How to go on a Field Trip!

It’s the day that every student waits for: field trip day.

Little do they know, however, that teachers also await such days with great anticipation. Nothing could be more pleasing than being outside, learning something that isn’t your standard faire.

This explains my excitement when my coteacher, Ellen, told me a few weeks ago that we would be going on a field trip to the Yilan Green Expo with the first graders the next week. Anxiously anticipating this date, I really had no idea what to expect. Would we be charged with chaperoning certain groups? Would I be able to see the whole expo? Would it be big or small? What would the weather be like? None of these thoughts were unfounded, it turns out, because up until we got there, I really had no idea of any of the answers.

Tuesday came, and I packed myself up a lunch in my little green bento and tied it into a plastic bag. I have bad luck when it comes to..well…a lot of things, so I wanted to make sure the balsamic vinegar didn’t get everywhere. I took my normal 40 minute bus ride to school, nodding off as usual, and nothing seemed different until 9:00 rolled around and the  tour busses rolled into the driveway of the school.

First graders getting ready to board the bus

Ellen hastily handed me a hand made identification card (sadly, we don’t wear them at our school) and we raced out to join the first graders.

Don’t laugh, I know it’s a wretched picture that looks nothing like me.

It turns out that the sixth graders were also taking their trip this day, and as we boarded our pink bus, they boarded another. 

Did you ever see such a bus?

Inside, the bus reminded me of my first trip to Taiwan and our trip up the mountain in a tour bus much like this one with its plush seats and frilly curtains that made it look more like a gypsy caravan than a big bus.

Note the curtains

Riding a bus with first graders brings to mind what sort of environment? I bet you’d expect screaming and scampering about but these were surprisingly well behaved.

Helllloooo

I sat with this Cutie

We said ‘bye-bye’ to the school and we were off to Su’Ao.

Bye-bye Kai Xuan!

Passing countrysides so green I almost wanted to put on my sunglasses, the teacher passed out fish flavored snack crackers to everyone riding the bus. I tucked mine into my bag, mentally noting to give them to our Soldier boy, Tony. 

Graveyard, Taiwan style

Green and growing gardens

The entrance to the Expo was through a huge gardening basket complete with tools. How’s that for interesting!

Excuse Tony’s face, he got in the way.

I was surprised to find that there were no discipline, safety or precautionary procedures or rules in place. Or rather, none that I could pick out from what I could understand. Already wearing their purple and gold school uniforms, our students did not need matching hats or tshirts, but other than there, there was no supervision that I could see. I was surprised not to be assigned to a group of kids and given the whistle and a clip board I had grown used to during my time as a summer camp counselor a few summers ago. Grasping at these loose ends, we entered the park. 

Presentation hall and surrounding garden

First off we all headed to the presentation hall for a show before exploring. I usually skip out on shows like this, finding it much more relaxing to explore exhibitions and parks on my own time, but as I was still unsure of what my role for the day was, I tagged along.

What it ended up begin was considerably frightening; sincerely the stuff of nightmares.

giant costumes with large lips.

I did my best to look away, but eventually had to get up and leave. I dragged Tony with me, although I suspect he was also glad to quit the scene. 

Tiny cuties!

We walked around a bunch, up to the top of the sprawling Expo and back down again, ending at some picnic tables for lunch. I’ll give you some pictures first, then explain the unfortunate happenstance of leaking balsamic vinegar.

the exterior of some building

recycled autos

The green space around the Expo was phenomenal. I was jealous of all the gardens. When I get to New York City, I’m going to see how I can get involved with a CSA- you never who who you’ll meet while on your hands and knees weeding onions 🙂

We ran into some 6th graders and I made them pose for a photo.

I pretended not to know them, and made them laugh by saying, ‘Oh hello, I am the English teacher from Kai Xuan. How are you?’ 

Giant nature book and camera

Scattered with students from any number of schools, the Expo was brightly colored and vibrant.

children playing under Yilan’s famous green onions!

If I had this in my back yard, I’d sit beneath it in a nice chair and read for hours.

This little stream ran the length of the Expo

Aways up the path, we passed some expo tents and checked out some of the local fare inside. Each section of the park was modeled after a section of the Aboriginal tribes, although I couldn’t read the map or brochure so can’t tell you any more.

Wooden bugs in the trees!

One tend had a machine that made extruded brown rice sticks. Into a slot at the top you put the brown rice, and turned a crank, and ba-boom- rice sticks!

