I’ll share posts on each significant site.

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At the American Toby Jug Museum

I just got home from my October Great Books Discussion Group. On the one hand it was great that we had a large group, 15 (which might be a little too big). We read Genesis this month and I’d looked forward to a lively discussion. There are many very sharp people in this group. However, the leader spent about 35 minutes expounding on background information, unaware that a lot of the people there knew much of what he shared. It was quite exasperating. Then when we did get to talk we just went around the table sharing impressions. By the time everyone had shared their impressions, rather than talking about the text as is the point of Great Books we had a lot of ramblings and digressive commentary. We flitted from one person to the next, never coming to the few questions people raised about the text when we went around the table. Such a waste of time. A couple people had joined and seemed to just want a platform to talk about irrelevant ideas. The leader occasionally broke in with more background, which we’d heard before. Not our best meeting.

I’d also say I was captivated by the animated film Loving Vincent, which uses oil paintings and the subjects of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings to tell the story of the last weeks of his life. Amazing!

Visit Eclectic Allie’s blog for links to other Weekend Coffee Shares.

 

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Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m getting ready to go to Peoria for the Illinois Library Association Annual Conference. I’m volunteering so the registration fee is waived. It’s about a 2 hour drive so I’m able to borrow a car and have used hotel points so the trip is very economical. One day I hope to have a job where I don’t have to pay for such events out of my own pocket.

I have come to regret getting this Master of Library Science. As much as I love libraries, I have learned that while it looked from the outside that there were plenty of full time jobs for hard working, successful graduates, there aren’t. It’s a very costly field as you have to sacrifice years of full time work with benefits and take poorly paid part time work to get your foot in the door. So this week I ramped up my applications to other jobs outside libraries. Fingers crossed.

I highly recommend Coursera’s Manager’s Toolkit course. I’ve finished three weeks and the information is well researched and useful. On top of that it’s free!

Poldark S4 - EP2

I’d discuss Poldark, Season IV and if you haven’t seen the series, I’d urge your to watch. The characters are well drawn and the conflicts nail biting.

I want to add how demoralizing it was to see a friend I taught with in Japan. She’s smart and hardworking. She’s a single mother and wants to live in her hometown, the Bronx, where her older mother is. She has to cobble together a slew of part time ESL university jobs and never knows if she’ll have enough work to make ends meet. Schools don’t offer courses till the end of a semester and it’s hard to make the schedule of school A fit with the work offered by school B. Sadly, she qualifies for Medicaid. This is why I’m intent on leaving the field. This is no way for an educated person to live.

On a lighter note, I’d urge you to check out You Were Never Lovelier with Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth. I knew Astaire was a master at dance, but Hayworth also is.

Baseball Trainer?

I just got an email from Ziprecruiter suggesting I apply for a job their algorithm thinks lines up with my background. I click and get to a job posting for a Baseball Trainer. I can’t remember the last time I played baseball. Maybe that was when I was in my early 20s and played softball. If softball doesn’t count, I haven’t played since high school.

Woe is me.

Ziprecruiter is not alone. It’s given my email information to numerous websites, like Indeed, Handshake or SmartHire, who bombard me with jobs teaching physics, chemistry, special ed or accounting among other fields I have no expertise in. Some refinement is needed.

My first choice for a job is a librarian position. Yesterday I had a good long talk with my mother’s friend whose husband was the head of Northwestern’s library. After the holidays, she’s going to introduce me to some people there. Fingers crossed.

My fingers are also crossed for a job as a librarian who coordinates the ESL/Literacy program at a public library in the northwest suburbs.

Of course, I’m also hopeful for a writing opportunity.

ESL Watch

ESL Watch is a very useful website for teachers looking for jobs. Like Yelp or Trip Advisor it offers reviews of employers worldwide in the field of English as a Second Language. If you want to avoid a horrible job, checking this site can help you steer clear of the dodgy employers.

