Saturday, September 26, 2009

BBQ, Typhoons & Pomelo Heads

Moon Festival is tomorrow.

Traditions include...
...wearing pomelo rinds on your head.

As demonstrated by these two, cute, adorable boys. Owen and Brandon, who used to be in Morning Kindergarten (a year ago when I taught them), are now in Miss Wendy's Kbr class. I honestly don't think these two could get any cuter. And they're both huggers. I love them.
This is Corey, also in Miss Wendy's Kbr class (that used to be MKers). For some reason they all brought pomelo rinds to school, and every year at Moon Festival, they wear them on their heads. Like hats. Pomelos are the largest citrus fruits and are native to South East Asia, and are currently in season.Oh, dear, sweet Owen. I love him. A recovering kleptomanic (situation: leaving art class in MK, "Owen, what's in your pocket?" I ask. "Oh! What's this doing in my pocket...???" he says as he pulls out many crayons. Or paper. Or any craft we've been working on), he is, at heart, guileless.

Another tradition during Moon Festival is...

Last Saturday, the employees of Berhan went to Sue's Orchard for a barbecue. Sue is Frances' aunt, and also works at the school.
From her orchard (right off the bike path, actually) we were able to see an incredible sunset setting over the bridge leading to the neighboring city.

We also fished. Wendy, in the white shirt, caught three fish. And one was bright pink (I called it the lucky, wish fish. The type of fish that'll grant you three wishes...). Everyone caught at least one fish. Except me. I felt so embarrassed!!! Living in Alaska for ten years did nothing for me!!?? And bamboo fishing in Hawaii?? I couldn't catch a single fish! Well, I did eventually, but only after they bribed the fish to latch onto my hook. And, as you can tell, it's not a big pond, yet there was over 200 fish inside. And not one wanted to be caught by me. humph. ^_^

Frances (above), slaved over the barbecue for the entire time we were there. We ate pork, chicken, fish, vegetables, and moon cakes. It was delicious.
The secretaries' children also attended, and this is Lisa, with one of the twins that she teaches in her Kindergarten Enrichment class. Carrie is their mom, and they are the cutest things ever.

(pictured above: One of the twins (I can't tell them apart) and Peggy's daughter. So cute.)
They also provided toys for us too. Small scooters. And tricycles. Or maybe they were only for the kids. But we played with them anyways. They were pretty small. Even for me. If you notice, Sarah's foot is the entire length of the body of the scooter.
Fenny and her sister, Kelly! Abercrombie and Fitch. lol. They decided to dress "like Americans" for the barbecue. I love how the coordinated their clothes! ^_^

A few more pictures of the sunset.

The Moon Festival is a harvest festival, celebrated when the moon is fuller and brighter than it is at any other time of the year. It is also time to celebrate the goddess Chang'e, who lives on the moon.

Hopefully, the weather will hold up. The last few days have been beautiful, perfect Fall weather. Well, if Fall weather was normally in the high 80s (better than in the 90s with this humidity). Last year, Moon Festival got rained out. This year, for a few days, we were worried that another typhoon would hit this weekend. But it looks like both typhoons that are heading our way, are actually going to miss us, hitting the Philippines and Japan instead.

I feel terrible for the Philippines. With the two earthquakes already, the earlier typhoon and now this category 4 typhoon heading their way...I don't know. Bad Typhoon Season this year.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Acupuncture, Graduation & Diversity Week

This might be long. Well, mostly because of pictures from various times around Taiwan ^_^ All these photos are from last semester. I wanted to post them, but for some reason or another, time got away from me.

Erin, her mom and I went to an Acupuncturist a few months ago. Erin's mom had a bad leg. Erin wanted to relieve some tension in her upper back, and I wanted to see if acupuncture could help my eczema. This is a picture of Erin's back.
Next, the heat is applied! Nice and tingle-y.
Then the hot suction cups, to draw out the bad impurities. Or something.The aftermath. You can always tell who has been to a traditional Chinese Doctor by the scrap marks or the suction cup marks on their neck or their back.For me, he put some pins in my hands...And my legs. After he removed the pins, my left hand had trouble moving. But after an hour or so, all the feeling came back. ^_^Not too bad. We were supposed to keep going back, at least twice a week (I think), but we kinda forgot about it. It takes a while to do, and so, when you're busy, things get in the way. But here, it's very cheap. A return visit costs less than $2 USD.