Tony with our rice sticks

I bought a bag for NT 50 (which is about USD 1.50) and happily crunched my way through last week….eventually getting to the bottom of the bag all too soon.

Beautiful gardens abound

Here I’ll leave you, and tomorrow I’ll post about the rest of the Expo.

Don’t you just love Field trips? Comment and let me know which field trip sticks out most in your mind? What kind of security for the kiddies do you think is essential?

Love, Hannah

English Club

Hi there,

I’ve been lacking in photos lately, I know. There are a few reasons for that.

1. There isn’t much to take pictures of that I haven’t already photographed, and my computer is already quite full of photos.

2. I really like to write sometimes too, and hope that you all will read the words and enjoy them just as much as the pictures, although I do know that sometimes photos do a better job of showing you just what’s going on.

3. This is just recent: Someone dropped my camera and it dented the lens and it won’t open well. I’m a bit nervous about trying it again and am actually avoiding the situation which I’ll have to eventually confront. I take perfect care of my belongings and to think that someone carelessly knocked it off of what it was sitting irks me. Probably because I hadn’t thought to secure the bag it was in. But I digress….

Here are some pictures I DO have from the first week of English Camp. After last semester’s constant asking whether I could do an English club of some sort, the school has finally asked me to do one on Friday afternoons, a time that I had previously had nothing. Of course I agreed, and it is turning out to be a great outlet for me to implement lessons and things I’ve wanted to try in the classroom but couldn’t because of curriculum restraints. Such is the teaching life, eh?

Without further ado, here is our English Club, session one!

Our English Classroom is being used. Still hate those chairs.

Oh dear. The stretched picture thing is going to happen again. I almost don’t want to add pictures.

This says ‘please put your school bags in the back of the classroom’

On Fridays I go to English Village from 8-12, then I take the 12:03 bus to school, which takes about 45 minutes, then our English Club goes from 1:45-3:45, then I take the same bus back home. So Fridays are essentially a regular day.

Checking in.

The kids arrive and put their bags at the back of the classroom. Then I check them in. This is the first class where I’ve really (almost) gotten the names down, because I teach 300 kids so that’s a lot of names to memorize. No excuses though I guess.

Cuties (L-R) Jenny, Jane, Wayne, Kerri

I have, by this point, made them little notebooks with pockets for worksheets and a pocket for their name cards.

Teacher Hannah reads an ‘If You Give A….’ book.

I usually read a story at some point during the class. This week it was ‘If You Give a Pig a Pancake’ because I was also going to read it the next day at the local Library where I do storytelling every month.

Teaching in a jacket. So classic Taiwan winter.

Oh the attractive faces you end up making in candid photos….

I love reading aloud. It is probably one of my favorite things to do and I cannot wait to have my own classroom where I can read chapter books, knowing that the students will understand what I am saying. One of the keys to helping EFL kids have fun with books they might not understand is using a lot of vocal intonation and movements. I half act out the book, just so they know what’s going on.

Preteaching the vocab

Preteaching vocab is also key. I like to pick about 8 to 10 salient words that I will teach and have them look for in the story as I’m telling it. I usually also tell the story twice, so they really understand what’s going on.

Check out my amazing drawing skills.

Although I’m no artist, I find that illustrating what I am explaining really helps.

Brian draws his blue pig

After the story this week, I had the kids draw their own pigs. They could basically do whatever they wanted and boy, did they come up with some cute pictures!

Kerri-2nd grade

Yuni-1st grade

Brian-1st grade

Diamond-4th grade (I laughed for about an hour when I saw his drawing- isn’t it great?!)

I couldn’t get enough of Diamond’s. He drew a whole turkey!

Barry -3rd grade

Kilie-4th grade

Explaining what the English words on the stickers mean

The kids get stickers when they do drawing or worksheet or just because I like to give stickers. Since they are some awesome American stickers my Mother sent from the US, I like to explain the words on them like, ‘Great!’ and ‘Wow!’ The kids take ages to choose a sticker, even though some of the sheets are the same just different background colors. I might have to start choosing for them….

Waiting for stickers

Reacting to cuteness

One of my favorite times of the class is giving the kids stickers is getting to look at the work they’ve done. It’s always so different!

 

Vanni- 1st grade (she reminds me of me when I was young somehow)

Me with my LET’s daughter, Abigale-1st grade

Another thing I love about English club is that it’s a class that I teach by myself, so I get to plan the lessons and really get to know these kids a lot better than only seeing them once or twice a week.

