Step 7.1: Zěn Me Shuō "Syphilis"

In my last post I mentioned that the Foreign Experts Certificate took longer than normal for me to receive.  So too did the official verification of my US Health Examination.  The issue turned out to be “Syphilis.”

About one week before the 30-day deadline, I was called up to see the HR Director.  She told me that there was a problem and that they needed me to take a Syphilis test because I hadn’t gotten one in the US.  She needed me to go the next morning to a doctors office on the outskirts of town to get the test.  I was not happy about that because I had class scheduled, it would cost more money and time, and also I was overwhelmed by the concept of doing all this without support.

 Instead of relenting, I insisted that I had taken the Syphilis test in the US and that the result was negative.  I guessed that the issue was more that the Chinese staff member reviewing my file just did not know the English name for the test.  So I found the copy of the Syphilis test in my file, entered the test acronym FTA-ABS into Google, and immediately found several credible websites proving that this was in fact the syphilis test.

Much to my appreciation, my HR Director realized I was probably right and called the health officer back.  While I waited and listened, they had an intense conversation in Chinese over the phone.  I could tell from the tone of the conversation that it wasn’t working out well for us.  One reason may have been that the person on the other end of the line did not want to admit being incorrect.  So I readied myself to drop all my plans for the next day and to “eat bitterness” as the Chinese often say.

While I taught my afternoon class, the HR Director continued the fight.  She knew I was not happy about the situation, especially because I had been through so much while getting the entire exam in the US, and so she fought for me.  She finally talked to the director of the health office, and he looked into it.  He called her back that afternoon and told her that my test was indeed satisfactory and that I would not have to go to the clinic the next day.  She stopped by my class to tell me the good news, and I gave her a hug and high five for her efforts.  It was a big and unexpected victory.

Situations like this are not uncommon in China.  Issues can arise over things that appear to be straightforward.  Yet it can be a very big pain to fight them, and success is not assured even in the most basic issues.  One constantly has to assess whether or not it is worth the effort to fight or if it is a better idea to just go along with it and “eat bitterness.”  This was one time that I dug in my heals, and fortunately it worked out in my favor.  The next cases may not.

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