Monday, July 02, 2007

The Truth About AEON: Part III

Ignorance

Often times, as was the case at my branch, the manager was completely unfamiliar with the contract signed by foreign staff. When I persisted in certain actions that I knew were allowed according to my contract, the manager always had to call headquarters in the end and be put in her place... they pointed out that "yes, he is right according to the contract."

I hated doing things that way. I tried to explain that "this is what I signed up for, this is what I was told, and this is the way things will be according to Japanese law," but was often shut down and contradicted; sometimes, I just went along to mollify things. In most cases, the requested work or action wasn't any big deal, despite the fact it was against the contract. But sometimes... the amount of stubbornness and ignorance I witnessed was just staggering.

For this entry, each argument will have two pieces: one, the actual quotation from the AEON manual or contract, and two, what happened in my case.


AEON encourages teachers to develop friendships with students in a group situation. However, AEON discourages all teachers from having inappropriate, intimate relationships with AEON students, and in particular, teachers should not, under any circumstances, socialize with students under the age of 20 on a one-to-one basis.

I had met a new student in one of my high-level conversation classes (Odyssey), and invited her to come out to karaoke with my friends in Hiroshima next weekend. I passed her my email address when I was supposedly alone in the hallway. It didn't take more than five minutes before the manager approached me, telling me one of the teachers saw me giving my email address to a student. I confirmed this, and explained the situation; according to the contract, I was entirely within my rights to socialize with a student.

"Going out with students is ok, but you can't ask them in the lobby, or in front of other teachers..."

I was too surprised to react. Of course this was in complete contradiction to what I knew to be true... strangely hypocritical for an organization that supposedly encourages socializing. I can only conclude that management must not have liked the idea of me spending time with a female student, even in a group scenario. That's the kind of mentality we see in Gaijin Ura Hanzai File – the innocent Japanese girl being corrupted by the dirty foreign dog.

...

1. The teacher's contracted salary is based on a 29.5-hour workweek, which is a combination of teaching time and office duty hours. Breaks are not included in the workweek calculation. The 29.5-hour workweek consists of a maximum teaching time of 25 hours per week (1500 minutes, which is equivalent to thirty 50-minute lessons) with the remainder of the time spent in various office hours. Workdays may vary in their combination of teaching time and office duty hours.

2. The maximum teaching time is 25 hours per week. Teachers may be requested to teach over these limits. In such cases, all teaching time exceeding this limit is calculated as overtime. The number of classes may vary considerably from day to day or season to season. Whenever the teaching time exceeds 25 hours per week, the teacher will be paid the overtime rate for all hours or fractions of the hours...

3. Office hours include, but are not limited to, prospective student interviews, counseling, promotional activities, office maintenance, class preparation and other tasks necessary for the smooth operation of the school... Teachers are required to be in the office for their scheduled working hours. However, teachers may leave the office during their schedule breaks.


This is what we call a convenient loophole. Convenient for AEON, that is, in that they never pay their teachers overtime for certain extra "teaching time". Let me explain – I mentioned that AEON has many campaigns, involving a host of different teaching materials which you are required to follow up on directly with students. This means that although you are, in every sense of the word, teaching students these materials in the 10-minute intervals between classes, you are not considered "teaching" under the contract, and are not paid for overtime if enough of these sessions occur.

To repeat: you are teaching, and not getting paid for it. In fact, during some busy months, you can have these student meetings after almost every class all week, amounting to a few hours extra work.

In addition, there is an aspect of Japanese culture you'll just have to adapt to; I'm not complaining about this, because I understand it's necessary if you work in Japan. I'm referring to cleaning up. Many Japanese businesses, even big ones, do not hire janitors or cleaning staff to tidy up after hours. As a result, employees are expected to take out the trash, vacuum, replace the air vents, clean the bathrooms, etc. Even in Japanese schools, students have a cleaning break to wipe the boards and sweep the floor.

