Thursday, September 23, 2010

Moon Festival in Danshui

So yesterday was a national holiday for the Moon and I went to Danshui for the first time! It's a large port city. I got to see the famous Dutch fort San Domingo, the old British Consulate office, and walked around the Old Streets. I tried iron eggs and a-gei. They were both interesting but not my favorites:

"Iron eggs (鐵蛋) are eggs which have been repeatedly stewed in a mix of spices and air dried. The resulting eggs are dark brown, chewy and, about half its initial size. The famous Iron eggs store is Grandma's Tiedan (阿婆鐵蛋) - 135 Zhongzheng Road (Old Street).

A-Gei (阿給) are deep fried tofu that have been stuff with flavoured crystal noodles and sealed with fish paste (surimi). It is often served with a spicy sauce. Many places serve this, but one of the original A-Gei restaurants is on Zhenli St. (真理街) - the last one on the right as you walk up this steep, narrow street." Wikipedia
I'll upload pictures later when I have more time on the computer! It was really fun! I got some gorgeous sun dresses and Chinese paintings.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Typhoon This Weekend

This weekend I had my first ever typhoon! I was SO excited. I wanted rain and wind and thunderstorms and blackouts, and a nice relaxing day indoors. (Plus a day off on Monday) But... in Taipei it didn't happen. I guess the mountains surrounding the city kept us from most of the damage. I got to see some rain and some winds. So I'm a little disappointed on that account.
The South really got it bad and it created a LOT of damage, so I feel really sorry for them. Here's the story in our newspaper if you want to read more.

Other than that, I feel really swamped, because I want to do a good job, especially now that I only have to go to one school. There's just a lot to be done. EEEK! But anyways, it's looking nasty outside and I should be going home before it starts raining!!!

Why Sometimes I'm Ashamed to be An Foreigner in Taiwan

(Written Weeks Ago)

So today I encountered a brand new English teacher from America, and, because of him, I'm reminded why we are sometimes called "foreign devils" here. It's because for some people egocentrism gets in the way of cultural sensitivity. This guy was telling a story to a group of English teachers wherein he saw a lizard fall out of a Taiwanese lady's umbrella and into her shirt. She tries to get the lizard out frantically, and this guy's reaction was to stop and laugh. So he tells this story and ends it saying that she now gives him an evil look every time she sees him, but he feels no remorse because, "It was funny."

Now I can't help but get really annoyed at hearing this, because laughing out loud at someone's discomfort is rude in American culture as well as Taiwanese. A mature person should know better, and as a brand new foreigner to the island a little sensitivity and respect for Taiwanese people is a must.

In Taiwan there's a concept known as "face" where you basically have the social obligation to save any and every person from embarrassment. It's really important here. By laughing at someone you don't know whose country you are visiting, you take that person's "face." "Guanxi" is also another important element in the social structure where you basically build up "brownie-points" (to put it in simple terms) with everyone around you by how you act towards them. Saying hi to your neighbors, helping someone, smiling at people who look at you builds up your guanxi and in return the people with whom you've interacted will give back the good karma one way or another. Laughing at that poor woman destroyed this guy's hope of getting guanxi from her and her friends, which really does gives you benefits.

So at this point of listening to the story I can't help myself and I tell him how rude he is, not denying the fact that it's funny and very laughable if it was in a movie. "You could laugh silently at least," I said. "Well it's not laughing if it's silent," he replies. "You would've laughed too."

And here's the part where I feel embarrassed that I'm associated with this guy. The worst thing you could do when visiting a foreign place (in my opinion) is believe you're better than the native people. What's more is he did not want to look at the situation from another point of view- I doubt he would think it funny if he was in the lady's situation.

Young children don't have the mental capability to understand that other people might have different opinions and beliefs from themselves. Piaget called it egocentrism. Perhaps some people are unable to grow out of it. That's really quite sad.

Don't get me wrong. I love that I'm American and I am so fortunate to have grown up there, but sometimes I wish I wasn't related to egocentric people like that.

If you see the movie Ip Man 2 you will get a perfect example of the insensitivity and cockiness of a "foreign devil." I felt really horrible seeing how the boxer in the movie was so disrepectful and I thought that foreigners really can't be like that anymore. That was so long ago. Well, today I found out I'm wrong.

Moral of the story: Please be respectful to other people. The end.

Last Weekend- Picasso and Manet Art Exhibit

So this happened not last weekend, but a few weekends ago. My computer has been fussy so I couldn't get the pictures up till now. Albert and I went to the Picasso- Manet Art Exhibit in Taipei. It was pretty good! I love going to art exhibits!

Right now my hair is CRAZY. It's so thick and poofy on tip and on the bottom layers it's still super straight from when I got it permanently done.
After the museum we discovered only the best bookstore: Caves Books! There were a lot of English books about language learning- learning English or Chinese. I bought one on teaching a second language to children.
This sculpture was on the way to the museum. It's for the Taipei Flora Exhibition. Every year there's a big show all about flowers. It's going to be awesome!!!
Peace out!

Friday, September 17, 2010

My computer is D-E-A-D dead

My battery fried the motherboard so I don't know when I'll be able to have regular access to a computer again. Albert might let me use his under supervision. :fingers crossed: I'm not really trustworthy with electronics.

Love to everyone,

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chinese Class

I've been taking Chinese class Tuesdays and Thursdays 7-9pm and it's awesome!! Learning a lot! :)