my weekend

Culture shows herself in many ways.  A very easy way to observe her power is look at how different culture groups take trips.

Recently, I went to Kenting with 5 beautiful Taiwanese girls, and then I went to Kenting this weekend with two American families and some other (mostly) American friends.  The juxtaposition of the two weekend trips (both 3 days long) to basically the same place is a showcase of culture herself.  And perhaps words alone cannot portray the true depth of the all differences I experienced on these two trips; nonetheless, this is my meager attempt to do so.

# of pictures taken on Taiwanese trip: close to 300
# of pictures taken on American trip: 6

# of places visited on Taiwanese trip: too many to count
# of places visited on American trip: 3

Time spent at each place on Taiwanese trip: too short to time
Time spent at each place on American trip: 2 hrs to several hours

# of times places were revisited on Taiwanese trip: 0
# of times places were revisited on American trip: same beach 2 times X 2 beaches

# of times to "Kenting Street" on Taiwanese trip: at least 2
# of times to "Kenting Street" on American trip: 0

Swimming on Taiwanese trip: only in hotel's pool
Swimming on American trip: every day at the beach

Sun on Taiwanese trip: umberallas and sunscreen were both used by all
Sun on American trip: I was the only one to use sunscreen

Both trips were fun.
Both trips had lots of laughing.
Both trips were a time of relationship building and relazxing.
Both trips music was listened to while in car (albeit different kinds of music).
Both trips had good food (albeit different types and eaten with different "rules.")

So, as you can see . . . this is not a judgmental thing saying one way is better than the other.   I totally enjoyed both trips!  It is simply an attempt to look at how culture influences the things we do and how we do them.

my anonymity

anonymity is defined as
one that is unknown or unacknowledged.
when someone's name is not given or known.
匿名; 作者不詳.

My anonymity.  Right!  Like I have any!

Everywhere I go at school, I have students who are not in my classes shout out "hello Amanda."  When I lived in Meinong, the people across the street when I waited for the trash truck one day had an entire conversation about me . . . not behind my back, but right in front of me. I don't know these people . . . how do they know me?!?

I go to the train station in another town and run into someone I met when I was an exchange student.  I go with my students to eat chaw bing in downtown KH and run into someone I met once three months ago.  Then, this week, I was driving home from the store and one of my students passed me on a moped with her brother.  I know these people . . . but what are the chances?

And most recently, I made a foolish traffic decision on my moped.  And, while oncoming traffic wizzed by me on the left and the right . . . I heard someone say "hi Amanda."  Oh my.  I can't even make mistakes in the middle of an intersection without someone recognizing me!

Yes, that is right.  I have no anonymity.  None.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.  無.  沒有.  Nil.

And that is not necessarily a bad thing.   Just something I am not sure I will ever get used to.

i am

I am a daughter. 
I am a granddaughter.
I am a sister.
I am a friend.
I am a teacher.
I am a missionary.
I am a writer.
I am an employee.
I am a tenant.
I am a co-worker.
I am a student.
I am an ErHu player (albeit a beginner).
I am a cyclist.
I am a foreigner.
I am an American.
I am a Christian.
I am a sinner.
I am a woman.
I am many things . . . even more than this short list.

But there are two things I am not.
I am not a wife.  I am not a mother.
Two things I am beginning to long to be.


To long for something . . .
to want something very much;
to have an earnest, heartfelt desire, especially for something beyond reach;

And, yet, even with these longings beginning to grow in my innerself, I am completely at peace. I know my Heavenly Father is always in control.  I say with confidence that He has promised to give me every good gift.  So, if marriage and motherhood are good gifts for me, they will one day be mine.  I know He has also told me that when I delight myself in Him, He will give me the desires of my heart.  So, for now, I will be my Father's child.  I will be His alone and continue to find delight in Him.

my erhu lessons

One thing experts advice language teachers to do is to take a language course every so often in order to remember what it feels like to be a language student.