At AEON, this cleaning time does add up, especially if you have to wait until the last student leaves the building before you can begin doing things that are not for the public's eyes (cleaning, you dirty thinkers). I just wish they would put this time on your work schedule as part of your office hours, since you are required to stay and do your part. I have written documentation that management asked me on multiple occasions to stay after 9:00 PM (scheduled working time), and clean the boards in what was legally my off time.

Management may tell you have to wait until every last student leaves before you can start doing your "required" cleaning work. AEON headquarters would disagree with this – your working time is only on the schedule, which does not include time after your last class. If they want you to stay during this time, ask them to schedule it from your office hours. Doing so will seem petty and incur the wrath of everyone at your branch, so you pretty much have to stay in your own time if you want your coworkers to at least act cordial.

The time after the last class was probably the source of greatest dispute I had with management. I knew I was free. Yet I was told otherwise. And when headquarters informed them I was correct, I was told I had to behave according to my branch's rules anyway if I "wanted a good recommendation"; it was such a flimsy threat I was lucky I didn't die laughing on the spot. I later found out no one from your branch school is responsible for writing your final recommendation letter (although you can request it).

You are told you need to do your part with cleaning the building.
This is true, but if they want you to clean after the last class at 9:00 PM, inform them it should be scheduled as office hours. If they are unwilling to do that, kindly explain that the cleaning will be done the next day during scheduled work time.

You are told you cannot leave until the last student leaves
See previous statement. I was also a little frustrated with this "request" because some teachers knowingly kept their classes 20-30 minutes late at times. If they want to work late, that's fine, that's their decision, but it shouldn't affect my working hours. This is also true for teachers talking to students in the lobby after class... again, have these long conversations in your own time if you expect the other staff to stick around; this isn't about being rude to students and trying to avoid personal conversations, it's about freedom. If you tell me I cannot leave the building until all the students are gone, and then condone other teachers keeping students in the building after hours, sparks are going to fly.

Completely unrelated to this argument – working hours. 29.5. Why? Because, according to Japanese law, if you work over 30 hours you are a full-time worker, and entitled to full-time benefits (and on the reverse, different taxes, of course). Still, management just stared me in the face when I explained this to them.

"According to Japanese law, I am a part-time worker."
"No, you are not. You are full time teacher."
"No, not according to the law."
"Why are you saying this?"

Because it's important for all parties to understand that. No amount of insistence or stubbornness will change that fact. And if I am a part time worker, I should not be coerced into working extra hours unless you want to face the consequences of employing me as a full-time worker.

Other part-time workers in Japan have had it much worse; everyone knows unpaid overtime is as natural as having black hair in Japan. Some were working 40-50 hour/weeks while still under a part-time contract. No health insurance. Part-time wages. No assistance for childcare. There have been some attempts to improve this, but I believe it's still rather rampant.

...

Management will assign break periods within the business day. Teachers are free to leave the office during their breaks, provided they notify the Branch Manager before leaving the office, they clock out/in on the Time Recorder, and return prior to their scheduled time. The Branch Manager may ask the teacher to reschedule break times for other periods during the same week. This may be for attending workshops, trainings or classes.

During my first few weeks, perhaps just under two months, at AEON, I didn't really leave the office during my scheduled break times. I went out to grab lunch or a snack, brought it back, and ate at my small desk while studying Japanese or making weekend plans. This was entirely my decision; I didn't want the other staff to believe I was a slacker and would be adhering to the exact numbers in the work schedule (that later changed when respect stopped being given from both sides).

In my first schedule, I had at least one two-hour break on a given day. My manager asked if she could reschedule this particular break to a different day – turning one two-hour break into two one-hour breaks. From her tone I thought I could negotiate a slightly different time, and asked her if I would be possible to make a new break the next day:

"Could you move one hour to tomorrow? I need to pay some bills at the post office; they're due tomorrow." (true, I should have signed up for a bank account withdrawal)
"Oh, break time is not for paying bills. You can leave, but you have to stay close to the office."

Again. Utter stock. This is on verge of stupidity, and it would not stand this time. I wasn't going to argue the point that day, but that kind of lie (or at least ignorance) told to foreign teachers did prompt me to take full advantage of all the break time I had scheduled in the future. I don't think my manager ever believed me when I told her I was free to do as I chose during scheduled off hours; it took a meeting with my trainer to convince her otherwise (maybe not even really convince her, but at least get her to stop forcing the issue).

