Iowa Public Radio did a piece on the Fulbright Scholar program and I am featured about halfway through the program. Have a listen:
Activism and Fulbright
Iowa Public Radio
We talk with Marisa Handler, UI Writer's Workshop graduate and author of "Loyal to the Sky," an award-winning memoir that documents her coverage of activist communities worldwide.
Then, we discuss the Fulbright Scholarship program with a coordinator and a former scholar.
We spent the first day getting up really early in the morning to catch an 8 o'clock train from Kaohsiung to Hualien. It took about four and a half hours to get to Hualien. When we got there, we headed straight for Taroko Gorge National Park. It was lightly raining the first day and we were only able to finish about half the national park in half a day. So, we decided to finish the rest of the National Park the next day and head to the beach for the rest of the evening. You can find some amazing beach jumping pictures at the end of this blog entry.
View of Taroko Gorge from a bridge
On the second day, we got up around 8 o'clock to go hiking in Taroko National Park. we came across a beautiful bridge with lots of different looking lion heads. You can see the pictures in this photo album-- Taiwan Photo Set 43: Hualien Trip Day 2. After that, we went hiking along another trail and came across beautiful landscapes. There were clouds that floated amidst the mountains that made you feel so cool and calm. It was breathtaking and a worthwhile experience for anybody visiting Taiwan.
View of the gorge along one of the trails
There were many hiking trails in Taroko National Park and the trails were not too difficult either so you could enjoy the scenery and not be entirely focused on where next to put your feet. The views were spectacular as you'll find out in these photo albums:
Taiwan Photo Set 42: Hualien Trip Day 1
Taiwan Photo Set 43: Hualien Trip Day 2
Taiwan Photo Set 44: Hualien Trip Day 3
Scenic view from climbing to the pagoda
After hiking on many trails in Taroko Gorge National Park and visiting the Buddhist shrines and pagodas nestled in the mountains, we headed for Guan Shan and Taidong for the last two parts of our trip.
Biking in Guan Shan
When we got to Guan Shan by train, we used some bikes at the hotel we were staying at to bike around the town. It was nearing sunset so I got some beautiful pictures of the landscape. You may be wondering how I managed to take pictures on my bike. Well, I rode a two person bike and I was on the back so I didn't have to steer, but merely peddle.
When we finished the bike ride, it was merely the end of Day 2. we still had a whole Day 3 ahead of us.
Enjoying ice cream in Taidong, Taiwan
For Day 3, we headed to Taidong, Taiwan to visit a ranch where you can feed cows, ride horses, and eat/drink fresh yogurt or yogurt ice cream/milk. It was quite an adventure and it was a very relaxing way to finish our 3 day trip to eastern Taiwan.
Thank you Joyce for taking us on such a delightful trip! We had a really fun time and can't wait until our next adventure. This was a great final trip in Taiwan before I left for America.
Jumping pictures from our trip to the beach on the first day to Hualien
When I finally gave the speech, it went well and the children responded to my questions to them, asking them why they were special to me. I'm planning to make a video of the speech so everyone can see, but I've been extraordinarily busy so you may have to wait until I go back to the United States on July 1.
I will miss my students very much. They were the ones that inspired me to go into teaching and I hope they remember me. I will remember them and hopefully their English will be good enough so they can understand my writing.
On the day I gave the speech, I took many wonderful pictures with my administrators and fellow teachers. The picture to the left is with my principal (far left), Miss Liu (dean), the Counseling Director, Shang-Ping Lao Shi (6th grade sports class homeroom teacher), me, Coach Pao (6th grade sports class homeroom teacher), and last but certainly not least, Mr. Sha (the Academic Dean).
The next week, after I gave my speech, was the 6th grader's graduation. At the graduation, the school honored the 6th grade students and also me. I was given so many gifts! the picture to the right is just a sample of some things I received.
From top left and circling around: A certificate from the Kaohsiung Bureau of Education (this was actually given to me yet another week later by the mayor of Kaohsiung, more on that later), a book called "I like you" and it goes on to list the reasons why he/she likes you, a glass plaque, a 500GB hard drive from my school that has my picture with all my administrators stuck on it (see picture on top)--inside the hard drive are all the movies and photos from my entire year at Hua Shan Elementary School (really special right?! I was so surprised when I received it), a cup with the 6th grade sports class with whom I played basketball, and handmade soap by a 6th grade class. These were really amazing gifts. I also received many cards from my students which were really special because they wrote me messages in Chinese and English. Below is a close-up of the glass plaque:
When my 6th graders graduated, they were all teary-eyed. Here is a picture of me with one of my 6th grade sports class students, Fred. When we took this picture, he had just given me the sports class cup.
