Foreign Teachers is the story of Luxury Gardens International School in China coined “A Bridge to the World’s Best Universities”. The staff is made up of Principal Peter Li, Vice Principal Simon Hu, Principal Li’s secretary Ivy, Chinese teachers, and foreign teachers. It is the foreign teachers who are focused on in this book. As we follow the story through the eyes of English teacher Andy Dutton, it is obvious the school is extremely corrupt. The leaders of the school want to be ID certified, however, most of their teachers are not even certified to teach. The foreign teachers are making unbelievable salaries, however, most of them are just goons who don’t really care about anything. Enter new teacher Glenn Whitman. Glenn is a good-looking history teacher from California. The women in the book all swoon over him except for Ivy whom Glenn has his eyes set on. Glenn is a bit of a do-gooder.
The leaders at Luxury Gardens announce to the teachers that they must make a good impression, not make any mistakes, and create a facade of excellence in their classrooms. Plagiarism is overlooked as is the fact that foreign teachers hardly have to work yet the Chinese teachers work fifty to sixty hours sometimes. Andy and the other foreign teachers go on luxury vacations to neighboring countries and party all the time. On days that they get out of school early, they go and get drunk and have sex with local bar girls or massage parlors. On days that they start classes early, they sleep in from being hungover the night before. Since Glenn is new, he does not know yet when to keep his mouth shut. In one part of the book, he orders a sandwich and it does not look like the picture on the menu. The other teachers tell him to just go along with it and eat the sandwich, however, Glenn makes a scene and complains to the waiter that he will not pay for the sandwich because it is not the same as on the menu. Glenn has several little outbursts like this throughout the book which are funny but he ends up being an integral character to the plot.
Foreign Teachers is entertaining and amusing. I enjoyed the banter between the characters as they tried to figure out what they were doing with all their money and free time. Some of the shenanigans these characters indulged in were quite eye-opening and alarming at times but gave the book some great substance. The author also scattered many Chinese words and customs throughout the book which I enjoyed. Overall, Foreign Teachers is an excellently written book that colorfully paints a dystopian education system in China.
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