...

a. Employees earn one Employee Designated Paid Vacation day for every two-month period of work, or five days per year, calculated from the beginning of the third month from the starting date of the current contract. Therefore, the teacher can submit a request for the dates of two of these five Employee Designated Paid Vacation days within the first six months of work. Beginning with the seventh month of employment, the teacher may request dates for all unused Employee Designated Paid Vacation days.

b. The company may ask that the teacher make changes to his/her requested vacation days if those dates fall on days that are crucial to the smooth business operations of the company. In such cases, teachers should submit a second request for other desired vacation dates. The company encourages the teachers to take their vacation days on those dates that immediately precede the Company Designated Vacation periods. The company encourages teachers not to request Employee Designated Paid Vacation days during the last two weeks of their contract. This period is a crucial time for departing teachers to conduct their final lessons and prepare for a smooth transition with incoming teachers.


"The company encourages the teachers to take their vacation days on those dates that immediately precede the Company Designated Vacation periods." If AEON is referring to the days preceding Obon (national holiday week in August) and Shogatsu (New Year's national holiday week), this is true – you are free to request days before these holidays and generally have them granted. This is how I was able to go home over Christmas. AEON has blackout days which cannot be used for vacation before Golden Week.

However, the "Company Designated Vacation periods" include days off, which were Sundays and Mondays in my case. Requesting Saturday off was never a possibility. I asked on multiple occasions – when my family was coming to visit for one week only, when I had to do a job interview, and Saturday was the only day available, when I wanted to attend the last days of the Sapporo Snow Festival... completely inflexible.

I know Saturday is a busy day for a school that caters to children, but if you don't want teachers to request it, don't say they can. Don’t lead them into believing they can request any dates not on the company blackout list – it's just plain deception.

Even when these restricted vacation days were granted (again, never on Saturdays), I was told I could not explain to my students why I was leaving; I had to tell them I was going to an "official AEON business meeting, and was very sorry... but I have urgent business." Wow. For lack of a rational answer, what is wrong with this company?

This goes back to the great divide between employee and manager expectations. Teachers come over here with the promise of:

Why not spend the next year (or more!) teaching in Japan, skiing the Japanese Alps, exploring Japan (not to mention Thailand, Cambodia, Australia, and China), and eating amazing food all while gaining valuable professional and life experience?

Managers accept new teachers in their branch on the condition that their hearts are in one place, and one place alone: the well-being and betterment of the company. I don't think this is the case for any foreign teacher in Japan. No one comes solely for the purpose of being a part-time worker or an English teacher (nothing against teaching, I just think your interests should lie a little deeper). We come to travel, to learn, to explore, to socialize, to evolve. AEON doesn't want to hear this, nor do they want you to spread such "dangerous" facts to the student population. This was the case during my experience, anyway.


Send comments my way. Wow, this entry really was bitter and biased. All fact and heart mixed together.

The Truth About AEON: Part I
The Truth About AEON: Part II
The Truth About AEON: Part III
The Truth About AEON: Part IV
The Truth About AEON: Part V
The Truth About AEON: Part VI
The Truth About AEON: Part VII

23 comments:

Joseph said...

Hey, nice commentary. I knew this kind of stuff went on in the big companies, and have been warned off them many times, but I never heard any kind of specific breakdown like this one before.

You mentioned legal working hours for full and part time work. I'm about to head into a potentially 30+ hour part time arrangement (not eikaiwa though), and wouldn't mind having some reference material to see exactly what that means.
Any websites or publications you can recommend?

Cheers.

ターナー said...

You haven't seen postings like these because AEON censors their employees to cut down on any controversial issues. No guarantee these will be up forever... but let's hope.

Before I posted this entry, I looked up the laws surrounding full time and part time work. Someone fill in the blanks here, but I believe that, in Japan, these hours are based on company contracts - if you have a full time worker coming in 40 hours/week, anything less than that may be part time.

