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.
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.
Some of our teammates posing for a picture before we row (I'm in the first row, left)
Because not everyone showed up for practice, when I first sat down in the boat, I thought we were going to flip over because the boat was so close to the water. This was because we had never had such a heavy boat! Everyone finally showed up to row the dragon boat. While it was the day of the competition, at least everyone came!
Competing at night. All races were held at around 8pm
Although I forgot to bring my goggles the first day of racing, I definitely remembered to bring them the next day of competition.
Like I predicted in a previous post, we did not get first place. We did not get second or third, either. We got fourth place (out of four competitors) in our bracket. It was a lot of fun, despite how slow we were =). On Monday's race, our time was 4 minutes and 39 seconds. We were so close in beating the Oxford team. We were only two seconds behind. Oxford was also slow that day. But the next day, they were very quick and were not in a close race with us in grabbing last. All our competitors that second day of racing had a score of 3 minutes + something seconds. We were the only ones who had a score of 4 minutes and 18 seconds. Well, although they beat us in speed, we beat them in having the coolest name, "Hamburger Breakfast!"
Our logo for our T-shirts drawn by a Fulbrighter
Actually, our program coordinator was a little embarrassed to put down our name "Hamburger Breakfast" so they put down "Fulbright Hamburger Breakfast" as our name, which they ultimately shortened to "Fulbright."
Zhong Shan Da Xue (Zhong Shan University) took first place with Wen Zao taking second and Oxford taking third. All in all, it was a really fun experience and we all had a good time.
Check out some very cool pictures here.
Shana & Nicki reading their scripts with cashier Vicki
We began writing scripts for this video about a month ago and we filmed it in two consecutive days, 9am-7pm. The setting for the film took place at Taiping Elementary School in the Xiao Gang district, which is about 40 minutes from where all of us live at the Kaohsiung Cultural Center. When we got there, we immediately launched into filming our various scenes--classroom, recess time, MRT, airport, birthday party, shopping, talking on the phone, library, and hotel.
Rehearsing on the simulated airplane environment wth our scripts
Of course, our children's video would not be complete, though, without songs, right? So, after filming for many hours straight through, we sang three songs:
Old MacDonald Had a Farm
If You're Happy and You Know It...
For the "Hokey Pokey", we just danced. For "Old MacDonald Had a Farm," I played a chicken who "went a cluck-cluck here and a cluck-cluck there, here-a-cluck, there-a-cluck, everywhere a cluck-cluck,..." For "If You're Happy and You Know It.." we all sang the song and did the actions associated with the emotions happy, sad, and angry. It was quite an exhausting two days.
Can you tell we just loved each other after rehearsal and were so full of energy?
We were so exhausted from acting each scene multiple times. Furthermore, the air conditioning was off because the fans and the air conditioner would interfere with the sound. The good thing was that we could get all the filming done in one place, Taiping English Village. Taiping Elementary School had all the equipment we needed to do our film; it had a classroom, a simulated airport environment, a simulated MRT train, a simulated hotel, a simulated grocery store, and a big area where we could sing and dance.
Those two days were so tiring. However, I do look forward to our finished project, which we still have yet to name. We sang and danced our hearts out, Kaohsiung. We hope you find this video useful and entertaining!
Now I know how exhausting it is to be an actor, for say "Blue's Clues." Goodness, you really have to be smiling, happy, and full of energy. It's not easy.
You can find more pictures of our crazy day of filming here.
On the first day, we went to the Aquatic Marine Museum. There, we saw lots of beautiful fish, sharks, and we even got to see a beluga show! You'll see pictures in this album: Taiwan Photo Set 29. During the beluga show, if you answered questions about belugas correctly, you were given an opportunity to be kissed and professionally photographed with a beluga for free. Of course, I couldn't answer any of the questions in Chinese, but I was lucky enough to be given a free photo pass by an elderly women who answered a question correctly and was leaving the show early. Quite an experience! When I put on the life jacket and pet the beluga, the beluga felt squishy and soft. I was a bit nervous when the beluga came to kiss me on the cheek and I was hoping it couldn't tell I was nervous. Anyway, it was fun.
The mid-year conference was different from the orientation conference in September because we actually got two days to explore Taiwan instead of sitting in a conference room all day. During those two days, we hiked in Kending National Park and saw two caves, orchids, and several unique trees. Pictured in the photo above is a tree whose roots grow vertically--really amazing! We also saw a tree that was wrapped in vines. The vines knotted themselves to keep from squeezing the tree to death, according to our tour guide. You can find the picture of the tree in this album link.
The Fulbrighters took several group shots and I'll post two of them here. You may not recognize me because I'm wearing glasses. One of my contacts ripped and I had to take it out so I wore glasses the entire weekend. I thought I was so smart because I actually brought an extra pair of contacts with me to Kending. Unfortunately, when I opened up one of the new contact lens packets, it was empty! There was no contact in there...so much for my luck, eh?
In this picture, I'm in the middle, popping the peace sign...
In addition to going to the Marine Museum and Kending National Park, we visited a beach and observed egrets. On the last day, each grantee and group of ETAs (English Teaching Assistants) presented on their experience in Taiwan so far.
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.
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.
自由時報 / 2008/08/19
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).
I am now in Hong Kong. I arrived the day before yesterday after 23 hours of grueling travel. I traveled from Denver to Los Angeles International Airport and then to Taipei, Taiwan before finally arriving in Hong Kong. It certainly wasn't the most comfortable trip, but I did find some movies enjoyable. I was especially moved by this Chinese documentary on young Chinese children training at Li Xiaoshuang Gymnastics School. You can watch the entire film on YouTube. It's a very sad story of the hardships the the toddlers and families go through in pining for glory in gymnastics. It was especially wrenching when I heard the kids explain why they wanted to pursue gymnastics. I will not ruin the movie for you here, but I do suggest watching this film and discussing it with friends and family.
Tomorrow, I will be getting my resident visa from the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office in New York. I am currently in New York visiting family. Afterwards I will be traveling to Hong Kong from Denver, Colorado on July 19. Then it is off to Kaohsiung, Taiwan on July 31. I begin my training on August 1, 2008. Whoo!