Where to begin? It was one heck of a summer and a lot has happened, things learned, and new places explored. I’m going to begin a series of blog posts that I wasn’t able to get to when we were traveling this summer. Time to fill you in!
June 30, 2015 was officially our last day as Teacher Kyle and Teacher Sarah the English teachers. What a year it was…already, as we look back and reminisce on our teaching days, it brings back challenging but great memories. We’ve come to the conclusion that teaching really has it’s ups and downs, perhaps more than any other job we’ve ever had. There were days that were just plain fun. The kids were joking around, paying attention, and listening. I loved introducing my older kids to things like paintball or sim city and see their eyes light up with imagination. They actually wanted to write journal entries about these topics. Can you believe that?!
Other days were extremely frustrating and draining. You know the feeling when you finally get out of work after a bad day and just want to hit something? It happens with teaching, too. You FINALLY get all your first graders sitting in their seats after 20 minutes of everyone (actually no one) needing to go to the bathroom… and then Emma drops her gigantic pencil case. An explosion of every type of pen, pencil, eraser, whiteout, ruler, scissors, tiny anime creatures, and stickers scattered all of over the floor. Commence 9 first graders rolling on the floor laughing uncontrollably. The first couple times it’s kind of cute, but after repeating this on a daily basis, it gets old, real old.
All in all, teaching was a valuable and rewarding experience. We remember our first week of teaching and how nervous we were and how much easier it got as the weeks went by. I don’t know if any of you readers remember my first post on teaching, but I’ll recap a bit. We taught for an English institute that was an after school program for the Taiwanese kids. We taught the kids after they had been in their regular Chinese schools all day. Our school was also a for profit institution. This made our jobs interesting. We would run into kids that were great students but others really gave us a run for our money. I had a 7 year old student who wrote me a note telling that I should go to H-E-double hockey sticks (he wrote the real thing). How does a 7 year old know that word?! With the school running for profit, there was nothing I could do about it. The school needed the tuition money. At times it was incredibly frustrating not getting support when it was needed. On the other hand, we had kids that were very serious about their English learning and it was exciting to see how much their English levels improved over the year. Our last day at school, we gave all the students our facebooks and we have been in touch with some of them, which is very cool. I hope to stay in touch and see where they end up in life. We truly learned how to interact and work with people of all ages from a culture far different than ours.
Our last few days were busy saying our goodbyes to all the wonderful people we met over the past year. What a weird feeling saying goodbye to the people we called our family while we were in Taiwan. Sarah and I spent an entire night with our night market family. They threw us a huge goodbye party with all the people we encountered there this past year. We felt truly loved and felt we had made not just great friends for the year, but friends for a lifetime. Sarah put together an ABC book for our little kiddo’s so they could continue their English learning through memories of the foreigners from America. We had spent so much time getting to know this family who literally didn’t speak a lick of English. Sarah, who barely speaks a word of Chinese, was able to connect and develop a relationp with Joan and the kids through smiles, hugs, me translating, and her trusty English-Chinese dictionary 🙂 We ate until we were stuffed and I was challenged by every macho guy around the table to an arm wrestle…weaklings 😉 We are excited to visit Taipei and especially our 737 night market to see our “family” again one day.
Fast forward one more day to July 1, our last day in Taipei, Taiwan, our home for the last year. What a strange day it was. We moved out of our apartment at 9am and we weren’t leaving until 1am that night, so we had all day to ourselves and our backpacks. We wanted to hit all of our favorite spots one more time. It was such a surreal feeling as we sat in our hammock looking over our favorite Bihu Lake. Were we really leaving tonight? Our time here was finished…already? The place we’ve come to love…when would we come back? The feelings were all over the board…Excited, sad, apprehensive. It was done. Our time in Taiwan was done and we had a freaking blast of a year. We met some amazing Taiwanese friends who we already miss dearly. Thank goodness for snapchat! We also have to thank them profusely for the caravan ride to the airport. Literally all of our friends packed into 3 cars just to take Sarah and me to the airport. How awesome is that? We were a little overwhelmed with the love from our friends.
We couldn’t help but put on big smile as we walked to the departure gate and said goodbye to Taipei.
Kyle & Sarah