I came to China in 2011, a young and sprightly 50-year-old with 20 years of teaching experience and a list of education publications. I was bright-eyed with enthusiasm, dedication and commitment.
10 years later, I have a long term Chinese girlfriend, a nice rented house in a pleasant community where I am reasonably well known by the local Chinese people who have always been friendly to me.
I am the first elementary teacher in China to teach activity-based learning programs, as such I have run in-school training programs within the province and have been invited to give presentations to Chinese English teachers within the local district.
In April of this year, I signed a new contract with my school, from September 2019 to June 2020, as I have done for the last eight years. In May I handed in my passport to the school HR so that they could extend my residency permission, until July 2020, which again is something I have done for the last eight years.
Imagine my shock, surprise and dismay when I was called into the HR office at the end of May to be told that on my next birthday I will be too old to teach in China. On 9th February 2020, I will reach the grand old age of 60. I will go from one day where I am well respected and worthy of being a teacher to the next day where I will be discarded as incapable of offering anything of any value to teaching in China.
For me, the repercussions are much worse than losing a job. I’m also losing my lover, and my home for the past 10 years, China.