On Thursday I went to take another grammar test at a different school. I decided to walk there because that felt the safest, even though it would take about half an hour. I only got slightly lost on my way there, but only about 10 minutes out of my way. The people at the school were very nice and welcoming-- the receptionist here didn't speak English, either, but she complimented me on how much my Portuguese had improved since our first meeting last week, and she introduced me to another teacher so that he could help explain some logistical stuff to me, like how I shouldn't write on the test directly, but only the answer sheet, etc. During my test, she also brought in the director guy to meet me, which I guess is a good sign.
She told me I had 3 hours to take the test, but I only took about 45 minutes. I tried to seem more humble by spending time checking my answers and stuff, but whatever. When I turned in the test, she told me they'd call me soon. They still haven't, but they, too, could just be operating on Braziltime.
Oh, and on my way home I got horribly lost. When I realized later how utterly close I was to the apartment when I made a wrong turn, I wanted to kick myself. But if I hadn't gotten lost, I wouldn't have seen this DEAD ARMADILLO in the road:
Yeah, I know, kinda gross, but I'd never seen an armadillo in the wild before, alive or dead.
I ended up getting home by asking a gas station attendant for directions, and more or less understanding them.
I was kinda panicking about the job stuff, so I made some flyers to do private tutoring, and Alexandre put them up around his university. We'll see if that pans out.
But on Friday morning, the other two schools called back! The first was the place where I took the grammar test and no one spoke English. While waiting for my interview, I was talking with another wannabe teacher, an older woman who had been living in Victorville and who had to come back to Brazil because her mom was sick and because she herself needed surgery. What is up with people always telling me their whole life stories the first time I meet them? I guess in her case, grief just makes people do funny things.
My interview was okay, except the lady was close to my age and yet very serious the whole time, and kept trying to insist how many people have applied and how competitive it is and how she was “worried” because of my lack of Portuguese. I get that. But she's known that since I first went in to turn in my resume, so I'm not sure why she's allowed me to get this far. Then she explained that I'd have to go to 15 hours of unpaid training next week, which would include teaching demonstrations, and even then, I wouldn't be guaranteed to have the job (since they apparently decide at the end of the training week). And, if I even DO get the job, it'd only be about 4 hours per week at 14 reales (about 9 dollars) per hour. At the end of the interview, she kissed me on the cheek... which was, you know. Brazilian.
So yeah. Alexandre says I might as well go to the training, since I have nothing better to do (true). I figure I'll go to the first day and check it out. If the whole thing is in Portuguese, I'm scrapping it. If they keep talking to me about how it's a competition and how I am so replaceable, I'm scrapping it. Because....
I got offered a job at the other interview later that day! The director was a million times more respectful. He apparently sees my application as some fated gift from the teaching gods, as his other native speaker teacher (an Australian guy) decided to quit the day after the boss met me. He wants me to simply take over all of this guy's classes. There was such a contrast between the way he talked to me and the way the other director talked to me. He kept emphasizing about how he got such good “vibes” from me and Alexandre when he first met us, how he wants a team with his teachers, how I could “make myself at home” there, and how they were trying to expand and there would be possibilities for promotions. With all his buzz words, it was pretty clear that he's had at least one class in American business or marketing or something, but whatever, it was comforting. I don't think I'm some kind of teaching god that needs to be treated accordingly by any means, but Portuguese speaking or not, I don't like a management style that will attempt to keep putting me down until I just start begging them for the job. The pay is the same at this job, so I think that's pretty much the standard.
So... yay. Next week is the Aussie's last week, so I'm going to sit in on his classes with him (paid) to meet the students and put in my two cents and see what kind of dynamic he has established over the last few months. Some of the classes are just one-on-one tutoring (which schools call “VIP classes” pronounced “veep,”), and some are larger groups of different levels. Progress!
This whole job search thing has allowed me to see how much more localized everything is here, which is one of the reasons why things go a little slower. None of these schools are chains with centralized branches and HR offices. They each have small, overworked staff. The same thing goes for other industries. Our internet comes from a small local company with a tiny office about a mile away. To make extra money, the main part of the office sells computer equipment, and the internet branch is a small room in the back. Alexandre knows the guy by name, and we went to him to have him fix my computer to make the internet work. We didn't call any technical issues 1800-number based in India.
All bills are issued by the same local bank and look exactly the same, and are paid in cash at the company offices, or sometimes, at this special branch that the bank has at the mall. This part is still a bit confusing to me, but the point is, there is definitely no “online billpay” or checkwriting. Our vegetables often come from men around the neighborhood who grow the vegetables themselves on small farms on the outskirts of the city, and then sell them from their truck beds on certain days of the week. It sounds shady, but Alexandre has lived here for three years-- long enough to learn which farmers sell reliable produce and on which days. Etc, etc. Thoughts?
Yes, so. I've written far too much. Today, Alexandre's friends are having a barbecue, so we're going to that. I'll probably put up pictures.