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.
To form a team, you must have thirty people, twenty of which will be rowing, one will be steering the boat in the back, one will be drumming, and one will be sitting on top of the dragon's head to reach for the flag; the other six are backups in case one of us falls into the water during practice.
So, I'd like to say that we're a pretty serious competitor, but I'd be pulling your leg if I wrote that. Let me clarify our place in this competition:
1) Our team name is "Hamburger Breakfast." This name was chosen because so many Taiwanese think that foreigners love to eat hamburgers for breakfast. But in fact, more Taiwanese eat hamburgers for breakfast than foreigners. Instead of trying to dispel this myth, which we've tried, we've decided to embrace our "foreignness" and name ourselves after this misconception.
2) There are seven competitors in the foreign division of the race.
3) One of our competitors is the Kaohsiung World Games Dragon Boat Team.
4) Another one of our competitors has practiced for nearly twenty years.
5) We will practice three times for one hour each until the actual competition...
6) When we practice, we have three rowing strategies, Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. Here is the pattern of drumming for each Plan:
7) At our first practice, nine out of twenty-four people showed up.
8) At our second practice, twelve out of twenty-four people showed up.
9) Maybe by our third practice, all of us will show up?
Now, when you're dragon boating, there a few things to keep in mind. First, you're rowing on Love River. In the past, people have said it used to smell so foul pedestrians would throw up walking near it. People did not love the Love River ten years ago. However, things have changed now and it's not nearly as stinky as it was ten years ago. I--sitting at the front of the Dragon Boat and splashing myself with water because I don't know how to row--have tasted the Love River and I'll tell ya right now, it's salty and stings the eyes if you're not wearing goggles. So, to prepare yourself for the race, we suggest you wear:
I hope this has given you a little picture into our experience dragon boating.
One more thing, one of the ETAs thought up of our slogan, "Your ass is dragon!" because it sounds like "Your ass is draggin' " as in "You're too slow!" We'll get T-shirts that say this so look out for pictures later!
Happy Rowing, Team! Go Hamburger Breakfast, Go!
Happy Mother's Day!
When we got to Taipei, we walked around a lot because we got there super early. The outdoor concert started at 7pm; we got there at 6pm. It was also lightly raining in Taipei and it was much colder than Kaohsiung. The wind chill is not as awful as Iowa winter weather, but it was colder than the 70 degree weather in Kaohsiung. I borrowed Chia-Ling's coat because I didn't bring any real winter clothes because I thought this tiny little island wouldn't be cold. Well, I sure was proven wrong when I got a cold last month during the weather change. Anyway, thank you Chia-Ling for letting me borrow your coat; it kept me very warm =D.
When the concert started at 7pm, it was pretty cool because Kate, Chao-Wei, and I got pretty good spots considering we were so early. There were many famous singers at the concert, but I don't really remember their names. However, I did see S.H.E. sing several songs, this guy from Tainan who wore cool glasses (see pictures below), and I really wanted to see MayDay (Wu Yue Tian) sing, but they were last. We left our good spot in front of the concert early because we wanted to be near the MRT to beat the mad rush home after the fireworks. I was really grateful that did that because we got to where we were staying at 1:30am and not 2 or 3 am.
The Famous Singers at the Outdoor Concert (at least up until we left for a closer location near the MRT)...
Click to enlarge the pictures
The next day, I was very tired, but I had an excellent breakfast to start the New Year. Check it out:
We met up with some of Chao-Wei's friends in Taipei and we had lunch at Din Tai Feng. After lunch, we headed to the biggest night market in Taipei, Shi Lin Yie Shi. Lots of fun! You can see lots of photos in Taiwan Photo Set 27.
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 reception was outdoors and the food was laid out buffet style. Many different restaurants came to exhibit their dishes including Din Tai Feng. The food was very good. At the reception a few us got silhouette portraits done for free. I've never had a silhouette picture of myself before and our whole apartment is going to hang them above our television for decoration =D.
The day after 10/10, a few of us went to the National Palace Museum and the National Taiwan University campus. I've already been to the National Palace Museum, but the last time I went I only had an hour or two in the museum. This time around, I spent more time in the exhibitions.
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.
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 principal of the elementary school told us a myth that people usually do not go out tonight on ghost day, but nowadays, people do go out. I'll keep you posted on other holidays I celebrate here in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Over and out, Shiela.