This weekend is a Trifecta of holidays here in Beijing! The eighth day of Passover, Easter, and the Qing Ming Festival. I assume that most of my readers already have a certain amount of familiarity with Passover and Easter; Qing Ming is the traditional Chinese "tomb sweeping" festival. Most Chinese families will go to their families' graves, to tidy up the tombs, pay their respects, and sometimes have a small picnic there, leaving offerings for the spirits of the ancestors. Often, incense and ghost money will be burnt. Being neither religious, nor ethnically Chinese, the big benefit to me is a three-day weekend.
But, on to this month's update, including what is for me, Big News:
About a month ago, I was contacted by the recruiter who brought me up to Beijing from Ningbo, and was presented with a rather generous offer for the next academic year. After much deliberation, and several second thoughts, I have decided to accept the offer.
Last year, what with the Pandemic, there were very few jobs available to foreign teachers. The lockdown was lifting, and many schools were reluctant to hire American teachers, noting the devastation being wrought by the virus in the United States, and the general resistance to sound medical and scientific advice. There had been a modest opportunity available near Dengfeng, a few thousand miles inland from Beijing. I did not want to go, but had resigned myself to it when I was contacted with an offer from what would become my present school in Dongcheng District in the Fensiting Hutong.
The pay was adequate, but not great; though the post also came with two meals a day at the school, and free accommodation at the teachers' dorms which included free WiFi. The environs were pleasant, and within walking distance of most of Beijing's tourist attractions. The school itself has been pleasant as well; a small campus, almost intimate, especially by Chinese standards. And, after working at a large school like Liangxiang High School in Fangshan, with forty pupils in a single class, this new school, Beijing International Vocational Educational School, was a wonderful change. With an average of ten students per class, allowing me to see each class thrice weekly, I was able to get to know my students and give them each a measure of personal attention.
The post I am being offered will pay me almost twice as much, and include a small allowance to rent an apartment, plus an eight thousand yuan bonus toward airfare after the completion of the contract for the year. My current school's counter-offer was almost as good, and I do feel bad about leaving my pupils behind; but what finally sold me on accepting the new offer was the type of position. I am being asked to teach AP History in addition to assisting in developing English language-based curriculum. I am also being asked to assist with administrative duties and admissions activities. In other words, I am being asked to become part of the administration as well as mere teaching staff. But it is the subject that appeals to me.
When I began my teaching career in East Asia, it seemed that any foreigner could pick up a "white monkey" job teaching English. In those days, you needed little more than native fluency. And being an "English Teacher" once had a certain stigma, especially in Taiwan, because of young Americans and Brits who would backpack around Asia, stop off to teach for a few months and fill their pockets and then disappear into the night, leaving classes and students untended. There was a time I used to dread being known as an English teacher in Asia.
However, I am now being asked to teach History, a subject I have read in University, and for which I still have great interest. Of course, I will also be able to teach a certain amount of E.S.L., and I will be given administrative responsibility that I do not enjoy now. It makes me feel more "legitimate" as a teacher.
Still. It is not easy to leave my current position. And I dislike being uprooted every year to move elsewhere. Reminds me too much of my unsettled and poverty-stricken childhood.
And so, I am now preparing myself to this new adventure, as it is only a few months away.
I finally this week also received word regarding the CoVID-SARS II vaccine. Presumably, I will be able to get it soon, but it must be done through my employer. I do not know now whether it will be through my present school or if it will have to wait for my new school. The process of my work-visa transfer is supposed to begin in June, though I will be working at my old school until June 30th. I was sent an informational flyer from my school's administration:
COVID-19 Vaccination for Foreigners in Beijing Started
Acting on the State Council's instruction, Beijing has started COVID-19 vaccination for
foreign nationals in the city.
Foreign nationals within the age group specified below may, following the principle of
voluntary participation, giving informed consent and assuming personal responsibility for
risk, take COVID-19 vaccine.
The following are answers to TEN most asked questions by foreign nationals in Beijing:
What is the age requirement for COVID-19 vaccination?
Foreign nationals at the age of 18 and above in Beijing are eligible for COVID-19
What type of vaccine will be used?
China's domestic inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccines will be used, and two doses are required.
How to make an appointment for vaccination?
Foreign nationals who wish to be vaccinated may check notices issued either by their
employers or their residential community offices, and take vaccine in a planned way.
Generally, foreign nationals working in Beijing should make appointments through their
employers; foreign teachers and students in colleges and universities should make
appointments through such institutions, and other foreign nationals in Beijing should make
appointments through their residential community offices. After appointments are made,
foreign nationals may take vaccine nearby as arranged by local district authorities.
What documents should be provided for vaccination?
Foreign nationals should provide valid documents when making appointments and present
their passports and valid residence permits at the vaccination site. Please make sure that
relevant documents are valid on the date of taking the second dose.
What papers should I sign?
Before taking vaccine, you should sign both a form of informed consent and a statement of
bearing personal responsibility for all risks associated with vaccination. Please take necessary
precautions and inform the vaccine giving personnel of your health condition so that they can
decide whether you can take vaccine.
Should I pay for the vaccine?
Foreign nationals who have joined Beijing's social medical insurance scheme may take
vaccine free of charge by presenting due insurance document on the vaccine taking site.
Those who have not should currently pay a charge of 93.5 RMB per dose.
What care should I take after taking vaccine?
You should stay at the vaccine taking site for 30 minutes of observation and may then leave if
you have no adverse reaction. Keep the injection point dry on the day of vaccination and
maintain personal hygiene. You should immediately seek medical help and alert the vaccine
provider if you develop a persistent fever.
How do I get the vaccination certificate?
Beijing Health Kit (Jian Kang Bao) mini-app for people from outside the country will soon
have a new feature of printing the COVID-19 vaccination certificate, which foreign nationals
may access after taking the second dose.
Do I need to wear a mask after being vaccinated?
Vaccination will produce immunity from COVID-19 and greatly reduce infection risks.
However, no vaccine is 100% effective; some people may have insufficient antibodies after
taking vaccine and they can still be vulnerable to infection, especially when an immunologic
barrier is not yet created. So it is important that you should wear masks, wash hands regularly,
and keep social distance.
Do I still have to take nucleic acid test after being vaccinated?
Can my vaccine taking certificate substitute for nucleic acid test report? [Short answer: No]
I will keep you all posted.