back and forth in Taiwan

2 02 2011

I’m back. After several years, I have returned to Taiwan. It’s an incredible experience coming back to a foreign place I am so familiar with—a former home—having all this time clearly pictured and missed specific places, people, foods, and ways of doing things. Some of them I have remembered perfectly and others more figuratively, and some places have closed down or changed and others are exactly the same. I am back at the same school where I started my teaching career, now witnessing all the growth and development that was just starting when I was here that is based on some of the issues we were just identifying among Chinese-speaking English learners. It’s so exciting to see the growth of all of that and to be able to continue to add to that development.

However…

Things I am already tired of:

  • screaming children who still insist on using their “outside” voices inside near my already ringing ears
  • whining
  • tattle-telling
  • fighting a sinus infection and a messed up spine since I arrived
  • the lack of polite language
  • watching as some of my favorite, most natural things about myself are offensive to some Chinese people
  • no breaks between my seven-plus hours of classes (what I lovingly call my marathon teaching) until about 9 pm
  • communal living in a really ugly space
  • most of all, I am tired of hardly ever really having time for true and restful solitude

All major parts of my life are currently being lived with the same people, which is some ways is worse than living in a small town or in a family.

However…

Things I love:

  • lovely cafes and tea houses
  • Zen parks and bike trails
  • mountain and bamboo forest hikes
  • meeting up with old friends
  • learning Chinese and using it
  • yummy, cheap food
  • really well thought out food packaging (USA, wise up!)
  • correct portion sizes
  • fresh, ripe fruits
  • that one of my students, Carson, asked at the end of a particularly successful practice in class reading like “storytellers” instead of “robots”, “Teacher, why you look so happy when we read?” Especially glad when I got to tell him why.
  • that more and more of my students are now starting to respond and show more kindness and generosity, as well as improve their language skills. Some of them are really darling little people.
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