Google Might Soon Be In China, and What That Mean’s For You

China pictureGoogle is taking some heat this week from its employee’s. Many aren’t happy to discover that Google is attempting to develop a Chinese friendly search engine. This means that it would be a search engine like Google, but it adhered to the censorship guidelines/laws that the Chinese government have in place for the country. The Google employee’s are mad because they feel that their work is being used for “unethical” things and they Google is no longer the moral compass they expected the company to be for the tech world.

Since when do employee’s get to dictate what a company does? Teacher’s don’t design the school curriculum, the state governments do that. Do teacher’s get up in arms because they have to teach stuff they don’t like? Rarely. As an English teacher, I don’t like that I need to teach students to eliminate their native accent when speaking English, but I do it because that is what I am paid for. I think the Google employee’s have been given more control and rights within their company than most employee’s. Now, they are taking advantage of that.

Honestly, I don’t blame Google for wanting to re-enter China. It has the worlds biggest population, and literally gives Google access to billions of people. All tech companies want to be popular there. So, of course Google is trying to work within the restrictions to get their company more revenue and users. I don’t blame Google, it is a smart business decision. Google isn’t removing more information from the Chinese people, so, why be mad at the company? As the saying goes: Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Meaning don’t be mad at Google for acting like a smart business and playing China’s game.

An article with more details on this issue is here. Furthermore, this article claims that Google is the one that left China. I would argue that Google was unceremoniously blocked by the Chinese government and just “claimed to leave”. I was living in China in 2008 and I can tell you that Google was hard to access due to censorship even then. So, Google may have been heralded as this moral company for refusing to give into censorship, but it was really a clever marketing scheme to spin the fact that China wasn’t allowing Google access anymore.

How and Why You Should Teach Gender To Your Kids/Class

Gender picWhile teaching English this summer, I was fortunate enough to work for a company that had a spectacular text book. It encouraged open discussions in English, and didn’t just talk about the boring topics like shopping, movies, etc. My level 4 book had a section on gender issues. This is a subject I studied quite a bit at university, and follow in the news, but not one I have ever taught. So, I challenged myself to teach gender to students with English as a second language.

Hands down, this was one of the hardest subjects I have ever had to teach. Not because of a lack of knowledge, but because it involves such sensitive issues that society has coached us to not discuss publicly. Well, I did and it was the best class I have ever led.

I began by having the students create a list of issues related to gender, not only for women but men as well. Here are some things we came up with for men; custody rights, mental health stigma, body pressure, lack of support for sexual abuse, paternity leave, inability to cry. For women; pay gap, hormones being used as an excuse for feelings, maternity leave, pressure to find partners, tampon tax. This list is only a small sample of the massive ideas my students developed.

I then did something very controversial, I told my students I was going to make some statements that might be upsetting but I encouraged them to disagree with me. I said: Gay is against nature and wrong. Women are the lesser sex. Transgender/transsexual’s are just a mental disorder. The reactions I got were astounding. All of my students (even the quiet ones) got up in arms. They debated me, fought me. They spoke more in this class than in any other. They were understandably angry at my narrow minded statements, but it was only after we finished our discussion that I admitted that I didn’t agree with a word I said. I showed them how by phrasing things in that method got them to talk more than any other way could have.

Unfortunately, while teaching this subject, my boss overheard me. My company is very clear that they do not require me to give in lesson plans, and they do not censor what I teach. But, my boss did not like what I was saying or how I was saying it. He couldn’t tell me to stop, he had no authority to because our manager had already given me the Ok. So, instead, he pulled me aside and claimed I was “talking too much for an English class” and he refused to hear my explanation. Just because he didn’t like what I said, he literally told me to stop talking in class.

That is what our society does. If people don’t like what one person says, they make them be silent. Especially in regards to issues related to gender like LGBTQ+ rights or equality among the sexes. It makes people so uncomfortable! I felt uncomfortable discussing it, but I am glad I did. Because, I had multiple students write me thank you cards saying that my gender class was their favourite class of the summer. Many even said an adult had never talked to them about these issues, and they were grateful I did. It was wonderful for me to hear that, but also sad to know that 16 year old kids had never had someone discuss gender issues with them. These are vital to encourage a tolerant, accepting world. We need EDUCATION around this, and all issues, to ensure there is a better tomorrow.

 

Why You Should Give China a Break

China pictureReading this article about the 2 child policy in China, I can’t help but feel annoyed.

First, Western countries/media constantly berated China for having a One Child Policy. They thought it violated people’s rights and choices. In some ways, it did. But, this policy was a drastic measure to a drastic problem. China’s population was growing too fast to for the industrialising country to support it. So, criticise all you want, China had to do something or it never would have become a world power.

