Saturday, June 30, 2007

Update

Hello to those who read this... I've been really busy lately and lots of weird stuff is happening.
I went to Taipei for a couple of days and now I'm home but going back on Wednesday for most of July. I'll be doing 3 weeks of camps. I'm just slowly finding out information about the camps, so I'll be madly getting ready for those at the end of next week.
I just came back from Taipei and I'm heading to Yuli tonight because of an unexpected emergency. I'm ok, but some people I know aren't so please pray for my friends in Yuli.
ALSO sometime between thursday and friday my hotmail account and msn were messed up. I'm not sure what happened, but I can't get into either, it's like someone changed the password on me. I've been thinking of switching completely to gmail for awhile, but I didn't think i'd be doing it without all my contacts!!! So anyways, if you need to reach me, please email at my gmail.com account. The name is xialudi. I have a new msn - chars new msn (without the spaces) which is at hotmail just for using messenger. So if you're wondering why i haven't been online lately, try adding this address! I usually don't post my emails and such on this kind of public forum (don't want spam) but i don't have anyone's email address so I have to do it this way.
I'll update again soon.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Simple!

Well now that I have a new visa that lets me stay in this country for another year, I'm going to once again attempt to get my drivers' license. Let's see what kind of strange rule they'll come up with this time (people with red hair can't drive scooters in Taiwan?). Maybe you'll recall the difficulties I had last year with my ARC being short a couple of weeks, so they refused to let me take the test. Well about a month after that I broke my leg, so I ended up not pursuing it further, but this time, I HOPE I can get it. And with questions like the above on the test, well I don't know if it makes it easier or more difficult...sometimes the answers are quite obvious. Others, it's like well I have no idea what the question is actually asking! Don't know who translated the questions..anyways.

I tend to put things off if I'm unsure about them. Last week the fluorescent light above my bed burned out, but I wasn't sure where to get a new one. So I lived in semi-darkness for a couple of days before I finally asked someone, and then asked someone else. Finally I found that the little store down the street has them, so I went to buy one. It had been almost a week at this point. I took my old light in, he got me one AND recycled the old one for me. All for NT$30. That's right about a dollar. Why did I wait so long? sigh...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My Bible Study

Last Wednesday was the class party for my English bible study. It's been a great year with my students and it was a fun celebration. Unlike my class at the other church, the students have been really consistent in this class, so I've gotten to know them pretty well.

To celebrate, we had a potluck dinner. We ate dumplings, pineapple shrimp, potato salad, chicken and lots of fruit including mangoes and lychees which are in season right now. I made a homemade salsa which was a HUGE hit. Quite simple too, just cut up an onion, a bunch of cilantro, some garlic and about 4 tomatoes, add a little lemon juice and cumin powder and some salt. Mix and let it sit in the fridge for about an hour. Really simple and tasty!!

After we ate, we played a game and then I did a cookie demonstration! Since this is a smaller class (my biggest class is 48!) I can make cookies for then on occasion without spending a LOT of time (4 classes of 48 - almost 200 students in a day! that's a lot of cookies). Anyways, after sampling some of my baking, my students have been asking me to teach them how to make cookies. So, I brought my oven and all the necessary ingredients to bake and got all the students to help. As you can see they had a blast! We made chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin.





Rolling them out.














Baking in progress.














The next event of the evening was speeches! I taught them a couple of weeks ago about the basics of writing a speech, and tips for giving a speech. I gave them time in class to work on their speeches and get them checked.... I even gave them a list of topics to choose from. And I discovered that most adult students do NOT do homework. They also give better excuses than my high school students! What can I do, they're busy people. I did prepare prizes though, and those who had actually prepared speeches got to choose first.


I went first, giving a speech in Chinese, that apparently a bunch of people recorded, but I don't intend to post it online...sorry! I finished by saying "If I can do it, so can you!"
Here are the pastor and Pauline, another student giving their speeches. They both did great jobs! Actually I was really proud of all those who did give speeches, and I think it was a great way to challenge them. Not only did they have to write their own composition, but also present it to a group. I think it's definitely an experience you can learn and grow from.

