Saturday, May 28, 2005

Funny quote of the week...

I have to add this quote before I forget it...

On Thursday night we were talking with our good friend Jack (whose family I spent Chinese New Year with), and Hope asked him if he likes his job (he's one of the many psychiatrists we know), to which he replied, "Sure, I get paid to talk all day!" Come to think of it.... so do we!

Our wonderful kids in English Club! Last class # 2! Posted by Hello

be back soon ;)

Sorry for my lack of posting, it has just been so busy this week! Our Thursday night class went soooo well, you can read about it here.
Today we are finishing two more classes and then catching a train to Taitung (Taidong) where we will stay with Faith. Tomorrow morning at about 7:30 we will take a boat to Green Island and spend two days, one night there! It promises to be a really great trip! And to top it all off, it's Hope's birthday on Monday!! Sorry for my brevity, but many pictures to come! Here's one to tide you over ;)

Our "Graduation" picture!  Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


This week three of our classes will come to an end, so sad! Our three "clubs," two for adults and one for children, have run their courses, and have been among our funnest classes to teach... Anyways we'll be finishing with some exciting stuff, including a review game show. I made a batch of cookie dough and put it in the freezer (a trick I learned from someone in college, or rather their grandma), so hopefully I'll have time on Thursday to bake all my cookies and bring them to class!

Summer camp is starting to come together, though it's a little stressful at the moment. I'm feeling better about it now though. We had three meetings last week, two with the music team (teaching them the songs we've chosen and practicing them) who we will be joining in the mornings, and one with the leaders/organizational committee. It is a 5 day camp for Jr. High students that is being partly sponsored by the government. As for our part, we get two hours a morning to teach English and help the students prepare a short drama to perform on the last day. This is ok, except everyone has all these ideas of things they want us to teach, while admitting that the learners will for the most part be at a very basic level. So far the suggestions we've received to include in our English time are: character (honesty, integrity, respect, thankfulness) which they are being taught in Chinese; vocabulary and "some English phrase" related to their activities like games, rock climbing and hiking; developing a global perspective (the Kyoto protocol etc.); and Taiwan's ecology (in the form of plants and animals they might encounter while hiking). Anyways, hopefully we have curbed the suggestions for now. As Hope put it (in relation to the ecology one), if we have to learn the words first, we probably shouldn't teach it. Anyways, we still need some helpers for this camp.

Yesterday we went to Hualian, but unlike other days we caught the early train which leaves at 7:30am. We ended up walking quite a lot, but it was pretty fun. We had pancakes at McDonalds, and got to go to the Pakistani restaurant that is so good! Did some shopping (actually a lot of shopping) and then relaxed at Starbucks for awhile. We got home around 7:45pm.

So yeah, that's what I've been up to lately. Good bye and remember, if you're ever in Taiwan and you want to go to Starbucks, you should say "Wo yao chu Xin Ba Ke"

Friday, May 20, 2005

Help - By Shel Silverstein

I walked through a wildwood, and what did I see
But a unicorn with his horn stuck in a tree,
Cryin', "Someone please help me before it's too late."
I hollered, "I'll free you." He hollered back, "Wait-
How much will it hurt? How long will it take?
Are you sure that my horn will not scratch, bend or break?
How hard will you pull? How much must I pay?
Must you do it right now or is Wednesday okay?
Have you done this before? Do you have the right tools?
Have you graduated from horn-savin' school?
Will I owe you a favor? And what will it be?
Do you promise that you will not damage the tree?
Should I close my eyes? Should I sit down or stand?
Do you have insurance? Have you washed your hands?
And after you free me - tell me what then?
Can you guarantee I won't get stuck again?
Tell me when. Tell me how.
Tell me why. Tell me where..."

I guess that he's still sittin' there.

I think this is exactly how we approach (or respond when approached by) God sometimes...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


