I'm standing in the way back. Can you find me? You can't really see everyone because we haphazardly had everyone stand together and we were goofing off =D.
As you can see, that person...is Billy. So, to celebrate his victories over the mosquitoes, here is a picture of him with our bug zapper =D.
Oh. And the reason why Billy is wearing a face mask is because he's sick and has a cold. He's not trying to make a fashion statement =D. Many people in Taiwan wear masks to prevent germs from spreading to other people--a good idea.
Typhoon Jangmi (photo courtesy of Earth Snapshot)
Since coming to Taiwan, this is the third typhoon I've been in. Whenever we have a typhoon, our program coordinator sends us these emails:
The Director of Counseling was our MC. She was so energetic and fun that the students were all engaged. All the teachers of each grade (1-6) were introduced and handed a special gift. After the teachers were introduced, she explained that each grade holds a special vote for their favorite teacher. I was surprised to learn that I was chosen as the entire 6th grade's favorite teacher! It was such an honor to be chosen and the children were so sweet. It has only been about three weeks and the entire student body knows who I am! When I got up on stage, there was loud applause and noise. Then, I had to randomly choose five sixth grade students from a box to give them gifts. So, those sixth graders were receiving gifts from their "favorite teacher."
Me, selecting five sixth grade students to win prizes
There were supposed to be five sixth graders, but two of them were absent because they were part of the sports class (6th grade, class 5) and the sports class had a game today. Each of the students received a little pencil pack as their gift.
All the teachers received the gift pictured to the right. It's a small handkerchief with a hand-drawn picture on it. In addition to this gift, two fourth grade classes made me special cards. Both cards spelled my name wrong, but both were still very beautiful. Take a look and see if you can decipher the messages.
Front cover of the card. The little door opens up and it says, "I love you ~Jeff [one of my students]"
A snapshot of the inside of the card. Each one of my students wrote me a message. In this class, there are 23 students so I got 23 wonderful messages.
The second card that my other fourth grade class made me.
These kids are truly wonderful. They are so incredibly sweet and I am so privileged to teach them. Every single day when I go to school, I have a smile on my face because these kids bring so much joy to my day. They make teaching so fun. I know some of them are reading my blog so I want them to know that they mean very much to me and I hope they walk away at the end of the year with more confidence when speaking English. I also hope that they can learn more about American culture and go into the world with an open mind and heart.
So I had a pretty amazing night tonight. Not only did I get up on stage and dance with a fabulous dance troupe that tours all of Taiwan, but I got a picture with them. Dani, a fellow Fulbrighter, and I were invited to the "Yun Men Wu Ji Er" (Cloud Gate 2) dance group performance at Kaohsiung Normal University by our Chinese professor. They specialize in modern and interpretive dance.
Dani & I with the Cloud Gate 2 Dance Group from Taiwan
Also, the announcements on the MRT are in Taiwanese, Mandarin, Hakka, and English. Quite impressive.
The entire complex was very beautiful. We went with a tour guide and she told us all about the significance of the architecture and explained the placement of the plaques in honor of Confucius and his forefathers.
For example, a post office where students can play with the environment and speak.
The Fulbright English Teaching Assistants created station games in addition to a dialog station at English Village to help the students practice more English. English Villages, or simulated environments, were built in many Kaohsiung Elementary Schools. However, we are only running three English Villages this semester. Fifth graders from all over Kaohsiung go to one English Village once a year. We prepared for English Village on Monday, but it does not officially start until Tuesday (Sept. 9). On Monday, I just finished up last minute touch-ups to the station games to get ready for Tuesday's opening ceremony and full run through of English Village. Though, every Monday I will spend the morning at Ling Zhou English Village. In the afternoon, I go to my school, Hua Shan Elementary School by walking from Ling Zhou Elementary school to the MRT, take the MRT to the last station on the red line (Xiao Gang), and then bike to my school for about 15 minutes, depending on traffic.
After the flag ceremony, I taught my three classes for the day. Just to give you a snapshot of the classes I co-teach, let me tell you which grades I co-teach and on what days. On Mondays, I co-teach one fifth grade class and two fourth grade classes. On Tuesdays, I co-teach two fifth grade classes and one sixth grade class. On Wednesday, I co-teach first graders, a sixth grade class, and a fifth grade class. On Thursday, I co-teach two fourth grade classes, a third grade class, and a sixth grade class. Finally, on Friday, I co-teach English Club with Ashley and co-teach second graders, and two sixth grade classes. It's a very busy week. But, if you think this is busy, just wait 'till next week when I add my Chinese classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. My schedule will be booked with Monday being the busiest where I travel to three different locations (Ling Zhou in the morning, Hua Shan in the afternoon, and San Min Elementary School in the evening for Chinese classes).
Look at how windy it was up on Pineapple Mountain!
Later that evening, we barbecued and ate lots of moon cakes. A fellow teacher at school told me that the reason why barbecuing now occurs in Taiwan is because a very popular television commercial showed people barbecuing with soy sauce and ever since then, people wanted to cook this special way on Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. I don't know if this is true, but it's very interesting. I only stayed for some of the barbecue because it was a fellow English Teaching Assistant (ETA) and Local English Teacher (LET)'s birthday so I went to celebrate with them later that evening.
The HSR only takes about an hour and a half to get from Kaohsiung to Taipei. When I arrived, I checked into a hotel and later toured the Chang Kai Shek Memorial. You can find pictures here. The conference was a lot of fun and I met a lot of different researchers. Some were doing research on identity, China-Taiwan politics, mental illness, Buddhism and Chinese medicine. My hope is that when I travel around Taiwan, I can visit all the researchers and the researchers will visit me in Kaohsiung.
Hua Shan Elementary School Front Gate
When I visited the school last week, I learned that I was going to be teaching with both English teachers at Hua Shan, Jia-Ling and Ashley. I mentioned a little bit about Ashley in an earlier post, so let me talk a little bit about my other co-teacher Jia-ling. Jia-Ling teaches the 4th & 6th graders English while Ashley teaches the 3rd & 5th graders. Jia-Ling studied Philosophy of Education in England and we were both so surprised to find out that we both studied philosophy. She has studied Judith Butler & Michel Foucault just like me! We were thinking of starting a Judith Butler Reading group =D. I never knew I would be able to discuss philosophy in Taiwan. What a great coincidence!
Lesson planning with Jia-Ling
Lesson planning with Ashley
I didn't teach today because I am leaving for Taipei this Thursday for a Fulbright Conference. At this conference, I will meet all the other Fulbrighters (researchers and other English Teaching Assistants). It's a 3-day conference so you may not hear from me for those three days. I only went to Hua Shan Elementary School one day of this week (today) because our coordinators felt we may have been exhausted from the orientation activities and bustling to and fro to visit schools last week. I officially start teaching my classes on Monday, September 8, 2008. I already met some of the kids today and it was great hearing them respond to my English questions. I will meet all of the children on Wednesday, September 10, even the ones I'm not teaching English.
Kate climbing the rope
After we climbed up Guan Yin Shan, Patty took us to eat Sushi Bar. It was very delicious and with our stomachs full, we headed to Crystal Clear Lake (Chengqing Hu). We saw a bee farm, a nine-cornered bridge, and a 7-level pagoda there. You'll see all of these pictures in Taiwan Photo Album 5. We also saw a really interesting fish in the aquarium at Crystal Clear Lake. The fish looked like it had a brain.