the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Monday, August 23, 2010

Retro Blog, Day 2: team building

Today the entire team finally arrived and we had a retreat. Here, I had
my first real tastes of Taiwanese food and the family style dining that
I quickly grew to love. We also played a lot of camp-type games that we
would also end up playing with students in our free time. It was a
great time of getting to know the staff that I would work so closely
with over the next two weeks.

Here we got the devotion / reflection guides and started to use them
already in the mornings. They were written by our fourth roommate who
hadn't shown up yet because he was coming directly from another mission
trip. I really appreciated the time the devotions gave us for
reflection and being in God's word.

The toughest thing about these two days was finding out that I had
misunderstood the stipend I would be getting and it would be
considerably less than what I had planned on in my budget for the next
school year. Being in a new country, you go through cycles of happiness
and doubt. In my experience, the waves are usually bigger in the
beginning and smaller later on. At certain points in the day, I was
already doubting if I should even be in Taiwan, and the deal with the
stipend didn't help confirm things. We stayed the night until Saturday,
and by then, although it wasn't what I had expected, I was sure that
this was still the perfect place that God wanted me to be.

The pictures are of the basketball courts, starting a barbecue, and one
of the student helpers from Taiwan giving us a short presentation about
life in Taiwan.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Retro Blogging: E-camp Day 1

I took off from LAX at 2am. While sitting waiting for the plane to take
off, I met a family who was being sent to the Philippines (or
Indonesia?) to begin work with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

After dinner on the flight, I had some sort of food poisoning from the
chicken and rice (which the stewardesses said no one else on the flight
had reported). I ended up vomiting the food back up in bathroom.
Thankfully I was in an aisle seat.

Being sick for about 12 hours on the flight, I was worried that I'd be
sick for a good part of my time in Taiwan, but thankfully after the
first day or so I was feeling ok again. I don't know why I tend to get
sick on planes.

I came to camp a day early and met some of the staff who also got there
early. This was great because later there would be nearly 50 people,
and that's too many to get to know at one time. Dorothy, my teacher
that I had met up with once in LA, was there at the airport to pick us
up along with some of the other senior staff.

Although I was unaware of it at the time, I had flown from LA to Taipei
with my roommate to be, Gerald, whom I finally met at the Taipei airport
with the others. He proved to be both encouraging and obnoxious.

Since we were early, we got an ad-lib tour of campus (which didn't
include the popular cafeterias, the gym or the library) and then a tour
of downtown and the famous glass museum.

For lunch we ordered at the cafeteria next to the seven-eleven. This
was where I first realized how knowing little Mandarin was going effect
my communication in Taiwan. I had my first soy milk there which was
delicious. I really loved having soy milk in Taiwan.

In the afternoon, we went downtown and to the glass museum. Then we
returned to campus, helped make posters, played cards, and had dinner.

That's all I remember of the first day. The next day everyone would
come and we would start off full-swing.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Reverse Blogging

Wow.  Taiwan was so amazing I hardly know where to begin.  One thing that was great about the E-camp program was that they also highly encouraged journaling and reflection.  So in the following days I'm going to post some excerpts from my journals - albeit, two weeks late.

For now, some minor observations and trivia about Taiwan:

  1. People there seemed pretty open and talkative.
  2. Yes, the weather was over 35 degrees C every day and very humid.
  3. Almost all take out food was fried and/or oily.
  4. As with most of the rest of the world, water pressure is not high enough to flush your toilet paper, so you leave it in a trash can by the toilet.  Don't let the small things get you down. ;)
  5. Scooters are awesome!  Nearly everyone in Taiwan uses them, and they are very fun!
  6. Some Buddhists in Taiwan are actually very serious about being vegetarians.
  7.  It is not uncommon to see stray dogs wandering around.  My students told me this is because people love puppies but not dogs.
  8. The streets are generally wider here than in Japan.
  9. They drive on the right side of the road. 
  10. Don't be surprised if traffic doesn't stop for you.
  11. I agree, Mandarin is not a language you can "just pick up".  I generally don't  believe in this idea anyway.
  12. Politics seemed to be a somewhat taboo topic, while religion was discussed very openly - this seems to be the opposite of America.
  13. It is very common to eat "family style".  I loved this!  If you have one of those rotating platforms on the table, what out for random drinks and serving utensils when you turn it.
  14. It is not ok to slurp your noodles in Taiwan. :(
  15. Stinky tofu is definitely stinky.
  16. Shaved ice here is amazing!  And they have almost any fruit for toppings.  Taiwan is practically tropical.
Ok, that's enough for now.  Pictures of things will be on Flickr.  Pictures of people will be on Facebook.  Enjoy!