Teaching in Shenzhen was insane. Too much partying but what a fantastic staff.
Shen Wai International School
WELL…The school was a crazy idea from the get go.I used to call it the great Science Experiment. What happens when you take 1500 non English speaking poser, faker, foreign but really 100% Chinese students, with fake foreign passports, and put them in a purpose based fancy building school with all the bells and whistles, with 300 ex pat teacher from all around the world? What happens? A lot of BS that’s what happens!
My story is this: We went to SEARCH London. Technically it is Kirsten’s fault. We were meant to meet her in London, but by January, she had left. Now we had really left our job prospects to the bitter end.
Of course we should have been at the Bangkok Fair , but the only job that came our way was Shen Wai. I clearly remember Josh ( at TISA) telling me on the bus.
“Go to the Bangkok Fair!”
Literally, we had no job prospects. It was desperate. We should have stayed at TISA where we had a wonderful paying job.Why we left, I will never know. Yes, we got to see ASIA, we worked with a fantastic staff, but Shen Wai was a fricking disaster. I did not want to leave TISA. I did NOT want to leave that wonderful, beautiful apartment.
I would love to go back there.I truly loved Azerbaijan. Anyway, you can’t go “back” you can only go forwards.
We were walking down the aisle at SEARCH London and happened to see our TISA gang.
Then I looked to the right and said…..
“Oh look”, I said to Dave, there’s Matt’s school, Shen Wai. Let’s go speak with them”.
Belinda Holland, the PYP Principal, said ” I’ve been waiting for you two”. Too good to be true.
Many great things happened on that trip :
going to Ronnie Scotts and going to the Brixton site where the David Bowie shrine was: I will never forget that.He had died that week. Oh my, I was so sad. I love David Bowie!!
Belinda hired us. Yes we got to work with Matt Franklin, who we dearly love. We met Heather, Emmet, Marit, Quintin, Majella, Shane, Kiwi Shane, Jan, Rose, D-real, Lana, Laois, Emil, Ryan, Ashraf, Aneta, Kylie, Becky, Nick, it just goes on and on….. all those wonderful people. But I still think we should have stayed at TISA!!
SHEN WAI:means “foreign” school.
I KNEW it WAS TOO good to be true. Belinda and Ally promised me the PYP Drama co-ordinator position. I just knew it was fake, By March I had found out I was scheduled to teach Pre K /K music and I pushed back saying absolutely NO!
Well I ended up teaching K/1 music, grade 4/5 music theater and yes they gave me the Secondary Choir. Ok it was fine. But it truly was hellish teaching those K/1’s-the fabulous ferrel factory.Those kids were so badly behaved. They couldn’t speak a lick of English and were raised by Aiyes (nannies). The parents couldn’t speak English. It was so effed up.Some characters:William Ding-dong, Ethan T,, Emma somebody: these kids were out of control.
Dave enjoyed teaching grade 5 but it was technically beyond his comfort zone. Yet he survived and was able to use all of his talents in rock band, set building etc.
He showed them all how to run a really good class and the parents adored him as did the kids. Rightly so!
The management was ludicrous beyond all understanding. Once Belinda left, the shit truly hit the fan.
Bradley was just a disaster from the get go. I had many a run -in with him because I simply could not abide his incompetence. His nickname was “ROPES” because he used to gather up all the skipping ropes at lunch.He had no training whatsoever and ran around like a rabid dog most days.
One time this happened: my classes ended at 2:30pm each day. I had arranged a doctor’s appointment in Shekhou at 330pm. It took 45 minutes by METRO to get there from our school. I told the team lead, Emily, Leigh the grade 4/5 music teacher and May, my music assistant, that I was going at 2:40pm. Everyone knew where I was.
I saw “Carmen” in the lift. I said “Oh hi Carmen!”, as I left the building. She immediately texted Bradley:”Charlotte is leaving the building early!”
Bradly came running up to my classroom, to interrogate May. May, decided , in her Chinese way, to “lie”. She denied knowing where I was. Silly girl! Why didn’t she tell the truth? There was no point in lying-nothing was done wrong!
Then Bradley began interrogating her about “why” she was leaving the school early, like in February.
May became very upset and asked him to stop. He then said “Ok, this conversation never happened”.
Then another time in a meeting Bradley said “Oh sorry to be a douchebag”.He asked Emily to to take down her map which showed Taiwan as a separate country.
I reported him to Daniel. Hmmmm….I wonder how that went.Leigh said “Oh that’s how we talk in Aus or in NZ”. Oh, so that’s supposed to make it professional?No!My goodness that lady was strange.
Another time I had scheduled a separate meeting with Anna, the dingbat PYP replacement for Belinda. Anna, invited Bradley into the meeting., even though I had specifically told her this was a one-on one meeting-two women, one meeting. End of.
I asked Bradley to leave, saying that I asked for a one-on-one meeting with Anna. I was specifically discussing the ridiculous decision to take away ASA credits away from my musical team. Why on earth would I enter a meeting two-on one?Did they think I was that naive?
The admin, in their dim-witted way, decided that my musical team would only get ONE ASA credit instead of the usual two. Talk about bait/switch. Absolute incompetence.They sprung this on us “after” the musical was completed. Deception,deception,deception.
Bradley looked shocked that I kicked him out of the meeting but honestly, he had no business there. Oh dear, he was such an incompetent child.
Well, then, there’s Daniel. A Canadian
He was a small minded, no- visioned type leader: so cruel:so misogynistic.
Enough of him. Petty , petty man.
On the surface, when you are dealing with these people day to day you smile, nod, exchange pleasantries, but in actual fact…well, anyway, I’m glad to be away from him. Some people simply do not belong in education.
Ally Wu: what a conniver. Empress Wu in China:
There she is. Drunk on power. Drunk on handbags. A manipulator of the highest degree.China, in all her glory.
She told the Chinese staff:”You cannot take ANY more sick days!”You must be better than those useless white teachers!” Those westerners are only here to get drunk and have a holiday. Well, she was not wrong there! But oh my, we had a great time.
Ally Wu, the Director of Shen Wai International School. Good Lord. May I never meet another like her, and yet she was a great character- in an espionage novel, she would have her own cocktail bar:Ally Wu nights!
Despite it all, we made great friends and some of the children were a joy to teach.It was an experience I will never forget! But would I got back to Shen Wai?Not in a million years!! I remember Adora,Angel, Arthur, Henry, David, and his other little sidekick who I absolutely adored but can’t remember his name right now. He had a very sore voice.
Just the cutest little kids ever.There were some really badly behaved ones too.