It is the time of year at the moment when flowers spring forth and the weather improves. Spring and autumn are the two best seasons in Beijing as the weather is warm, but does not have the sweltering heat of summer, nor the freezing cold of winter. It is also the time when cherry blossom trees flower. In Japan, this is a major event, and lots of people go and take photos of the trees blossoming. Here, though there are fewer trees, it is still popular and people will take lots of pictures. On the university campus where I live, there are several such trees with pretty pink flowers on them.
The liaison teacher responsible for foreign teachers recently asked me about next year and whether I was planning to stay. I am not, but I was curious what (if any) the changes would be. The job of teaching English majors, I was told last year, would be separated next year (but not this year) from the usual job of teaching the non-majors, so I was interested in whether this was the case. Initially, they asked me if I was interested in re-signing, and I said that I would have to look at the contract first. They said they would get it to me as soon as they could, which I thought was a little odd (that they had not already got it to hand). Anyway, a couple of days later, I was informed that there would be no change to the contract, though classes I would teach may change. I queried this and there was a further delay.
Jump forward to yesterday and whilst I was having class in the morning, I received another message which basically contradicted the last one. There would be a small salary rise, and fewer teaching weeks (16, as opposed to 18, which it is currently. I think this is for the university as a whole but I am not 100% sure). I was also offered a choice of classes I could teach depending on what I wanted. These ranged from doing the major and non-major classes, to doing what I have done this year, or teaching new major classes. There will also be an addition commitment for teachers for four sessions each semester to tutor or coach students who are preparing speeches for competitions. This would take about two hours each time.
None of this has made me change my mind in any way, but I was interested all the same. I told the teacher that I was already planning to leave and that I wanted to see if there was anything that was worth staying for – could anything entice me – which there was not, and so I was declining the offer to re-sign the contract. Their response was, ‘What a shame’ and that they understood. Given that this semester, there are just two foreign teachers here (including me), and the other one is staying next year, I do not know how many teachers there will be next year. Now I have officially declared I will not be returning, it no longer matters!