sorry to say, I'm feeling kind of cranky this day.
I stubbed my toe. It bled.
Of course the day wasn't all bad, I had a reasonably fun Chinese class where we learned that when they really want to express the completeness of an action they continue to add the particle "le" which means you get such interesting phrases as kanle shule, chile fanle, shuole huole, and a variety of other phrases which sound most amusing when said in quick succession.
I had my Yuli Elementary class today, they are so adorable! It was really hot today, and during both of my classes it felt like my face and neck were covered in sweat! ICK. I later discovered that that classroom at least, has air conditioning. We played a lot of games in my class today since I was getting bored of teaching the same way every day (and if I'm bored, my students surely must be!), I actually divided them into four teams and did a series of competitions to illustrate the verbs I was teaching (swimming, jumping etc)
Then my troubles started, as they normally do, at Yuli Jr. High... now I have been having problems with this class for quite some time, and have been trying to communicate a very simple thing to this teacher, and have been told that other teachers have spoken with him on my behalf, since my class has become a rather unpredictable time of some weeks having just the girls (slightly more preferable) and some weeks having just the boys... all I want is to teach a class that is mixed, with the students who really want to be elsewhere allowed to go... I have been trying to accomplish this all semester (between a number of long hiatuses), and today attempted to discuss it with him before the class began, as he was dismissing the girls.... anyways, it was an extremely frustrating situation, and the ensuing class not very fun (particularly for me). At this point I have no desire to continue teaching the class, though there are only three weeks left, so is it better to just stick it out rather than making a statement? It of course means at least three more days of misery... knowing that i can't follow up on any of my material, whether i should basically teach the same lesson again or whether i'll have the same students, or some the same and others not.. anyways, that was my main source of frustration (other than my poor toe) today.

In other odd and exciting news, our friend Marcus is coming to help us for the second week of Jr. High camps we're doing in July (which at this point i must say part of me is dreading)... he's the friend we shared our first 2 weeks in Taiwan with and who accompanied us on our trip to Hong Kong! I'm looking forward to it!

One more thing that I can remember right now is that yesterday while we were eating lunch (a delicious hot pot) I got a phone call from a reporter strange you say... that's what I thouhgt.. anyways, she was doing a story about a retired teacher who has been volunteering to help some of the poor students in the area, and ended up at my favorite school: Yon Feng where she heard about me.... we quickly arranged for her to meet us at my second favorite school, Zhuo Feng, where we happened to be teaching that afternoon and got in a brief interview... It was kinda cool, but a little strange to think that i would be newsworthy

well on further reflection, i only have one class tomorrow, i read the amazing novel Jane Eyre today, and more things are good than bad, thanks be to God in any case.

Monday, May 16, 2005

personality and all that

Your #1 Match: INFJ

The Protector
You live your life with integrity, originality, vision, and creativity.Independent and stubborn, you rarely stray from your vision - no matter what it is.You are an excellent listener, with almost infinite patience.You have complex, deep feelings, and you take great care to express them.
You would make a great photographer, alternative medicine guru, or teacher.

Your #2 Match: INFP

The Idealist
You are creative with a great imagination, living in your own inner world.Open minded and accepting, you strive for harmony in your important relationships.It takes a long time for people to get to know you. You are hesitant to let people get close.But once you care for someone, you do everything you can to help them grow and develop.
You would make an excellent writer, psychologist, or artist.

Your #3 Match: ENFJ

The Giver
You strive to maintain harmony in relationships, and usually succeed.Articulate and enthusiastic, you are good at making personal connections.Sometimes you idealize relationships too much - and end up being let down.You find the most energy and comfort in social situations ... where you shine.
You would make a good writer, human resources director, or psychologist.

who woulda thunk my #3 would be an "E"
certainly not me... though i think i had a different result when i took the test the other day (for #3, 1 and 2 were the same still).
anyways, i really find this stuff fascinating, you should all take the test and leave me notes telling me what you are, and i'll see if my guess what right ;)

Friday, May 13, 2005

You have come here... hardly knowing the reason why

Posted by Hello

I believe I got these pics from the offical movie website.  Posted by Hello

part update, part movie review

i'm sorry i haven't updated this week! it hasn't been incredibly exciting, a lot of rain... though I did manage a long bike ride one afternoon (about 35-40 minutes each way) two of our Jr. Highs and one of our Elementarys had midterms this week, so it was less busy than usual, which allowed me to devote time to my recent obsession: The Phantom of the Opera, so here, I shall regale to you my history with Phantom...

  • I am currently listening to the music, which I bought in Taipei over Chinese New Year.. so good! I have a better version at home on cassette tape which won't see the light of day for awhile... but I think I listened to it when I was packing up at the end of my college year last year.
  • I read an abridged version of the story when I was young, and of course loved it.
  • I really got into it though, in 2000, when I went to see it performed live in Spokane, Washington. It was amazing, one of the most amazing things I have ever seen! I was amazed at the chandelier, a costume change, somehow on stage while the scene was in progress, a stage transforming into an underground lake with candles coming up from the water, and of course, the incredible story and music. I was naturally rather excited when I heard (probably a while later than most of you) that they were making it into a movie. My faithful blog readers will know that I actually got to see it in theatre a few months ago!
  • Last weekend, I rented it with Catherine since she hadn't seen it. Then when I was talking about it with Peggy, she told me she had just bought it, and lent it to me for the week! So yes, on Wednesday night, I stayed up til about 2am watching all the special features, which ranged from hilarious to fascinating. I hope you can find the hidden bit, it's really funny! I was especially interested by a documentary about how the stage musical came about.