Like anything, you have to discern whether the reviewer is a hot head or the employer pretending to be a satisfied teacher. Despite this, it’s a step in the right direction.

New Semester

I’m half way through the first week of the new semester. I’ve got new students. Some new English names: Nectarine, Molin (she made it up herself and it has no meaning), Cookie (a boy who likes cookies), Stark *a boy), Jagger I the student never heard of Mick Jagger), Moco (?), Nikey (a misspelling of the shoe company), Ankh *suggested by an Australian friend of a female student), Tab(??) and Garcia (not inspired by Jerry) I’ve had a lot of Cherries and a couple Apples and an Olive as English names, but never “Nectarine.”

What’s very weird is I’m the only English teacher here. The other four are still waiting for their visas. One should arrive this weekend and the others sometime after. I can imagine their frustration with the uncertainty. There’s very little information during this process that started months ago and probably takes longer than any other country.

We’re having weird weather. This past weekend was in the high 60s and today we have snow.

We’ve got one new IT professor and she seems quite nice. She’s got a lot of food restrictions and hasn’t wanted to eat out, which is a shame since food is so central to the culture.

My schedule’s okay, but Thursday I finish at 10 and I don’t teach again till Friday from 2pm to 4pm. I did need Friday morning off to attend my online class, and am grateful for that, but teaching Friday afternoon every week . . . ? First World problem, I know, but how I’d like to move that to Thursday.

The books have all arrived in time and all my students have theirs. For another teacher, who’s teaching IT classes, they’ve boycotted the book because they feel it’s too expensive. I’ve been in classes where the book was expensive, but I just wouldn’t dream of not getting it.

I had planned a few projects for sophomores, but it turns out I’ll just have two sections of freshmen. C’est la vie. I miss my old students, but these new ones will be lovely too.

Back to China

Tomorrow just after midnight I’m off to China. School starts on the 20th so I’ll have some time in Beijing, a day and a half, before I fly to Jinan. I’ll be the only American teacher there till Saturday night, when a new technology instructor arrives. The other English teachers, 4 of them, are still waiting for their visas. China sure has failed to improve this system. They may be in the same boat I was in in the fall having to make up classes. It’ll be especially rough on whoever is teaching 24 hours (a policy I’m 100% against).

I’m pretty well organized to go. I just have to pack toiletries and do a bit of laundry. I’ve got a few books to return to the library. (Ah, how I’ll miss using a library where I can take out books. We’ve never been encouraged to check out books in Jinan.)

I’m flying Eva Airlines for the first time. First I fly to Taipei and then to Beijing. On my way home I’ll spend a couple days in Taipei, but that’s not till June.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to blog and get online to most sites. There’s been news that China’s cracking down on VPNs. We’ll see if that’s so. It’ll be weird to be the only teacher at school from Friday – Saturday. It’ll be rather eerie. Usually everyone arrives the Wednesday night before the semester begins. This time they might be an entire week late.

Leaving?

I’m supposed to get my passport and visa tomorrow. I had emailed my supervisor asking to get Sunday delivery for my passport if it came today. I proposed that if my passport arrived on Saturday, I could get the airline ticket to China and get reimbursed. That way I could arrive on Monday and teach Tuesday and Wednesday so I wouldn’t have to make up so many classes (twelve hours). That part of my email was ignored in the first response.

I have been busy today rather than just sitting at home waiting to go to China. After a trip to the bank, yoga and lunch with a friend, I got home and saw another response to my email that said the supervisor, who’s very strict Monday-Friday in his hours would book my travel on Monday. Ugh. I’d leave on Tuesday and now there are no seats available on direct flights. So I’m looking at a 45 hour journey via Korea, Taiwan or Western China (Chengdu).

None of these options are inviting. By Monday there will be less options.

At least there’s an end insight to this saga.

What will I do?

Well, like Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau is known to have said, “Just watch me.”