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Aojing International, Ltd.---Beijing
April of 2004 ended a one year teaching experience in Beijing at Aojing International. Here I taught general English to the public, and to the Chao Yang District police department. I taught English to leaders of Beijing municipal government. I taught writing for academic purpopses to university students at the Chinses Academy of Social Sciences.
Hours were reasonable. Pay seemed to be above the average in China. The accomodations were quite nice. The area of town (Asian Games Village--Ya Yun Cun) was nice enough.

There were the usual deceptions that one expects during the recruitment process. Students were very few. Classes consisted usually in five or fewer students, some of whom were motivated and eager to learn, and others of whom were thick as bricks, indifferent, and seemingly being warehoused by affluent parents in the hopes that they might possibly develop some semblance of learning about English.
The school facility itself was kept spotlessly clean all the time. Each teacher had his own personal computer. Pay was almost always a week or more late. Sometimes we were paid a portion of the salary one day, and the remainder a few days after, but we were always paid in full. Management there were coming and going there like they were passing through a revolving door. The Director of Studies(Steve Hassinger) there when I arrived warned me of the ownership and management there, and advised not to trust them. There definitely was an underlying current of hostility. I mean, when you come to work every day of the week you are supposed to be there, and you do your work par excellance, and nobody but nobody in management will even acknowledge your existence or even say hello, that does rub one the wrong way after a while. Management insisted that low student enrollment was caused by the SARS epidemic that had gripped the city in a state of fear, and closed down most schools, colleges, and gathering places city wide. It was true that I found myself the only passenger of public buses, and that Tianenman Square, which is usually bustling with elbow to elbow crowds, looked like a ghost town even on the weekends. It was not true that low student enrollments were caused the by SARS epidemic, however. Students there told me that management there were liars and not to be trusted. By the end of my year there I had to concur with their opinions, although much of what was seen by the students as dishonesty was really also just plain inexperience of younger people starting their careers as managers who did not really know what they were talking about. By my sixth month there I had stated unequivocally that I WOULD NOT seek to extend my contract another year.

None of the other teachers there except one stayed their contract length. They complained bitterly day after day about the attitudes of management. One female teacher said that she wanted to kill one of the managers there, and that she was not kidding about that at all. They blamed one teacher for stealing a DVD, and gave him three days to vacate his apartment, and to get out of China. They put the police on him. He did leave hastily. All the teachers said that they knew for a fact that he had stolen absolutely NOTHING.

Near the last three months of my stay there I got word that the school had been paying my rent in three month blocks. They said that the landlord had a new client who would sign a yearly lease and wanted me out unless I paid three months advance rent. I paid half, was allowed to stay, and was reimbursed by the school.

Frankly, management were having one problem after another with their teachers. The environmenmt was somewhat exploitative, but not egregiously so. I did not like the school environment. In the end I had to sit with a twelve-year-old and a thirteen-year-old which we were told we did not and never would have to do, one-on-one.

In general, the students were up-scale. Some were very intelligent, talented, and well educated. Some I liked very much. Some others made the hours drag so slowly that escaping the classroon brought a genuine sens of relief.

I have taught EFL for five years. It is truly a shame that a teacher cannot go to some foreign venues to teach without having to put up with exploitative people and unwarranted hassles. I had called an official in the US embassy in Beijing to tell him about some of the underhanded tactics they were using there. He told me that they have received so many reports of complaint from teachers there that it is impossible for them to handle them. He said his one piece of advice is this. If you are a teacher of English---Do not come to China to teach. He said that his job prohibits him from posting that on their official website there, but that he would post that message if he could.