Diversity Week
Here in Taiwan, there's a bit of a race problem. Like many Asian countries, the darker you are, the less attractive you are, and the ruder you're treated (sometimes). To avoid becoming darker (in other words "tan"), a ton of skin whitening creams are available, people wear hats, arm guards, a massive amount of sunscreen, and carry around umbrellas to block out the sun. I had a friend tell me that if I got too dark, I'd look like a homeless person.

This line of thought is due to the historical idea that if you're poor, you'll have to spend all day out working in the fields, and thus, your skin will become darker. So if you have a life of privilege, you'll be naturally fair and white. Rarely do people want to look like they aren't privileged.

In Afternoon Kindergarten last semester, we had to set the record straight after a few students told us that, "all black people are bad," and "all black people are poor." We made rainbows and talked about the different colors, how not everyone likes the same color, so it doesn't mean that certain colors are "good" and other colors are "bad." Then we tried to apply it to people and races. I hoped it worked.

(Cynthia (hiding), Eve, Carol, Betty)
I was very proud of our bulletin board in Afternoon Kindergarten. The kids worked very hard on it all semester. ^_^ So cute. I'm very sad that I don't get to teach these kids any more. They're in Miss Lindsay's Basic Reading class now.(Eve, Betty, Carol, Cynthia)

Graduation: June 26, 2009

Ah, graduation. The theme for graduation was Pirates. This was Mr. Joseph's Basic Reading Class (soon to be my Summer 1st grade class) after they finished singing their song, "Shiver Me Timbers."
(Dawson, Rex, Jack, Keith, Tim || Hebe and Amy in the front)
The kids from Mr. Dane's class were totally embarrassed to be shirtless, having to perform the Limbo in front of everyone. lol. I love this picture. (John and Jerry)
Morning Kindergarten also got to participate, and were adorable as usual. We had to teach them a song/dance, but they did great! The boys were Captian Jacks and the girls were Princess Pats. We teachers had to make our own props, and it turned out to be a lot of fun.
Another picture of Mr. Dane's class. ^_^ Poor naked boys. lol.(Yvonne9, Jammy, me, Yvonne10, Ivy)
The Graduates! These were the kids that actually graduated during the semester. I taught them as 5th graders, and after their 6th grade year, they graduated from the program. Some students want to go on to the Writing Class we have for high school aged kids, but most of them just leave the program.

And this last picture is one of the Teaching Group from January 2009 to June 2009. They were all over achievers, and very motivated. I miss them. At the beginning of the semester, Molly made an anime character of each teacher. The bulletin board on the 4th floor was always fun to look at.
(Left to Right: Me, Dane, Derrick, Holly (with Pirates' hat), Molly, Joseph, Jaimie, Kristina, Arwyn and Erin) The only one not pictured was Jenny. I'm sure I have a picture of her anime character somewhere. Hopefully I'll find it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Taiping Waterfall

This past Saturday, we looked for the Waterfall/Waterhole near Taiping. Two weeks ago, Erin and I tried to find it...but couldn't because of a mudslide from the typhoon. It was a long scooter ride. Erin, Wendy, Sunny, Lisa, Arywn and I met up with Fenny and some of her friends in Taichung. None of us had actually made it to the waterfall this was all new for us.
With just the general direction in mind, we finally made it to the waterfall! I have discovered it's pretty hard to get lost in Taiwan. I think if you know your bigger roads and know what direction you're heading, you'll probably get there. Well, probably about 70% of the time. But those are good odds for me. ^_^

When we got there, the sky was filled with dragon flies everywhere. I tried to capture it on film, but it doesn't do it justice. We were the only people at the waterhole, but when we first got to the river, we saw a monk standing at the edge of waterfall in the middle of the river on a rock, meditating.

I never tire of seeing monks around town and in nature.

In the picture below, Sunny, Lisa, Erin and I thought it was a good idea if we slid down the rocks together. Instead, we landed on top of each other. My ankle got bruised by kicking Lisa in the thigh...

Although the waterhole didn't look that deep, it was. We jumped from that point, and still didn't feel the bottom. The first jump I landed on my It HURT! But the second time didn't hurt, but for some reason, it was scarier than the first time.
All in all, a very good Saturday.