Here we are in the classroom. The students prepared lots of questions to ask me about my background as a Chinese-American, what food I like in Taiwan, and many other questions.
Thank you for inviting me to your classroom, Class 1 of Xiao Gang High School! You guys are an amazing bunch of students! I had a great time and wish you guys the best in the future!
You can find more pictures of our time together here.
The English Village Classroom at Hua Shan (see how it resembles an airport? Look at the surroundings)
One of the classrooms I teach in is in the English Village Airport classroom. Of course, being an airport environment, there are no desks, but only comfortable seats. So, when my students come to class, not only are they really excited because they know me and my co-teachers always plan a fun activity/game at the end of class, but they have super comfortable seats to sit in that are incredibly close to each other so they can talk to each other in class! Ack! You can imagine the management problems we've had in classes trying to get our students to be quiet. For the most part, they students are well behaved, though.
I've noticed that Taiwanese students are pretty obedient and very good test takers. The entire society here is centered around exams. If you want to advance socially or professionally, you'd better ace that exam in your junior high school, which will determine your placement in high school, which in turn determines your placement in college and life. It's rather unfortunate that it seems your professional trajectory is locked and unable to change at such an early age.
Me, Ashley, and our students in the other classroom I teach in
The classroom environment makes a big difference because it influences how students interact with each other and how they pay attention. I would much rather have my students sit in the uncomfortable wooden chairs, rather than the cushioned red seats of English Village because it forces them to not fall asleep. But, the students that come to English class never fall asleep. I say this without exaggeration. Since there are two teachers in the classroom, one of us can teach while the other "grazes" or walks around the classroom to make sure students are understanding and paying attention. It's really nice.
My school celebrated Christmas with an end of the year performance. In Taiwan, not many people are Christians, but they still celebrate Christmas. It is not as sensitive of an issue here as it is in the United States where some people may be offended if you celebrate Christmas and are not a Christian or introduce Christmas into the classroom. In any case, I did my best to let my kids understand the diverse ways Americans celebrate the winter season and get together with their families.
Click on the pictures above to enlarge.
During the Christmas performance, there were classes singing holiday songs in Chinese and there was even a kung fu performance by a second grader. The parent's association of our school also got up and performed a little dance right after the aboriginal student club performed a dance. At the end, there was a plethora of classes pretending to be rock bands. The very very last performance, though, was the surprise: The Shiela Band, performing "I am falling in love with you!" Talk about a surprise! The students were lip syncing to a song and it was so cute. It was such an honor to have a band named after me and the students really touched my heart. The performance was in front of the entire school (See picture above).
You can find more pictures here in Taiwan Photo Album 25.
Amour with two other students singing songs from Cape No. 7 (left), Vicky singing with Frank (right)
Afterwards, Vicky (another Fulbrighter) got up and sang "This Moment" by Kelly Clarkson with Frank. All of the students were so talented! I know this because after Vicky and Frank sang, the entire class of 39 students got up and sang traditional Taiwanese songs.
After their singing performances, I taught the students the Hokey-Pokey and Macarena. They were not shy at all! When I taught my elementary students in English Club the Hokey-Pokey and Macarena, they were running away because they did not want to be embarrassed. The high school students, though, were not afraid to shake their bootie =D Cooking and dancing with the high school students was a great way to end a day!
All the students + me + Tai-Shia
Speaking to the students. On the far right was the student host who selected questions to ask me. All the students wrote questions for me.
Another pictures with all the students
Me with some of Tai-Shia's English students
Isn't this part of the high school so cool?! The students told me that during break time, they'll stand and just look out into the distance on this cool "bridge hallway."
The next day, we rested and took a boat tour on the "Love River" and went to Qijin island. It was incredibly fun and I got to see much of Taiwan. On the boat tour, I saw the Hong Kong Navy (I'm not too sure why it was there), and an oil rig. When we arrived at Qijin, a group of us decided to hike to the top of the lighthouse on Qijin island. The lighthouse was closed, but the scenic overlooks were absolutely beautiful. I had yummy barbecued squid for dinner later that day at Qijin. There was also a Taiwanese boy band playing in the open space at Qijin island. You'll see in the pictures a group dancing and holding a boat on top of their heads.
During the next few days, we applied for our ARCs (Alien Resident Certificate) visited Xiziwan Beach, visited English Village (a place where 5th graders and other students can come practice prearranged English dialogs), and ate/shopped at the night markets (specifically Liuhe Yeshi and Zhong Xiao).