This Sunday, we sang some of the songs we learned this semester in church, which was really fun. The pastor has been to Canada, and takes my class, so we had her introduce us in English while I "translated" for her! It was quite amusing. The neat thing is that some of the praise songs we've learned are familiar to the congregation, only in Chinese. For the last song, we had them sing the chorus in Chinese with us. It goes like this:

Deeper in love with you, deeper in love with you
I love you more than anything in life
Deeper in love with you, deeper in love with you
Oh how I love you Lord
深深愛你耶穌深深愛你耶穌
我愛你超越生命中一切
深深愛你耶穌深深愛你耶穌
哦我愛你耶穌



Thursday, June 21, 2007

Go west, young (wo)man


Dragon Boat Festival fell on a Tuesday this year, giving many people a four day weekend. I decided to go explore a little more of western Taiwan, since I've been on the east for the majority of my time here. I passed through briefly during my first Chinese New Year in 2005.



















I spent most of the weekend in Chang-hua, with some time in Taizhong as well.
Chang-hua has a really beautiful agricultural area where there are tons of flowers growing and being sold. It also has a giant Buddha statue at the top of a mountain.
Closer to the coast is a small town called Lugang with an old street. There's lots of fresh seafood for sale there as well as a lot of local crafts. I didn't buy anything this time, but visited a couple of temples and a really narrow street called "breast touch alley" Taizhong has a big night market which was suffocatingly crowded when we visited it. Here's one picture of the crowd we had to push through to get out!


An interesting observation about Taiwanese culture is "ming can" or famous food. Every town in Taiwan has its "specialty food" that it seems one must buy when visiting there, and if possible bring some back for friends and relatives. Often this is one of the only places in Taiwan you can get that particular dish or treat. One of the people I met up with had made a list. Now people make shopping lists, on holiday they make lists of places they want to visit. But this list was entirely of different foods he wanted to eat from various places! So we spent a considerable amount of time standing in line to get certain foods from certain places, though to me, the actual food seemed more or less the same as what you can buy elsewhere. Sometimes I think Taiwanese people are crazy! The more people in line, the more they want to try something! They're willing to wait a lot longer than I would for a simple snack. One of the items on the list was chicken feet. You can see them here, as well as the line we waited in. They looked to me like all the other chicken feet I've seen in Taiwanese night markets, but apparently they're "special" I didn't buy any, but the other 3 people I was with bought about 8 boxes between them!

Finally, here are a few more pictures from the weekend. Did I mention it was extremely hot? It's been over 30 for a couple of weeks now




Friday, June 15, 2007

Congratulations Grads!

Well, I don' t think I know anyone in Canada who is actually graduating this year. But today I attended the graduation ceremony for some of my students from last year at the girls' high school. It was very Taiwanese, including the typical random music spliced together, cross-dressing, and skanky dancing.
Now in Canada, a graduation ceremony more or less should include caps and gowns, everyone walking across the stage to receive their diplomas, and some speeches.
Today was the first High School graduation I've been to in Taiwan. The ceremony I attended today was more like an awards/variety show! I guess 500+ cheering/screaming girls will change the atmosphere of any event. There was lots of singing, dances, skits, and videos. The students simply wore their school uniforms with just little hats or pins that they made as a class (including flowers, crowns and badges with their class numbers). Their theme was "Play Jazz" and they sang songs from Chicago and Phantom of the Opera.
At no point were diplomas actually given to students, nor were they individually recognized for graduating. At the beginning of the ceremony a "book" was given to the student with the top grades, which I was later told represented the diplomas for all the students and she would later distribute them to the classes.
There were awards given for perfect attendance, congeniality, art, sports and a couple of other things I didn't quite get, as well as high grades (no English award, too bad!). Then came the longest part of the program, where the students actually gave awards to their teachers. Class by class sent a representative to give an elaborate speech and use some creative way to reveal the teacher's name. The teacher then came on stage to receive various gifts, like flowers, crowns, capes, and even a giant teddy bear. Then came the recorded messages by teachers for each class. It was quite a long ceremony, and it took me awhile to realize that they weren't actually going to let each student "walk across the stage". Though there were some students who received a number of awards and were on stage often, the graduation really wasn't individual-centered at all, unlike a western graduation. Instead students were graduating as a class, as a grade, as a school. Also it took place on a weekday, with relatively few family members present.
It was really different, i'm not going to say "bad" i've learned enough not to in almost three years...but while there are some good points about this type of ceremony (and it was immensely more entertaining than my own graduation ceremonies were), I feel like it doesn't do a lot to encourage the majority of the average, or even mediocre students. They should be given the chance to feel proud of their achievement, even if they weren't number one in their class. And to be recognized for working hard through school and making it to high school graduation, something a lot of people will never do!

