I've always thought that saying unfair for teachers, but perhaps it is apropos for my current situation. I can't do anything else in Hong Kong, so I am teaching English (as the head teacher no less) in a 'learning centre' to the privileged offspring of Hong Kong's moneyed elite. It makes a rather big change from previous jobs in criminal and counter-terrorism intelligence. (Perhaps I should re-tell the interesting incident where a colleague and I were led through darkened and deserted office corridors in order to be amateurishly intimidated by some organised crime types. Another time, maybe).
My parents ask me all the time if I enjoy the job and don't seem convinced when I tell them that, on balance, it's actually quite good. Certainly it's the least stressful job I've ever had and it can be rather rewarding when the kids are good. Many of the kids are just that: good. The younger primary kids can be a heap of fun and listening to some of the crazy stuff they come up with usually puts me in a good mood.
On the negative side, it pays poorly and the hours are long and non-negotiable (i.e. 6 day weeks). There's little flexibility in working arrangements and no internet access, which means no blog updating or checking during the day. We're not permitted to leave the premises unless it's lunch time. Actually, the list of things we're not allowed to do is quite long and that stands in stark contrast to the freedoms I enjoyed in previous jobs. I also only get one week of leave each year, which can only be taken at the end of the contract period. This makes traveling in the region (or back home for Christmas) rather difficult (getting time off for my Bangkok birthday present for T was a bit tricky).
Anyway, there are many things I would like to say about English education in HK; I'm not an experienced educator, however, and I think I will leave those musings for another day. I want to talk, instead, about the amusing names I've encountered in my short teaching career.
- Jeffrey - nothing too strange here, except that the name has been appended to a girl;
- Royce - another girl, either named after the car or the cake shop (she's definitely not the Rolls Royce of students!);
- Mini - as in tiny, not Minnie that famous mouse's girl;
- Shiny - not because she's bright;
- Tweety - yes, that tweety;
- Toto - I want to tell her she's named after a plumbing company;
- Yoyo - why?;
- Kitty - named for Hello Kitty, she tells me.
Cheryl the chunt, as I like to say, Fumier style, to my fellow teachers.