Wikinews interviews Texas woman returned home following ordeal in China

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Thursday, February 27, 2020

File photo of the Great Wall of China.

Wikinews recently caught up with Ashley Jenkins, a teacher who lives in Texas. Early this year, Jenkins was briefly working in China for the large English teaching company, Giraffe English. Upon returning to Texas, Jenkins drew the attention of local media. Jenkins was in China just as the COVID-19 scare was beginning to unfold there. According to sources, she ran into some trouble returning to the US. Jenkins alleged the trouble pertained mostly to events surrounding a male coworker. A number of private individuals in the US assisted in her ultimate return to Texas.

Jenkins, an English teacher, had done several long stints in Asia, working various assignments. Jenkins stated she was in China roughly between January 12th — February 20th. She stated this assignment was, " a weird time. It was just before Chinese New Year, so I did very little teaching, but helped with a few demos which are [marketing events] designed to inform parents of Chinese children on how the school [operates]." Shortly after her arrival in China, though, the COVID-19 event struck. Jenkins further explained, "Then coronavirus hit. I was stuck in my apartment." Using her laptop computer, Jenkins did have a small amount of contact with her parents and boyfriend, all of whom were in the US.

When asked about other Americans in close proximity, Jenkins stated that other than her alleged assailant/coworker, "...there were no Americans, no English speakers." Jenkins elaborated, alleging that the man, an American from California, beat her numerous times. She stated he destroyed her cell phone by throwing it into a toilet. Jenkins stated her only outside link was her laptop and the wifi included at her company-sponsored apartment. Jenkins stated she had to plea with neighbors to even borrow a phone. She stated, "I couldn't take public transportation. The American government didn't care. They kept saying, 'Come to Shanghai', but I couldn't get to the US Embassy there." Jenkins stated her Chinese boss wouldn't send her help and furthermore accused her of lying about the assaults she'd experienced, alleging she'd injured herself. Jenkins said, "I had bruises on my back, all over my arms and legs. I can't make bruises appear on my back."

Jenkins attempted to reach out to local police. She stated they came to her apartment twice, but none of the officers spoke English. She stated they only spoke with her for a moment, then spoke with a neighbor and, "...quickly left [the building]." Jenkins stated, "It took me 3 times to even give a police statement. I had bruises from head to toe. My boss didn't believe me. She said, 'I need video.' I told her, 'He took my phone. I don't have video.'" Jenkins further explained that her boss, "...was not happy. I managed to get to a local police station where they did take my written statement and did a little bit of investigating, but my boss was not happy about that." Jenkins stated several times that her alleged assailant was, "...working in China illegally." Jenkins went on to say, "You can get in trouble there for employing an American illegally. I could have been homeless. I could have been on the street. The wifi in that apartment and my laptop, that was my only link to the outside world." Jenkins also stated she ultimately had to retract her police statement, "...or the company would've kicked [her] out of [the] apartment."

Jenkins reiterated that much of this happened in the early part of the Coronavirus scare in China. She also stated that upon her return to Texas, a number of people said, "...some very ugly things [about her] on social media." Jenkins was not quarantined and Texas health officials directed her to self monitor for potential symptoms. Jenkins stated she feels well and is thrilled to be back in Texas.

The popular employer review site, Glassdoor, listed 3 reviews for Giraffe English. Two of the reviews were relatively positive, while one former employee described the company as having, "...weird management [styles]" and being quick to blame teachers for classroom problems.

Martin Steven, a man who taught for Giraffe English for a time, published an essay at the site His comments about his experience teaching in China were largely positive. An email sent Friday morning to Giraffe English was not returned by 3:30PM Texas time the same day.


This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

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