July 15th, 2007

Just spent the morning interviewing prospective students for this programme I’ll be working on at BeiGongDa. The usual story, and kind of exhausting in its own way. It’s like being a machine on an assembly line: Take the student in, crunch it up, spit it out, produce a record. Fortunately, though, I managed to avoid the horror stories. Somehow they all wound up being interviewed by my future colleagues. Did get one really brilliant student, though, and several others who were pretty good. The rest were generally about what I expected the average to be.

The trouble with programmes like this is they attract the rejects and washouts- kids from wealthy families who couldn’t get in to a Chinese university. Some of them are just plain thick as pigshit, but there are also many bright kids who, for whatever reason, completely buggered up the GaoKao.  Fortunately, though, the boss has set some reasonable entry standards and seems to be enforcing them, so judging by what I saw today, classes aren’t going to be too bad. Maybe even quite good.

Another thing that I don’t like about this kind of thing is interviewing students who clearly would be far better off if their parents would let them develop in their own way. I interviewed several artists and musicians, including one who could tell me, even though her English was quite weak, that Picasso was her favourite painter and managed to give a vague reason why. Unfortunately her English wasn’t quite up to developing the topic. But still, with most 18, 19 or 20 year olds I’ve dealt with here, discussion of music or the arts never really gets past Jay Chow or Harry Potter, and it’s always nice to come across somebody who would be capable of taking the discussion further and deeper if either their English were up to the task or I was allowed to switch into Chinese. But anyway, these artists and musicians were here interviewing for a degree in Information Technology, and quite frankly, I didn’t find their stated reasons for applying for this programme entirely convincing. Maybe that’s my own bias showing, but then again, one of them told me he didn’t play in a band because his parents wouldn’t let him.

I’ve also finally met all of my future colleagues, and they seem alright. Well, apparently we still need one more (so if you’re wanting to teach English to university students in Beijing, leave a comment), but I’ve finally met all those we have now. You know, I’m almost looking forward to having to work again. It feels like I’m about to start something approaching a real job.

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