These links might help:

http://www.jil.go.jp/english/laborinfo/library/Laws.htm

http://www.jiwe.or.jp/english/law/index.html

Rob Pugh said...

"I can only conclude that management must not have liked the idea of me spending time with a female student, even in a group scenario. That's the kind of mentality we see in Gaijin Ura Hanzai File – the innocent Japanese girl being corrupted by the dirty foreign dog. "

Actually, the impression I got [background - I'm a married Jr High JET ALT with some other JET and private eikaiwa friends, so I know a little about Japan, but not exactly this situation], but my impression is that it sounds like your boss had no problem with you spending time with/or dating this student, even in violation of official policy... he just didn't want you to draw attention to it. "Face" and keeping up the appearance of following regs even though it'd be "okay" if you didn't. Total Japan thing... it's okay as long as nobody sees. [i.e. in the lobby, in front of others, etc, etc]

So, Gaijin Ura Hanzai... not so much.
Teachers dating students, most often after graduation, especially high school teachers, is mostly expected and pretty commonplace. Honestly, at the couple eikaiwa places I know of, whether it's in the rulebook, gaijin dating students is kinda expected as well. Just never, never have attention drawn to it.

But that's just the way it sounds to me. Maybe, from context or something you're not describing, it felt different to you.

As for the rest, yeah, negotiating that fine line between exact wording of the contract and the normal everyday expectation of what everybody in Japan is expected to do and contribute... yep, tricky sometimes.

Shari said...

In Japanese business, contracts are seen as a "starting point" and not something to be strictly adhered to. One of the reasons you alienated people when you insisted they comply with the terms of your contract was that the Japanese frequently do not expect to work only in accord with what is stipulated in the contract.

However, it is absolutely absurd to recruit foreign employees knowing they come from a culture that does stick rather assiduously to the terms of a contract and expect them to understand and cooperate with the Japanese way of doing things.

The truth is that they know teachers aren't going to be happy but they don't care. They know they are misleading you and have every intention of screwing you over. One of the reasons that they prefer to recruit people from other countries rather than hire from within Japan is that you are essentially at their mercy. You need them to help you survive here because you don't know enough to survive on your own.

They know they can take advantage of you because you both will be eager to please and make a good impression in a foreign culture and you will be at a loss to go elsewhere until you learn the ropes and the language.

I must say that this cleaning business is really ridiculous - more so than all the petty efforts to have you work and pretend it's not work in regards to teaching.

b said...

I had an almost identical experience to this with AEON. Thank you for sitting down and putting it all out there for people to see. There are definitely positives, and a lot depends on the staff at your branch, but the negatives can be just mind-blowing at times due to how the situation is presented during the interview / training phase. I definitely spent 50 hours a week in that school. I had very uncomfortable experiences with selling supplemental materials (but none as bad as hassling a pregnant woman). I was encouraged to never speak Japanese, even outside of the school, and to lie to my students about my level of language ability. In any case, people should be made aware of these things, so thanks again.

ターナー said...

Rob,
I thought of that myself, but despite that comment by the manager, the only person who witnessed the exchange was another teacher who chose to rat me out. If she had properly eavesdropped, she might have heard I just suggested karaoke.

Anonymous said...

On janitorial duties: During follow-up training my group was told that being expected to clean the Japanese workplace was something that was identical to what you would find in Western businesses. No one said a thing, including me. You didn't want to be the one singled out for a "meeting" for upsetting the 'smile and nod' atmosphere.

J said...

"Going out with students is ok, but you can't ask them in the lobby, or in front of other teachers..."

Would this have been a one-one-one get-together with this female student? Maybe that's where they decided to step in. I was openly asked to socialize with students, male and female, out in the lobby. (Sometimes a whole group of us would go out together.) But I don't think I ever went out alone with a single student.

"At AEON, this cleaning time does add up, especially if you have to wait until the last student leaves the building..."