Which animals make which sounds in the US vs. Taiwan

Mid-‘squeak’

Close your mouth Brian, we are not a codfish. Brownie points if you can guess that reference!

One of the negative sides, however, is that I have a big gap in ages and grades and abilities. I have a whole bunch of 1st graders, and a few 3rd and 4th graders, so tailoring activities and content is a bit of a challenge.

Being a dork…I mean parrot

When the older students are finished in a flash, the younger students frequently cannot even conceptualize the task. What younger students find engaging, older students may find stupid or dull. I’m still working this out. Suggestions?

 

Disco break down

 

The kids were in on it too.

But mostly they all have fun.

 

I made the most ugly pancakes of your life.

And so do I!

 

Vanni and Yuni

Leo- 3rd grade. Why so angry?

‘Would you like jam?’ ‘Yes, Please/No, Thank you’

Another great thing is that I get to make them snacks every week. I never anticipate how much they’ll enjoy them. The first week I made pancakes to go with the story. An interesting experience, making pancakes on our Taiwan stove- it is obviously not made for cooking anything but stir fries on high heat. I ended up with more than a few slightly charred ones, but the kids scarfed them down all the same and clamored for seconds and thirds. I should have bought two boxes of pancake mix!

Obviously I got jam all over me.

Last week I did PB&J which they loved. Again, I only bought one loaf of bread so I could only give each kid 1/4 of a sandwich (I have 18 students) and had to turn them away when they asked for more. Still, it’s only a snack and a ‘taste’ of American culture.

Any thoughts or ideas what I could or should do? I have another lesson coming up this friday- so quickly!

Love, Hannah

ps: I’ll be home in 88 days! June 20th is my flight and I can hardly wait. It’s going to pass like a flash, I just know it. I’ve got a running list of things to accomplish before I leave, which I will perhaps share.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Busy

I have developed such a fear of writing something disorganized and inarticulate that every time I sit down to write out a blog post, I find myself faltering and becoming quite unable to put any thoughts down at all. Most frustrating.

We are closing in on Spring here although thankfully the weather remains as chilly and wet as ever. While it has warmed a bit and I no longer need to wear eleven layers inside the house, I am keenly aware that one day I will wake up and BAM- HEAT. I do not look forward to this day. If you know anything about me, you will probably know that among all four seasons, I like Summer the least. I’ll get into this in another post in which I discuss the future and how I only have four months left! But for now I’m still sitting in bed wearing my jacket, as I would be if I were in the States, as I hear you all are being dumped upon with yet more ice and snow. Would you groan if I told you I were jealous?

The best thing about this spring semester is that I’m much more busy. Here’s what I’ve currently got going on:

1. Weekly English on Tuesdays-this continues from last semester. Basically I present three English sentences at the Tuesday assembly

2. English Club- I finally was asked by my school to do a friday afternoon English club. I had asked a few times to do something of the sort, but was always told there was no time. This is even better, because it’s paid because it’s outside of work hours. Next post will be on the first session, which was last week!

3. English Easy Go Preparations- EEG (not to be confused with the Brain one) I am coaching the Song aspect (that has a dance to go with it) and the Reader’s Theatre, the script for which I adapted from Jan Brett’s ‘The Mitten’ story, a family favorite. The song/dance bit is to ‘The Lazy Song’ and ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ which are both, I kid you not, my least favorite songs. Go figure, right? For RT, the kids do not seem to give a flying fish about cracking down to business, which worries me, because KX (our school) has apparently done quite well in past years.

4. Contest Judging- I judged two speech/recitation contests in December, and since then have been judging anything English related at my school. While I have fun doing this, it’s mostly to see the kids take something in earnest. I throughly dislike ranking students and find this immensely difficult.

5. Yilan Project- Well you know what? I would explain this to you all if I had any idea what we were exactly doing. None of us ETAs really do. We are supposed to create something which is (from what I can gather) basically a tourist thing promoting Yilan in the form of connecting it to the US. Not blatantly touristy, but basically I think you could sort of say that, as we are covering food, family, environment, etc. We are responsible for the content, and Fulbright will hire professional people to put together pamphlets and exhibition books. Should be interesting.

6. Tutoring- I tutor one of my 6th grade students for an hour every week. His Mom said that towards finals she’d want to make it every day if he could deal with it. I balked a little. Not sure what to make of this.

