Sunday, December 18, 2011

Let's End the Week with Two More! ;)

This Friday came about and we had two more raids! Woohoo! No......

I had brought my computer in to show my kids some videos and it's not exactly light. Somehow I grabbed it and my bag as I ran out. This time it was not funny, just awkward. We all ran to Starbucks again- it's the only place nearby where we can sit down and wait. Then at lunch time we were told that it will happen again in the afternoon and we should go now and wait till they give us a call to come back... maybe we wouldn't be able to teach in the afternoon at all. So we waited in our usual place and played crosswords together for an hour. Then we were told we could just go home.
(Sorry it's blurry- bad lighting)

Yesterday, (Saturday) we had our Christmas party for the students and parents. We've been practicing and getting ready for this since Parent's Day which was last month. Each class had to do a 7-10 minute performance. Two songs: one in English and one in either Japanese or French. I had my older class do "All I Want for Christmas Is You" and they did a partner dance- kinda like swing. They have been doing great in rehearsals but it didn't go perfectly on the day of. First, we were called way before we were ready. One kid didn't show up so someone almost didn't have a partner. Two boys were goofing off the whole time and didn't dance- so their partners cried. Some kids got confused and forgot the order of the moves... BUT, what matters is they're having fun and smiling... and the parents were happy! My younger kids did "Here Comes Santa Claus" just danced by themselves in two lines. They were so cute and happy. It went very well I think. A couple of kids were very naughty the whole day because they knew they could get away with it with their parents around. Someone kept hitting everyone around them on purpose! One kid was so into the song that he kept shouting the same line over and over again "Here comes Santa Claus!" and clapping. He should be in a gospel choir or something! He was so cute and really went all out.
(I look like my mom ;) )

After the performances, each class went to different classrooms to do an activity or play a game. We had a cupcake decorating activity, decorating a small wreath, an obstacle course, and then they could take a picture with Santa (one of our teachers got to dress up as him). I think it was a very fun event for everyone. All the teachers did a great job! :)

After that we got to go to the Hyatt Hotel for dinner (DELICIOUS!).

Next week we get to teach the kids Christmas vocab!

Other than that, my rabbits are getting bigger... and mature.... We need to get them fixed! They're close to being housebroken, but Sugarpush is getting really aggressive with Pepperpot. He chases him around and bites him for no reason. I think it's the hormones. I think fixing them will help with that- I hope! :crosses fingers:

So Christmas will be next weekend. It's going to be strange celebrating it without my family this year! Gotta create new traditions I guess. I painted a picture of a Christmas tree instead of buying one. And maybe I'll try to cook. Who knows!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Two in One Day!

Today was super hilarious- got raided twice today. Totally out of the blue! When you see someone pointing at you, saying "Go go!" you just run and get out of the building. Second time was at the end of the day and I was in the middle of eating a guava. I got the signal and I threw my guava in the direction of the table, grabbed my stuff and ran to my other classroom to get my shoes. I burst in on their Chinese time and say "WO DE XIE ZI!" (my shoes) Someone grabs them for me in a panic. My socks were inside but I didn't have a grip on them so as I run out the door my socks fly everywhere. So I'm running on the street in my bare feet because no time to put them on. One of my students managed to give another teacher one of my socks while they were getting out though.

Everything's fine and no harm done. It was just really funny. This hasn't happened in a long time, and never twice in one day. I wasn't allowed to go back in and clean up that guava. So sorry!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy 100th Birthday, Taiwan!

Today, 10-10 (aka. October 10th) is the Republic of China's 100th birthday! Yay! There was a big presentation live on TV with President Ma Ying-Jeou. Only a few representatives from other countries attended but the only one I recognized was Guatemala. (notice China and the United States were not accounted for o.O)

I went to Maokong to look over Taipei and saw some fireworks from the rooftop of our apartment building! How did you celebrate 10-10? ;)

Teaching = Cheerleader?

So I get to do something special up until the 15th (this Saturday). A few branches in my school's company are hosting a Sports Day for students and parents. It's going to be basically a mini-olympics for the older students in kindergarten. There's going to be an opening ceremony, games and everything. What's even more is that there will be a half-time cheerleading show. Woohoo!