But, in the mid 2000’s, the Chinese government relaxed the policy so people from ethnic minorities or those willing to pay a fine could have more than one child. And then, if a married couple both came from a one child household, they could have two. But, the media didn’t care about this. Then in 2015, the one child policy was officially dropped. Cue applause.

Now, two years later, and the Western media have somehow found a way to find fault with China’s birth rate AGAIN. The Economist claims that the multi child policy is creating discrimination against women within China, because employers are concerned about women taking more maternity leave.

Excuse me, but this ins’t just an issue in China! This is an issue we females face around the world. In America, employer’s do not want to hire a pregnant woman. They seem them with dollar signs above their heads. The media shouldn’t condemn China for an issue that exists in every modern country. Furthermore, the media shouldn’t give China a hard time for changing a policy they were condemned for by the same media!

No country is perfect, but China is berated in the media more than most. And, I am kind of sick of it.

https://www.economist.com/china/2018/07/26/chinas-two-child-policy-is-having-unintended-consequences

Crucial Advice If You Are Going to University

auditorium benches chairs class
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I started university earlier than most, I had my first uni class at 14 in China. I officially started studying uni in America at 16, three and a half years later I had my first degree. Now, I have 2 degrees and have attended 4 different universities all over the world.  I’ve lived on and off campus, taken out student loans, paid tuition, and pulled all night study sessions. Suffice it to say, I am an expert at university life. 

In all my experience at universities, I’ve been given massive quantities of advice. Don’t drink on a Sunday, hand write your notes, focus on studies, maintain a side job. The suggestions never end. And NONE of it has helped me in the real world. No one warned me that university is the easy part of life, that studying is for an exam is relaxing compared to job hunting. No one said student loans would make me suicidal. No adult has ever given me worthwhile advice about university. 

So, I’m going to do every student the favor I was never given. There are only 3 things you need to know about university. Live by these rules, and life will be simplistic. 

  1. Unless you are going to Yale, Cambridge, Harvard or some other Ivy League, NO job will ever care where you got your degree from. They WILL NOT care if you went to your local college or a state university. (Honestly, a lot of jobs won’t care if you went to an Ivy League either). So, DON’T take out more $$ and debt to go to a fancy private school across the country. Go to the school that is the cheapest for your chosen major. 
  2. Your grades/marks DO NOT MATTER. At the end of the day, on your resume/cv you will put down that you graduated from X university with Y degree. I’ve had dozens of interviews and an employer has never asked me what GPA was, they don’t care if I got honors. An employer cares if you got the physical diploma and THAT IS IT. Therefore, don’t drive yourself crazy at university to get the perfect scores. Learn what matters for your chosen speciality, enjoy sports, party with friends and experience life outside the lecture hall. I promise that your marks/scores truly will not matter once you walk across the stage at graduation. Literally, NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT GRADES.
  3. The real world and job market all rely on one skill. The ability to sell. If you can creatively interpret your skills and summer jobs on your CV so it matches for each position you apply for, then finding employment will be easy. Every job should have a personalised resume that uniquely sells YOU to that specific employer. This is all a nice way of saying, on your resume/CV and in interviews, YOU JUST GOTTA BULLSHIT. I’ve been hired for dog walking and teaching English, and my degree is in political science. How did I get those jobs? I sold the hell out myself. I am my #1 product. 

There you have it. These 3 things are the most important pieces of advice you will ever get. By following my words of wisdom, university life will be less stressful, you will get interviews, and most importantly, you will survive in the real world. 

(Please excuse my colorful language in this post, my goal is to get the point across as clearly as possible)

 

The Top Reasons Egypt Is Not Safer Than America

brown camel
Photo by Simon Matzinger on Pexels.com

As an ESL (English as a Second Language) I speak to many nationalities, and Egyptian’s are frequently my students. Today, the BBC published an article claiming that Egypt is safer than the UK and USA. A survey from Gallup Global claims that more people feel safe walking alone at night in Egypt than in the US.

Ask any of my students, they would all laugh and say that was ridiculous. Egyptians live in a constant state of fear, their leader is a dictator. Several of my students have had family members killed by this regime. In no way is Egypt safer than the UK. In the UK police officers don’t even carry guns, in Egypt, not only do they carry, but they use them as well.

I can only assume that people in Egypt feel equally UNSAFE at night as they do in the day. Thus, the survey results say Egypt is the 16th safest country in the world. As a traveller, I promise that I would not walk the streets of Egypt comfortably at night. And I am a fairly fearless person, I’ll walk anywhere alone at night in the US, even the ghetto of New Orleans.

