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Last Wednesday was also picture day for the Upper K (graduating) class at the kindergarten.

We were excused from teaching our morning classes to take pictures with the entire Upper K grade even though two of the four of us don’t have any students in Upper K. The foreign teachers were positioned in the back row so that we were flanking both sides of the principal. After the general grade pictures, those of us who actually taught Upper K were asked to take additional photos with our respective classes. In former years, the foreign teachers were asked to take photos with all of the Upper K glasses regardless of whether or not they taught those students. It’s clear that the foreign teachers are more for promotional purposes than anything else.

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Appearances a very important in China, and they are often no more than that—appearances.

–I noticed a couple of my own K3 kids in the upper K picture group. It turned out that a couple of the Upper K kids didn’t come to school that day. To keep up the appearance of a full, well-rounded class, a few of the favorite kids from the grade below were selected to stand in for the absentees. (Favoritism is indeed alive in China.) One of my girls, Candy, was a stand-in for an Upper K girl. That other girl ended up showing up just as the photographer was ready to take his first shot of the whole graduating class. The teachers yanked Candy out of the line-up, stripped her of her uniform (she had normal clothes on underneath because the uniforms were just for the photo’s purpose; the kids never wear them to school normally), pulled it onto the other girl, and stuck the Upper K in her rightful spot. All in a few minutes’ time.

–For the open house classes that are coming up, I’ve been advised on how to prepare a lesson that gives off the impression that the kids know more than they actually do to impress the parents.

–The Chinese teachers all have air conditioning units in their dorm rooms (a luxury) at the school, just as the foreign teachers do. The difference is that ours work, and theirs don’t. Were never supposed to. But it looks good to anyone who might be looking in. Also, all of the foreign teachers have TVs in their rooms. It’s advertised on the school website, guaranteed in the contract. None of the TVs work. It’s fine by me because I never intended to use mine and don’t even need one since I have a laptop. The other teacher’s don’t care either, but it’s the principal of the matter. I’m sure if we made a fuss and acted like disgruntled employees, the school would eventually call someone in to make the TVs work, but it’s not worth the hassle to me.

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