Archive for the 'Work' Category


Roadside Scenery around Hualien

Sorry I’ve been dreadful about posting and responding to comments recently.

Here are some photos of the countryside of Hualien from the vantage point of a tour bus full of children…

Many of the riverbeds in Taiwan are dry as this one is.  Often the water is diverted into rice paddies.

There tend to be a lot of tour buses that frequent Hualien.

It’s a good thing I never had to drive around Hualien– the clouds and mountains are far too distracting.  I’d never figure out proper directions.

The lamppost looks like an odd sort of tree…

Sitting on the bus, watching the scenery flow past the windows, I relaxed with the view of all that green and blue.  My kids and I all ended up dozing off at some point or another.  The nice thing about a bus is that I didn’t feel compelled to count heads every five minutes to make sure that I hadn’t lost any children on our field trip!


Farglory Ocean Park

The director of my school liked to take the kids out for a big end-of-the-year trip.  So last June we took the kids on the train to Hualien to visit an animal farm/zoo of sorts and Farglory Ocean Park.

Farglory Ocean Park just appears to be a pleasant ocean-themed amusement park at first.  Little did I know…

The view from the skyway of the ocean.  It’s really beautiful, but I was preoccupied with my three charges from my school since this was one bit of our school trip to Hualien for the end of the year.

I totally lost my street cred by admitting my fear of heights and scary swift ups and downs to them…  I escaped the swinging ship thanks to my lovely guy co-workers who graciously took one of my charges on with their guys.  She proceeded to be very queasy afterwards and so we lost our chance to switch off kids for the water- coaster.  In the looong line to get in, I was a big baby and whined to my kids that I hadn’t seen taking big scary rides in my contract when I signed on to teach them.  I survived, but was left woobly kneed afterwards (yup, I’m a big dork.).

I discovered one of the outer rings of the inferno (missed by Dante) is wandering an amusement park with kids who have very different ideas of where they want to go and what they want to do in the beating summer heat.  Thankfully Farglory Ocean Park also has aquarium and water shows were you can sit and watch dolphins doing tricks or manatees getting fed.  The little aquarium theaters bring an educational component to the park though the shows are entirely in Chinese.

The link in Chinese is here.  English information is here.


On the deception of a sunny afternoon….

It was a breezy sunny afternoon on Friday, which led to my undoing.  I am not going to be internet-ing much unless a miracle once again makes my computer worthy of the “Fawkes” part of its name.

Suffice it to say that the brilliant genes of my family avoided me, because otherwise I would have remembered the variances of the weather, an umbrella, and closed the window above my desk before the torrential rain came.  It was worthy of dancing in, though I only did some satisfying splashes.

My notebook, however, decided to go swimming.  I discovered that fountain pen ink puddles and dries into nice empty splotches on my MSs, and my entire desk experienced the deluge.

At least my camera was spared.

My mother and I debated whether it’s a sign (it and my thus far unsuccessful, yet expensive attempts at the lottery) that I should give up dead trees and electricity for scribbles, or that I should just close the window before leaving the apartment, or that backing up data is divine.

Sorry if I don’t get back to msgs and comments for a while.  Cross your fingers that when I have to guts to see if it’s all dried out, Fawkes-Buckbeak will have a miraculous resurrection.

Now I’m going to go be a good teacher and figure out what I’m doing today…



is the color of luck and happiness, weddings, and Chinese New Year.

So I was rather surprised when my tutee told me that it’s also the color for suicides. I discovered this because I was wearing all red one day and waiting to meet him by the dry well that would be a fountain if someone turned it on instead of just a little depression with rocks and lights in it. Sipping from my little boxed juice, I was accosted by a greying gentleman who began to flatter me and ask for my contact information. He does get the metaphorical points for the ability to try to pick me up in English. He was bespectacled and apparently lounging about during the afternoon at the park since he is a retiree with heart difficulties. When my tutee arrived, the poor fellow was interrogated as to whether he was my boyfriend (I’m sure my face was red to match the rest of me at that point), and I bid the farewell as we carefully casually made our way out of the park.

