Xi'an Northwest University 西安西北大学

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Xi'an Northwest University 西安西北大学
« on: June 29, 2017, 12:24:20 PM »

Before I begin this tale, let me start by advising the newcomer this: do not even consider buying a plane ticket to China unless your work visa paperwork is completed and in your hand. Many schools and other employers will encourage you to go over on a tourist visa and begin work while they process your work papers, at which point you take a nice, comfortable one-day trip to Hong Kong and reenter the mainland with everything in order. You may have even heard of people who did this and everything turned out alright. They were lucky. As you will see below, the risk you take in doing this is not worth the rewards.

Now on to the story. Here's the setup:

Summer of 2015 I accept a job offer at a school in Chengdu, which I accept, not having been clearly informed about the housing situation until long after they have sent me the paperwork necessary for me to apply for a Z visa. Specifically, they never inform me that they do not provide housing, and that I will need three months rent + security deposit + agent's fee upon landing in order to have a place to live, even though they will graciously pay for up to three days' hotel stay. I back out.

The players:

Xi'an Northwest University, henceforth The School.

Sages: The third-party company for whom I technically worked, henceforth The Company. Schools outsource international program to this company, who will hire the teachers necessary and manage everything related to the program. Company is based in Dalian.

It's summer of 2016 and I am contacted by a recruiter from the Company offering me a position at the attached high school of Xi'an Northwestern University (西安西北大学). The job pays 15,000 RMB per month, 10 classes a week (2 45-minute classes per day), with 2-bedroom apartment provided a short 10-minute walk from the school. It all sounds good but they need a teacher soon and it's nearly August. The visa paperwork will take a while and the recruiter is personable and friendly. He convinces me to fly over earlier and then do a HK run once the papers are ready. "One day vacation!" as he puts it.

This may not sound like much but it was a mistake on my part that would turn my life for the next nine months into a living hell.

I arrive in Xi'an and am greeted by two women. One is a fellow teacher and the other an administrative assistant, whose job it is supposedly to support me in adjusting. I should mentioned at this point, I have lived and worked in China before but it was five years ago. Also, I speak Chinese quite well but I am back in the country after a prolonged absence, in a new city, and things are nevertheless very new to me.

The problems arose in the very first week. The Assistant speaks next to zero English and acts like helping me get basic things done, like opening an account and getting a SIM card, are favours she is doing for me. The apartment looks nice but things begin breaking down within the first week, and there is always an excuse for why the landlord or the school won't pay for the repair. I am given the water, electricity, and gas cards but never once does she explain to me how to put money in them, a lesson I learned when, suddenly one night, I am left in the dark. The best part is she is the one preparing my work papers, and she has absolutely no idea what she is doing. Let's talk more about this.

Apparently, in China, there is a national database employers use to apply for the work papers they need for foreign employees. After the employee has finished work, the employer needs to cancel this, otherwise a new employer cannot restart the process.

I know there is something very wrong when Assistant girl calls me asking me for me for the login and password to this purely Chinese national database... After she explains the problem, I put her in touch with the old school in Chengdu. A moronic back and forth begins between them, where the Chengdu schools swears up and down to me that not only is their application from last year already expired, but that they see nothing that needs to be "cancelled" from their site. Meanwhile, Assistant lady stresses over Chengdu schools lack of cooperation. I am left in the middle.

I eventually plead with Chengdu school to help any way they can, at which point the girl there goes the extra mile to fiddle with the database and "release" whatever was blocking my application. Assistant is relieved and proceeds with the application process.

Things go smoothly for a while until, about a month in, Assistant tells me the landlord wants to sell the apartment and a real estate agent is coming to let people view it. The very first question out of my mouth: "You won't make me move within a day or something like that, will you?" I myself find this a ridiculous exaggeration. Little did I know. Assistant reassures me the school has a lease until next September. The landlord will sell it at that point. No one is making me move before that.

Fast forward two weeks later. The Assistant calls me 12pm on a Sunday to tell me I need to move to a new apartment by 6pm... But hey, not to worry. The new apartment is six floors up in the same building. Easy peasy, right?

I should mention at this point that I do not live alone. My wife and three children are with us.

While my wife, who has spent a month lovingly making a home out of that apartment flips out, Assistant and Teacher (the co-worker) are sending me messages reassuring me they'll help any way they can. "Fine," I tell them. "Come help us carry our things out." No one replies, much less shows up, even though they are both in another apartment on the top floor of the same building. Eventually, Teacher lady does show up, pretending to help us carry things. In reality, she is there to take pictures of the apartment and send them to the landlord to prove we are leaving.

The fucking scumbags kicked us out in six hours and had the nerve to send this bitch to ensure we got out on time.

But hey. This is China, I tell my wife. You know how people are here. They did give us a new apartment and we have to be flexible. The job is still good, the pay well and on time. It's not their fault, the landlord screwed them over as well. Right?