7. Reach the World-First semester I was blogging for Reach the World, an organization that connects world travelers with inner city classrooms, particularly in NYC. I wrote all my posts in the fall only to be informed in December that the entire semester they had been unable to match me with a school.  This semester I have supposedly been matched and they are using my content from last semester which is great because I’m a bit busy and haven’t been doing anything THAT exciting and new.

8. Weekly Reports- We have biweekly reports due to Fulbright in which we talk about classroom life and cultural exploration. These typically don’t take extraordinary amounts of time, but they merit mention.

9. Storytelling at the Library- This began with my volunteering to take over for a fellow ETA and morphed into my being asked to do it again. I just went for the second time yesterday, reading, ‘Mama, Do You Love Me?’ do a bunch of bouncy Taiwanese children. I taught them a modified version of Mother May I? and drew some feelings on the board. Then we drew pictures. I had a blast.

So that’s my life right now.

Guess what?

96 days left!

Love, Hannah

Our Milk tea River

80% humidity and It is class time but I’ve been relegated to the computer to do something or other.

‘Maybe you want to work on the third grades….I will just let the sixth grades do the workbook…’ Ellen said to me, after I gushed to her about fleece-lined pants in an awkward attempt at conversation. I don’t really ever know what she wants from me, so sometimes I just end up awkwardly hovering around her desk until she tells me to go make myself busy- or that in so many words.

So here I sit with hunched shoulders, fingers sticking to keys as I type. If I were to tell you that I wished I were at home in the states experiencing winter you might think I was crazy.

‘But you’re living in Taiwan!’ you might say, ‘it’s warm there!’

Well there, my friend, is where you are sadly mistaken. It has rained all week, and it will rain all next week too. The weather here in the winter is moist, damp, and full of rain that creates fingers that are at once cold and sticky. You will stick to everything. Your clothes will not dry. Your towel will not dry. You worry that if you take a shower you will mold because your hair won’t dry. You will begin to keep your electronics in plastic bags because you’re afraid of them rusting or becoming damp. Nothing will feel warm anymore, even if you wear six sweaters. Of course, the sweaters you brought are nothing more than cardigans since you didn’t think Taiwan got this cold in the winter. Denial will never get you anywhere.

Yesterday we discovered that our washer has a drier function. Unfortunately it takes about 4 hours to go full cycle enough to even take the wet out of things. That, and they are damp again an hour later. I am on the verge of defying my stingy nature and buying a dehumidifier.

Rain falls relentlessly here and when it isn’t full on raining, something wet is happening and causing every surface to be covered in a sort of misty film that makes trying to find anything dry, towel, plate, electronic screen, almost impossible. Nothing feels clean. I mopped the stairs from top to bottom yesterday in a strategic pattern such that I wouldn’t re-track my steps and create muddy footprints as I went. Of course, we had to be careful all day because it was still wet hours later.

Yesterday, as we took out the trash, I watched the river. I always seem to get my best ideas whilst taking out the trash, when my hands are too grimy with compost and old newspapers to write anything down. Today’s image was our river. The river runs behind our house, littered with old chicken bones and overgrown green moss. On still summer days, the water is clean and clear. Lately, however, it has been churning and turning up the secrets that lie on its bottom. Our riverbed cup is filled with milk tea with small white waves of foam.

Love, Hannah

Fortunes and Temples

My room mate, Danielle has a very active host family. They are always inviting her here and there, and sometimes she invites me. I described our last outing with the matching sisters, well this outing found me in the tiny Nissan again, wedged this time on the side of the brother and sister, answering another onslaught of questions.

We were on our way to see a ‘psychic’ although by their use of the word, Danielle and I had no idea what to expect. We only knew where we were going, south to Nanao, but nothing much other than that we were going to see a ‘psychic.’ Riding along, I looked straight in front of me as we began the drive through the mountains, trying not to be sick,

‘If you do not feel well, you can just sleep’ the matching aunts told me, so sleep I did. By sleeping I also avoided two hours of questioning inside the tiny car.

