I've been really surprised at how hard it has been to find a job here. ESL is a very competitive field here and even with many years of experience, a Master's degree in TESOL and just having come back from living and doing some teaching in China, I am (as another teacher told me) just another cog in the wheel.
I started looking for a job last Spring when we were still in China. I contacted a local junior college and received a fairly curt reply saying that I should check with human resources. I filled out several online applications to different places in the Portland/Vancouver area and had two interviews. One was for a four hour position and they hired someone else. The other was dependent upon student enrollment and I never heard back from them. I sent a resume to another place and they e-mailed me back saying that they'd like to interview me but that I needed to do the on-line application. I did it and never heard a word back, inspite of follow through e-mails on my part. One lovely school told me I was the best interview they had had all year but that they had no positions. Sigh. I've heard from several different ESL teachers that this is very common-there are so many people looking for jobs and so many people willing to drive all over the place to work that normal professional courtesy isn't even necessary.
I heard about another college that had an MA TESOL program and was looking at their website out of curiosity. I discovered that they had an ESL program and sent a resume last September. I got a polite response back that they weren't hiring but they would keep my resume. Then a few weeks ago, I got an e-mail asking if I was still available, did a phone interview, observations, real life interview and now I have a job! I'll be working for ELS Portland which is housed at Concordia University. All though I will be surrounded by statues of Martin Luther, the program is separate from the University. The campus is beautiful and it's surrounded by a beautiful neighborhood with beautiful homes.
Each person that I have met has been pleasant and helpful. The program is an academic English program that runs in one month cycles. Most students are Arab or East Asian- Japanese, Chinese and Korean. I start at the lowest ranking which means that my job depends upon enrollement. This month, I will teach 20 hours a week or four classes. Next month? Who knows? In order to get to a more permanent status, I need to work three consecutive months in a row at 20 hours. So it's still a "maybe" job but one that I am thankful to have.
It's been a little over three months since we have moved here and we are still blown away by the beauty of the area. We like the church where Paul is working and the people there have been warm and welcoming. Elisabeth is happy at college and that makes us happy. She has a work study job working with developmentally disabled teenagers- fruit of having a developmentally disable child in our home for two years. I will be seeing her next weekend when I go to Seattle to see some friends-yay!
I read these two quotes about "sainthood" this morning and I am pondering them. The first is by Frederick Buechner.