According to my tutee, perhaps a reason for the gentleman’s odd attempt at romance was due to the tradition that women who wanted to create strong vengeful ghosts would don red before their suicides. (An extensive google search found this interesting article which has a paragraph way down about red-dressed suicides). So in an odd logical leap, perhaps he was only chatting me up because he was worried about me dunking myself in the not deep, not watered well and doing some mean haunting.

Personally, I wear red as a pick-me up. I decided it was my favorite color after being undecided (evading the favorite color question in middle school with “iridescence”– why, yes, I’m a dork!) for a very long time.

But although it is the adopted color of Republicans (it is also the adopted color of Communists, so there’s always a flip-side), I love red.

Red roses stood for love triumphant in Victorian flower symbolism as Anne’s House of Dreams tells me. (This rose is from my grandmother’s garden).

I got into trouble for the predominance of red in my wardrobe (which isn’t really completely my fault, as a chunk of my clothes were thoughtful gifts from aunts with good taste who early on realized my cousin liked blue, so I got the red stuff) when I came to Taiwan for a brief visit once. We were headed to my uncle’s funeral, and I had a black dress for the funeral itself, but had no idea that there was mourning clothing involved outside of it for family visits that required pale or dark clothes. Traditional funeral wear is pure white, but I guess western influence having bleached brides white from the traditional red, has darkened mourners into black for funerals. So I ended up on an emergency visit to a boutique before visiting the rest of the family, after sending the bit of it I was staying with into slight shock when I trotted into breakfast with a red shirt on. Fortunately, this being Taiwan, I was able to get a white shirt off the rack that fit instead of tented on me in five minutes.

Anyway, I only mention red because I was once again wearing complete red trying to liven myself up after a mosquito-disturbed slumber the other night. My class was discussing a dream Buck the dog has in Call of the Wild, when one of the boys (teaching middle school age children has reminded me why I was so happy to grow out of middle school) started joking about it. I, in my over-tired trying-too-much state, said something like it was certainly NOT that sort of a dream, going into a literary comparison with the boy’s dream in The Giver. Then there was laughter all around because all the boys remembered that particular incident in the book, and none of the girls did. I ended up hiding behind a book laughing in spite of myself, and asking if I was red. One of my students said, “Yup, your shirt certainly is!”

This article has more info about red and Chinese culture.


Interested in Teaching in Taiwan SOON???

Hi all, this is a shameless plug for my school.  ETA:  We have our new teacher, but there should be options to teach in the fall.

One of my colleagues is heading off to the foreign service and we need someone to take over her classes for the next three months. If you’re interested in teaching, my school is a fantastic place to be, since it has small classes (no more than seven students a class), and works with an American curriculum. My director is a very supportive person to work with, and the kids are a lot of fun. Your classes would probably be 2nd to 4th grade level English.

A North American accent is preferred. ABCs and CBCs are welcome.

We’re conveniently located a five-minute walk from the subway station, a yummy bubble tea place, markets, a park, the 7/11, dumplings, and a fruit stand (seriously, the necessities of life in Taiwan!) It’s around a 15-minute ride on the subway to Taipei Main Station from here, and not too far away from Tai Da and Shi Da either, if you’re interested in taking Chinese classes.

If you’re interested for a longer stint of time, my director will definitely be hiring for the fall as well.

Send an e-mail to euchi <at> if you’re interested!


An Aside…

At times, being a teacher has been extremely rough for me (the day one class went into revolt and progressed from eraser- throwing to penny-throwing being one….) And while I’ve always believed in the power of education, teaching can be draining (spent my Friday night after class cleaning vomit– one unlucky student had food that did not agree with her. While the cleaning lady got the floor, there were still the table, the wall, and the chairs and figuring out what to do with one slightly unlucky book.)