This wasn't the policy at my school/back in my day. I'd start cleaning sometimes while students were still in the room, carrying on conversations about the lesson or what have you. And I'd invariably walk out the door while some of the students continued to lollygag around the hallway and chat. I honestly didn't find the cleanup duties enough to get riled up about. It was all stuff I could do on the clock--it was the Japanese staff that would have to come in on weekends to do additional unpaid cleaning work (not to mention getting together one time to help me move...)

"I was encouraged to never speak Japanese, even outside of the school, and to lie to my students..."

Interesting. Not so in my case. Everyone at my branch knew I was fresh out of college as a Japanese major, and I spoke it as much as I possibly could. I was informed not to use it in class, but when it got to the point that students were saying "Yes, we understand" then going out to the lobby to ask the native staff to explain lesson points in Japanese, I started holding post-class Q&A sessions entirely in Japanese. The students loved it and management never did anything to quash it. Different school/different time maybe.

ターナー said...

J,

I was talking privately with the female student, but inviting her to a group outing; the other teacher had no right to eavesdrop on our conversation and then rat me out to management.

Headquarters disagreed with my branch about the cleaning duties, but I was constantly told to do them after class after the last student had left (sometimes starting at 9:30). They would always try to guilt me into staying until the very last student left (even if they were doing private counseling with another teacher out of sight); eventually I just stopped playing along.

As for the Japanese instruction, maybe my branch was just bad in this regard. Different time, different place; every instinct I had was telling me they wanted me to be nothing more than a hollow shell, to be filled with AEON propaganda and nothing from my personal experiences. They didn't want me telling students I had gone to the Sapporo Snow Festival, but rather an AEON business meeting... to avoid Japanese at all costs.

J said...

Wow, this really does sound different from my experience. I wonder how much is a reflection of change in AEON-wide policy and how much is just a reflection of branch policy at the time.

A crying shame you were ratted out by a fellow teacher (sounds like the kind of nonsense I endured at NOVA, before I got out of eikaiwa entirely). The bit about the cleaning is a bit of a shock, but having to outright lie about your interaction with Japanese culture boggles my mind, as so much of my own dealings with my students was in Japanese or in reference to their culture. Wow. You have my admiration for putting up with what you did for as long as you did.

Butter said...

Is the last quote from AEON's recruiting material or something? I don't believe I've ever seen it.

As far as speaking Japanese, the cleaning thing, leaving the school during your breaks and what have you, that is completely different from what my experience has been. Especially for very low level classes (Line Up, Voyage), I often explain grammatical sticking points in Japanese, answer the telephone in Japanese and talk to my coworkers in Japanese - including the area manager. I really feel these sorts of things depend entirely on your coworkers.

As regards the supplemental materials, you're right, the company is a little less than honest - particularly concerning the "teaching hours" aspect - but I just pay it lip service and focus on teaching great lessons. I've never had a problem stemming from my lack of involvement.

Sienna said...

I was told originally that I wasn't allowed to leave work even during my break time (unpaid work hours), or that I had to wait for other foreign teachers to come back from their break time so that I could take mine. This sparked a huge argument with my manager in which I said, "I don't tell you what to do when you're not getting paid so don't do the same to me." He just said, "Thank you very much" and then left the room.

Also, I was TAKEN OUT of the hospital to teach classes with a Kidney Infection and then they tried to force to come into work the next day. I couldn't even walk, I was in tears. The students felt so bad for me. I screamed at my manager for asking me to do such a thing but all he could say is, "We're all very sorry for your condition, but maybe you shouldn't live such a reckless lifestyle."

ターナー said...

I can only imagine what it's like having a serious injury during your contract. Luckily my current company has a decent health care plan, but I'm sorry you had to go through that.

Anonymous said...

Hey!

