***This is a three part series click here for part one.***
As you read in part one of this series, I managed to find a Mandarin course in my area that fit my
time and schedule. A month into the course, I decided it was time to start my employment search in China. I was
pretty set on going the ESL teaching route for reasons that ranged from career interest
to ease of obtaining a long term visa.
Before applying for jobs, I knew
it was necessary to secure a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) or TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate of some
kind. After searching the internet,
along with obtaining advice from my friend Jo Gan, I found a TESOL course that covered lots of
material at a great price (As you can see, I’m always deal hunting :)
I dove headfirst into my job search
despite an already packed schedule of working full-time, Mandarin classes,
as well as, studying for my TESOL certificate.
I started my job search with high
hopes, but after several weeks, my high hopes were sinking. This was not due to patience (ok, I can be a bit impatient), or unrealistic expectations; in fact, my expectations were quite realistic when one compared my qualifications and work history. After reading a number of books, blogs and internet sites, I discovered the uncomfortable truth….
It turns out, obtaining ESL employment could
be difficult due to my race. Apparently,
a disproportionate number of employers in Asia are very hesitant to place a
black instructor in the classroom for two compelling reasons-ignorance and
money. Many natives wrongfully assume that a native
English speaker cannot be Black since a native English speaker may originate
from the U.S.A., Canada, Ireland, Australia or the United
Kingdom-countries with a white majority population. If a native encounters a Black instructor,
there's an automatic assumption that this person must be from the African continent;
thus, they must not be a native English speaker (despite several countries
having English as there national language).
If a parent discovers that there is a Black teacher in the classroom,
they may question the instructor’s credentials and some will go as far as
pulling their children from the class or petitioning for that teacher’s
termination. This places language schools in
an awkward situation and a potential loss in revenue; thus, many schools find
it less complicated and more financially advantageous to hire a White instructor over a Black instructor despite
I understand race is something
uncomfortable to discuss in today’s “color-blind” society; however, race still
matters to many employers in Asia. I experienced this prejudice first hand when
I applied for several jobs that were eager to grant me an interview; but, upon
submitting my picture, I would receive several “thanks, but no thanks responses” if they responded at all (and no, I’m not
ugly :p ).
I’ve never been one to back down
from a challenge, so I dug deeper into my search and found a minority friendly
company. I submitted a stellar application and I was a tad
aggressive in my sales pitch, but this payed off since I received a response quite quickly. After exchanging several emails, I arranged
an interview via Skype that went very well.
During the interview, I expressed my desire to be placed in the south of
China (specifically Shanghai) and teaching older teens or adults. I played the waiting game for several weeks
and when finally, I received the “congratulations” email! Not only were they offering me a position, but the position would be in my choice city (Shanghai) and age level
(adults)! I cried tears of joy and waited another week before I accepted the
offer (I received several other employment offers despite my race that I reviewed
for consideration). The only downfall was that I needed to be there in a pinch
(by the end of August, but now early September), so I had to act quickly with
everything that needed to be done before that time (which I'm actively doing
each and every day).
Thanks again for tuning in and come back for part three!