"Reversal of fortune? No way. Reversal of skill." -Uffish Thought
Question #89592 posted on 05/01/2017 1:02 a.m.
Q:

Dear Ms. O'Malley,

If you don't mind me asking, what bad things happened in China?

-My Name Here

A:

Dear you,

I briefly mentioned it here, but I don't mind going more in depth. 

Last March I was asked to return to teach English in Guangzhou where I did my student teaching in 2014. The pay was good and I figured it would be a great time to stop and see other countries in the area. I decided to go. Then April rolled around and I was at an all time low personally. My old principal basically ripped me apart in my teaching evaluation (giving me a 1 on scale of 1 to 3) and I felt like I couldn't do anything right. The only positive comments I honestly remember were of her showing me off to building visitors because I did my student teaching in China with a classroom that was 100% English Language Learners. For a whole year, this lady just showed me off like a prized trophy. I decided to try and move schools because I knew that I wouldn't be able to handle another year with her. 

I went to the job fair, but because of my decision to go to China and travel, my options were extremely limited. I needed to stay in the same grade so I wouldn't have to plan over the summer, I didn't want to change to a different Title 1 school because of how they were run in my old district, I needed a traditional school schedule or only D-Track on year round schedules, and I wanted to stay in the same area so that I wouldn't have to move my house AND classroom during the 1 free week I had after school was out. Because of all my requirements, there were only 3 jobs that fit. I got offered one for Chinese Dual-Immersion and (regrettably) turned it down. 

But then I interviewed for the ~*Golden Job*~. This school is amazing, their principal is fantastic, AND I would be on a track with my mentor and co-worker from my first school. It would just be the two of us, doing whatever we wanted and it was going to be great. Except that it was B track and I would miss the first two weeks of school. I was honest in my interview, letting the principal and vice-principal know that I would be missing pre-planning days and the first two weeks, hoping that having substitute teachers and plans lined up months in advance would be enough to sway them. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't. So I didn't get that job and had to accept that I would be stuck at my school for another year. 

Then came the traveling. I was traveling with one other girl that I went to China with the first time and then another girl who went the year before we went. Since we didn't know each other super well, we ran into some problems while vacationing. We had to stay in AirBnB's due to dietary restrictions for one of them, which was fine except the ones she chose were way out of the way of the things we wanted to see, so we had to spend more time and money getting places. Also, the other two didn't exactly see eye to eye so I was a constant peace-keeper...for three weeks. I also made the mistake of introducing one of them to Hamilton and she listened to it on loop 24/7. Don't get me wrong, I love Hamilton, but after hearing "Dear Theodosia" for tenth time that day, you kinda lose it a little bit. 

So, after 3 weeks of traveling in Thailand and Cambodia, we finally arrive in Guangzhou to teach. The teaching part was significantly easier since I had saved most of my materials from the first time around plus I had just finished my first year of legit teaching. I was just feeling super trunky after having spent the last month constantly on the go. Not to mention that it's China so the culture is very different. And not a lot of people speak English where we are so it's just exhausting because I don't know Cantonese and miming only gets you so far. 

Then I got a text message from one of my friends who worked at the school that had the ~*Golden Job*~. She needed me to email the vice principal immediately. So I did. The vice principal had moved to a new school and they were in need of a 2nd grade D track teacher. So we set up an interview and it went terrible because of my internet connection but I still ended up with the job. It was a few weeks before school started so I emailed my old principal letting her know I wasn't returning and how I was sorry I put her in a bad spot. Her response was "I gave you a great recommendation," so I knew that I burned that bridge. But it was fine because I was at a new good school and excited to start the new school year fresh.

I continued teaching my little Chinese #firstgradefriends, riding my new job high. Then I got an email from my new principal saying we need to talk as soon as possible. It's a 14 hour time difference  between Guangzhou and Utah so it literally takes 2 days to get anything done. I tried calling the school multiple times (at like 2 AM China time so not only was I stressed, but I was also exhausted during work) but she was never available. So, with a pit in my stomach, I finally caved checked the school's website. My name had been taken off the staff list. Panic set in and I quickly began emailing friends I had in the district who would know what was going on. Basically, I found out that more kids had enrolled in a charter than anticipate so my brand new, week old job was cut and I was now on the other side of the world, jobless. On top of that, I still had to teach so I had to go to work with a happy face everyday so that my Chinese students could still learn.

I spent my entire lunch break (which was 2 hours everyday) desperately searching for any teaching job down the Wasatch Front. Since I was in China, my phone was cut off. I was having to deal with truly terrible Chinese internet to apply for individual jobs and then emailing the principals letting them know my phone was off, I would be out of the country for the next 2 weeks, and I was essentially only available 7 AM- 1 AM Utah time. I applied to literally every posted job in Jordan, Canyons, Alpine, Provo, and Nebo School Districts. I only received emails back from 2 or 3 principals as well as dozens of automatic responses jobs had been filled.  

So I cried. A lot. Pretty much every moment I wasn't with my kids, I had tears in my eyes or felt sick. I wasn't sleeping or eating because I was so upset. My poor group of friends that I was with had no idea how to help me because there was literally nothing they could do except give me a hug. I was left counting down the days until I landed in L.A. so that I could turn my phone on and call as many schools as possible.

The day we left China was the longest day of my life. Because we had traveled to Thailand before going to China, we flew roundtrip from Salt Lake to Bangkok. That meant in order to get home, I had to fly 6 hours west, sit in the Bangkok airport for a few hours, and then fly 17 hours to L.A. Then I missed my connection at LAX to San Francisco. I was already emotional from not having a job, so I was a freaking hot mess at the Help Counter. The kind Delta agent took pity on my soul and put me on the next direct flight from LAX to SLC. It was literally a 44 hour trip from leaving my Guangzhou apartment to landing in Salt Lake.

And then, because I was back in America, my luck turned around. I landed on Monday night, Tuesday morning I moved all my classroom stuff out of my old room, Tuesday afternoon had a job interview, got offered that job Tuesday night, had a different job interview Wednesday morning, got offered that job Wednesday afternoon, and then I accepted that offer Wednesday. Thursday of the same week I found a place to live in Provo, Friday-Saturday I moved all house stuff from West Jordan to Provo, Monday all the crazy stress and travel caught up to me and I was sick all day. Tuesday and Wednesday (a literal week +1/2 days after landing back in the States) I had new teacher training, Thursday I moved into my new classroom, and I got my new students on Tuesday! 

tl;dr: I went to China. I got accepted at new job. I lost said new job within a week. I cried and cried and cried and cried. I landed in the States, got a job and started school like a week later.

-Ms.O'Malley