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The Magical China Trip 2012

Baoji, October 14-16, 2012, the Magic Continues

CHINA | Tuesday, 16 October 2012 | Views [3854] | Comments [3]

Sculpture at City Gate

Sculpture at City Gate

October 15, 2012 - After visiting the Famen Temple yesterday, my guide and the driver brought me to Baoji.  Imagine Boise’s worst inversion, and then double it.  It’s a good thing I don’t suffer from SADD.  I have a feeling the sunshine is a rather rare occasion here.

 

My sleep pattern was somewhat interrupted this morning to get up about 3:30 a.m. so I would be somewhat awake for the Amaraji Maha Marai Grandmother Wisdom meeting at 4 a.m. (2 p.m. in Boise).  We are a group of older women who are trying to learn what it means to be old and wise instead of old and foolish.  It was wonderful to see everyone, which included the ladies from Olympia because we were all on Skype.  Technology can be very helpful.  It worked great as long as each person spoke directly toward the computer mike.  Otherwise, their words distorted.

 

I went back to bed when we concluded and slept till 7 a.m.; I usually get up at 5:30 or 6 a.m.  I got dressed and went to breakfast – a buffet similar to all the hotel buffets, so no pictures.  These buffets are actually very good, providing a variety of items to choose from.  I tend to go for the bread and fruit (with a fried egg, if they have it), but I tried millet porridge (I think of it as gruel) this morning and it was good.  I also enjoy dou jiang, hot soy milk.  But I also like coffee.  I’m getting used to its strength here.

 

After breakfast, I came back to my room and updated my resume, placing it on a thumb drive so I can carry it with me easily, along with other info, such as my scanned passport and scanned transcripts from the various institutions I’ve attended, plus recommendations.  I added my picture to the resume, because that is expected, but I did not put my age (although it is also expected).  I figure I will let them guess from my picture and dates of school graduations.

 

Then I looked up the one university here in Baoji – Baoji University of Arts and Sciences.  I tried emailing a request for an interview, but no email address is provided on their website; the guesses at an address bounced back.  No surprise there.  So, I decided I needed some help.  The website did provide phone numbers, so I went down to the lobby, which fortunately wasn’t busy at the time, and asked for someone who spoke English to help me call the university.  With the help of the manager and three young women, we called the university and found someone who spoke excellent English.  I talked to him a bit, told him I wanted to teach English in Baoji next year, and that I was in town today and tomorrow.  He agreed to meet with me after work, so we are scheduled to meet at the university gate at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

 

And there you have it.  I spent the rest of the day exploring the nearby shopping district.  I picked a restaurant that looked busy and ate lunch there, then came back to the hotel and worked on the blog entry.

 

October 16, 2012 – The Magic at Work:

Sunshine today!!

 

Yesterday afternoon, I went down to the coffee shop about 4:30 p.m. for coffee and a fruit salad.  A young Chinese woman, Sun, who has been working in the hotel, began chatting with me.  Her English is exceedingly good.  She has been in Baoji awaiting renewal of her ID, which allows her to live in Beijing.  She had to return to her hometown here in Shaanxi until she got it.  It has now arrived and she is getting ready to leave Baoji.  During the conversation, she decided to befriend me since she has some time between ending her job at the hotel and returning to Beijing.  She volunteered to go with me to the university.  Since I had failed to ask the gentleman’s name, phone number, or position at the university in our quick conversation yesterday morning, I accepted her offer.

 

Calling the university turned out to be the best thing I could have done.  Because of that phone call, I met with Mr. George Liu, whose English is excellent.  He was curious to meet me because I came in person to Baoji.  Also, he was surprised that the phone call we made from the hotel went directly to his phone number.  (The phone number we called was the one listed on the university’s website.)  It turns out he is the “director of personnel” (my description).  He said he was the person in charge of interviewing people, although he could not make a decision on his own because there is a hiring committee (probably a CCP committee).

