Saturday, March 18, 2017

To Set the Record Straight

Last post made me sound like I was seriously considering staying in China, in Wuhan, at this school, right? This post will set the record straight.

When I quit my job in America, sold just about everything I owned and moved here, it was intended to be a permanent move. Like so many other expats, I meant to retire abroad, probably in China – in Ezhou, where I felt so comfortable, but maybe even somewhere else, now that China seems so unwelcoming. And now that it is obvious that I will not earn a fabled Green Card, a D-visa, no matter how passionate I am about contributing to Chinese society, the possibility of living out my years here seems dubious at best.

I had my reasons for leaving America, and I wonder if my mother had the similar reasons. She lived her life out in Germany and refused her children's request to even visit America, so disdainful was she of that country. I am (probably) not that disdainful, seeing as I make my way back, every year, to visit.  

When my mother died, we had to scramble to settle her affairs. It was difficult to manage, transatlantically, not just because of the language barrier but because my siblings squabbled over her estate. A squabble that leaves us divided to this day.

My mother's passing, on another continent, causes me to reflect on how my dying on the other side of the world would affect my children – the settlers of my affairs. Most likely they would not fight over my few things, but it would inconvenience them greatly should they have to jump on a plane and come to a country they've never been to, where they don't speak the language and know nothing about its culture and customs. Where they might find themselves paying through the nose for the least little thing and getting stymied at every turn.

I can't do that to them. 

Once I realized how difficult it would be for my children to settle my affairs, I put off dying in China in favor of seeking a more amenable locale outside of America for them to manage my passing. They had other ideas.

With the world in turmoil, they expressed concern over my physical safety. That is a valid point: where, outside of China, might I be guaranteed the level of security that I have here? Answer: nowhere.

And the ongoing question: how can I make my passing as effortless as possible for my kids?

A compromise was struck: when my passport expires, which coincides with my sixtieth year, I will hang up my global traveling shoes and return to America to live. In light of that compromise, it is no longer necessary to find a place to retire and die. That puts this school's backdoor offer (see last post) in a new perspective: I need a place to live and work until I am sixty; they are offering a place to live and work until I am sixty.

I was willing to endure petty frustrations for the privilege of being here; couldn't I endure them for another 5 years? The outrageous limitations placed on expats, such as foreign remittance and travel accommodations: with Alipay, I can travel on the cheap and transfer money. Thus, those aggravations have been rendered moot.

Other things like: that bacon I love. Cheap cigarettes (yes, I've outed myself as a smoker!). The coffee I drink. Using Alipay. I will have to give all of those up, missing them while I search for comparable replacements, wherever I end up. Is there even a comparable replacement for Alipay? What about the life I have made for myself? Knowing this town backwards and forwards: entire bus routes memorized, every fun hangout marked and returned to again and again.   

Friends. Where could I find another Gary? A dear child as solicitous as Lancy? A progressive thinker like Tony? At this point in my life, do I even want to forge new relationships, knowing I will leave them when I keep my promise to return to America?

Work. Let's face it: even though my heart is still only about 21 years old, my body isn't getting any younger. Fantastic job opportunities don't exactly flock to 'golden year'ers. No matter where I go, what am I going to do for work?

Can you see why it is so tempting to accept this school's offer?

I won't. I still sting from Sam's betrayals, not the least of which was his causing me to lose several thousand Yuan through sheer negligence. And then, there is the frustration of being the only foreign teacher here, even having my classes doubled up, when other qualified foreign teachers are available and want to work here.

Eddie and Tanza are the reasons I will not take Sam up on his offer, not matter how suitable it would be for me.

Two years ago, Sam asked if I knew of any foreign teachers looking for a position. Immediately, I forwarded Eddie and Tanza's resumes. They both hold Master's degrees from China's premier teacher university. They both come from countries whose official language is English. They both currently live in Wuhan and they both have teaching jobs. However, Eddie's position is on the outskirts of the city, necessitating him being away from his wife during the week: the commute would otherwise be too long. I thought that they would be perfectly suited for this school's needs. The school rejected them out of hand, seemingly because neither of them are Caucasian.

If you are not part of the solution, then you must be part of the problem.

Sam's/this school's offer would suit me perfectly. Accepting would mean that I am, at the very least, turning a blind eye to racial discrimination. You might even go so far as to say I condone it. In a very real sense, by indulging in a situation that benefits me, I am compounding the problem of racial discrimination in China, in Wuhan and in this school. I cannot abide by that.

Seven years ago, I sold/gave away everything I owned. I have nothing left but morality and principles. If I give those away, or worse: barter them, I will be as empty as this apartment will be in 4 months.

You might wonder why Eddie and Tanza's not teaching here hasn't bothered me for the past 2 years. It has, but there was little I could do other than hope to sway the powers that be in order to get them hired. What has changed now is the lengths the school is willing to go to keep me here, as opposed to the simpler option of hiring Eddie and Tanza, whose diplomas do not need to be certified by any Chinese embassy, who are already in Wuhan and intend to stay, who do not have to worry about their remains once they pass on.   

Fake desperation is the deal-breaker for me. If there were absoutely no other teachers to be had, I would certainly consider the underhanded, backdoor-ed offer made to me via Gary. But there are other teachers looking for jobs, teachers who are far more qualified than I am, me with my measly 2-year degree that requires certification. In light of that, Sam's offer is more than underhanded; it is downright vile.

It made me sad to learn that Eddie was turned down for a position 2 years ago. Now I am angry about it. Yes, angry enough walk away. Or, at least to maintain my resolve to walk away in spite of the desperation of my own situation and the sorrow of leaving everything/everyone behind.

Unless I could bargain Eddie and Tanza into my agreement to stay. Hmmm...  

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