Today was the last day of orientation. I can’t believe a month has gone by already. As I mentioned in my last post, we’ve learned A LOT about everything from technical details of Taiwan to games we can use in the classroom.
Today Dr. Vocke came back. I may have mentioned him before, but he’s basically an awesome person who works for Fulbright Taiwan in some capacity that doesn’t have to do with the government, is a ‘recovering academic’ as he puts it, and is just a really accessible public speaker.
Today he told us a number of interesting things about Fulbright Taiwan. Any other speaker may have bored me to tears, but Dr. Vocke has a great presence that keeps me interested, a good balance between lecture and personal anecdote and interaction.
**These are only my interpretations of what Dr. Vocke told us today, not direct quotes from any Fulbright affiliated website or information source**
-Congress usually gives money to Fulbright but the money for Fulbright Taiwan goes through AIT (American Institute in Taiwan) because the US and TW don’t have formal diplomatic relations. I found this interesting and wonder why we do not. Is it because we do not want to ruin those we have with Mainland China by acknowledging Taiwan as it’s own independent country?
-AIT and TECO (the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office) are NGOs
-The idea of Fulbright Taiwan is to build knowledge, exchange cultures, establish local english teacher relationships, change lives, and symbolise a Taiwan-US friendship. The motto is: ‘A world with a little more knowledge and a world with a little less conflict’
-Fulbright Taiwan was established in 1957, after Korea and Mainland China. There are 155 programs, 50 commissions (foundations), binationally jointly funded, for example: MOFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and MOE (Ministry of Education), AIT (American Institute in Taiwan) and the State Department.
-There are currently (as of a recent year that is not this one) 1100 US, and 1500 TW alum, our of which, 26 are university presidents, 4 current and 35 past government cabinet members, Nobel and Pulitzer prize winners, etc. No, my head isn’t blowing up, I am merely repeating the notes I took so you have a window into my life 😉
So basically, Fulbright is awesome. Based on what I’ve been hearing from friends in other countries on Fulbright, our programme here in Taiwan is fairly well structured. We have a lot of support, an entire month of orientation (some countries just throw you into the country and expect you to find everything for yourself, housing, school, etc!)
We’re really quite lucky. In the words of my Father, ‘How happy we are, how happy we are’
So being that it was the last day of orientation, of course they took us to a restaurant for a lazy susan style multi course lunch.
The restaurant was quite close. Many people caught rides with LETs in cars and on scooters, but I opened my new reflective umbrella and walked with some friends. Typical me.
I really love Taiwanese style dining. Everything is brought and served family style from lazy susans. If you want something, you spin it around, rather than reaching across everything else.
Since there are four vegetarians in the group, it seemed we had our own table. Not complaining.
The tray contained some sort of thing in the forefront, cucumbers, parsley, candied cashews (SO GOOD!), some mushroomy thing covered in Kewpie Mayo (it’s a thing here), and a shaved radish salad (which I loved) topped with the most slippery fake squid ever (which I did not love). Kelly admonished me for eating the garnish. What can I say, I’ve always done it.
Us vegetarians are Myself, Ali, Aria, and Christie. We had a jolly old time at our own table. Being easily overwhelmed, I kind of preferred it to the hubbub of 12 people.
I love taking photos at restaurants. There are so many great close up opportunities. Unfortunately, the lighting is most always bad.
Onto this plate first went some sort of sweet taro and sweet potato thing which our table didn’t get. I’m a sucker for taro.
My plight in this country continues to be my dislike for white rice.
So kill me. I’m on an island where that’s a staple. Morning, noon, and night, it’s a little bowl of white rice. Aria says, ‘it’s a food!’ but I can’t get into it. I’ve long preferred what goes ON the starch to the starch itself, so you’ll often find my bowls of white rice unfinished. Congee is quite good, so I eat it that way. Maybe I’ll have an epiphany halfway through this year, but until restaurants start serving brown rice, I’m rice-less.
Desserts upon desserts.
Jim told me that this restaurant was modeled after old convenience shops from the 60s and 70s.
But he’s silly, so I don’t trust him. Kidding.
They brought out fresh fruit for dessert, which I was happy about. Watermelon is so good here, and I’ve found a new love for guava, something I thought I disliked. It tastes a bit like Christmas; minty. I like it mostly because it isn’t so sweet like mangos.
We also went out for dinner for Reilly’s birthday. It was supposed to be a surprise, but MK brought her early, so we ran into her on the way and unsuccessfully tried to duck into an alleyway.
Peanuts are apparently an appetiser.
The decour was nice. But made for horrid lighting.
Samantha took an interesting photos of us on her phone. Not sure what’s going on here.
There are some interesting dishes here, that’s for sure!
I have nice friends.
Now it’s time for links!
This is a catchy song. Check it out, I’d never heard of it before. I’m sorely missing Spotify here.
This is a catchy song. I’d never heard of this before, but I’m trolling youtube for good music, since I can’t get Spotify here 😦
Good news for all you nappers
I’ve actually taken up naps. And apparently, I’m doing the right thing.
How to make your own milk tea! I’m going to try this tomorrow.
and one last one: A Genre map for those book lovers among us. I love this.