When I was teaching in Chiba, I found out that one of my students was an ex-GEOS manager. There was an instant connection when I told her that I used to work for GEOS as well. We talked about our experiences and this is the result.
So just what was the Odawara GEOS school like? My first impression was when I got off the elevator and saw a mess of GEOS-related pamphlets and hand written posters in thick marker ink. If GEOS was such a huge and established company, why were the managers drawing posters? I mean, the stuff looked like it was prepared for a garage sale. Surely, GEOS could be more professional than that. Didn't image mean anything to the big wigs?
I was introduced to Taka Suzuki by Dan, the teacher I replaced. Dan assured me that "Taka" was a cool guy. They did a hippy trip to Kyoto- went by local train all the way and slept in stations and on park benches. We went to Roppongi together, Taka and I(he helped me buy my stereo)and he seemed like a good guy.
Update March 20, 2002: Anybody who has been reading the ESL message boards here and at gaijinpot.com over the past couple of weeks is aware that some major fur is flying in regards to Antonio Ferreira, a self-styled equalizer for gaijin who have been wronged. James Gibbs, the Webmaster of the now defunct japantraveller.com, first brought Antonio to our attention in 2000. We posted James's comments about Antonio in this Interac story and that seemed to be the end of it--until recently.
I had a middle aged student who was in a predicament. He had been restructured out of his job and, being the eldest son, was obligated to care for ailing mother at the same time. Truly in a bind. He came to GEOS in order to boost his TOEIC score and find a job in the pharmaceutical industry. He was a chemist of sorts.
Background: Rob and I both worked at GREGG and know the situation pretty well. The turnover of Japanese teachers is faster than that of the foreign teachers. The Japanese staff are pretty much thrown to the wolves without any training; zero support, zero training, zero material and zero psychiatric counseling at the end of the day. I remember meeting a poor soul who started the same time I did. She was older, trying to get some work, make a little pocket money. She had lived in the States for a while when her hubby got transferred there so she could speak English well enough.
The thing with this school is that they have a solid core of senior teachers who know the game and get all of the great gigs. They know not to teach X course at X location. When you see the add in the paper, they are trying to fill a position for the course nobody wants. Why is that course so undesirable?
I made it to work at 10:45 am, the unofficial official starting time for GEOS gaijin staff and punched in. They told us in Vancouver that the starting time was 11:30 am but that's not true. Punch in later than 10:45 am and eyebrows were raised all the way to head office. I started the coffee maker, put the flowers I bought that morning in a vase, put them on the counter, grabbed the paper and headed for my room to prepare for my 2:30pm class.
About 15 minutes later, Tomoko, the sales manager walked in. I was half way through a (Mike) Royko column when I heard the shout.
In 1993 I spent my first Christmas in Japan. At that time I was a faithful GEOS employee. I did a lot of things for the company that would be unthinkable now. I really wanted to get along with everyone and do my job the best I could. I even considered a career at GEOS! I had bought into the program.
During a school meeting in early November the subject of the school's annual Christmas party came up. "Cool!" I thought.