However, sometimes you get to introduce ideas or books or present things in such a way that they bring joy to your students. It’s an incredible high to excite kids about learning, to watch them make connections and think in new ways.

On Friday, I usually have my students play games after some work and quizzes. They tend to make a beeline for the computers. After I discovered the games mostly involved shooting little bouncing blobs, I banned them. One persistent student, who avoids board games for some reason, asked for permission. I agreed on the condition that I pick the game. She quailed. After a few minutes of boredom though, she gave it a shot, and I introduced her to free rice which combines donating rice to the hungry with figuring out vocabulary words. It happens to be one of my procrastination vehicles of choice (collecting intriguing words being one of my quirks). Surreptitiously watching her and her friend, I noted that they did indeed remember some of the words I’d taught them, and were getting into the game. They asked me to e-mail them the link, and were really excited that they were donating rice in the process of playing. It’s warm and fuzzy-inducing. Hopefully figuring out words will last longer than their knitting attempts.

I’m putting the banner on my sidebar. It may eventually migrate South… I do quibble with some of the definitions sometimes, not that they’re technically wrong, but at times they’re the definition that I don’t think is as commonly used. The game is challenging partially because the words can come from anywhere– science, music, archaic uses, etc. I find my French and Latin helpful in random guessing. It would be helpful if there were sample sentences, not just definitions upon getting the correct answer–context and connotations being very helpful in learning words. Anyway, the words go from very basic to rarefied and multi-syllabic.

Go play.

Now if there were only a version for learning Chinese…

(Edited to add:  My student told me that she donated 3,000 grains of rice this weekend.  Whoo hoo!)


Being Someone Else’s Grown-Up

Today I took my class to the Taipei Museum of Fine Arts, and craggy-voiced got them to tell the difference between 3D and 2D, discuss the colors, the shapes, and how they felt about them.  It’s a mixed class– the oldest child is in sixth grade, youngest in first, mixed English abilities as well.

We went to the calligraphy exhibition and discussed how the artists must have made the different kinds of lines– big and sweeping, versus fast, scribbly and little, airy brushed versus wet-brushed.  They made their own rubbings of pictograph-antecedents for modern Chinese characters (as someone studying Chinese characters, it was nice to see the evolution of some of them) at the children’s exhibit.  The line for the dragon was much longer and more stubborn than the fish, or the horse.

The first floor had modern dimly lit installations, and the kids had fun watching a video installation– two televisions with close-ups of a baby’s eye and a man’s eye apparently looking at each other, and then the baby’s mouth making noises to be copied by the man’s mouth.  My class did a bit of echoing cooing themselves.

B, a first-grader I met yesterday, held my hand and buried her head in my arm as we walked through the dimly lit galleries with odd noises from some installation in the back.  She whispered that it was scary– the noises, and some of the art.

It’s odd– I could identify with her response.  When I was in France and tip-toeing through the bottom gallery of the Pompidou with its video installations talking in the distance, rope trailing across the floor from another installation, and Marcel Duchamp’s up-ended unicycle pointing upwards, I missed having someone’s hand to hold and guide me through this separate world gone strange–  I think each piece was interesting and wouldn’t have intimidated me on its own, but the overlapping of such disparate visions was jarring, and being alone in the mostly empty (except for video-installation faces talking at me) gallery didn’t help.  Company helps in reinforcing reality of a kind–depending on the company I guess.

Anyway, I so often feel rather Piglet-ish– a very very small person in a very very big world, that it humbles me when a smaller hand than mine holds onto my little finger for consolation.  I used to find it frightening– being the grown up for my children.  I still do somewhat, but I guess I’ve learned from being my younger cousin’s pillow on long car rides, and teaching, that it’s something I can sort of do– pillow-service is easy– just stay still and try not to mind appendages falling asleep, though peed pants still freak me out, and my ability to perform stern reprimands still needs a bit more brimstone.

I held B’s hand through the rest of the exhibition until we came out into the light of the courtyard, descended the stairs and she cheered up with lunch.

Free Rice

June 2019
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