Sunday, January 27, 2008

One Student at a Time

One of my 4th graders, I joke, is as tall as me and probably has 20 lbs on me! He has failed 3rd grade once and 4th grade once, which explains his size and cynical attitude. I have, as many of the teachers have, made an effort to ignite an interest in being successful. He enjoys drawing and comics, so while I was in Taiwan, I bought a Chinese comic book with this student in mind. I make copies of the pages for him to write stories about what he thinks is going on or white out the Chinese characters for him to write in his own dialogue.

On Tuesday, after class I sat down at my desk and saw a small note that read "Thank you. You have been nice to me." Under the note was a very cute black and silver bracelet. My heart sank and a smile crept upon my face. This is exactly why I decided to become a teacher! Unfortunately, immediately after that, I was out sick with the flu and unable to see how I could further nurture this child. But I can't wait to get back to school tomorrow and hopefully ignite the self-belief in another child.

On a funny note, I wonder if the bracelet was legitimately purchased, i.e. a teacher walking down the hall is going to say to me, "I lost a bracelet just like that about a week ago!" :o)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Better Late Than Never

I will try to show you some of the highlights of my trip on this blog...keep in mind that I have posted only about 10 out of 150 pics!We got bumped up to Business Class on our way to Taipei! It was so luxurious compared to coach. I slept 6 of the 13 hours thanks to a fully reclining seat and free wine!When we visited Ning's uncle in Taichung (don't know if that's spelled correctly), his uncle put us up in the nicest hotel there. We were far from roughing it. In addition to the personalized welcome on the TV when we turned it on, we had surround sound, DVD player, cell phone to which room was forwarded, bath/shower with view out the window, laser printer in the room, and other thoughtful amenities! This was the view of Taichung from our room on the 36th floor of Hotel 1.
I wish that I had the video of this one-man band. I was very impressed, but after an hour or so of shopping in that market, I became less appreciative of his artistic ability. I didn't feel bad though because true artists are only appreciated after they are dead.
In this concrete pool were tons of shrimp. We had tiny bait and spent several hours shrimping. Although my skills would not have aided Bubba Gump Shrimp, I was very proud of the three that I caught. I'm certain I caught the biggest shrimp of all that night...sorry you can't see the little fella better. He wouldn't hold still.

This is a night market we visited in the mountain so there was a lot of climbing to visit the various stores, many of which were closed due to the rain that night.
When we took a break from climbing, Ning's cousin served us tea very traditionally. I enjoyed the simplicity of entertainment while I was there. We would sit and play card games and other things. No kids sitting at the dinner table playing with their iPod or Nintendo DS. Ning's uncle took us into the mountains to an "English" castle. It was much like a park...many families...beautiful view.
While in Taichung (sorry these pics aren't in order) I got to go to Maggie's school (the cousin on the left). They were having a sort of carnival/fund raiser. I played games with the kids. Their English was excellent. I even got to dump water on two of Maggie's classmates. I wish I had that video too!
Ning and I with four of his cousins.

Karaoke is very different when it's Asian style. We sat in a room only with our friends and got to pick the songs from a computer. It was very fancy. I rapped all the words to TLC's "Waterfalls." I was so thankful that I had spent hours with my nose in the cassette jacket learning the words in 1994!

We watched fireworks explode off the 101 - the tallest building in the WORLD! It was impressive.

I had a very sweet farewell breakfast the morning I left. Ning's grandma is the one to the farthest right.