I find out later the school received a hefty fee for the landlord breaking contract. But let's get to the new apartment now.

The new apartment is smaller. And ugly. And so filthy it smells. The furniture is held together by duct tape. The nice Western mattress we had in the first apartment is replaced by the flat, hard Chinese mattress, giving my wife constant backpain. But we try to make the best of it.

Meanwhile, since I am still on a tourist visa and nearing my sixty day limit, I need to do a visa run to HK. Since this is not the final run where I will convert to a work visa, I must pay for it myself. When I argue with the Company that this is their fault for being incompetent, I get forwarded a letter from Teacher blaming me for keeping my previous visa issue with the Chengdu school a secret.

Let me repeat this:

The Company BLAMED me for keeping "secret" a problem I DID NOT KNOW existed. I am a foreigner. It is not my job to be familiar with the finer intricacies of hiring foreign employees in China. On top of it, I had to bend over to ask for a favour from the Chengdu school so that the university could even proceed.

Wanna know the best part?

The letter was anonymous.

That's right. I was forwarded the letter by Teacher lady via WeChat, in Word format. No name at the bottom, no signature, no email, no phone number.

It is now nearing the end of December and everything is going as well as can be expected, at least on my side. I have done one visa run, on which wife and kids have joined, and am hoping I will have my work papers in time so that my wife can get an S1 visa, so she also does not need to do visa runs with three kids.

But it seems things are now boiling over on the school side. Assistant girl and Teacher lady are both really stressed out. They're under immense pressure by the Company to make the parents of the kids attending this international program buy the textbooks required.

One textbook costs in the range of 3,000 RMB.

Not kidding.

I eventually hear the parents organize and go to the department of education to report the school over it. A big hoopla is taking place. I keep an ear out and just concentrate on doing my job, since I am still getting paid properly and on time.

Around the last week of December, I receive a WeChat message from a lady who works for the Company. I should mention, the Company runs many such international programs for schools across the country and are located in Dalian. I have never met this particularly person but she has always been sweet and friendly.

"Hi, Here got one bad news which our management just told me. Our international programme will end by 4th Jan due to The school side didn't pay us any fees. And we can't offer job anymore there even for chinese teacher as no income. So this Programme will stop on 4th Jan. But we will provide the another job offer at Xi An for you and your wife for free."

And that's that. In a week or two, I have no more work, no income and, most importantly, no visa. The reason I am out of work, do note, is that School has not paid Company. Xi'an Northwestern University has been leading the Company along by the nose the entire time, saying they'll pay later. But they never do.

School is also responsible for providing the housing. My wife tells me right away, "They are going to kick us out again and this time there'll be no place to go." I am foolish enough to think no one could be this crooked and subhuman, but we preemptively begin apartment hunting anyway.

A few days later, I hear from the nice company lady that the school has never given the landlord the rent and I have about a week to get out. Wife deserves a medal for the restraint and strength of character mustered to not pummel me over the head with the "I TOLD YOU SO!" of a lifetime. Thankfully, we have already found an apartment. We hire a moving company and they're there the next day. They clean out all our stuff and put them downstairs in the truck. We're ready to drive over to the new place.

Folks, in China, a moving truck needs a special little slip of paper from the apartment complex management office authorizing them to exit the gates. This is because people have been scammed this way and their belongings cleaned out by bogus moving companies. How do you get this paper? You just mosey on down to the management office, the office confirms with the landlord that the tenant is moving out, and you get the little permission slip.

Guess how willing the landlady was to let us leave, considering the School had never paid her?

This prompts a day-long ordeal where I am going back and forth between the landlady, some nameless administrator woman from the school with whom I am corresponding via text, the movers, my wife, and even the real estate agent, trying to get them to LET US LEAVE. We are being effectively held hostage by the landlady over something that has NOTHING to do with us. Finally, I have a Chinese friend call the landlady and tell her, You either let these people leave or we call the American embassy and tell them you are basically holding these American citizens "hostage" over some business dealing that has nothing to do with them.

We get the permission slip thirty minutes later.

Of course, by that point, the movers have left after an hour's delay, collecting their fee plus overtime and still huffing and puffing about the whole thing. We call them back and they return within the hour (gotta love China, they don't waste time), we pay the fee all over again, and we get the hell out of there.

We move into our new apartment and finally feel a sense of stability for the first time. We have our own home. I write off all ties with Xi'an Northwestern University, figuring I will never hear from them again, and we try to get on with life. The nice administrative lady from Dalian is trying her best to help me find a new job--the other job offer they said they would "provide" was just her helping me out as best she could... Meanwhile, wife and I scrounge around trying to make ends meet with a combination of part-time teaching jobs and music gigs.

And the visa runs keep coming... every two months. Depleting our savings entirely.

Then, one sunny day in March, I suddenly get a call from the nameless administrator woman with whom I was dealing the day we were trying to move out. She tells me I need to go to some place or other to get some paperwork in order to get my work papers.

Wait a minute.

