Greenhill was OK. My first job overseas, and an opportunity I picked out of 12 or more competing offers, after many conversations with Dr. J and many promises made very earnestly on his behalf over Skype. I liked the school, I liked the city (Wuxi was everything I hoped it would be, except a bit far from Shanghai). He delivered on pretty much all of the promises, pay was fine, they gave me adequate training to fumble my way through. I was given opportunities to teach lots of different kinds of student. It lacked the rubric of a traditional skill and in some parts was a bit rough around the edges, and the curriculum was anarchy, though the students, didn't know that, and I knew but didn't care. So, yes, no basis of comparison as I was just a directionless foreigner in his 30's looking for a change, and Dr. J provided it. I had an apartment, a bicycle, decent salary, ate well all the time, went out, had fun, smoked cigarettes, made friends, taught classes, life was not bad working for Greenhill, but there were office dramas and nonsense going on. I was not the best teacher, certainly it was a new thing for me, even with my CELTA training. But they coached me into being good enough and there were a few moments in the classroom where I shined. I think I was just able to keep my head above it and embrace all the good things I was seeing, happy customers, students learning, very cool videos being made and published - this is a smart group who know how to market and get great traction with their youtube videos, which actually brings in a lot of business. I was often confused but never bored working there, and I really liked the hours. I think if you go into this company with really low expectations you might be pleasantly surprised. Dr J. is actually a really talented and OK kind of guy, but I think he has an edge of mania that is a result of having a brush of genius. I did not have many interactions with Patricia but overall I thought she was a delightful woman and probably did a really good job running the publishing arm of the business. I think it's brave for a foreigner to try to start a business in China, even with a partner that is Chinese their process is very alien to our own. Now that I have my own business (I run an VR Arcade here in the US) I appreciate some of the management tips I learned at Greenhill.
The guy is legitimately gifted linguistically, and it's a rare thing. I thought I could learn Mandarain just by plopping myself down right in the middle of it, and it was almost a brilliant strategy. What stopped me from reaching my own chinese learning goals was my absolute non-commitment to studying. But I had a blast going out drinking enjoying life riding my bicycle around, enjoying white privilege (yes it is a thing in China!) and generally filing the role of a d*p*y but totally awesome foreigner dude who it would be cool to be friends with. I had no problem being anyone's friend out there, and most of the people of Wuxi and Chongzhou, particularly the ones at the 4 schools I worked at, and the 5th school I didn't - were pretty nice. They tried to teach me Chinese but I had learned how to be lazy in engineering school and it has since been my greatest talent, my true medium, and I am not going to change and start doing my home work now. What I have now is a generous smattering. Enough for me to put on a backpack and bum around the continent for two months and have absolutely no difficulties whatsoever being understood.
I did duck out of my contract two months early, not so much because of the school, but because of the air pollution, and a general feeling of unhappiness. At 36 I was not able to marshal all the pieces together to build a new life for myself from whole cloth, but boy did this brief stint do me a world of good. And the time I spent riding the rails around the country on my way out was also totally worth it. They came through with my last paycheck just in time for me to get a big colorful tattto in Hong Kong. I left China happier than when I found it, and going through Greenhill was just fine. I would consider going back to this school or others if I thought I could survive the air pollution, and if I were not vegan now. China s*c*s if you are a vegan and I am one now.