Hello Gemini Season

The past two weeks have been eventful, career-wise. This story builds in slow, stress-inducing layers.

May 16

I applied to a Digital Marketing Specialist position and other writing jobs located in Taipei.

May 18

My supervisor informed me of a mandatory observation to take place on May 30th, which requires all lesson plans, worksheets, and PowerPoints to be submitted for review by the Taoyuan Department of Education. Sadly, I did not type any lesson plans and I have really messy handwriting, so recalling and typing over 30+ lesson plans was a lot of work. Especially considering I had to continue with my normal teaching + planning schedule. In addition, there was pressure from my supervisors and principal to create a STELLAR lesson plan by May 25th.

Here’s why: I am the first Foreign English Teacher at my school, meaning my role is especially unpredictable. The purpose of the observation is to determine whether or not DaZhu will be chosen to be a part of the government funded program next year. Typically schools that have been in the program longer have a higher chance of retention. Considering this is DaZhu’s first year, my supervisors felt very susceptible to non-renewal, AKA no job for me. They were as friendly as possible to convey the importance of this observation, but I could tell they were really counting on me to outperform. I stayed late. I worked on the weekend. I worked at home. I really, really tried to do my best for my school.

May 22

In the midst of this observation work-load, I received an e-mail from a Taipei company about the Digital Marketing Specialist role I applied to on May 16. They asked me to participate in a round 2 interview, which was 3 day assignment to write an article titled, “3 Tips for Landing Work as a Freelance Writer.” I was ecstatic to participate in the second round, even though the timing wasn’t ideal. That week was filled with late nights, too much coffee, and bags under my eyes.

May 25

As hard as I worked, I couldn’t manage the workload. I submitted the article on time, but I did not finish writing my lesson plan and creating subsequent materials before Friday, May 25. Sigh. Luckily, Peter had to work on Saturday, May 26 so I used that alone time to finish everything for the big day on May 30. A day late, but done. Plus, my supervisor said the lesson looked great, which made me feel more relaxed.

May 30

The big day came and went, and it carried high and low tides. I thought my observed class could’ve been better. However, speaking with the education officials I was told it was a great lesson. In fact, the two intimidating Taiwanese educators said “that was the best teaching demo we have ever seen. A very great teaching demo.” I was SHOCKED! I wanted to bang my head on the table in sheer relief/disbelief. I looked at Jenny, the principal, Summer, Wendy, and Enzo – everyone who has supported me in this role – and they were all smiling and radiating with joy.

Later that evening, I had a preliminary phone interview with someone from the tech company. The 11 minute phone call answered basic questions about the company – ARC, health insurance, work hours, etc. My specific questions about the role weren’t answered but I also wasn’t assured when/if I would speak with the hiring manager. I got off that phone call feeling a bit deflated. After such high praise it’s tough to encounter a perceived form of rejection. Plus, I was starting to feel guilty for interviewing with companies before letting DaZhu know.

May 31

At 3:50 pm, my principal invited me to go to his office and asked, “do you want to stay at my school next year or not?” I was stunned in silence. Essentially, the question I’ve been battling internally I had to decide in that moment. It felt a bit unfair to make a big decision with no time to think about it, but he needed to submit paperwork to the government by 5 pm.

At first, I tried to say no and explained that I want to be closer to Taipei. He suggested I move to Nankan or get a scooter or car. He wasn’t necessarily rude, but he really wanted me to stay. He also asked my two supervisors to enter the office to help with translation. I explained to them that I want to be closer to Taipei and Peter and living in Luzhu is difficult to go anywhere without a car. They also suggested I move to Nankan. At this point, tears started to well up because they weren’t listening to me and I could tell they wanted me to stay so bad. From their perspective my uncertainty must’ve been shocking considering how well the observation went. They reluctantly agreed to give me the evening to think about my decision.

June 1

8 am, I informed Enzo that I will not stay another year. I decided to take the risk of moving to Taipei without a job lined up. A few hours later, I received an e-mail confirming an in-person interview next week.

June 6

As I type this, I had an in-person interview with the tech company on Monday, June 4 and I’m not sure how it went. I made them laugh, I think I made them cringe. We bonded over tennis and Mario Kart. I also said my biggest professional failure was crying in a bathroom at work.  So, you know…could be bad…could be good. I’ll just have to wait and see what happens next.

In the meantime, I am applying to other teaching positions closer to Taipei. I hope to snag another public/private school position. Otherwise, I’ll be at a cram school. Not the worst of fates, but also not the ideal. As long as I’m closer to the city I’ll be happy.

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