The Search Continues

The last few weeks have brought about a lot of change. Kay and I were able to move out of our temporary housing into a spacious two-bedroom apartment that we both enjoy, we were able to set up internet service (though it wasn’t installed until after Chinese New Year) and we survived copious amounts of time spent at Ikea Carrefore, and the ever helpful Daiso (Japan’s take on the dollar store).

Life in Kaohsiung is slowly creeping toward normalcy except for–despite my sincerest efforts–I haven’t been able to find a teaching gig.

I was more than happy to suspend my job hunt during Chinese New Year. All  schools closed up so that employees could enjoy the holiday and join the hoards of Taiwanese traveling around the island and crowding every shopping mall, movie theater and any other public space to celebrate the year of the snake. Besides taking a break from canvasing the city for job leads, I took advantage of the CNY sales. A family pack of toilet paper was going for less than two bucks.

But now that the holiday is over I’ve returned to my daily routine of searching expat forums and cold-emailing potential schools hoping to find one that is in need of a teacher. I’m kicking myself (a little) because a school that I previously did a lesson demo for called me back; not to offer me a job, but to allow me to provide a second hour-long demo. I turned the “opportunity” down mainly because the atmosphere seemed frantic, with teachers scrambling to prepare for their lessons in between sips of tea. Also there’s a good chance that most of my hours would have fell on a Saturday with the rest being scattered throughout the week. I’m not against working on Saturdays, but a six-day work week isn’t for me.

Other potential job leads include a single conversation before the holiday with a recruiter from one of the bigger chain schools. She sounded confident that she could help me out after Chinese New Year and told me she would email some info regarding the position, but I have yet to hear back from her and all my efforts to contact her have been unsuccessful. I’m beginning to think I’m annoying her somehow. I’ve also walked into schools and handed them my resume with a smile. Maybe there’s a postion about that’s about to open up; if so I’d like to be considered for it. Today I called a school that I recently left a resume at and the manager couldn’t remember if she took a look at it or not. She took my number and promised to get back to me.

Some teachers I’ve talked to have claimed my lack of success with landing a job is because I’m black (one woman all but told me to give up) and employers are nervous about hiring people of color because they don’t want to agitate parents who would rather see their kids taught but someone with less melanin. I did some research on this before I came to Taiwan and found that while it may be true that some cram schools are partial to non-whites, there are still plenty of blacks from all over the English speaking world teaching in Taiwan and enjoying it. I’d be taking the defeatist approach if I were let this deter me from seeking employment at any school, rather it be a small mom-&-pop Buxiban or one of the bigger chain schools.

With frustration mounting, I’m curious as to how others–either here in Kaohsiung or elsewhere in Taiwan–have gone about finding gigs. Subbing is fine to gain some quick cash, but it doesn’t provide an ARC and making visa runs every few months is not a habit I’m looking to get into. I understand the time of  year matters a lot and that lately there are more teachers than jobs available, but I’d still like to hear how those currently employed went about finding their teaching job, particularly when they first arrived. The tips could prove helpful to other newbies like myself.

Peace

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10 thoughts on “The Search Continues

  1. Part of it is the time of year for sure, in about two months the big turn over will start. Schools usually plan their contracts not to end anywhere around CNY. Hopefully you find something before then. As for the race factor, I think it does play a bigger factor here in Kaohsiung than up north in Taipei (where the majority of teachers work). Kaohsiung is a more socially homogenous and they have alot of preconceptions. One of my coworkers who is a canadian of sudanese origin gets straight up asked “How come you can speak English?”

    • The thing is, I’ve been told by a lot of teachers here that before and after CNY IS a good time of year to look for work. Some schools plan ahead and schedule contracts for the summer, while others hire year round and fill holes where they need them. I’ve met others who arrived around the same time as I did and found jobs in the first two weeks. Maybe this is an exception to the rule?

  2. Perhaps this seems like I’m in denial, but I still think you’re doing the right thing by continuing to look — it’s just a matter of finding the right school. Don’t sell yourself short. That’s how you can get tied to a crappy contract, and have a miserable time. It doesn’t sounds like you’re interested in settling, though. Of course, if it’s a matter of necessity, that’s a different thing. But you shouldn’t forget that you’re a valuable resource here to any school, and more than that, a good teacher. I have worked for very few good schools, and they’re worth finding. The good ones I’ve found have mostly been through friends. Because I am absurdly lucky, I have also found good ones randomly. The school I came here to work for originally was a really great public school, though I had to travel outside of the city to go there. Not always a bad thing. It was, by and large, a great experience!

    One might also argue that in your situation, your ability to find a non-crappy school is enhanced, due to the fact that silly essentializing schools automatically take themselves out of the race. They miss on having you, a better teacher, suckers that they are. My advice is, in general, to keep grinding it out. I may have heard of something you could do just last night…will let you know if it comes through. We’re co-teaching this Wednesday, right?

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