I haven't been taking language classes, but I am studying something that is brand new to me--music. And, as I have been learning to play the 二胡, a traditional Chinese musical instrument, I have learned some things about being a student that should help me as a language teacher.

fundamental basics are necessary.
   --they are not fun; but they are necessary for future success.

feedback is crucial and a balance (between negative and positive) is necessary.
   --if all I hear is how good I am, I can get overconfident.
   --if all I hear is how poor I am doing, I can get discouraged.
   --hearing my teacher say "good job" makes me happy to continue practicing.
   --hearing my teacher say "hold it this way insead" also makes me happy to continue.

review is nice.
   --it lets me refreash what I should know.
   --it lets me feel successful.

there are times when I need a challenge and times when I don't.
   --if everything is challenging, it makes me want to quit.   
   --if everything is too easy, it makes me want to quit.
   --if there is a balance between challenging and easy, I feel much more willing to try.

practicing must be a little every day.
   --15 min for 7 days is much better than 1 hour for 2 days.

the teacher is not always right. :)
   --sometimes she makes mistakes too.

the teacher knows best.
   --the things she does to help me learn are worth it even though at that time they don't make sense to me.

my fifth year students

I still remember my first class at Fortune.  It was writing class on a Friday afternoon . . . only half of the students showed up.  I didn't feel like a teacher at all.  I was clueless in more ways than one. 

A tall guy named Charlie (later to be known as Jermaine) came and asked me where class was going to be.  Huh?  I got to decide?  Well, the classroom of course! (I didn't know that the class was a "split class" and that some of the students would be in the "class's classroom" and the others would be in the "writing classroom."  No one told me.)  It was in that way that I choose the "chien ban" for my writing students; and "ho ban" for my business English students.  How little I knew then!

Since then, I have learned a lot.  You see my students think that they are the students, and I am the teacher.  But the reverse is also true.

They taught me lots of words.  I now know the meaning of "dong diao" (fail), "chow ke" (skip class), "ko fun" (take away points), "ho ban" (back half of a split class), "chien ban" (front half of a split class), "jia ban" (Class A), "yi ban" (Class B), "chee jong kao" (midterm exam), "chee mou kao" (final exam), "bu ke" (make up class because teacher or school needs to rearrange the class meeting time), "di ke" (class with subsitute teacher), "shou kao" (take a class again because you failed in the past) and more! 

They taught me how to be a teacher.  I learned that the most important thing I can give my students is the ability to believe in themselves, to have confidence.  I do not have a single student that does not have the potential to be excellent.  Each one has incredible strengths and talents.  These students allowed me to experiment with them.  I was able to try new things and explore new ways of teaching.  And in return they told me what worked and what didn't work and how I could make it better the next time I tried.  For this I am forever grateful.  They also taught me how to  s l o w  d o w n;  now granted, a few of them will tell you I still go too fast.  But, hello, I am a heck of a lot slower now!

They taught me to accept help. I like to be needed, but I don't like to need.  My students taught me that it perfectly ok to ask for help.  Perhaps from my western upbringing, I used to think that asking for help was a sign of weakness; thus I didn't ask.  And, thus, I lacked.  I have learned to ask for everything for help in running simple errands such as "please go back to my desk and get me the xxx that I forgot" to "I have strange red bumps on my leg, can you take me to the doctor."  Now, I have to admit, I am still taking this class, but I am learning and will continue to improve.

They taught me how to have fun.  Believe it or not, I am a very uptight girl.  I like things to be in order, and I like for things to be done right, and I like for them to be done now.  My students taught me how to loosen up a little, to enjoy life more.  They also taught that it is ok to not be perfect, to learn to laugh at my own mistakes.  In doing so, life become more fun.

In the last two years, I have poured my heart and soul into an incredible group of kids (young men and women) who could actually be my younger brothers and sisters.  In fact, that is what they have become.  I will forever cherish in my heart the memories I have made with them from countless hours of time in classes to the countless times we laughed and played. 

It has been my joy and my honor to watch these students, my students, grow.  I remember when I first met them they had difficulty uttering more than a sentence in English to me at a time.  Now, they can give 20 mintute speeches alone, write several pages of creative text, have multi-hour long conversations in English.  How delighted this makes my teacher's heart!  However, not only have they grown academically, they have also grown in other ways too.  I have seen them mature into young men and women.  I have seen them develop self-confidence.  How delighted this makes my friendship's heart!

As they leave my school, I am both sad and happy at the same time.  I am sad because I am going to miss them a lot!  They are so very, very special to me.  I am happy because they are pursuing their dreams, their futures, which of course are going to be bright. 

I love you guys. 你對我來說很重要. 請和我保持連絡.

yours forever,

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

originally posted on msn spaces.

photos of these last two years

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