Another summer in Taiwan and a super amazing teaching and cultural experience. This year my school was in New Taipei (just outside Taipei) and was very different from the school last year in Taoyuan. This school was more working class than the last and the students were more similar to those I teach in Toronto. They were typical teenagers who loved sports (especially basketball), always texting and using Facebook and excited to learn when it was something they were interested in. The students were great! They loved learning English and sharing their beautiful city with me. They would plan out all the great places to visit and food I needed to try with little maps and directions. I felt I learned so much about teaching as well as about Taiwan. This being my second year, I got to revisit where I enjoyed and check out a bunch of new places. I got to see another type of school in Taiwan and see how the schooling system works. It would be like going to Toronto and going to an elite school and saying you know what schools are like in Toronto if you just go to one.
My class did a great job. They all improved over the 3 weeks and I am sure some improvement was due to getting over their shyness. My Chinese didn’t improve as much as I would have liked as I felt so busy planning and trying to maximize the time. It was interesting that when you ask which language they speak they will say Chinese as most major cities in Taiwan like Taipei, the younger generation speaks Chinese (Mandarin) while the older generations speak Taiwanese and / or Hakka. Their Mandarin is similar to the Mandarin in China minus a few key sounds which when I tried to use google translate. They all laughed and said I am from Beijing.
Traveling for me was amazing this year. My top places to visit was Maokong where we rode a gondola up a mountain to explore tea fields and sample some of the best green and oolong teas. The EAs from our school who were all Taiwanese university students took us to a great place for lunch. It was great to have local people show us around and point out the authentic places. The best night market in Taiwan is Raohe. It is far better than Shilin Night market as I have been to both twice. Some of the best food I have ever eaten and for a great price. Another great trip the EAs took us to was Jiufen and Pingxi. The narrow streets of Jiufen, breathtaking view while eating the their famous taro desert on ice was amazing. We then went to the lantern town of Pingxi where we painted a lantern and made a wish. I was against it last year due to my environmental beliefs of littering but this year peer pressure was too much. It was a great experience. Sun Moon Lake and Taroko Gorge were also amazing and beautiful. I had many more great experiences but will keep it at that.
I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends again in Toronto but will miss Taiwan. My July home for the past 2 years has been welcoming and so enriching. I am reminded that I have chosen the best career in the world.
I highly recommend to all teachers apply to teach overseas in the summer to share your knowledge but more importantly expand yours.