Anyways, not that I am an expert at all, but here is my critique of the movie:

  • I'm not a professional singer at all, but I have to say I really liked the singers in the movie. The Phantom (Gerard Butler) isn't quite as good as when I saw it, but everyone else really was. And of course, all better than I could do...
  • Christine really showed too much cleavage (during most of the movie) for my liking, but I think Emmy is more beautiful than Sarah Brightman. She had some really great facial expressions and an innocence about her.
  • The whole Point of No Return sequence is just amazing. Every time I watch it I perceive different nuances, like at what point does Christine fall under his spell? When does she know it's him? When does Raoul know it's him? Lots of really good acting there (in my opinion). I like how they had some simpler costumes there too, the stage ones are quite ornate.
  • Speaking of costumes... I have to say, I was rather disappointed with Masquerade. It's just meant to be so much brighter! At least if they were only going to work with 4 colors, they could have chosen bright but cool colors that would still constrast with the Phantom's red death costume. I preferred his red death costume in the stage show anyhow, much more dramatic.

Well, most of you are probably bored to death by now, and of the opinion that I really didn't like the movie that much (and I haven't even started on the swordfight scene). I really do love the movie! Anyways, if you stop reading now, I'll forgive you... next time I'll write more about Taiwan life (where, in my case anyways, there lacks the Phantom's elements of mystery, opera, romance, and murder)

  • I didn't like how they changed some parts to speaking parts instead, maybe they were trying to appeal to the younger audience by making it more like a movie and less like a musical but I think it took some of the drama out of certain moments.
  • I was a little skeptical about them moving the chandelier crash to the end of the movie, but i really think it worked.
  • The costumes and sets were really beautiful
  • The Phantom: way too good looking... probably many people have this complaint. I think they could have transitioned better between masked and unmasked. Not as much of his face is disfigured, but certain parts that are at the end are perfect in previous closeups even where that part of the face is revealed.
  • The swordfight: ok... but it was a little pointless to have Raoul win and then Christine say "no, not this way" (let's instead hatch this elaborate plot that will endanger all of our lives...), i can see that they're trying to show how torn she is between the two, but there was probably a better line they could have come up with, or else have reversed it so that the phantom was still in control.
  • i liked the background story of the Phantom, it was quite moving, but it kind of fails in later explanations like how on earth did he become an archetict, magician etc if he's actually lived in the Opera house since childhood. I belive the book has a bunch of history about him being in other places and accomplishing a number of things.
  • Anyways, they did some great transitions, especially in the opening sequence - it was just breathtaking! I really appreciated being able to see it much closer, as well as being able to rewind my favorite parts. I think they had too many "black and white" scenes but I really liked the shot of the diamonds becoming the fireworks to open up "Masquerade."

Well at this moment, that's all I have to say on that. If you've seen this movie and agree or disagree with any of my thoughts, discussion is welcome... if you haven't seen this movie why on earth not??

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

One Year Ago

Almost two weeks into Brazilian culture. There are things I love and things I hate. I hate the heat, bugs and cold water showers. But I love the people, the beauty of this place, the ocean. I love how everyone is so affectionate here, but I hate how EVERYONE stares at us. I hate the phones but love the ice cream.
My first week of teaching finished. Can I really be a teacher full time? These kids are so excited and thankful to be able to learn English. What will be the difference in a country like Korea where they are forced to learn English by their parents and don't have good attitudes? Can I go somewhere like that without knowing the language and without a team?
I have seen so many interesting things - traffic jams, beautiful people and children, despair, hopelessness covered up with bright colors. A world burned and blackened with age yet full of life and vigor. These are a people holding onto whatever they can. Yet is our way of life better?

Saturday, May 07, 2005

just another day

  • taught some English
  • spoke some Chinese
  • drank some coffee
  • spilt some coffee on someone's computer
  • ate some noodles
  • watched some Phantom of the Opera

Friday, May 06, 2005

A sunset a day...