"What work papers?" I ask. "I do not work there anymore, so how can you give me work papers?"

She explains that, since the paperwork is already done, and I just need to do some light legwork and then go to HK to convert, it would be "a shame" to not get the visa. Plus, she informs, it would be helpful when I get a new job.

I never asked for this help nor was I expecting it, so I bite. Sure, no problem. Just tell me what you need me to do. Thank you so much.

Nearly two months pass with her leading me on. She tells me to contact her after I have exit and reenter the country again and she will tell me what the last step is. Sure enough, our next visa run comes up and I contact her after I return. No response. I politely message her in intervals throughout the week. Nothing.

But hey, who cares, right? In the meanwhile, I have already found another job in a different city. Unlike the joke that is Xi'an Northwestern University, this place is professional and on point. They know what they're doing. I have spoken with other teachers who have been working there for years. I am getting more money than the Xi'an school was giving me and I'm teaching subjects that are my expertise.

The new school asks to be put in touch with the old one because, as I understand it, they need to "transfer" the work papers to their school (they are in a different province). And, since I told them the old school was apparently in the middle of completing these for me, they ask that they contact them. I give them the number.

The new school comes back to tell me that the old school is apparently very "upset" and refuse to cooperate. Why? Some other nameless administrator--some kind of department head--claims I "disappared."

What in the FUCK?!

Let me recap: late December I am told I have no job as of January 4th. No one else ever contacts me from Xi'an Northwestern University until March, when the nameless administrator woman appears to tell me she can help me with the work papers anyway, as a favour. "It's the least we can do for you," she puts it. Now I have apparently gone AWOL from my job? And who is this piece of garbage claiming I did this?

To put the icing on the cake, the new school informs me that the old school has cancelled the work papers they had in progress. What does this mean for me? Well, it means I must return to my home country to once again gather all the paperwork necessary for the new school to apply for work papers for me. And you know what, that's fine. Though I did not plan on flying back this year (I hate long flights), I had missed my family and friends. And, anyway, it's not like I ever expected the old school to help. But still, it kills you to think that this woman led me on for two months starting in March only for them to cancel all my papers. Why bother contacting me at all?

Wife and kids are safe in China, surrounded by good friends while I am back in the home country redoing papers. I have a good job with a real school and everything is getting done right. Thank god I put in all those years and countless hours' of effort to learn these people's language. If I did not speak, I don't know how we would have all survived there during this difficult year. Hah.

The company who technically hired me is called Dalian Sages Education & Sci-Technology Co.,LTD (大连圣殿山教育科技有限公司). I do not blame them for the way the things turned out but I would not recommend working for a third party. They manage too many places and they do it remotely. There is no way to ensure everything is going well. Also, your job will depend on their relationship with the school. Just work for a school directly.

If you receive an email from aefchinahr03@163.com or someone calling himself Major, it's the recruiter from Sages. He's a nice guy but he is also good at his job and knows how to connect with foreigners and get you to like him. Nevertheless, his job is done once you get on that plane. Do not respond to his job offer.

I DO hereby warn each and every single one of you that may ever come across this school:

Stay away from Xi'an Northwest University (西安西北大学). They are shameless subhuman scum, double-talking crooks, and the absolutely lowest forms of life.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2017, 12:40:40 PM by 懂爱的法海 »



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Re: Xi'an Northwest University 西安西北大学
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2017, 02:55:56 AM »
You lived and worked in China five years ago, but don't know the basics of the 'system', used a recruiter and came without a Z visa... unbelievable!

Why don't you name & shame 'The Company'?

The Koreans once gave me five minutes notice - I didn't know what to do with the extra time.



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Re: Xi'an Northwest University 西安西北大学
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2017, 01:05:10 PM »
Why don't you name & shame 'The Company'?

He did :-

The company who technically hired me is called Dalian Sages Education & Sci-Technology Co.,LTD (大连圣殿山教育科技有限公司).
If you receive an email from aefchinahr03@163.com or someone calling himself Major, it's the recruiter from Sages. He's a nice guy but he is also good at his job and knows how to connect with foreigners and get you to like him. Nevertheless, his job is done once you get on that plane. Do not respond to his job offer.
Moderation....in most things...



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Re: Xi'an Northwest University 西安西北大学
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2017, 11:02:10 AM »
Why don't you name & shame 'The Company'?

He did :-

The company who technically hired me is called Dalian Sages Education & Sci-Technology Co.,LTD (大连圣殿山教育科技有限公司).
If you receive an email from aefchinahr03@163.com or someone calling himself Major, it's the recruiter from Sages. He's a nice guy but he is also good at his job and knows how to connect with foreigners and get you to like him. Nevertheless, his job is done once you get on that plane. Do not respond to his job offer.

Ooops, I stopped reading just before that. I suggest an edit to move the full company name/info. to the beginning under 'The players:'.
The Koreans once gave me five minutes notice - I didn't know what to do with the extra time.