Thursday, June 3, 2010

My First Post!

Hello everyone! I hope summer has been treating everyone well J. For the Past few days I’ve been in Taiwan living in the mountains with 2 elementary school principals. When I mean living in the mountains, I mean everywhere I look all I see are mountains. I’m living at such an elevation where the clouds just seem so close! If it’s a rainy day, I can see the clouds just roll through streets. Monday through Fridays Principal Ma is in charge of the Luo Na Elementary School while Principal Hong is in charge of Dong Pu Elementary School. On the weekends Principal Ma and Principal Hong run the Vox Nativa Music School of Taiwan (top right picture: their famous school choir). Yup that’s right they work 7 days a week…..quite a power couple huh?

bali152.jpg picture by arrowheadpa

From left to right: President's wife, Principal Ma, Principal Hong

I got to see the Vox Nativa Music School of Taiwan perform last Friday for the very first time, and if you’ve seen my pictures on facebook, you can tell it was quite a big event. There were performances from about 5-7 different Taiwanese aboriginal groups. Saturday was the first time I really got to meet the students and staff of Vox Nativa Music School of Taiwan, and that day was the day of their field trip. I followed them as they explored the old white house, visited old forts, and shopped the old streets of Danshui. Sunday rolled around, and they went to Bali Home for People with Disabilities to perform. I really had so much fun with all the kids that weekend. They are all so adorable and sweet! All the adults I’ve met too have all been very friendly.

So where am I now? The Principals’ house is located in Wangmei village in Nantou county. I would definitely categorize this place as very rural. There are no supermarkets here, the streets are only wide enough for one vehicle, and there are fields and fields of grapes and flowers. It’s scary because if there is a typhoon here in the mountains, mudslides will destroy roads and bridges. Even the water gets contaminated, and there isn’t any clean running water. When there have been really damaging typhoons, a generous donor of the Vox Nativa Music School of Taiwan has to fly in food into the villages. Despite the danger of mudslides, it’s very beautiful, and the people are very welcoming .

DSC_0034.jpg picture by arrowheadpa

My room

Because this is such a rural area, there are a lot less resources available for the students. I think the schools here rely a lot on donations because all the new books in the library that I cataloged on Monday were donated. (So if you would like to donate money to their school just go here to find out how! [you may have to use google translator to translate the page to English] ). Then a woman was telling me about how a lot of the students don’t get the opportunity to continue their education because the student’s family cannot financially support a higher education. Another problem that occurs is that many kids marry when they are really young….as young as middle school! So some people only have a middle school education and are taking care of many children when they are in their early 20s.

So that’s a quick summary of what I’ve learned about where I’ve been staying. Anyhoo….I’ve been pretty busy this past week. I really don’t know how these principals do EVERYTHING! Here in the mountains people get up early and sleep early because most of them are farmers. So I’ve been waking up at 6:30 every morning and off to bed at around 9:30-10:30 p.m. Here’s a quick rundown of my days at school….

DSC_0005.jpg picture by arrowheadpa

Luo Na Elementary School


  • Woke up at 6:30 and got to Luo Na Elementary School around 7:30 to find that all the students are already at school cleaning the classrooms
  • 3rd period: went to 1st grade’s Chinese class to learn Chinese
  • Lunch with the teachers
  • 5th and 6th period: helped A-li catalog all the new donated books in the library
  • Around 3:00, Principal Ma and I headed over to Dong Pu Elementary School.
    • Principal Ma practiced with some of the 5th and 6th grade choir students. They have a performance in Taipei the next day.
  • Principal Ma and Principal Hong took me to a hot spring J. They usually try to do this every week to relax.
  • Had a very delicious pumpkin noodle dish for dinner
  • Posted my first batch of pictures on facebook
  • BEDTIME …whew


  • 1st period: went to 1st grade’s Chinese class to learn Chinese
  • 2nd period: stayed in 1st grade to see the teacher teach math class
  • 3rd period: went to 3rd grade’s Chinese class to learn Chinese….this class was way too hard for me! I spent the whole time carefully copying down what the teacher wrote on the board. By the end of the class period everyone was done except me -_- ….they are learning idioms…so I pretty much didn’t understand a word.
  • Lunch time: went to a wedding banquet with Principal Ma
    • Up here in the mountains, you are supposed to invite practically everyone to your wedding banquet. There were so many people! Principal Ma told me the purpose of the banquet wasn’t to eat food….it’s to give back to the people that have helped the bride and groom. Very interesting experience…
  • While Principal Ma had a doctor’s appointment… I swept the floors, did laundry, returned emails
  • Met Principal Hong’s daughter….she came by the house to walk the dog
  • Went to bed super early at 9:30
DSC_0016.jpg picture by arrowheadpa
All the students do an exercise dance on Tuesdays
  • 1st period: went to 1st grade’s math class to observe…but I ended up reading this English article for the teacher...she’s taking a class about teaching a second language
  • 2nd period: spent a whole 40 minutes trying to explain to the 1st grade teacher what the article was about with my horrible Chinglish…haha
  • 3rd period: went to 6th grade’s English class to observe
  • 4th period: talked to the English teacher and discussed her methods of teaching English and the differences between schools here in Taiwan and America
  • After lunch on Wednesdays, students are dismissed
  • 5th-7th period: went to the Teacher’s Lecture…this time it was about Math Education!
    • A principal came to talk about how to teach elementary school math…and ways to improve a teacher’s teaching methods….very interesting…
  • Dinner: Principal Hong’s daughter came by for dinner to talk about her Engagement and Wedding plans. She’s getting engaged this weekend, and then married next weekend. Guess who’s taking her pictures this weekend!? Me! Ah…talk about pressure -_-‘
  • Pre-registered for PSU football tickets!!! Totally forgot to do it earlier…good thing Taiwan is 12 hours ahead of the US!


  • 1st and 2nd period: 1st grade’s Chinese class
  • 3rd period: 5th grade’s math class
    • They were learning how to convert measurements….like kg to tons
  • 4th period: 4th grade’s math class
    • they were learning clock math (i.e. What time did Sally leave the country if it took her 3 hours and 15 minutes to get to Taiwan, and she landed in Taiwan at 5:30 pm?
  • Lunch: the 4th grade class asked me to eat lunch with them
  • 5th period: 4th grade’s PE class
  • 6th period: 4th grade’s English class
  • 7th period: 6th grade’s Bunun language class
  • Principal Ma had guests over tonight, and they were all so nice! There will be more about that later….

So yes…sorry this was the LONGEST post ever….I will make sure I update this blog more frequently so posts aren’t this long…

Sa vì

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