It is illegal for foreigners to teach Kindergarten in Taiwan.
It is illegal for me to do my job in Taiwan. Technically.
One of the first things we learned in Taoyuan is that in Taiwan, there are laws, and then there is what everyone does, including the law makers and the law enforcers. Take the process of owning a scooter for example:
1. The law: You must have a license to drive a scooter.
2. The law: You must have a scooter to take the test to get your license.
Conflict: How do you do both?
The answer: It's Taiwan.
So you must imagine how surprised/oddly unsurprised we were to learn that foreigners actually can't teach "Kindy." The Taiwanese teachers' union said NO, and so it was written, but parents wanted their babies to have native English education. And so it is commonly practiced that crazy youth like me end up working under...or perhaps above...government rules and regulations. We were told that it's very rarely an issue, and if anyone ever asks, just play dumb, pretend you don't understand what's going on, and don't sign anything.
So you must imagine how surprised/oddly unsurprised we were to get phone calls during our classes on Friday (just as I was about to teach ABC's...), saying "Open Sesame!!!" And my HRT (Homeroom Teacher) Lily starts shouting, "Open Sesame, Open Sesame" at me in her beautiful thick accent and I'm screwing up my face like, "Say what, Teacher Lily?" and all of a sudden I get it: Open Sesame is the code word for "We're being raided for illegal teachers...among other things." So I drop my flashcards, say "Bye bye" to the kiddies and bolt out the door.
Outside in the stairwell are my co-teachers, also panting up to the third floor, where we barricade ourselves in the teachers' room. Supposedly this doesn't happen very often, but everyone seems to know the drill very well. Aside from the third floor hiding the teachers, it seems like another "illegal" practice is being hidden: we aren't supposed to have Kindy on the third floor, either, and so an enormous bomb door (or something to that effect) has been closed and locked to completely eliminate the 3rd floor, as if to say, Sorry, but this floor doesn't exist anymore.
We sit sit sit, and wait wait wait, a bit Anne Frank-ish (not to compare a Kindy raid with World War II - though it made a moderately funny joke at the time) and 45 minutes later start to have rumbling tummies. It turns out the inspectors had been satisfied a while before and left. The office ladies had simply forgotten we were Open Sesame-ing and forgot to call. This was not malicious, I might add, just a little funny. After all, it doesn't happen very often, right?
So you must imagine just how surprised/oddly unsurprised we were last night, Monday, while teaching TreeHouse class in the basement classrooms (6-10 years old after school English), that we hear "Open Sesame!" shouted in the doorway. As the English teachers begin to bolt for the elevator to take us to our safe haven on the third floor, we notice a giant stream of students following us into the garage (where the elevator is.) It turns out the Taiwanese law says that classes cannot be held in the basement, and therefore, the students and the classrooms themselves were also illegal.
My poor class, yanked out of a mind-numbing lecture on the grammar pattern "How does noun sensory verb?" climbing onto me asking "Teacher, what is?" and me getting all Sound of Music on them saying "We're playing Hide and Seek and if you stay very quiet, we'll win!" What an absolute treat! Apparently, the basement also had an enormous space shuttle-esque door that effectively renders it "There's nothing important behind that wall!", and we were just taking precautions. It's not that anyone will get shot, or taken to jail, or even seriously fined.
People just don't like complications in Taiwan.
Go figure ;D.