It's actually pretty outrageous if you know more of the details. We're doing some mild choreography which include lifts and other stunts. (notice we're not professionals) We've been practicing at least one day every week- five hours at a time. We don't get home until after 1am, which is not inconvient if it's not a weeknight. I really hope we get some compensation for these extra, late-night hours!

This week will be intense because we're practicing every night except Tuesday (tomorrow). I hope everything goes well for the big show on Saturday! Everyone's working really hard and they deserve a huge pat on the back!

A Taiwanese Wedding

I got to go to my first Taiwanese Wedding this weekend! I worked with Ivy (the bride) for a year in the same classroom so it was even more special for me. Weddings are totally different from those in America so let me walk you through it! :)

First of all, you can call every wedding a "wedding banquet" because it's all about eating. They typically take place in a restaurant that specializes in weddings. In the one I attended there were a whole bunch of round tables set up in a large banquet hall with a red carpet leading up to a stage. I sat down with friends from work and we chatted and looked at the engagement pictures together. Five minutes before the ceremony started a slideshow came on of the bride and groom as they were growing up.

There was a lot of hired photographers at the wedding too! Plus everyone else taking pictures, it kinda felt like the paparazzi!

After the slideshow the groom came out holding the bouquet. He walked halfway up the red carpet, turned around and waited for the bride to make an appearance.

The bubble machine came on and then our bride entered on her father's arm. She was so gorgeous! Everyone was snapping pictures!

The groom presented her with the bouquet and the host of the wedding asked him to say a few words. I wish I knew what he said but my Chinese still needs improvement! It must have been very romantic and moving because he started crying and so did everyone else.

Then the bride and groom went up to the stage together. They're families joined them and there were a few speeches. Then everyone disappeared to change clothes (the bride gets to change dresses multiple times) and the food started being served!

I wasn't sure what everything was on this plate but I saw squid and jellyfish legs! Normally I wouldn't touch them but they were not that bad! (I'm not a big seafood fan, btw) Supposedly there are special foods served at weddings and they all have a symbolic meaning but I haven't found any definitive information about that yet.

Next came crab! Yummy!

Then the bride and groom came out with a new outfit and had some goodies to hand to their special friends. However, everyone mobbed them before they could give the candy out themselves!

Here's the next beautiful dress!

Now was the time to give out the bouquet. The bride called out some names of people (guys and girls) to come up and hold onto a ribbon that was attached to the bouquet. On the count of three they all pulled and two peoples' ribbons didn't fall away from the bouquet. One boy and one girl. I don't think it means the same thing in Taiwan as it does in the US- it doesn't decide who's going to get married next. It was just a silly, entertaining game to play.

Then we got served fish and the bride and groom came around to each table to give a toast.

After that the last courses were served and people started to leave. As you walked out the door you got to take a picture with the bride and groom and wish them well.

It was a very interesting cultural experience. I had a lot of fun and it was great to see one of my friends get married! This was my impression of my first wedding in Taiwan. I meant for it to be objective and open-minded account in order to understand some traditions on the other side of the world. If I misrepesented anything or gave some false information, please let me know so I can fix it!

PS- Congratulations, Ivy! I had a lot of fun at your wedding! :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Golden Hippo Awards

This past weekend I got my first teacher's award!!!!!!! Hess (the company I work for) gives awards every year for best children's performances and for good teachers, etc. I got an "Excellent Teacher Award." It's such a big company that I couldn't believe I got picked to get one!

I tried to play it cool...

But this is how I really felt! Yay!
 I can't believe how far I've come since I arrived in Taiwan. I was so intimitated about being a teacher and I had no idea how to take charge in the classroom. But now I love my job so much! It's gotten a lot easier, obviously, and being around my students keeps me super happy. I had no idea when I moved across the world to try a completely new job that it would become so easy and comfortable. To think back to two years ago, it didn't even cross my mind that I could get an award for what I do!

