‘All the schools are closed.’
That’s the text message I received on the morning of Oct. 26, 2007, from a fellow Nova teacher. I went to my school later that day to find the lights off, the doors locked and no one around. Like most of Nova Corp.’s hundreds of language centers, it was never to re-open. Japan’s largest conversation school chain filed for protection from creditors the same day. The company was declared legally bankrupt a month later.
In the period leading up to that fateful day, there had been plenty of signs that things weren’t right, says Briton Marc Davies, a former area manager. “The hardest part for me at first was dealing with a delayed paycheck. It was delayed by about four or five days in July. Then in August, because I was a senior supervisor, my pay was delayed again. The crunch really came in September when I was not paid at all. That was very scary. I was living off a credit card. I had no idea when and if I would get paid again.”