Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Job Fair, Day Three Plus

The third day of the fair (Sunday, Feb 7) found us still on the roller coaster, and then on a long car trip back to the Chicago area. Seoul Foreign called us at our hotel at 8:30 a.m., and as soon as I heard the recruiter say his name, I knew the news was bad. Although they were very interested in bringing Joe into the counseling department, the other candidate for the music position was better qualified and there was simply no other position for me. They were very kind and sincerely regretful, but that door closed very firmly. The good news is that we will be placed on a list of 300 names kept by Seoul. The school offers a $500 bonus for staff members who will commit in October to leaving the school at the end of the next school year. Once those resignations are in place, the school uses its list of 300 names and starts calling those who might fill the positions in the fall.

When we headed to the job fair, we asked God not to open doors, but to close all of them except the right one. We figured if we left the fair with nothing left, we would know to look elsewhere, whether with the Department of Defense or maybe even another year in Flagstaff. God is faithful, and he really slammed the doors shut right and left. After the phone call with Seoul, we realized that we had only Shanghai left as a possibility, and that would involve some commitment on our parts, but (believe it or not) we STILL WEREN'T SURE. We had spoken to many people (including the "Chinese couple") about China during the fair and got some very blunt advice, usually followed by "Wow, that's a great school..."

We skipped our hotel breakfast and went to IHOP to have some familiar food and think things over. While there, we spied Joe's friend Rick, our dinner companion from the previous night with the job in Korea, who had never eaten at an IHOP before but decided for no particular reason to try it that day. He was really hoping we would get Seoul Foreign so we would be nearby, but also thought we were crazy for turning down Shanghai. As we kept dithering, we asked Rick to join us and brought him up to speed. Because Rick had lived for a month in Shanghai one summer, we knew we could use him as a sounding board, so the poor man endured the Chinese Inquisition (and no one expects that, you know). By the end of breakfast, our fears were allayed and we were ready to call the school.

We went back to the fair site, hoping to find Jeff, but the man who had shadowed us since Friday morning was already checked out of his hotel and nowhere to be found, so we sent a VERY carefully worded email in which were were appropriately humble and confident at the same time, no small feat. We also sent a second email to Larry, who had left the night before, a bit shorter but hopefully just as convincing. Having no further business at the fair, we left town and headed for my Aunt Beverly's house outside of Chicago.

It was a long drive over to northern Indiana, and our emotions and imaginations were running pretty high, especially when we got a cell call from Taejon Christian while we were on the road and either I didn't have enough bars to take the call or (more likely) I hung up on them when trying to get the cell out of my pocket. We made it to Aunt Bev's, a non-Internet home, had a nice reunion with my aunt and cousins, explained the situation, and after the end of the Super Bowl (of course, we are still Americans), we ran to my cousins' house to check our email. Hallelujah! we had a note from Larry saying that he received our email but was unable to talk to Jeff who was still flying back to Shanghai. He promised a phone call within 48 hours.

We spent all of Monday checking email, seeing Lake Michigan, and watching the cell phone to see if it would ring. I must have checked my reception and power level every half hour! Finally, around 10:00 p.m., just before we nodded off, the phone rang with Larry on the other end. We greeted each other and he got right to it - why had we changed our minds? Being the strong independent woman I am, I handed the phone right to Joe! Actually, I knew Larry needed to hear it from him, because I had been more in the Shanghai camp all along; also, I was afraid we'd run out of battery, so I went to get the power cord. Joe had a very lively conversation with Larry and they both came to the same conclusion - sign those contracts and fax them to Shanghai asap! We celebrated with my aunt, a cool headed woman who kept us from going insane, and started making phone calls to our family.

We are moving to Shanghai in August, and if you'd like to see more about our future school, the school's website is www.scischina.org and we will be at the Hongqiao (pronounced hong-chow) campus, which boasts a 750-seat auditorium complete with lighting. We have so much to do in the next six months, learning Chinese, getting visas, packing the house, and deciding about Jack. It's a big adventure and we are about as excited as we've ever been. We'll keep posting on our blog if something interesting happens, because I assume you don't want to hear about getting passport photos at Sam's Club. Thus endeth the job fair postings.

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