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.
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.
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:
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.
Before I left for China, I was given very special gifts from the Counseling Director of Hua Shan Elementary School. Her two daughters, Lily (whose previous name was "Toyota") and Mazda, bought me a special gift from Penghu, an island off of Taiwan that is known for their beautiful minerals and rocks. They gave me a seashell wind charm, which is just gorgeous (See picture to the left). I'm not too sure how I'm going to get it back to the United States, but I'm sure I'll figure something out. The entire wind charm is made of special seashells found in that area of Penghu.
My students love receiving stamps in class and now they can receive one with their teacher's name on it! Although the stamp is a bit huge, I think the students will like it.
Here is what the inside of the lid says:
I'd like to say "Thank you" to Lily, Mazda, my Counseling Director, and her family! What beautiful and memorable gifts! Thank you so much =D
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.
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.
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!
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.
Ashley & Chia-Ling were witches for Halloween and I was a vampire (who didn't have vampire teeth). One day though, Ashley was an angel =D. You can find more pictures of Halloween in this album.
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."
Ashley, Chia-Ling, and me
高雄，您好！我叫李詩媚，我的學生都叫我Shiela老師。雖然我已經來這裡教了兩個月的英文了，但是我依舊非常喜歡在華山國小教英語。這一點都不誇張，華山的校長、老師、職員和學生們全都很友善，他們也很熱情地歡迎我，讓身在國外教英語的我能很順利地適應。我很愛我的學生，在我的心目中，他們有一個很特別的地位。無論是在學校內或者在路上，當學生遇到我的時候，他們都會很大聲地叫我"Hello Teacher Shiela！"為了提高他們的英文寫作能力，他們還會寫信或著發電子郵件給我。儘管他們的英文程度有限，但是他們依然很願意跟我談話。他們對練習說英文的興趣真的是非常地感人。
Hello, Kaohsiung! My name is 李诗媚, but my students call me Teacher Shiela. I have been teaching English at Hua Shan Elementary School for two months now and I do not exaggerate when I say I love teaching at my school. Hua Shan’s principal, teachers, staff, and students have been so welcoming and friendly that they have made my transition to teaching in a foreign country very easy. Hua Shan’s students, in particular, are very special to me. They not only always give me a loud, excited English greeting at school and on the street, but they also initiate writing me letters and emails as a way to improve their English. Even though they speak very limited English, seeing these student’s enthusiasm and motivation to learn English is very meaningful.
Here are some pictures of me co-teaching with Chia-Ling. I will post pictures of me co-teaching with Ashley later. We didn't have time to take pictures of our class this week.
Grade 6, Class 2
Chia-Ling and I explaining the Rabbit & Turtle Race Game. Basically, it's a game modeled after the American board game Candyland. However, in order to roll the dice, two students have to correctly say the dialog.
Two Grade 6, Class 2 students practicing a dialog:
Little first graders yelling, "BINGO!" We were playing BINGO with numbers...
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.