Beihai University: Beihai, Guangxi
03 NEGATIVE REVIEWS (2009)
This is an accurate accounting and a fair warning (not a rant) to all foreign teachers: avoid Beihang Uni (BHBH). I’ve cooled-down now, so here’s my story. I’ve taught for 10 years in 3 different Uni’s in China and never had any problems beyond the usual frustrations. After 3+ years at a Uni in the interior, worsening smog and a bit of boredom, I decided to look along China’s southern coast.
Beihang Uni in Beihai, GuangXi looked and sounded nice. I applied, even though the salary package was less than I’d made anywhere else, thinking the sea and fresh air would make-up for less money. I was instantly accepted, without an interview. I did some traveling during summer-break and told them I’d be there a week early. I arrived but no-one met me, as they’d promised. OK, I found the place myself, even though it is 10 Km out of town. I was given a tiny apartment (40 Sq. M) with only a hotplate, NO micro, NO pots or utensils. OK, I’ll get my own. I had 2 bicycles and too much stuff for the house and really didn’t like the unit, bars on windows and too-too small. I called and SMS’d several people but no-one ever replied, even after a week passed. OK, I’ll try to settle. Finally, I met the other new foreign teachers and we all gave our FEP & Passports to an HR Dept. guy, who said he’d process the Z-Visas ‘right-away’. (We all had Visas expiring in about a week) Two weeks and 1000RMB later he gave us all back our passports, with 90-day Business Visas installed! (Z-Visas are 400RMB) I was furious! I called the English school manager, a guy named Zhang, who said: “Don’t worry about it.” The HR Dept. would not return my many calls. Now, I have lived in China for 10 years and know that working on a Business Visa and renewing it every 90-days, for 1000RMB each time was a CON! Again, I asked the Visa-guy to change it. He said he was ‘too-busy now’. I could not get anyone at Beihai College to answer a direct question, ever! I repeatedly asked the English Dept. (Erica somebody) about my classes with no answers, just hand-offs. So, one the day before my contract took effect, I formally resigned, in writing, stating my grievances of NO Visa and NO response from anyone! I left the same day. I later heard from 2 other foreign teachers, who also said they had not yet received their correct Visas, even 2 months later.
My warning to you all: Just don’t do it: Beihai University: Beihai, Guangxi! They’ll tell you stories, then lie and then do some illegal thing, after they have you stuck in a contract. I’m back home in the States now, relaxing and considering a return to China. I don’t want anyone to be misled, coerced and deceived again by these untrustworthy people. You can do better elsewhere, as I’ve done for 10 years and will do again, I hope.
Recently heard the other 2 Foreign Teachers who had the same expereince, have quit mid term. This is one resignation letter.
"After teaching for more than 2 years in China, I am resigning due to my experience in Guangxi, Beihai College of BeiHang University under the following conditions in chronological order;
1.Visa- As it may come as no surprise, I mention this first. As my girlfriend and I contacted the school before attending that we wanted our Visa to be processed and ready as our Visa's were to be expired August 30th. The BeiHang University informed us they can do that with no problems if we get there by August 20th. We showed up only to be put off as the person to help us was still on vacation and didn't feel like coming to help us. The days past and after numerous phone calls, Lional showed up. He promised us a Working Visa and said that is what he was getting us, repeated in front of 4 other foreign teachers.
He came back with "F visa's" and a 940rmb fee that will cost extra for us. Here is where the miss handling and poor understanding begins. As the contract states, foreigners are to be given help to attain a working visa by the school, by this measure the contract has been broken. This "F" visa clearly states on the U.S. embassy's web site, and the Chinese Embassy's website that working on an "F" visa is illegal, resulting in the person to be removed from China at the expense of the offender. This is a serious consequence.
This action would not hurt the school, only me. The matter was resolved by people saying: "Oh; don't worry about it. You are so strict to follow the rules you do not need to worry about it".
But I must, if the school wants to do away with me all they have to do is call the PSB, if a student doesn't like me, all they have to do is call the authorities and I am gone in 2 days, never allowed to return to China! I do not like being in this position. There was still time to fix this problem before I started teaching and I was asking everyone and no one wanted to do their job, which is to help teachers.
The job of the administration is to help the teachers do their jobs. They work for me, I work for the students. One of the other foreign teachers; Nancy, had the same experience as I did but she had the ability to resign before the classes started and take a loss and move to another school in another province. Nancy has been a teacher in China for over 10 years and would not stand for such a risk. I will attach her resignation letter so that you know why she left and to support why I am leaving as well as the next foreign teachers to come. Rowan and I had no choice, as we had not enough money and just settled into this school.
I continually stressed about this until classes begun and I drew a line saying that I will not teach unless the problem is fixed. Michael Zhuang then replied, "Well then you can not work at this school." Meaning; we will fire you, rather than fix the problem.
So I had to work, I did not have enough money to leave China as it was already September. If I was to make a public breach of contract, then all BeiHang had to do was send me to the police with my illegal visa. The Visa problem was not resolved until the end of October for me and to the last waiting days of November for Rowan, my girlfriend. At that time we were looking at Air tickets to leave China as we doubted the ability of the school to full fill their promise.
2. Late pay: Second breach of contract: 2,200 rmb base pay. I am already behind in money due to buying my medical exam, and "F" visa for my girlfriend and I. I am down to just eating rice and noodles and continually asking for pay. By the time I did receive my pay, it was very small as the school only gave me 4 classes every 2 weeks to teach. Making me have to prepare to eat rice and noodles again for the next month. I am still asking for a refund of my previous "F" visa and trying to make it through the month of an illegal visa.
