Let’s just say that recently, this process has tested my patience and spiked my stress levels! I don’t even know where to begin! …let’s look back at the beginning really quick.
September, 2016-February, 2017: Since I applied earlier than most do for the Ameson Year in China program (AYC), I am further along that most of the incoming Educational Ambassadors (EAs) at this point. Once I received the acceptance email, Aegean (the wonderful program manager working at Ameson’s Shanghai office) guided me through the TEFL online training and submitting all this paperwork that made sure that I was healthy enough to not die in front of students, and also innocent enough that I wouldn’t cause trouble while in China (a clean criminal record). After successfully completing the online training and passing the health and background check, it was time to move on to the placement stage.
Early March, 2017: Aegean informed me that she would transfer me to a Regional Placement Liaison (RPL) who would then guide me through the next stage, which involved placement into a school and getting a work visa. She stressed that this stage takes the longest, and that since visa policies in China have changed, there may be other undefined steps that I would have to take in order to get a working visa. But hey, Heather no need to worry because you are waaaaay ahead of the many other admitted EAs who have just started the TEFL training, so receiving your visa on time to teach in August will not be an issue.
To avoid not finishing all the paperwork and applications in time, Aegean suggested that I teach in Zhejiang Province, as Ameson has close ties to their educational bureau, which ultimately makes the visa process quicker. I, without question, agreed to place my hopes on teaching in Zhejiang! Aegean, then referred me to Aron, my new RPL.
A “problem” arose.
Aron, the dude in charge of placing EAs in Zhejiang, was out of the office till March 13th, since he was traveling to partner schools in Zhejiang, to do whatever RPLs do when visiting their designated provinces. Aegean assured me that Aron would contact me with information about placement when he returned from his trip. With my constant sense of urgency (even when there’s no urgency necessary), waiting 2 weeks to hear from Aron aged me inside by 5 years. Side note: I wholeheartedly realize most of this stress is self induced, and would like to recognize how wonderful working with Ameson has been thus far! I’m just a stress ball. Anyways, I decided to distract myself by asking Aegean if there was anything else I could do to prepare for placement and to help get me in contact with current EAs teaching in Zhejiang. She said I could look into getting my diploma and background check notarized, as she believed that would be a new step in the visa process, and happily set me up with an EA, Megan, who lives in Longyou District in Zhejiang. I was excited to hear nothing but positive experiences from Megan!
Mid March, 2017: It’s 1AM on Monday, March 13th Lincoln, NE time, which means it’s Tuesday, early afternoon China time. Aegean usually responds to emails by 1AM, and clearly Aron has the exact same email responding tendencies, even though I have never communicated with him before. Where’s Aron’s placement info email? Aron is back from his trip. Aronnnnnnn, helloooooooooo?? I received no email from Aron that day 😦
The next day, I decided to send Aron an email, introducing myself, what I have completed with Aegean so far, and that time is of the essence. He quickly sent me back an email, telling me that he is currently finding a host school for me, and that with the new visa policy in place, I would indeed, need to have my diploma and background check notarized. Not only would those documents have to be notarized by a notary public, but possibly have to be authenticated by The Secretary of State, the US Department of State’s Office of Authentications, and the Chinese Embassy, depending on if the school I am placed in “accepts the public notary as is, or not”. My first thought: OMG, China takes college degrees and criminal records seriously. Which makes sense, it’s just that sending my documents through four groups seems kinda excessive, but what do I know?
March 16th, 2017: I woke up with the mission to get my diploma and background check notarized by a notary public! I successfully got those suckers notarized, however I kid you not, the first three public notaries I tried were M.I.A. One was in the hospital, another had apparently left minutes before I arrived to who knows where, and the third was on vacation till next Wednesday. After taking a nice self tour of UNL’s administration office, I was finally directed to a notary public who was available! WOOHOO! I then scanned the two documents and emailed them off to Aron, despite not having been placed in a school yet! Public notarization: Check.
March 17th, 2017: I get an email response from Aron letting me know he will “send the notarized documents to your school and see if they are acceptable in the local FEB (federal education bureau?). If they need anything different we will let you know asap”.
Thoughts: I have done some research on Zhejiang, specifically the districts of Quzhou and Lishui. While they were not my top choices of places to teach, they both seem like great locations to teach in! They are located near mountains and also have rivers and beaches very close by, making the region scenic and beautiful. The weather stays moderately warm year long, and the cost of living is very cheap, since they are small cities. Though in all honestly, their population size is several million, which is a lot more than a quarter of a million here in Lincoln. Therefore, technically, Lishui and Quzhou are big cities to me! There’s also a bullet train station in both cities, so access to bigger cities is convenient and quick.
The characteristics of Quzhou and Lishui are strikingly similar to Lincoln: small city, cheap living, scenic, clean, friendly, and surrounded by bigger cities. What more could one ask for?
Until next time,
Featured image: http://www.digitalofficepro.com/ppt/zhejiang-china-powerpoint-map-slides-009M18.html