It’s an emotional week for Gemma Dunn, who grew up in Reading, as she celebrates her 40th birthday, remembers her late Grandad- a huge champion of her - who’s 99th birthday it would be - and honours the memory of her sister, who died when she was 40, by dedicating her tell all book to her, having been inspired by her to ‘do more with her life’.
Gemma is celebrating becoming a bestselling author today after she shared her story of her shockingly horrendous experiences in China when she applied to teach English via an online TEFL Course - with the book becoming a bestseller on Amazon book charts within hours of its release. ‘I was sold in China’ went straight in at Number 1 on the Amazon bestseller charts in 3 categories and was also showcased as a ‘Hot New Release’.
Inspired by her older sister, who saved multiple lives thanks to being a beating heart organ donor, and made to take stock by her death, Gemma who shared the care of her disabled sister with her mother since she was a child, has recently vowed to leave her own legacy. Having worked as an accountant for 20 years she quit her job in March this year, vowing to make an impact with her time, and has written this book as a first step. Keen to educate, inform and warn others who are looking to explore working abroad as a way to gain life skills and combine travel with career she lifts the lid to her terrifying experiences, in the hope she can stop what happened to her happening to others.
In ‘I was sold in China’ Gemma, a season traveller in her 30’s looking to immerse herself in a new way of life, as a break from her corporate world, reveals how her dream of experiencing new cultures and really ‘living them’ in fact turned into a living nightmare that not only risked her sanity but her freedom.
Her promised job turned out to not exist; illegal working visas were issued; strangers picked her up from the airport; her passport was confiscated; she was kept in squalid living conditions and locked in her room with nothing to eat or drink; had the majority of her wage taken off her, having effectively been ‘sold’ to an unknown Chinese recruiter; was abused and spat at by locals; escaped an aggressive attempted mugging after she refused a tuk tuk driver his demanded £100 for a £3 journey; and witnessed violet un-provoked assaults.
Quickly realising the experience she had signed up to was not going to be the reality of her situation as she’d been conned, and that the county she has romanticised was in fact proving to be hugely oppressive, Gemma found herself a target, in severe danger as she experienced the darkest times of her life.
Her story tells of her heart-wrenching experiences as a woman totally out of her depth, trapped, terrified and lost, followed by her escape out of China, with police and immigration hot on her heels. Written with a mix of anger and sadness, Gemma wants the book to act as a warning ‘to never trust what you read on the internet!’. She said: “I am someone who likes to research and I did a huge amount of research into the company I signed up with - they appeared to be a reputable business, based in the UK, with a full English support team, and job opportunities in China that would follow my training. It was everything I wanted - but what I got was my worst nightmare.”
It turns out the internship she had applied and paid for didn’t exist yet the TEFL company still organised for her to go to China - with no job secured, and instead ‘sold her’ to a Chinese recruitment company who believed her to be a fully trained teacher. They kept her in squalid working conditions, threatened destroying her visa if she didn’t accept certain jobs, and ensured she was isolated from other teachers to further heighten her vulnerability.
Gemma, a highly intelligent individual felt ashamed to find herself in this situation and explains why she felt so compelled to write this book.” I feel compelled to candidly share with you my tale. I need the world to know what I went through so I can protect others, who might naively do what I did, despite the planning, the research and the consideration I put in to my trip. No-one is infallible. The truth was, I was conned, vulnerable, scared, became isolated in a foreign country, assaulted, hunted by police and immigration… but I made it out the other side. Others might not be so lucky. If I save one person from experiencing what I did, then my work here is done."
Despite her experience, Gemma is determined to not let it kill her love for travel and is currently spending her time off work exploring new places, driven on my her sister’s memory and her promise to her ’to live’ She said:”I followed the corporate path for many years, doing the 9-5 with a sensible job with a good wage - but I don’t want my life to be all about accounts, and whilst I have shared my story to warn others of the perils of throwing yourself into certain situations I also want people to know that this will not stop me continuing to experience new cultures -but from now on I’m doing it on my terms!”.
'I was sold in China' is available now via www.amazon.co.uk
The book has been published by the award winning team at Authors & Co, who work to showcase empowering stories of women. Founder Abigail Horne said: “At Authors & Co we work with women who want to make an impact through leaving their legacy and the audience we serve are those with inquiring minds, keen to drink in information, and learn from others’ experiences. Our authors always lead their readers to reflect on their own lives and if aligned, make use of the teachings to move forward themselves”. Authors&Co has already changed the lives of many women and female entrepreneurs from around the world, having helped over 100 women globally to become best-selling authors, whilst reaching millions of readers worldwide.
"I followed the corporate path for many years, doing the 9-5 with a sensible job with a good wage - but I dont want my life to be all about accounts"