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Roach Monster of 5-4 (that's where I live)

We are not alone.
Our unsuspecting heroine flings back the screen to the kitchen on her way to make some iced tea. She hears a soft scuttle and her eyes focus on the monstrosity just before it dashes into the dark kitchen cupboard from whence it came. She utters a bloodcurdling shriek and reaches for the nearest weapon. In this case, a can of RAID. She ponders for a minute about the adverse effects of spraying the food in her pantry with a toxic substance, but by this time it is already too late. The thing is gone. She gives a warning spray around the edges of the closed door, though perhaps it is a fruitless precaution....

That's right, folks, there's a cockroach in my kitchen. Actually this isn't the first time I've seen it. I meant to post earlier about the amazing kamikaze cockroach. In our last encounter, I turned the gas burner on to boil the kettle and it jumped out from among the flames, decided in an instant that preferred the environment below the burner and leaped back into the middle of the open fire. I was hoping that was the last I'd see of it, but apparently I DIDN'T fry it, since it's still there. (And is it just me, or is it bigger than last time?) This is now the SECOND time it's caused my heartbeat to jump to near heart-attack levels... this is WAR roachie...well, that is, if I can get up enough courage to smash you.....

Sunday, June 10, 2007

All I can think about

As I ride my bike through the torrential rain that the spring rainy season brings is this song:



Quite a blast from the past! Incidentally, this Jars of Clay CD was the first Christian CD I ever bought, and almost wore it out in the next year since I listened to it so much. DC Talk's Jesus Freak, was of course the second. Good times!

Back to the rain. Well on Friday it was pouring, much like every other day this week, but of course, I dutifully had to go to class. So I put on my track pants and rain coat that goes to my knees and hopped on my bike...how else was I supposed to get across town? Actually until then I'd been sort of a chicken about riding in the rain. But you gotta do what you gotta do. Anyways, the way back was the worst! You know when you're pedaling and your foot is in the lowest position? Well at that position my feet would actually be submerged in water! It almost felt like that scene from The Day After Tomorrow where water starts coming UP from the gutters. I couldn't even see the road in some places.... I also noted that in conditions of limited visibility, Yilan drivers are 70% MORE likely to run red lights... Anyways, I made it home ok, and there seems to be a slight break now, I'd better go out before it's too late, the forecast doesn't look promising. Enjoy the video!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Doctor's Report

I did go see the doctor today and got an x-ray. The report was pretty good. The spot where the screw was removed has almost completely filled in. And the original break site has filled in faintly, but isn't solid yet, with just a small gap still. The doctor said its pretty much on schedule, and that I should be able to get the plate removed in the fall (around a year after the break) and to come back in three months. Swelling and pain is normal. So i guess that's just something I have to live with for awhile yet.
That's all for now!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

comings and goings



OK guys, I have not been blogging lately....perhaps because I've been spending too much time on Facebook.... which if you don't have, I'd highly recommend!
In the last week or so I've....
....taught lots of classes, though some were cancelled because of graduation trips
....received a gift from one of my classes (brought back from their graduation trip), and was really touched that they thought of me!
....went to a beautiful wedding that combined western and Taiwanese traditions
....updated my template for summer! thanks a-hsiang for the help
....used my air conditioner more than I should have
....gotten drenched in the spring rains on the way home from class
....not been to the Dr. I've been kinda putting it off but i'm going tomorrow, and if I don't, you can yell at me ok!
....started planning some end of class parties the first one being next wednesday where i've promised to make homemade salsa AND do a cookie baking demonstration
....gotten approved on a new work visa!! woohoo I haven't gotten my papers back yet, but this could mean a drivers' license is coming soon!
....gotten lots of mosquito bites
....written in my Chinese blog!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Today's Headlines

I read the newspaper maybe once a week. It's a good activity for a long train ride or an hour at Starbucks. I came across two noteworthy news stories yesterday... mostly noteworthy because of how ridiculous they are:

Roof collapses, kills 16
At first glance not an amusing event. But this happened last week in China. The roof of a house collapsed killing and injuring people attending a banquet. The owner of the house was having a banquet for his friends and neighbors as a thank you for helping him build his new house. I guess they didn't do a very good job....

Malaysian Court rejects convert's appeal
A Malaysian woman was refused her request to change her official religion on her national ID from Islam to Christianity. Officials were quoted as saying: "She cannot simply at her own whims enter or leave her religion. There are rules." I don't see how anyone but you yourself may choose your own belief system...