Positive Experience at Sunflower English Education, Suzhou
Hi, I am a 23 year old American English Teacher at Sunflower English Education in Suzhou China. I just finished my first year at sunflower, and am set to start my second year next month. I know that a lot of bad things have been said about Sunflower, and that many may have been true before I came. However, since I started work in September of 2014, I have found sunflower to be a fairly good employer, no worse, or better than any jobs I had had in the states. I would like to quickly reply to some of the things posted in eggcluck's very thorough post, and let you all know how it is now, a year after he had his experiences. I speak fairly fluent Chinese, which has influenced my experiences for the better, but the following reply reflects what all of us teachers are facing now at Sunflower.
Visa: I did indeed come over on a tourist visa, but agreed to this with full knowledge, as it was the only way that I could get to China to work without the TEFL or experience required for my work visa. Other teachers here now have just done to work visa from there home country. For me the process fine, and I received as much help as I needed from the company, plus plenty of time to do what was needed. I had two weeks notice before my trip to Hong Kong. Although the tourist visa is not the best way, it the fasted way that recent grads in my position can come to work in China.
Management: There are horror stories about Sunflower management all over the internet, but I have found them to be no more intrusive or cruel than my old American supervisors. In fact, since last year, there has apparently been a huge shift in the management and business style of Sunflower. The owners are hardly ever seen, and when I have seen George he has been very nice and always directed me to someone who could help better. I have been very nice and professional to everyone here, and have been flexible when I needed to be, in exchange the staff has been nice and professional and has been flexible when I needed them to be. Sunflower follows the Golden rule apparently. If you are nice, so are they.
Leaving Sunflower: This was the section of eggcluck's main article which frightened me the most, as I was coming to end of my contract. I was very pleasantly surprised when I found that the teachers who will be leaving us in the next couple months, after their contracts end, have had nothing done to impede their exit. Most of them in fact seem to be fairly satisfied with the way things have turned out. My own best friend Eric signed a contract to work with us, but received a better offer even before coming to work on the first day. Far from being in opposition to his decision, I witnessed George being very understanding and doing what needed to be done to move the work visa to the new company. Since I have not left, I cannot say much more, but I can say that I am much less frightened now than I was after reading this article.
General notes: Although my contract did have blanks, they were all filled by the addendum page at the back, which was legally bound to the contract, and before I signed I stipulated that the blanks be filled, and they were filled by the company before I signed and sent it back. I was promptly given a copy. When I resigned last month George and I signed two contracts, and I kept one, he the other. I have always been paid on time, and what I am owed. Sunflower has asked me to do some things outside the bounds of my contract, but nothing humiliating, and nothing that was not then rewarded with ample overtime pay.
Conclusion: No matter what Sunflower was like in the past, I find it to be a fairly good company today, and look forward to many years here in the future. So I end my saying that Sunflower is no longer a company that must be avoided at all costs. It is a fairly good choice in a jobs market which is very uniform in its quality and options.