We arrived and piled out of the car. I breathed the fresh mountain air deeply into my lungs, steading my slightly car sick head, and stretching my legs which had been cramped in the same position for a while. Adding to our confusion, there seemed to be a ritual going on; all numbers of crashing and banging drums and firecrackers. We took the steps up into the temple and found it to look much like a usual temple. This one was dedicated to Matsu, the goddess of the sea:

Mazu (traditional Chinese: 媽祖; simplified Chinese: 妈祖; pinyinMāzǔ), also spelt Matsu and Ma-tsu, is the Chinesegoddess of the sea who is said to protect fishermen and sailors. The worship of Mazu began in the Song Dynasty. Mazu is widely worshiped in the southeastern coastal regions of China, especially in ZhejiangFujianGuangdong and Hainan. She is also an important deity in Taiwan. Mazu is also worshiped in East and Southeast Asia.

Her birthplace was Meizhou (湄州) in Putian County (莆田縣), Fujian Province.[1] She was born in the year 960.[1] Her family had the surname Lin (林).[1][2] She had the name Lin Moniang (Chinese: 林默娘). She died on 4 October 987.[1]After her death, she was remembered as a young lady in a red dress, who would forever roam over the seas.[1] (wikipedia)

Eva and incense

We walked around the interior although it wasn’t spacious, so that didn’t take us long. We each got some incense and baibai’d to the goddess. 

We looked into the corner and saw a regular looking woman sitting at a table. ‘She must be the psychic’ I whispered to Danielle, ‘but she’s not that old!’ she whispered back. 

We were just along for the ride, so when Roger, the host Dad suggested we take a picture with her, we went with it.

Smile before you get told something awful!

I wouldn’t help but wonder and hope if she didn’t find us terrible and touristy.

This is one of the aunts, just picture another one exactly looking like this and you’ll know what the other one looks like.

The insides of the temple were interesting. I found this next picture to be an architectural style that resembled that of the honeycomb arches in the Alhambra I studied in my Islamic Art and Architecture class.

Matsu Temple

Alhambra

There were other similarities as well, including stories on the walls.

Not sure about this meaning.

and of course many offerings were there.

Someone had offered what seemed to be dried Lychee, and a little girl was eating them. Roger offered them to us, thanking Matsu first, and upon peeling it I found a delightful little jellied fruit with a pit inside. I used my teeth to eat the sticky meat, and looked around in vain for a paper towel before wiping my hands awkwardly on my socks.

Danielle and I began the fortune telling process by asking Matsu if she would even communicate with the psychic to begin with.

Asking the question

she said no at first. if they face different directions it means yes.

Finally she ‘agreed’ to both of us and we got yellow protection necklaces.

circle three times over the incense.

We cannot open these or get them wet or ruin them, otherwise it is a desecration. If we want to get rid of it, we must burn it and sweep the ashes into a corner os no one can step over or on them. I enjoyed telling Roger about the term ‘desecration’ and discussing grammar with him.

Soon it was our turn with the psychic.

many business cards

I went first, and after telling her my birthday was 11/24/1990, she changed it to 11/23/1990 because ‘4’ is an unlucky number, as the word sounds like the word for ‘death.’ (both are ‘si’ with different tones). Did you know that hospitals will not have a 4th floor because no one wants their relatives to be on the ‘death’ floor?

She wrote my numbers beneath a bunch of others.

While she thought, I had some tea.

I dislike this picture, but it illustrates what I was doing.

What she told me I have taken with a grain of salt, but it is fun to think about, much like astrology and all that stuff. Apparently the gods talked through her since she couldn’t read. 

The two aunts had been scheming to ask about a boyfriend for me since last time we were together, so that was the first question. Her answer? (obviously not in English.)

‘You will meet your boyfriend next year in America. He will be an American.’

Sounds plausible. Given that a year is a long time and I’ll also be at Columbia. I asked about a career.

‘As long as you follow your heart, everything is good’

Sounds like a cop out answer, but okay. I was almost looking forward to hearing her tell me I should actually be a doctor or something. I then asked about where I should live.

‘As long as it is a western country, everything is good.’

Can you guess what she said when I asked her about anything bad that would happen or things to be careful of?

‘Everything is good’

Figures. 

Danielle’s fortune was much the same. Afterwards we skirted off to a corner and talked about how general our fortunes seemed. We walked outside to talk some more.

the temple in the middle of nowhere.

The ride home was little short of unbearable. The winding mountain roads finally got to me and I ended up requesting all sorts of things I would normally have shut up about out of politeness like ‘could you please move over/pull over/open the windows/drive more slowly’ We sat at the side of the road while I had space to sit with my head between my knees and stuff Danielle’s peanuts into my mouth in hopes to quell the rolls of nausea and spinning vision.