I saw THE most amazing sunset I have seen here yet. It was so incredible that I actually climbed up to the roof of my house to take pictures (there are stairs, but it is only the second time I've gone up there) Posted by Hello

Missing Saskatchewan..... I got to see these so much more frequently there. Posted by Hello

Someday I want to live near the water, facing west, where I will experience sunsets as often as I can...  Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

xiao peng you

Today when I was on my way to class at Yuli Elementary school, this little girl stopped me. I wasn't sure why she stopped me, since it was "after school" and there were a number of parents and children coming and going from the scene, as well as a couple of school guards at the gate controlling traffic and such. Anyways, she stopped me, and said something in Chinese that I didn't totally understand, but I got enough to know it was something about her mother, then she started crying! She was probably about seven years old. So I asked her what her mother's name was (not sure as to the usefulness of that question) and where she was. She said her mom was at home and wasn't coming to pick her up. I wasn't sure if she should just wait or what, but I offered to let her use my cellphone to call her mom. She said her mom was on the way and that she's be ok waiting, and so I went to class, thankful that I'd had my cellphone, and that I could understand/speak enough Chinese to help her.

I had my youngest class, grades 1-3 and to be a little different today, we made a craft! It was quite fun, though took up almost all the time, and it was nice to have students that are really excited about what they're doing. Teaching a craft in English isn't so difficult since you can demonstrate the instructions you're giving quite easily. They were so cute when they proudly showed me their colored butterflies and frogs.
I like kids.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Hope, Ariel, Richard (Ariel's boyfriend) Posted by Hello

Hope and I on Sunday Posted by Hello

Our beautiful friend Ariel Posted by Hello

The view at Hualian's Dong-Hua University Posted by Hello

Liz and Jessie Posted by Hello

The skit Posted by Hello

Our hotel room Posted by Hello

In the hotel Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

View from the bed and breakfast Posted by Hello

Pacific Ocean Posted by Hello

hualian and hualian

wow, we spent a disproportionate amount of time in Hualian last week!
It was rather fun though. On Monday we took the train there and met Lisa, who is an English teacher and a friend of our wonderful Amy Jieh. She took us past Hualian ocean park (a huge amusement park) out to a bed and breakfast that her friend owns right on the Pacific ocean and we had coffee. It was so beautiful out there! We then went back to do a little shopping (bought a bunt (cake) pan, caramel sauce, some parmesan cheese, and my new birthday skirt!) . We were checked into the Marshal hotel, which is a really nice hotel! We paid about $100 (total) for our shared room, which we got a 40% discount on since it was the middle of the week. The cost was NT$2800 instead of like NT$5600! It was a really nice room! We went for dinner at a very exciting find: an Indian and Pakistani restaurant! The owner is from Pakistan and speaks English quite well. It was really good food, and a nice break from the usual. In the evening we met our friends from Studio Classroom and got to see some more of Hualien, as they went touring some of the Taiwan specialties including oyster omelettes, almond milk, and a special type of ice cream. I didn't sample all of these things.
IOn Tuesday, we joined our Taipei co-workers for three rallies, one at a jr. high, one at a girl's high school, and one at a teacher's college. It was so much fun to be with everyone, I felt really encouraged by them. In the first school, only a smaller group had gone, and so I ended up doing a part in a small skit. It was interesting. We learned a great new song called "Life is a Gift" which we were singing for the rest of the week... and now that I'm going to type out the lyrics, I'll probably be singing it today too.

Life is a gift
Life is a gift
A gift of love
A gift from God

Life is a gift
A gift of love from God
A gift of love from above

It is so wonderful
Don't throw it away
It is so precious
Treasure it every day

At the second two rallies we got to talk to a lot of students afterward, which was really fun! I was impressed by their English. We even saw a girl we know from Yuli who goes to high school there. After the teacher's college rally, we actually met some people who will be working in Yuli this summer. We exchanged email addresses, and hopefully can work together if possible!

Anyways, after a fun week we went back to Hualian on Sunday! We went with Ariel and Richard who wanted to take me their for my birthday. We went to Richard's church which is right by Dong-Hua University. I really enjoyed it. Wow.. we've barely been to Yuli church this month! Anyways, we got to take a little tour of the university afterward (and a wonderful library with a whole floor of English books!) , then we went to eat one of Taiwan's most ingenious desserts: shaved ice topped with fresh mango and sweetened condensed milk... it was really good!!! We did a little shopping and went to Starbucks, and then went for a dinner of milk hot pot at this nice little cafe that used to be situated in Yuli. Milk hot pot is one of my favorite varieties of this fun dish. We left to look for fireflies since I've never seen real ones, but it was too late so there weren't any to be found... Oh yeah, and on the way home, Ariel bought this very unique drink that she wanted us to try: green tea with Heineken beer in it... it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be... but one sip was enough for me.... though I suppose I'd drink that over a whole can of beer if I had to choose one... anyways, how's that for random?