We moved to Taoyuan, a smaller, industrial city about 30 minutes from Taipei on July 1st. So now that we have been here for three months, we are really starting to settle in. We got jobs right away at Well American School in a busy part of town and work part time from 1:45 - 6:30pm Monday- Friday....so not a bad gig! The school has been trying at times...to say the least...but our schedule allows us to travel, which is one of the main reasons we are here. I feel that we have both embraced teaching and really enjoy it....MOST days. We both have our difficult classes and tough days, but overall it has been very rewarding.
It really is amazing to see the cultural differences present in the education system here. These kids, from the very youngest, go to public Chinese school all day, then they go directly to a "cram school" which is what we work in. They go to 2-4 extra classes a day all taught in English, and many kids have extracurricular lessons or activities after that, not even getting home until after 8:00pm most days. The kids can get antsy in our classes and act a little hyper....with reason! The culture is really not about letting kids play and have fun and want us to drill English into their heads. It's a tough balance. We both have tried to incorporate small games in the classroom and lighten the load a bit, but dealing with a tight curriculum and security cameras in every classroom to watch how the teacher teaches, can be a bit stressful! The parents can log in online and watch their kids in the classroom, and if there are kids up having fun and playing a game, that parent is calling the school to complain. This means, we have a meeting about what we are allowed and not allowed to do in teaching the students. Using this process of course, means that those policies change on a daily basis!! So these are a few of the challenges that we face here, but the best part of the week is the weekend!
We've really been able to get out and see quite a few sites so far on the weekends. Now that we have our car, it really opens up the island to us. We recently went to the East coast of the island in Yilan County to hike Wufongxi Falls.
The area is absolutely breathtaking and it is so nice to breathe some fresh air outside of our densely populated city! I've never been the hiking, backpacking, camping kind of girl, but taking small steps in that direction since we've been here has been exhilirating and rewarding....and I think I kinda like it!
Well the goal is to update the blog as we live our lives here in Taiwan and try and capture some of the memories and stories so that we will never forget our time here. It will be our living scrapbook and I hope that our families and friends will enjoy keeping up with what's new on the other side of the world!