Walking While Eating Noodles
Walking While Eating Noodles

Yichang Kindergarten

The Yichang Foreign Language Kindergarten

Being called a Foreign Language Kindergarten might suggest that the school is either run by a foreign company, has a curriculum by Pearson, Cambridge, Macmillan, or has a handful of foreign teachers working beside a faculty of Chinese teachers.

The school was beautiful and the teachers were caring and young. They were all multi-talented and a pleasure to work with. My years at the school were some of my favorite while living in Yichang. The problem arises when foreigners can only obtain the correct visa when they are hired by a company with the correct certificate that certifies that they are permitted to hire foreign workers. 

Only through the Security Bureau, the Education Bureau, and the Office of Foreign Affairs such a certificate can be granted. Such a certificate is valid for only a number of years until it must be renewed. So you have to use it in order to renew it.

One loophole in this system is found in working part-time for one school while being hired by another. There is no problem with that if the teacher and the school got permission from the official employer.

That was not a problem for me as my employer at Hyde could only offer me part-time hours. I had previously worked out this arrangement with another school (where Hyde was the certificate-less school). Also the rules had yet to be tightened. That would actually happen the following school year. Also, these two schools were not competitors. In fact, there was a potential for students to sign up for Hyde classes as a result of me working at the kindergarten. It might be fair to say that while what I was doing was not illegal, it was extralegal. So it was best not to go about too loudly so not to anger the competition of the kindergarten in the event that they wanted to cause trouble. This is the tension underlying a lot of things in China. It feels unnecessary but is a fact of life there.

For the first school year, 2012-2013, I was the sole foreign teacher. I worked at all three campuses; a half day at the xing guang campus on Tuesdays; a half day and full day at the dong shan campus on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; two days at the xi ling campus on Thursdays and Fridays. When my day finished at 4:45, I made my way to the Hyde Training Center for evening classes which went from 5:40- 6:40 and then from 7:00-8:00.