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.
However, it all paid off when we saw our little students perform! They were so nervous when they got up on stage and the wind blew all their witch hats away, but they still were enthusiastic and happy about performing. Ashley and I are so proud of our students.
Cast of characters: (Top row) Witch 1 pair, Witch 2 pair, Witch 3 pair (Bottom row) Cowgirls, Janitors, and Narrators
Yi-Ling & Ashley (above left), the MC & I (Remember him from Hua Shan's ten year anniversary? He was my co-MC at during the 10-yr anniversary)
Check out their outdoor Reader's Theater Performance:
The Girl's Team, #1 in all of Kaohsiung City (above)
The Boy's Team, #1 in all of Kaohsiung City (above)
At Tai-Ping Elementary School's English Village, my students went to 8 stations, 4 in the restaurant/hotel and 4 in the supermarket. At one of the restaurant/hotel stations, my students had to put together a puzzle that me and my fellow Fulbrighters made (see above picture). At another station, the students had to unscramble some words (see picture to left) and at yet another station, they had to make a paper airplane (because the simulated environment was an airport). I previously spoke about English Village in these blog posts. To understand more about English Village, click here.
My students with their homeroom teacher (above) at the airport simulated environment. All in all, I'm really glad my students had a good time at English Village.
Some of the lyrics:
You can also find a link to this video here.
And here is a picture of me with all my co-teachers, past and present, at Hua Shan Elementary School's English Village classroom:
Pictured above (from left): Me, Ashley, Chia-Ling, and Yi-Ling.
I co-teach with Ashley all the 5th graders at Hua Shan Elementary School. Yi-Ling (Janice) has taken over all of Chia-Ling's old classes so I still co-teach the 4th graders, the 6th graders, and the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders have their own special English time for half an hour each week. The 4th, 5th, and 6th graders have two periods of Enlish a week.
Here are some pictures of English Club building the map of the United States and drawing in each state what each state is famous for:
Click above to enlarge the pictures
Chia-Ling, Ashley, and I recently had to deliver a presentation on the English curriculum to the entire faculty of Hua Shan. You can find the powerpoint we made here. Be sure to take a look; it will give you a good picture of some of the things we do at school.
Check out photos in: Taiwan Photo Set 28- My Students at Hua Shan =D!
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.
Experience a “Fresh” Kaohsiung Meet William and Shiela／高雄鮮體驗 認識William 和Shiela
【Text／Hsin-yi Peng；Photo Courtesy／William and Shiela】
William(left) and Shiela (right)(Photo／William and Shiela)
Sutdents wear Halloween face masks in Shiela's class.(Photo／William and Shiela)
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.
The cook-it-in-front-of-you barbecue style (above)
I have tried so many different kinds of food while in Taiwan. Be sure to check it out in this album.
All the teachers on the graduation field trip
The amusement park was awesome! There were so many spectacular, and scary, rides. I rode the ride pictured to the right, whose horizontal track turns vertical 180 degrees and then drops you straight down into lots of upside down turns. Chia-Ling and I rode it twice! You would think I would be scared, but I wasn't because of the following story I'm going to tell you:
The ride was so much fun. I'm sitting in the very front with Watson and we both have our hands up. It was exhilarating and we all got very wet. After the ride, we got out to get our stuff, but when I looked around, my backpack was missing!
We saw all sorts of creatures, but the white rhinosaurus was everywhere! The picture to the right is a pretty good shot of the white rhino. We had a lot of fun at the zoo and the class I toured with was pretty photogenic so we took lots of photos. So many photos in fact, that we were late in meeting back up with the rest of the school. Oh well. When the other classes were waiting for us, they enjoyed McFlurries from McDonald's while we took pictures =D
After we spent about an hour and a half at the zoo, we went to the harbor. On the way to the harbor, we visited the house of Dr. Mackey, a Canadian minister who was famous for establishing a hospital in Taiwan. He was also famous for something else...Chia-Ling will have to fill me in on the story again. In the photo to the left is a picture of me and a teacher in front of a Dr. Mackey statue head.