I thought the car ride would never end and I had to go lie down the moment I got home. I don’t even remember saying goodbye to my ‘host’ family, as I just sort of exited the car with my head tipped to the side and slid into the house and into bed. I felt sick for the next two days. Well, now I know why people go to Nan Ao by train.

And to think I brought a book to read in the car.

Love, Hannah

Happy Birthday to Me

I know, I know, I haven’t posted about my birthday. Honestly it wasn’t much to talk about.

Taipei Birthday

I was in Taipei the night before for a concert of the choir that I had almost joined but had no time for. I was so tired that I nearly fell asleep the entire time, but it still was wonderful to hear classical choral music. I remembered some of the songs from my brief time rehearsing with them, so I sang along under my breath. The little girl a few seats over copied the conductor with broad, sweeping gestures of her arms. I smiled, thinking of how this is something I would have done at her age. My feet were suddenly very hot, so I took off my shoes and covered my bare feet with a scarf, hoping no one would notice. It was hardly the airplane, but I couldn’t sit there for two hours wearing shoes. No way.

Immediately after we taxied home and I went right to sleep. I could not stay awake. I was a bit put off that my hosts put on the television loudly in the next room and continued to thump around the house, but I get the feeling that they stay up later than me anyhow. Surprisingly, as they are older, I often get calls or texts from them as late as 11pm at night!

The morning brought a typical delicious breakfast. I love meals at this house because they are just my style, simple, steamed, and lots from which to choose. This morning had a fruit plate of apples, guava, and mango, and a vegetable plate of broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, and sweet potato. I am a fan of everything, so it makes a lovely breakfast. At home I wouldn’t usually have vegetables for breakfast, but somehow here it seems to be okay to me.

Genial and I set off to the market, at my request, and she proceeded to buy me everything! I was again embarrassed, though thankful, since I haven’t quite figured out how the market works yet in terms of getting a good price. I think they still try to swindle me. I came across a tangerine seller who was also from Yilan, upon hearing it was my birthday he thrust three juicy tangerines into my hands and began talking at me rapidly in Taiwanese. The tangerines were purely orange, more orange than any standard American orange and surprisingly not the mottled green-orange shared by all citrus fruits here. The stems and leaves were still intact, as if he had just plucked them from the trees just for me. Tangerines are a happy, lucky fruit.

We bought a beet, a kabocha squash (!), some spinach, a loofa, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, a taro, a large dragon fruit, apples, a guava, and something else I can’t quite remember. My bags were laden down, but I was happy that I had bought from the market which is somehow better than that in Yilan.

As usual, I fell asleep on the bus home from Taipei (me and busses….it just happens) and was rather dreading the walk home with my bags stuffed full like a vegetable-gifting santa claus. As I was crossing the street, the woman who had been sitting next to me on the bus turned to me and led me to a car across the street. Thinking it was some sort of unofficial taxi, I asked her who it was in the car. Learning it was her mother, I accepted the offer of a ride, and began trying to explain in Mandarin where I lived while they spoke Taiwanese back to me. Thankfully my veggies and I arrived home intact and I had yet another story to tell. This is the second time I’ve accepted a ride from kind Yilaners. I know you may all balk at this, but I’ve got the intuition to tell whether it might be a bad idea. At least one would hope so, right?

School Birthday

The thursday before my actual birthday, my LET and the Dean presented me with a strange japanese cheesecake and had the teachers sing to me during the staff meeting. Ellen gave me a package which contained some fuzzy socks and some man’s leather gloves which I probably wouldn’t wear if I didn’t actually have cold hands in the brisk 6:30am air.

Later, the second grade teacher who so very much loves to talk to me was blathering on about something or another and mentioned the tradition of red eggs on birthdays. If you’re unfamiliar, as I was:

Eggs hold a special symbolic significance in many cultures, and China is no exception. The Chinese believe eggs symbolize fertility. After a baby is born, parents may hold a “red egg and ginger party,” where they pass out hard boiled eggs to announce the birth. (In some regions of China the number of eggs presented depends on the sex of the child: an even number for a girl, and an odd number if a boy has been born). (from Wikipedia)
Saying I could eat eggs, the teacher quickly dispatched Tom the Multipurpose guy to get eggs (or so I supposed) and he quickly rushed out the door. Soon he returned with a bag full of eggs. I pretended not to have seen and promptly forgot about the whole exchange. Later a call came to the classroom asking me to come to the office. The teacher, full of the enthusiasm one has when about to let out a pent up surprise, dragged me outside the other door and there, on some newspaper, was a red egg.