3. My Chinese is not the strongest. I have been traveling the world and Chinese language has not been used as freely taught until just recently due to change of government policy. My Chinese however is stronger than many of my students, who speak no English.
For some reason, the school gave me a majority of classes with non English major students, who had the lowest level of English at Beihang. I had no Chinese interpreter to help me at each of these classes. And then they gave the most complex students to Foreign teachers to play a video DVD book at fluency levels were much greater than that of any students.
I did not come all the way from North China to the South of China just to press play on a computer. The only challenging part was that the computers only worked 30 percent of the time. This caused many foreign and Chinese teachers to be very upset, as well as the students.
Erica Du informed us that we must teach the material, that the students were forced to buy even though they do not understand it at all. I had to change my teaching methods for 90 percent of the class could not understand the concepts presented. I had to start on an easier level and work them up to a higher level. The students enjoyed this but they only had class once every alternating 2 weeks. This kept me from having any rapport with the students.
If the school had quarter term classes of once every week, it would be much better than just once every other week. I offered this suggestion but it was laughed at by staff.
My first year Oral English students, however were once a week and a great success because of that. I was given their attendance sheets at the beginning of the semester. All other classes I had a power struggle for the students to give me their attendance sheets, as some students at the very beginning didn't attend any classes and hoped to get away with it.
Such a poor idea to have a foreign teacher try to chase after students to get a grade sheet.
My final exam day for one of my classes was great as none of the students had received their student I.D.'s from the school, even after 12 weeks of term. Even better; some of these students were attending their first class!
I have heard that "gunners" in China (students who talk exam for other students to get a higher mark) are very popular so in no way was I to give the exam with my Chinese language and not seeing so many faces till the first time.
I also had one student bring a live DOG to class that was shoved into a little cookie box. With this class, I had many struggles, as they were not like my previous students of Heibei Normal University, who actually wanted an education.
I always had to struggle with these students to get them to appreciate their chance to learn new things.
4. I was hit by an E-bike speeding on campus, which crashed into me while my bike was not in motion. I was injured, in pain and one of the faculty: Mr. Zhang even laughing at the sight that I was hit. To my surprise, another foreign teacher was hit in that same area 2 years prior, which injured him seriously and left him in the hospital for 2 months.
If the school would have taken action on the matter of reckless motorcycles earlier, I would not have been hit and my bike damaged. I did receive apologies from the Vice President of the school, which was warming; however, the problem itself was not resolved which makes me concern of the next student or teacher to be hit by a speeding E bike, gas bike, or even taxis, who all speed around at 50 Kms up until the last day I left the campus.
4. The CCTV competition was an experience I will never forget as I was asked to the head up the event training. It was a challenge as I was to manage the training lesson plans for the teachers to carry out. There was culture difference to work with as well as personal difference to work out. I even saw my Chinese boss push another foreign teacher. I worked with the students to try and help them as much as I could with a verbal promise that I and the others were to be paid at least 500 rmb for our work. I contributed more than 30 hours of work. The reported 6000rmb money is now gone and we were unable to get any of it. I feel I was cheated in the effort and since it was a verbal contract there is not much I can do about it.
I did get a great learning experience and was able to help some students. The school did treat me to 4 lunches. Again it is just that the school made promises and did not meet them.
5. I received my correct working visa October 20th. After running around asking Human Resources if they sent in the form again and again. I remember one time they said: “OK bring your passport we will submit for the visa”. Because last time they asked for my passport it was to get the foreign expert card. Well in fact, when I received my passport back there was no visa as they had in-fact not submitted it for the Foreign Expert card.
Now they needed my passport again, for that and to say that it was for the visa when it was just a cover to keep from loosing face. As to when I finally received my correct visa, I did not pay for the fee until the school was to resolve the previous error of overcharging me. Much later I was refunded the error amount of 940 but without any “I am sorry”.
The refund I was told came from Lional, who made the mistake rather than the school.
I showed the school how they could avoid making the mistake again and to delegate the task so that a foreigner is informed of who will do what to help them get a foreign expert card and correct visa in 12 days, like any other school. This is another way that I contributed to helping the school even after the worsening conditions. It was such a fight to get things partially worked out that I just didn't understand why I would want a job with this university, if everything will be a struggle.
My previous 3 schools, where I worked at had no difficulties with me or me with them. So for the school to say that it was a culture difference to save face, simply is not true. I have been teaching over 2 years in China and not once did I run into any difficulties of power struggles with staff; We were equal. I would even give suggestions and the school would try them and we would be in the newspaper for our success.
I question why should stay with struggle when I can work with success.
6. Leaving my mark. I always try to leave each place better than how I found it. I feel I did help many of my students. I worked with many individually and with the classes even after hours. I recall that many of the students were unhappy with the size and contents of the library, so I donated over 4,000 rmb worth of my books and tools to the library.
I send this email in explanation. Not only to explain why I am leaving this school but also in hopes that it can be resolved for the next foreign teachers who come in the future. I want the next foreign teacher experiences of China be similar to that of my best first two years in China, not my last half year in China, here at Beihang.
I really want to inform my students of the reasons why I left the school as I enjoy working with them. Perhaps they already know. I wish I could have told them when I was leaving, but by doing so the school could threaten me with my visa issue or worse. “Yi zhao Bei she Yao, shi nian pa jing sheng”.
Thus why I am not sending this resignation letter till after I am out of China and safely away.
I feel I should be rewarded the breach of contract by Beihang, which should deliver a fine payment to me, as stated on the contract but will not fight for it as I am happy just to get away from Beihang University.
The college laptop computer is stored under the bed and the keys to the locks are in the doors except the front door that is on the table."