When we went to the harbor in Taipei, which is called Danshui, we headed to "Old Street." There they sold lots of "Pi-Dan," or what literally translates into "leather eggs." The eggs are black, small, and the outer layer is very thick and leathery, hence the name. It tasted, different. Anyway, those eggs were very popular amongst the students and teachers; everybody bought a bag. After visiting old street and eating some dessert, we took a a boat to a nearby island (again, the name is in Chinese and my Chinese isn't that advanced).
Check out one of my students enjoying the boat ride to the left. The boat was pretty neat and we all got sprayed by the water (See pictures here). When we got to the harbor, there was an amazing bridge called "Lover's Bridge" that was for pedestrians only. It was huge and beautiful! Check out the architecture in the picture below.
The 6th graders in the picture above is the class I toured with the entire three days. Chia-Ling, Tsui-Zhu (another teacher), and I walked the bridge. It curved so beautifully. Since coming to Taiwan, every single bridge I've been on (two in total so far, hehe), I've jumped on. So, here's a shot of me jumping (see below). The other bridge I jumped on was in Sandimen's aboriginal park. You'll have to look for that picture in one of the photo albums.
After walking the bridge and boardwalk, we headed to a five-star hotel in Taoyuan, the Howard Hotel. It was amazing. They had a swimming pool, game room, sauna/jacuzzi, beautiful view above a reservoir, workout room, game room complete with a mini golf course for children, ping pong tables, pool tables, a nice restaurant and lots of other stuff. I was so exhausted from the day that I headed straight to bed at 10:30pm. Once my head hit the table, I fell asleep.
Later, I also rode a camel with a fellow teacher who was just as daring as me! See picture below.
In the photo above, we were just about to head into the Western Cowboy and Indian themed park. There, Chia-Ling and I rode a roller coaster ride called the Screaming Condor. It was pretty crazy because the ride was very very high and it twisted. We also rode something like the Tower of Doom back in Denver, a normal vertical drop with no twists and spirals. Lots of fun, but only some of the teachers joined us because the others were too scared =D.
The kids were so excited, they blocked Dan!
Three other teachers joined us to play, Shang Ping Lao Shi, Teacher Watson, and Zhong Jian Lao Shi (I don't know all of their English names). I played against Shang Ping Lao Shi on the girls team and the two other teachers played against Dan on the boys team. It was a lot of fun and everyone wants to do it again. So, you'll see more of these posts later =D. You can find more photos here.
Fans sitting on the sidelines
The boys basketball team of Hua Shan Elementary School were the tournament champions! I was so excited to watch them play. They were ALL so good! The girls did pretty well, too; they took third place. Everybody could really move around the court quickly. These little boys and girls are so much better than I ever was at their age! This was the final tournament of the fall semester. There will be another tournament next spring, too.
Do you see me wearing the 7-11 uniform?
We did a little "cheers" and then played "7-Up, Heads Up" outside 7-11 before heading back to the school. It was a good activity for students to use English and it was a good day to drink a slurpee =D.
Awards were given to teachers who had taught for ten years and to some special guests. Each grade did a performance that lasted about 5-10 minutes. The students and teachers worked really hard on the performances, practicing nearly two months before the actual ceremony. I made a video with clips from most of the performances. Hopefully this will give you a glimpse of how outstanding the kids are at Hua Shan. Here is what each grade did:
It was an incredibly fun day. The kids worked so hard on the performance and did so well. I also bonded with my fellow teachers and co-workers because we've been doing so many activities together, from the korfball competition to the relay race to the anniversary celebration! I'm so glad I'm at Hua Shan Elementary School because I get along so well with my teachers, fellow administrators, and students. Hua Shan is a very friendly, warm, and fun environment. I am so lucky to be at this school.