Time flies, and it’s almost halfway through my Fulbright year! My experience in Taiwan has been so wonderful, and being a part of the community has definitely made my time here much more rewarding and fulfilling than only spending 4 months abroad studying.
I have so much admiration for teachers already, but being one myself and trying to be the best teacher for students has made me admire all the teachers that has managed to be everything and more. Even though I enjoy all the interactions with my students, the first thing I do when I get home is to lay down on the couch for a half hour nap.
Co-teaching is certainly another challenge. You’re not only trying to match a curriculum, but also trying to match teaching styles, classroom energies, and personalities. First semester co-teaching went better than I expected. Now that all of us got the hang of it, I think the second semester will be even better.
During my last week of the semester, I had a #heymac Macalester Moment, where my Geography professor, Catherine Chang visited me in Yunlin one afternoon during her winter break research trip in Taiwan. After not seeing anyone that I know from the US for so long, I was really happy to see a familiar face, someone who has known me longer than half year. For a whole afternoon, she visited one of my schools, and we chatted over coffee at one of my favorite cafes in Huwei that has 3 cats and 1 dog. I’m extremely lucky to have such an intelligent, determined, and admirable Asian woman as a professor during my time at Mac and now as my mentor and role model. I still can’t believe that we made a Taiwan meet up happen!
Besides teaching, my roommate, Linda, and I spend one afternoon exploring more of Huwei by bike. To be honest, I think Yunlin County’s beauty is so underrated. Biking along the fields while smelling the sugar canes from the sugar factory was such a wonderful experience. The gorgeous sunset gave the perfect ending to the day. Being in Taiwan has definitely made me rethink biking culture; biking is not just recreational here, many students bike to school and many elderly people also use bikes to get around town.
In mid-January, Fulbright officially closes its first semester with a 2.5 day conference in New Taipei. Our days were filled with presentations by scholars, teaching workshops by Fulbright ETAs and their co-teachers in other counties, identity collectives, and cultural events. During my Fulbright Taiwan mid-year conference, I did an Instagram story takeover for Fulbright Lotus, an account showcasing the experiences of Asian American Fulbrighters around the world. One highlight of the conference was the county posters. Each county’s ETAs created posters and had a table to showcase their placement site. Since Yunlin only has 8 ETAs, we decided to do two posters: one with our information presented like Pokemon trading cards and another poster with cultural information about the county in a menu style. It was so exhausting, but I had a great time meeting other Fulbrighters and hearing about their teaching experiences as well.