This is the article that lists the safest countries. Unsurprisingly, China and Singapore were were very safe, while Venezuela was on of the most dangerous. Overall, I don’t think this survey is accurate. I mean, they suggest that Turkey is more dangerous than Myanmar. That Japan is LESS safe than UK (which is ridiculous). The survey is clearly flawed.

Are You a Racist and You Don’t Realize It?

RacismI was recently visiting some family, they are an elderly British couple. At one point, the husbands brother came to visit. We were all gathered around a sitting room, discussing my visa situation. I can’t renew my visa because I don’t earn enough money and this upsets the family. The brother said “I’m not racist but…” It is always the “but” that means something bad is coming.
“I’m not racist but… if you were Pakistani, you would be able to get a visa no problem. One neighbour I know brought 5 of them over, and the NHS get them a car to drive to appointments. If you were from any other country you wouldn’t have a problem staying in the UK”
I struggled to maintain my composure. I HATE when people are racist, especially when they have zero understanding of the incredibly difficult and complicated process ANYONE goes through to live in the UK, regardless of skin color. Additionally, I took affront to this words because my best friend’s family originally came from Pakistan and they have done nothing but add to the UK.  I don’t understand why native British assume that any foreigner is detracting from the country rather than giving to it.  Most foreigners fill jobs that would otherwise sit empty. The worst part for me however, was them attempting to negate their negative comments by saying “I’m not racist”.
No. There is no way to be kind of racist, or semi-racist, or make racist comments and not be racist. Racism is a black and white issue. Either, you are racist (which this brother definitely was) or you aren’t. You can’t pick and choose how to define yourself when it comes to being insulting towards other races.
I also found it disrespectful that they attempted to minimize my situation by putting it down to the fact that I am American and/or white. My skin color has nothing to do with my visa.. The country and skin you are born in DOES NOT MATTER. We all have the same DNA design, the same body parts, the same ancestors. Race isn’t important to what country you should be allowed to live. Racism is simple not ok in 2018.

 

Is Having a Good Work Ethic Connected to Having a Good Work Environment?

woman holding paint brush
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Research has demonstrated that employee’s who have a good working environment with proper benefits improve their productivity and get better results. However, what about research into working environments that are made a little too good? I know this will probably sound insane, but I think that if the working environment is too comfortable, productivity and work ethic can go down. I have one clear example of this.

In the UK, contracted employee’s get 25-26 days of mandatory leave plus holidays. They are allowed to call in sick and not lose pay or holiday days. They work decent regulated hours, and have huge levels of safety standards built in. All British residents get free health care, and if they lose their job they get government support. Maternity leave is usually about 6 months, father’s also get a bit of time off. Lastly, it isn’t easy to fire someone in the UK. You have to have a really good reason.
In the US employee’s aren’t so lucky. Maternity leave is 3 months, maximum. There are no paid sick days. If you are fortunate, you get a total of 10 days off work, plus holidays. Employers offer health insurance, but it will usually cost the employee an arm and a leg. Getting fired is easy, and if you want to claim unemployment, you can only do so for a maximum of 6 months and that is with a lot of paperwork involved. You are frequently expected to work a lot of overtime, without compensation.
Overall, the US work system isn’t the best. Especially with regards to time off and health benefits. However, I see a huge discrepancy between British work ethics and Americans. In America, people work hard at their job because they have no choice. If you slack, you are fired. And you have no government benefits to fall back on. Many people must work multiple jobs to make ends meet and cover all their expenses. In the UK, the government lends more of a helping hand. Rarely do people work multiple jobs in the UK. This is all fine until it leads to poor ethics in the workplace.
By being allowed to call in sick with no repercussion, I think it causes people to take advantage. I only call in ill if I am going to spread illness to others, or if I have a doctors note. I would say I take less than 5 sick days a year (usually). However, in Britain, I’ve seen people have more than a month off (with a doc note) and still keep their job and their pay! I truly believe this causes people to make every cold seem like a deadly virus. Furthermore, when you know your job is very protected, people get comfortable. They work slower, they don’t try as hard. Often it is in their benefit to work slower because they can get paid overtime.
In many ways as an American I am grateful for the good working environment in the UK. However, I treat my job as if it was in the US, which means I respect it. I believe American’s have been forced to have good work ethics. . Working in the UK is nice, but I think that the British have a poor work ethic because of it. There are other countries that have achieved a happier balance. In Japan, employee’s are expected to work upwards of 50 or 60 hours a week. But, they get extremely good salaries and built in company benefits. In Turkey they also work around 45 to 50 hours a week, but they get 20-30 days off and public health care. America needs a better work environment, and the UK needs to develop a way to keep employee’s incentivized to continue to maintain good work ethics.