Am really impressed with your in depth observations. I worked for Aeon from Oct 07 to Mar 08 and I had to break my contract to save my mental health! When I started with Aeon we were required to work 37.5 hours and we had to sign up to the national health insurance (I think it was 20,000 Yen a month) and the pension (maybe 7,500 Yen a month) - the rent we were told would be a maximum of 55,000 Yen, I was living out in the sticks (well Saitama!) and was told I would be paying the maximum amount which I thought was odd especially when the assistant manager told me that the rent had gone up since the last teacher. I think that was Aeon trying to make up some cash from people like me with lower rent so they could subsidise other peoples rent in the more expensive areas, which I don't think is entirely fair.
I could go on and on about the injustices at Aeon but I wouldn't do anywhere near as good a job as you've done here! But one last point, when I did leave Aeon and was asked what I would tell my students by the Manager and the Head Teacher I told them I would tell them the truth which is that I wanted to work in a public school to gain experience for when I go back to University to finish training to be a teacher, I was actually told that it wasn't a good enough excuse!! Despite being polite and professional with all the staff and students up until my very last day and being told that I was an 'excellent teacher' I got completely frozen out by the Head Teacher and other staff.
Like you said Aeon does have its good points but it does become your life when you get out there so beware!!
Thanks again for the Blog

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable what happened to Sienna! (But of course, being a gaijin, you must've been caning it, you irresponsible slacker ;))Hope you were okay, girl, and I hope you broke your manager's balls.

What I find really quite strange about this is that practically all the Japanese teachers asked me if I fancied any of the men who came to class. When I said well, they're my students, how can I consider dating any of them, the response was usually a giggle and a "Why not?" Still, we don't want any big-busted gaijin ladies getting their mits on the pure J-boys now, do we?

One teacher reckelssly pursued a student, would always refer to him as her "boyfriend", then gave a presentation at a meeting asking waht was appropriate behavior between students and teachers. Jeez!

Mengya Li said...

Hi,
Thank you for making this series of posts, it's nice to hear it from someone who had worked with AEON.

I was recently hired by AEON (still haven't left for Japan yet, though, waiting for graduation and then my VISA) but I just wanted to comment that AEON's policies on work hours have changed. Work week hours are now 36hr/week (I believe...36 or 37) with maximum teaching hours still being 25hrs/week.

I don't know if your interviewer mentioned about "lobby-talk" to you at your interview but my interviewer clearly told us that even if it's after 9pm we can't just hustle the students out, and then are expected to help with clean-up afterwards. I personally don't mind as I tend to enjoy speaking with people in my spare time anyway and would appreciate AEON giving me this opportunity to socialize in a less formal environment than the classroom, but I think it differs between interviewers too.

Anonymous said...

I read your 7-part series before leaving for Japan to work for AEON and now I am re-reading again out of curiosity to see if my experience has at all matched yours...

I think in terms of legalities, you are completely entitled to cling to the words of your contract and state disparities between what was written and what was enacted. However, in true corporate fashion, I am quickly learning that whatever you say to any of your Japanese superiors will ultimately be repeated to the head office in your district...anything from dress code, to business efforts to teaching style. Although I hate this, it can also be considered a "loophole" for you.

I find it extremely hard to believe that all of these contractual infractions occurred during your time at AEON and not once did you report anything to headquarters in hope of change.

During training, a girl broke down crying because she hadn't had a day off in 11 days and had to work yet another day of kids training. The stress of moving to a new country, jet lag, and constantly being evaluated in a corporate environment broke her down. It would do the same to any one in my opinion. But, the trainers consoled her, allowed her to take an hour to go down and grab a drink during training and then called her branch manager to let her know that she was over-stressed and they needed to take it easy on her. Perhaps this is naivete talking, but those androids may not have your best interest in mind, but their certainly have theirs. And if they are faced with reconciling a foreign teacher who is deemed by contract "a Specialist in International Humanities", they will certain cover their asses to make sure they aren't sued.

I think everyone can agree that to each their own. All experiences are different (not to sound trite), but this 7-part series is a gleaming example of one person's trials and tribulations with AEON.

I have read countless posts that do not at all reflect this and in my own personal experience, your experience is like day and night with my own. I must work in the chillest branch because I have never felt forced into anything, my name or "teacher" standing has never been used as leverage to sell materials and to be honest, these materials sell themselves. This is not a sales job and you were not hired to be one. You make no commission whatsoever and your performance as a "salesperson" is never evaluated--only your lessons. All I have to do in terms of clean up is empty the trash twice a week, which takes all of 5 minutes, which I think is more than fair when the Japanese staff comes in early to vacuum and clean when they are probably getting paid less than me as well.