 

I believe he was impressed because when he started to take notes, I pulled out my thumb drive and handed it to him.  That way he was able to upload my information into his computer and not have to take cumbersome notes.  He also mentioned that talking face to face was much more satisfactory than over Skype – and, even though Skype is great, he’s right.  I don’t know how long we talked; it felt like 45 minutes to an hour.  He asked the normal questions about why I want to teach in Baoji, how much teaching experience I have, and job responsibilities.  He also asked the sensitive questions that I had expected (because China does not have Equal Opportunity Employment): 

  • How old are you?  He was surprised at my age, which I was hoping he would be, and said that if I pass a physical examination (which I’m sure I can), it should not be a problem.  One foreign teacher this year is 67 years old.
  • Are you religious?  I told him I was part of the Amaraji Maha Marai family and explained that the name means “The People of Love and the Great Promise.”  I gave him one of my Metta cards.  I also said that we are a small group and our mission is to focus on the Metta.  I said I don’t preach or try to convince others of anything.  I’m not sure what he was looking for, but he seemed satisfied.

 

He gave me salary particulars, which corresponded with several jobs I’ve seen on the internet:  a monthly salary, an apartment with all the amenities, including internet access.  The pay is not a lot, but like small cities in the US, the cost of living in Baoji is not so high.  Compare taxi costs, for example.  In Shanghai the base price for a taxi is 13 yuan RMB; in Beijing, it is 10 yuan RMB; in Shenyang it is 8 yuan RMB; and in Baoji it is 6 yuan RMB.

 

Baoji University of Arts and Sciences has some 20,000+ students.  It has a new campus (where I met with George) and an old campus.  It was founded in 1958.  Last year there were 10 foreign teachers, most of them American.  This year there are six, again the majority American.  The Chinese like native-speaking English teachers.

 

All in all, it was a very positive interview.  He actually said he liked my personality.  He also placed significance on the fact that my call had gone directly to him – and he was the right person to talk with.  I am cautiously optimistic that he will convince the committee that I be hired.  They will begin working on the new teacher hiring process in February and continue through spring.  If I am selected, I would need to be back in Baoji by the last week of August.  I will have additional paperwork to fill out and the university would pay for the official visa and other paperwork.  If I understood it correctly, I would pay for the flight from the US and the university would pay for a return flight after a year.  Any interim trips would be at my own expense.

 

So, the first step has been taken.  We’ll see where it goes from here.

 

Today Sun and I explored parts of Baoji – People’s Park and city center.  The former is an amusement park a little bit like Julia Davis Park in Boise.  The latter is, like many Chinese cities, undergoing constant construction.  It is busy and dirty.  The area near the university and the hotel is much quieter and cleaner.  However, there is a huge new shopping mall downtown for those who like to shop.

 

Baoji prefecture has a population of 3.7 million according to the 2010 Chinese census.  The city itself has a population of approximately 800,000.  (This resolves some of the confusion I had regarding the local population.)  Surrounded on three sides by hills, Baoji is in a valley opening out to the east.  Historically, its location is strategic because it controls a pass in the Qin Mountains between the Wei Valley and the upper Han River called Chia-ling River (嘉陵江,pronounced Jia-ling Jiang)].  The ancient North Silk Road passes through Baoji, which connected the ancient Chinese capital of Xian to ancient Parthia, a region of northeastern Iran.

 

To the South of Baoji lies the beginning of the plank road into the Qin Mountains (, pronounced chin ling).  There are also several natural sites such as the Jialing Jiang Fountainhead with its small waterfalls and forests.  To the north is Bei Puo (pronounced bay puoh), a giant hill made of loess with a panoramic view of the city and a landscape dotted with small farming villages that offer local cuisine.

 

The above information came from Wikipedia.  When I asked at the hotel staff, no one knew the name of the mountains or the river.

Tags: baoji, baoji university, china, shaanxi

Comments

1

Elizabeth, I find it "hard to believe," as the expression goes, (but not really that hard to believe given all that has gone so well for you so far) that the magic of your trip to China has extended to having your "cold call" from your hotel go directly to the very person in charge of interviewing people for the job you want. I am not surprised that he was impressed with you.
Love, Jody

  Jody Howe Oct 24, 2012 1:00 PM

2

Hi!
I love reading about your adventures in China. I'm curious, why did you choose Baoji as the place you want to teach? Do they have good bao there? Mmmm I am hungry. Anyway, I am so happy for you doing this big magical adventure!

  Elizabeth A Nov 10, 2012 10:22 AM

3

As a native of Baoji. I put the "baoji"as the key word in the google and the found your acticle. The adventure in my hometown must be a unforgetable experience for you. However, the magic things in your eyes may just the commonplaces in our eyes. I know some bad impressions of my hometown has stayed in your mind,but I should say that I love my home town and welcome to my hometown!

  fan Dec 4, 2014 2:56 AM

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