So, these last two weeks have been hectic; first a speech and then graduation.
During the last two weeks at school, though, I let my students chat with me in class for five minutes using only Chinese. Of course, they had to earn this privilege by making 5 english sentences, each student saying one word in the sentence and each sentence had to be at least ten words long. It was a challenge for the 6th graders, but the 5th graders did really well. Once the 5th and 6th graders were able to make the sentences, they went crazy!
They asked me so many questions, ranging from boyfriend questions (Taiwanese really like to ask personal questions, regardless of whether you're an adult or a child) to pet questions. The students really enjoyed this time to chat with me and I really enjoyed it, too. It's a pity that my students only knew at the very end of the year that they could speak Chinese with me. However, it was for their own good that I only spoke English with them; if they knew I spoke Chinese, they would never speak English and that could be problematic since I'm the English teacher.
I will miss my students very much. All their funny questions, cute phrases, and their efforts in learning English have touched me. Hua Shan Elementary School do not forget me for I will never forget you. Thank you for the gifts and the wonderful love and welcoming you have given me. The best gift of all has been this time with you. Thank you & I love all of you!
You can find more pictures of my last two weeks at Hua Shan here.
For Dr. Wu's parting gift, the Kaohsiung Fulbright ETAs made him a calligraphy piece. Two of our Fulbrighters, Shana and Billy, took calligraphy classes this semester and painted a beautiful piece using Dr. Wu's name. My only contribution was my chop (the red stamp signature of my Chinese name). It was beautifully made and Dr. Wu appreciated it very much.
After the farewell party on Friday, I went to a glass museum called Tittot in Taipei. It's not really a glass museum but it has small sculptured made of a type of material that is a blend between glass and crystal. It's called Liu Li. It's beautiful and a little rough on the surface. It's characterized by it's illuminating colors. You'll see pictures of Liu Li in this photo album: Taiwan Photo Set 40.
As my Fulbright year comes to a close, I want to thank the Foundation for Scholarly Exchange, the Kaohsiung Bureau of Education, AIT Kaohsiung, AIT Taipei, and the U.S. government for supporting me to come here and teach English. This experience has been life changing and my gratitude extends to them and everyone else who has touched my life in Taiwan. I especially want to thank the people I have met in Taiwan. My close friends, the fellow ETAs, my co-teachers, my school, my students, my host family, Joyce's family, my students' families, and many many others. Thank you for giving me one of the memorable and meaningful experiences in Taiwan. Taiwan has, to follow the city motto, touched my heart.
Can you guess what this is? It's a handmade god's eye that our pen pals in America made our English Club students in Taiwan.
We've been doing an exchange this past semester and have been learning a lot about each others' different culture and language. We've had a very successful exchange and you can find out more about it on this page where I've posted pictures. Thank you again, Ms. Shields!
The tea house from outside
When we finished eating dinner and watched the firework display, we headed to Jiu Fen, which used to be an old coal/gold mine and the surrounding area has different colored water shaped in a yin-yang. Unfortunately, it was already 9pm at that time so we were not able to see the different depths of water that cause the change in color at this place. However, we were able to go to Ah Mei Cha, a tea house that they used as the model for the tea house in the movie, Spirited Away. We stayed there until about 11pm and then headed back to Keelung.
At the Evergreen hotel after breakfast
The next day, we got up to go have breakfast at the Evergreen Hotel. You'll notice that this was not our first time staying in one of their hotels. Last time we went to Taipei to see Lang Lang play piano, we also stayed at the Evergreen hotel.
After breakfast, we went hiking on Wang Yo Gu mountain. Wang Yo Gu literally means "forget [your] worr[ies'] valley." Whoever named the mountain wanted you to know that when you stand on the mountain, you will forget everything unpleasant. It was a nice hike, but it was really hot.
After our hike, one of the taxi drivers told us to go to another mountain for a hike. So, after lunch we asked another taxi driver to take us there. It turns out, it was the same mountain, but instead of hiking to the top, you drive to the top! It was a good laugh. We decided to go back to Chia-Ling's office to rest and later hike on a trail around her university. The last hike in Keelung, I got tons of mosquito bites!
You can find more pictures HERE.
It was a great trip and I really thank my host family for taking me. It was really nice to see my other co-teacher who will be leaving for England in a few weeks to defend her PhD dissertation (It's her second PhD). Congratulations, Chia-Ling & good luck!