At my branch, we have an organized after hours club where students and teachers (often the manager as well) get together and go out on Saturday night. We also have several excursions we plan together and there are no barriers placed on where/when we can take breaks, who we can hang out with and I have never felt that there is that looming watchful eye that is waiting for me to slip up.

You are the sole person who put yourself in this position. You know it is a corporation before they hired you and of course when they throw down a hoop, you are expected to jump. Get over it and enjoy your time here rather than brooding over how mistreated you are as an employee. You are getting paid to live a pretty nice life in an awesome country. Make the most of it and you will get as much as possible out of the experience.

Turner said...

Again, why post anonymously? But to address your points...

I don't know why you're telling me to "get over it"... I believe I did, and that's why I'm writing these entries telling others to be mindful of what to expect; did you even read part VII?

Sadly, I think you're buying into the "like a guest" mentality in working at AEON, in that you believe it doesn't really matter what corporate enforces as long as you get a chance to live and work in Japan temporarily. If you're here a year or more, that's not a good thing; working conditions, health insurance, coworker relations, etc, are not things to be taken lightly and brushed aside.

I believe you're in the minority when it comes to not considering "teaching" at AEON a sales job - just look at others who commented.

"...this 7-part series is a gleaming example of one person's trials and tribulations with AEON". Of course it is! In addition to that, it's also a useful guide for those considering working there. What did you think it would be?

I find the aspect of cleaning the office annoying, but as I mentioned, I do not complain about it; it's a necessary part of working in a Japanese office

Really, read Parts IV-VII before you comment, especially VII.

kat said...

I posted anonymously before because I don't have a blogger account, so I wasn't sure what difference it would make, but I guess you are offended by the namelessness of my post, so here I am again as kat.

I love how you claim you are "over it". What are you doing now? How long ago did you work at AEON? You still feel so compelled by the problematic experience you had, you continue to step on your soapbox and tell everyone the "truth".

All that I wanted to get across in my post was for the benefit of those who read this and don't really know about AEON.

I wanted to be a contrary voice of opinion so that people will know that this so called "truth" about AEON shouldn't set a precedent, since a lot of what was written in your contract and the way you were treated and perceived the company shouldn't necessarily be considered "truth".

Of course you are writing this as your opinion and you are more than entitled to that.

I just hope that everyone who reads this (and who reads all parts of your series, which I have undoubtedly done, so please don't preach as if I don't understand where you're coming from since I have done the diligence before making my assertions/opinions)

I have met people like you here at AEON and in other professions...they are unhappy with whatever they do and carry that with them no matter where they are. I just hope that those who read this understand that your experience is atypical and outdated.

I take pride in the work I do at AEON and don't buy into the "like a guest" mentality, as you kindly (sarcasm heavily implied) labeled me. I honor my profession, my co-workers and everything I set out to do, so labeling me as that is plainly wrong.

So to all out there who read this, please just take this series with a grain of salt and consider the source.

Turner said...

Sarcasm isn't necessary, Kat. In fact, it doesn't exactly put your arguments in better light. I posted these entries two years ago, a mere month after my experience at AEON had ended.

You argue that these events aren't the truth; unfortunately, all my experience speaking to AEON teachers across Japan (from Hokkaido to Kyushu, not just western Honshu), and searching for accounts online (http://www.letsjapan.org/, for example), paints a different picture. Of course there are exceptions, as it seems to be in your case, but I believe that AEON's stance on sales is universal.

As such, my experience was far from "atypical and outdated", as you claim. Nor did I have a negative experience; I guess you did read Part VII but imposed your own bias from the previous sections on it. Overall, I had a good experience, but problems did crop up from time to time, ones for me that almost made me consider leaving AEON.

I'm afraid you're just dead wrong if you don't believe you consider yourself a guest in Japan. Your last comment says otherwise:

"...enjoy your time here rather than brooding over how mistreated you are as an employee. You are getting paid to live a pretty nice life in an awesome country. Make the most of it and you will get as much as possible out of the experience."