In all its glory

It had been a group effort between the teachers presently in the office, and I smiled. Warning me, in Mandarin, not to eat this certain egg, Tom brought me over to a metal container that was filled with hard boiled eggs. The teacher started bundling these into a food-safe plastic bag for me to take home. I ended up taking home about two dozen hard boiled eggs that day. Currently my fridge is stuffed to the brim. The absolute brim.

Home Birthday

Also this week came a birthday package from my lovely family! And since I’m writing this at a later date, I can also tell you that my wonderful aunties Margie and Sue sent me packages as did both sets of grandparents. There is no better way to feel loved at such a distance. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

My parents sent…well…my Mom obviously put it together when my Dad wasn’t there, because there was nothing from him inside 🙂

shaker bottle for smoothies (the cups here are small!), some chipy/crackery things, bars, earrings (owls!), chocolate!!

and a chocolate advent calendar! Our house has at least 30 different advent calendars but I’ve ever had a chocolate one.

🙂

The cars came first. My sister is such an artist 🙂 and my brother’s cartoon made me laugh. It looks a bit like Uncle Tom’s Ed, doesn’t it anyone who knows?

Wow!

yum.

My Auntie Sue sent me a neat Owl cut out that is now on my wall keeping me safe, Auntie Margie sent me a large photo of her and all my cousins which is also on my wall, and a scarf that I’ve already worn numerous times and gotten complements on, Grammie and Grampie sent a little notebook I used on sunday for taking blog notes on the train, and Mimaw and Pop sent me a warm Owl scarf that will go with me to my as of yet undisclosed lunar new year holiday location.

Thank you loving family.

Yilan Fulbright Birthday

I had arranged to go to the all you can eat (chi dao bao-literally eat until full) hot pot place that I love so much. Everyone showed up, which made me incredibly happy! Even our coordinator, Kelly came. We took up two tables and chatted and ate for hours until it was time to close.

Because we were so many people there, I am the owner of a VIP membership card at the restaurant and am now entitled to 15% off all purchases. 

All in all, it was a lovely birthday and well spent with lots of love from all sides. Thank goodness. The only thing that could have made it better would be if I were home with family love all around me.

Love, Hannah

Taiwanese Hospitality-Weather Help Edition

What happens when winter comes in Taiwan? Not much, actually. The temperature might drop a few degrees, it might rain more. For me though, I’ve been freezing. Taiwan, being so close to the equator, has no heating systems in any of its buildings, so if it’s cold and damp outside, chances are that it is also cold and damp inside.

Inside the teacher’s office, the windows are always open. No matter if the weather is hot, or pouring rain, those windows are wide open. It is sure a far cry from my home where my Mother always closes the house off and covered every window and door with dark sheets to keep out the heat in the summer. Or how we turn on the heat on the chilly days of late October and snuggle into our sweaters, keeping the windows closed again the damp and cold and megrimmum winds (if you’re not familiar with this term, click –>here)

Lately, it has been getting very chilly. The kind that makes your ankles and fingers to be stiff and causes you to walk around with hunched shoulders. The kind that turns your nose cold and drains the color from your cheeks. Ellen, my LET had gifted me with some sweaters to borrow, so I have been wearing those, but cotton isn’t enough in this weather. Luckily, my Taipei family called me the day after I had met with Ivy and told me they would be sending me a parcel of a blanket and some jackets by ground mail the following day.
‘Ivy told me that you needed a jacket, ‘ she said, ‘so we will send them tomorrow. We will prepare a package.’
‘Oh.’ I said, a bit embarrassed at their continual gifts, ‘I meant I’d probably need another blanket. If you had one, I’d really appreciate it…’ I could practically hear the blush in my voice.

A few days later, this arrived at my school.

huge. excuse the mess.

Inside were two jackets, a duvet, a sweater, and a blazer with the most 80s inspired flower pattern. I will have to take photos for you all. I wasted no time in unpacking it all to see what was inside, but was unable to get it all back in again, not surprisingly. Because the box was heavy, I took everything home in three shifts. Obviously the box and the duvet came home first, as up until its arrival I had been sleeping under a random fitted sheet and a synthetic quilt that was probably best used in summer weather. It had been raining for two weeks straight. It was about time to be warm.

warm.

This happened. Thank goodness.

Love, Hannah