Mon, Aug 21, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Joy founder refutes AP story

By Peggy Huang

I have come across many stories by the Associated Press in various publications over the years and found them to be professional, well written -- and above all -- objective; however, the article on foreign English teachers complaining of abuse at Chinese language schools ("English teachers warn of bad treatment in China," Aug. 9, page 9) was seriously flawed and was uncharacteristically one-sided.

In the story, language schools in China were denigrated and unfairly cast in a bad light. The article was misleading and would undoubtedly lead readers to believe that foreign teachers have had to endure horrendous conditions. This is a gross generalization and an inaccurate assumption.

While there are undoubtedly numerous fly-by-night operations that are intent on exploiting their staff, there are those who have spent years building their good name. A Joy Language School franchise was specifically mentioned in the article; however, only the side of the story John Shaff gave was presented.

I am the founder of Joy Enterprises Organization. Several teachers, who cared enough about our organization's good reputation, forwarded to me the article, which was run by newspapers in Hong Kong, the US, as well as Web news portals.

We at the head office in Taipei were rightfully aghast. I launched an immediate investigation and contacted the Harbin office. Within hours, a written report was prepared and sent to me. The report stated that Shaff made a habit of being tardy starting last September. Then his unexcused absences began to occur.

The staff at Shaff's school attempted to contact him by telephone, but he refused to respond. When our staff finally visited him in person, he refused to offer any explanations, nor did he allow the Joy staff to enter his living quarters. They then had no other recourse but to terminate his employment -- in stark contrast to his claim of escaping in fear of people physically threatening him.

Despite the anguish some of our staff had had to endure working with Shaff, they feared that he would not be able to find other accommodations, and so, in goodwill, offered him 22 more days of housing, free of charge.

Joy Language School has maintained a good reputation in its 20 years of operating schools in Taiwan and China. It has also been active in charities and activities benefiting underprivileged children in Taiwan and overseas. It is unfortunate that the article has caused great damage to our hard-earned reputation. We feel that this mistake could have been avoided had the writer decided to dig deeper and not succumb to sensationalistic reporting.

Though the damage may have already been done, we at Joy Enterprises Organization seek a correction to this erroneous report so that we may salvage our good name.

Peggy Huang

Founder, Joy Enterprises Organization, Taipei

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