Anyways, I'm super proud of myself and things can only get better from here! ;)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

China Trip Day Three (Thu 5/26/2011)

(Finally I got some photos edited)

Tian'anmen Square
First stop of the day was to go to Tian'anmen Square and let me tell you it was crowded. It's name in English is The Gate of Heavenly Peace. Basically it's a super large concrete area with many communist buildings surrounding it, and one side that goes into the Forbidden City. It's a popular place for everyone to gather because it's cool in the summer. If you don't have AC you can go here and feel more comfortable. In the middle is the Monument to the People's Heroes, a granite tower made in 1958. It's a very communist monument, basically. Mao's mausoleum is also around here, and so is the Great Hall of the People (Chinese legislature) but we didn't go in any buildings. Just walked through the square and headed into the Forbidden City.

Great Hall of the People

This building should be Zian Men, formerly part of a city gate, it is now a museum on the history of Beijing

China is so cool! I'm excited!

Qian Men again

A guard in front of the Monument to the People's Heroes. Couldn't get up close.

Monument to the People's Heroes

China National Museum

Entrance to the Forbidden City!

Monument to the People's Heroes

Here's the entrance to the Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Also a crowded place, the Forbidden City was an amazing sight to see. It's crazy to think that ancient Chinese emperors lived here- so much history! Everything was impressive and beautiful, except the huge picture of Mao slapped on the front gate (in my opinion). There's many gates within gates here so you'll see a lot of the same kind of buildings.

Don't ask me to read this yet. I only get a few characters of it. :(

Some of the many aggressive vendors.

Soldiers drilling in the Forbidden City!

This is for the next picture- a famous sundial

This is the emperor's throne!!!!

This cauldron used to be all gold on the outside but when the Westerners (Europe?) invaded the Forbidden City they scraped it all off. These cauldrons are stationed all over the "city" to be used to put out fires. Ancient firemen!!!

Another throne....

Next stop was the emperor's study. This circular piece of jade was placed outside so that when he looked his right side he could see it and be inspired.

This is a mama lion because she's playing with her baby. (I think it looks like she's crushing it)

A local, looking cool

Now we're near the emperor's chambers and those of his concubines. An emperess supposedly put this huge piece of jade out here to remind the concubines to be pure.

This rock is supposed to super precious because it was found this way (with all the holes).

I love trees!

This tree was apparently special- it would give you something if you touch it... fertility? boys? It's fenced off now so no one can bother it.

The whole place was huge and it's hard to remember how everything was significant. It was definitely beautiful and I wish I could've seen it when there were emperor's living there!
Beijing taxis!

Next was lunch time, and then we visited the Temple of Heaven. It's important because it was where the emperor would pray for a good harvest. It was off-limits to the common people during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Luckily we live in the 21st century! There was a special Echo Wall where you can supposedly whisper from one side of the wall to another.

These people were playing Chinese chess.

Here's the temple. The red and blue are symbolic. Red is an imperial color and blue is for heaven. Supposedly it was built only using wood, no nails!

These are tablets on the inside of the temple that represent the emperor's ancestors.

It started to sprinkle here. This marble platform was for sacrifices to take place. (Don't ask) It was built with accoustics in mind so if you stand in the very middle you can say something and it echoes really loud in your ear.

Then came for the amazing Peking Duck Dinner! It was the best food I had all trip, and that says two things: 1. Peking duck is really good, and 2. food in China was not that satisfying.

You put the duck and some green onions with a sauce inside a wrap and enjoy the tastiness!

I ate so much that night. I kept eating after I was full until I started to feel sick. It was that good!

Next we saw a famous Kung Fu Show. It was interesting. The story was very Eastern so it was a little difficult for me to appreciate.

So My Review of Beijing:
* Vendors are really aggressive- they heckle you if you walk by, and if you look at their stuff they will make you buy something. The pressure is so bad! They even grab you.
* Too many foreigners- It takes away from the experience seeing so many tourists. You come to China to see Chinese people and experience a culture totally different from your own... not to hear English everywhere you go.
* Very crowded- Hard to take good pictures or even imagine what things would have been like in the Forbidden city back in the day
* Everything's too spread out- I guess I'm spoiled being used to getting places in 15-30 minutes and being able to walk to get food. Here it seemed like it took forever to get anywhere.
* Hard to get a taxi- No need for much else explanation
* Food too greasy, saucy. Too much bone, not enough meat...everything felt like an appetizer. Oh and by the way they serve rice last in China. That was a big shocker for the tour group.

More to come! Sorry it's taking so long! Took too many pictures I guess!