A Series of Weird Events: I’m Going to China

A Series of Weird Events: I’m Going to China

Okay, so I posted my fundraiser on Facebook (this one: https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/teaching-english-in-china–5/x/9369737) and I know a couple people are going to want a lot more detail on WTF I’m doing going all the way to Cambodia and China. Here’s the absolutely crazy story on how decided to go to China.

Last year, for the first time in probably five years, I went to the local pumpkin patch because I wanted to roam the fields and find the Pumpkin King. I was wearing a hat, as has become my signature, and this particular hat is one I picked up while I was studying abroad in Europe. It has buttons and pins all over it that I got while I was overseas and it’s always a point of conversation.

So I’m standing out the checkout with my pumpkins and gourds and one of the ladies comments on my hat, asking where I got it. And since I was the only one there we chatted for a few minutes. She told me her granddaughter had done some traveling as well and went to China for six months to teach. And I was reminded of an Anthropology 101 class I took where a woman came in and told us about how she went to Vietnam for a year and taught English. The woman at the pumpkin patch told me all about the different tours her granddaughter had gone on while she was there. She saw the Great Wall, she saw the preparation for the Olympics, she hiked mountains, and picked up some Mandarin.

The conversation stuck with me all the way home. This woman’s granddaughter went to China for six months, six months!, with room and board paid for by the school and a salary a helluva more than I was making at the time. And she got to go to China. For six months.

So I got home and started racking my memory for what program the woman who had visited our class some four or five years ago had been in and started looking around on today’s Delphi, Google. I found all kinds of great programs for working abroad. I was seriously looking into a summer work program in New Zealand.

The fees though for those programs were always really high, the New Zealand trip would have cost me about $5000 and it was only for three months and I would have to start looking for a job as soon as my feet touched the ground and if I didn’t find one…well…

Then I looked into National Park jobs at coolworks.org, awesome site and I still have my eye on a couple positions by the Grand Canyon. I submitted applications but never heard anything back, so I went back to my search for working abroad. On a catch-all site for working abroad I found several companies that did TEFL—Teaching English as a Foreign Language—certifications. There’s no second degree required for it, if you’re a native English speaker, you can get your TEFL, or TESOL, same thing, different acronym.

I e-mailed several local TEFL programs, but really, outside of getting you certified they didn’t look like they’d be much help on the job front. And if I’m going to spend $1500+ on a certification, I’d like to know I’m going to get more than just access to a database of jobs. I have that with Google.

I found LanguageCorps and was smitten by their program. I looked into all of them, especially the Italy one, but their yearlong China program jumped at me. Ongoing Mandarin lessons, and guaranteed job placement before I even left US soil. And that was just with China, before that I would get my TEFL in Cambodia where a weekend excursion was planned to Angkor Wat, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Sold.

This was in February or March this year and I fiddled with the idea for another month or so. You know how everything seems like a great idea until you seriously start thinking about the details? It was like that. Since that brief conversation at the pumpkin patch in October I had been gungho on working abroad, traveling, seeing more of the world and doing something.

But I’m not good with kids. I’ve never made an effort to be good with kids because I don’t really like kids. So what the everloving fuck am I doing thinking about going to a different country and teaching kids. So I emailed the company anyway and got back a questionnaire and lo and behold, one of the questions: Which age group do you prefer working with?

And I realized from the questionnaire how flexible this program was. Yes, I’m certain I’ll have guidelines I need to follow and goals to meet, but this is my class. I can teach however I want. I have a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing. I can run my own creative writing class. The whole semester dedicated to character development, plot structure and setting. The final can be a finished project. I can teach a creative writing class. In China. For a year.

And it’s not just China. Once I have my TEFL and a full year of classroom experience I can teach anywhere in the world. I can go to Japan or Finland or Germany or Peru or any other country that has a school where they want English taught. I can go anywhere and everywhere and never teach the same class. Because you can give a hundred people the same opening line and get a hundred different stories every time.

So after some emails and verifications on both our ends that everyone was indeed the real deal, I signed up for a January departure.

I’m teaching a short fiction class.

In China.

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Review: Catch Me When I Fall + Bonus, Cover Reveal!

Catch Me When I Fall

By Vicki Leigh

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 “Recruited at his death to be a Protector of the Night, seventeen year old Daniel Graham has spent two hundred years fighting Nightmares and guarding humans from the creatures that feed off people’s fears. Each night, he risks his eternal life, but that doesn’t stop a burnt-out Daniel from risking daring maneuvers during each battle. He’s become one of the best and wants nothing more than to stop
“Then he’s given an assignment to watch over sixteen year old Kayla Bartlett, a clinically depressed patient in a psychiatric ward. Nightmares love a human with a tortured past. Yet, when they take an unprecedented interest in her, the job becomes more dangerous than any Daniel’s ever experienced. Soon, Daniel finds himself watching over Kayla during the day, drawn to why she’s different, and what it is about her that attracts the Nightmares. And him.
“A vicious attack on Kayla forces Daniel to break the first Law, revealing his identity, and whisk her away to Rome where others like him can keep her safe. Under their roof, the Protectors discover what Kayla is and why someone who can manipulate Nightmares has her in his sights. But before they can make a move, the Protectors are betrayed and Kayla is kidnapped. Daniel will stop at nothing to save her. Even if it means giving up his immortality.”

Who doesn’t love a jaded, brooding hero? Daniel is on par with Batman for broodiness. But he’s keeping it together. Like most of us who are sick of our jobs, he’s looking for a good time and reason to turn in his two week notice. He has a very distinctive voice, he’s two hundred+ years dead and while his speech is modern there are places where he’ll slip into an older cadence. He’s also British, so you can read the whole book with Cumberbatch’s voice in your head if you’d like.

Then there’s Kayla. I would love to see a book from her perspective. We get a lot from her just from Daniel’s point of view, but it’s easy to see how much more there is beneath the surface. She’s funny, and maybe because she already thinks she’s lost her mind, we don’t have pages and pages of disbelief, denial, and anger to get through. She passes Go, collects her $200 and jumps pretty much right on board the crazy train that becomes her life. It’s awesome. Again, another reason I would love to see a book from her perspective. Even if you think you’ve already gone off the rails, having Daniel and his cohorts appear like they do would take some mental acrobatics.

Now, if you like Silent Hill you’re going to thoroughly enj1oy the Nightmares. While reading I was reminded somewhat of the faceless, homicidal nurses, except they’re darkness incarnate, featureless with claws and teeth. So, you know, nightmarish.

And the travel in this book! The Protectors are stationed out of Rome and I don’t know if the author has traveled to this place or the others, but there’s wonderful detail about the buildings that really gives the setting life without burdening the story with twelve paragraphs describing the pillars and flagstones. There’s a scene in Paris that I absolutely loved. She captures how breathtaking the Eiffel Tower is at night when it’s lit up. And the meal Kayla and Daniel share does Lady and the Tramp so proud. Shy flirting and getting-to-know-you cuteness.

But if cuteness isn’t your thing, fear not, there’s still a homicidal maniac after Kayla and there’s plenty of edge of your seat fights and close calls to keep you flipping pages. There’s also the mystery of what exactly Kayla is.
It’s a lot packed into a svelte 197 pages. I finished in only a couple hours so if you jump into it before bed, don’t worry, you’ll finish with enough time for your Dreamcatcher to get comfortable and fodder for your Dreamweaver.

 

And, coming soon to a bookshelf near you, this lil’ gem:

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http://www.vleighwrites.com/#!novels/cjg9

Oh look, a link where you can order both books. How did that get there?