Nothing against making the most of your Japanese experience, but if you just sit still and ignore what's going on around you in the workplace, it doesn't exactly encourage you to stay on. Did you intend to stay in Japan for years? 10, 15? Or just one? I wanted to stay long-term. If you have a contract with a specified end-date and don't intend to explore your rights as a resident of Japan, well...

I encourage you to look at others' experiences across Japan, and then comment again. I admit you may have not seen any of the issues I describe here, but you're one of the rare ones. Ease up on the sarcasm, too; my disagreeing with you doesn't mean you have to attack me personally.

kat said...

I didn't mean to attack you personally. I apologize if I have offended you.

I am not trying to pose myself as any kind of expert, on Japan or AEON. I give you an abundance more credit for that. But, my real intentions in coming to this country were to only stay a year and to make the most of my work life, personal life and travels. I don't want to just be a tourist in every country I go...I want to give back to the community in some sense and really get a chance to connect with people here. That is my purpose here and in doing so, I wont neglect problems at work, I just haven't seen the same sort of hardships as you have and didn't realize I was of the minority in saying so.

I hope you don't take my comments as ridicule. It just seems like there is a barrage of nasty information about AEON because the only people who want to post are those who have something negative to say or some sort of supposed dark truth to unfold.

I was just hoping people's decisions to come to Japan wouldn't be shrouded by those who has less than ideal experiences. I am sure, from reading your other posts on the blog, that you are making the most out of your life in Japan.

I just wanted to make the other "me's" of the cyberworld aware that not all information about AEON needs to be shed under a negative light, despite your overall experience being a good one.

Dion said...

The manager was probably covering for the branch. I've heard of one guy who fooled around with 3 students and got caught, so they all got together and complained to Aeon Honsha. When I was there, my manager never made a big deal.

Anonymous said...

I worked for AEON right after graduating from college. That was back in 1998. I had a big interest in Japan, from four semesters of Japanese, to getting my Shoudan in Aikido.

From the perspective of being able to work and live in Japan, AEON made this possible.

However, many of the things stated on this blog I agree with. It appears some things actually got better when compared to my time at AEON. For instance the whole working hours per week, well if these laws existed back then I never knew of them. I worked 40+ hours a week, and then I was expected to go to out of school engagements where I was told that that X number of students would be sitting next to me as their contracts were up for renewal. I could go on and on about how much this job was more about being liked for money reasons than it was ever about teaching....

I never could use all of my personal days in a year because the only day which was a possibility to take off was a Friday when I had only a couple of private lessons. The 3 weeks of holidays did happen, but if going to Korea was 90,000 yen before Golden Week, then it was 160,000 + during Golden Week... Thus any kind of travel, even within Japan became very expensive!

When I did something wrong, or incorrect, no one would tell it to me straight. Like most of Japanese culture, they would sometimes create another issue and dance around it until I could figure out what the real problem was.

The apartment situation was not ideal at all. I lived in a 'famous' part of Nagoya where there is an entire street and ally way dedicated for mens clubs and 'Healths'. Drunk salary men urinating on my staircase, women running from the area when their shops closed at 2am with drunks chasing after them.... Anyways I found a place closer to where I taught which was cheaper and bigger. I complained 3 times to management and provided other solutions, but they wouldn't do anything... Even when they could save money....

Then there was the weekly meetings about making expenses and 'spirits'. This would always end up in my room brought to me like I ordered room service. It was all about money, and even though they would say they would like to hear my opinion, they had made up their mind that I was going to do x, y, and z before hand, including working on the weekends....

If you want to get to Japan with a valid work visa this is a viable option. I applied too late for the JET program, but wished I had waited another year to apply again. Many 'teachers' at AEON would tell me that in the JET program you don't get to teach, and you're a puppet for the Japanese high school English teacher who's teaching Katakana English. However, you make twice as much a month, have less working hours and responsibilities. More free time to explore Japan with more money sounds like a better deal than working at an Ekaiwa!