The Day That Everything Changed
The year was 2019. I was working at a mobile data company (Metro @ T-Mobile) and enjoying the simple life of being a LGBTQ+ writer and bouncer for my city’s gay village. That’s me, Justin Pyfrom, a man of simple taste, choice and what not. But, then, I got an interesting notification from a woman named Kimmie.
I remember it like it was vivid dream. It was on a typical boring Monday where I was finishing up a customer’s sale and setup of their new phone before hearing my phone ring with a notification. It was job opening for OWEN. Although I can’t remember if it was the email I saw first or the LinkedIn’s DM. Either way, it caught me off guard for many reasons.
The main reason was because of the timing. It was odd. Really odd, as a matter of fact. I was doing the budget for my Short Short Project and saw that I could never acquire enough money on my wages until a few years. So, seeing that notification made my eyes rise in curiosity. It also didn’t help that I was seeing it on Instagram, LinkedIn and a few other social media platforms. Clearly, I was being guided by a divine force. So, I replied.
Kimmie, a recruiter for OWEN, was happy to hear from me and was even more happy to ask all of my question. I had a healthy list of them. Uprooting my familiar life in “The City of Brotherly Love” was daunting and I needed a completely clear mind - free of doubt and worry. She was very frank about it all and upon hearing my “Yes”, proceeded to put me through the process. And what a process it was.
The first thing I had to get my TEFL certification. That was a no-brainer since I was going to be a TEFL teacher. I used a coupon to help with the cost of the course, dropping the price from three digits to the low two digits; I was on a budget, after all. I was always working on a time restraint. Everything needed to be done in a timely fashion or I would lose my job.
See, I was already hired. I aced the interview and my current boss was a great help with that. He made sure that I got the time and space to do all of this as he saw a great opportunity was presented to me. But I was behind on everything else. I needed to do a lot and there wasn’t a lot of time.
First, I needed to complete my certification. Honestly, that was the easy part. It only took me a week to finish the only course, however more in-class training and teaching practice were done after arriving at OWEN, and even I was impressed But the next part was more challenging: I needed a passport.
Now, the prepping wasn’t hard. There was a passport office near my place of employment and they were linked to the state. That was the problem. See, my country was going through a strike because of Trump’s nonsense. Combining that with the spring breakers and the fact that all passports have to go through the Department of State, you can imagine my concern.
Nevertheless, I got my passport. During that wait period (month or so), I had to get in contact with my college so I could get my diploma. That’s where I learned something interesting. I learned that everything has to match.
Let me explain. I have two last names and two middle names. However, I only use one of my last names and both of my middle names. But when I fill out applications, I only have room to put one middle name. I never thought about it because my country can link everything about me to one source of ID. China can’t and got confused by it all. So, I had to do all of that, again. No big deal.
The final part was the letter of invitation. This was important because the easiest way to come to China is to be invited. It also helps with the VISA. Different VISA, requires different letters from what I was told. I got a letter of employment and I had to take that letter and a form to the Chinese Embassy in New York City. That along with my passport. Two trips: one to drop off and one to pick up.
I was told that I was supposed to get a physical which wasn’t a problem for me. I was a pretty physically fit gent. Still am, if I may be so bold to say. I also had to get a few shots but it was mandatory as it varied on the city. But the last wasn’t up for negotiation: FBI background check.
That was new to me. For me, I’m familiar with federal and drug test. That’s normal. I never knew anything about FBI being in charge of abroad background checks. Learn something new everyday, right?
Of course, I passed and, with that, I was done with all the legality of my employment. Now…all I had to do was wait…and figure out how to tell everybody of my recent decision. Did I mention that I didn’t say a word to anybody about thing? That was going to be awkward conversation.
You want to know what happened next? wait for next blog.. see you soon.
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