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: