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I’ve been home almost a week now. Former participant Linda Airy tells me that it will take about 6 months to finish adjusting. Jet lag takes about two weeks, or one day for each time zone crossed. I do get disappointed when I look for something to drink and there is no fresh watermelon, kiwi or strawberry juice. I was completely disoriented when I walked into Meier’s and heard Mandarin. I feel an emptiness when I drive the streets and see no people, when I step outside and hear no noise and when its 8:00 and there is no trash truck. I feel a tremendous sense of space when I look up into the sky and see such an immense, blueness that extends so far and wide and that has clouds that float gently by rather than oppressively hugging the space above me. I am so glad to have my children in the same time zone and just a text message away! I love being able to call friends on the phone to get together for breakfast, lunch or dinner and I’m getting used to walking with no destination in mind. I really miss not having thousands of dollars in my wallet!!LOL

Well, this is my last post. I can’t say I’m stopping because I’m at home. I was at home in Taiwan. And, I can’t say I’m stopping because my journey is ending. Two teachers from Taiwan have just landed in Indianapolis and students from China are on their way! I can’t wait to share my homeland with them, and helping to make it become their home as well. I can’t say I’m stopping this because I’m tired of blogging. My counter shows that my little blog was read over 3,500 times. Sure, there are blogs that take that many hits in one day, but I’m happy to know that I was able to share my experience with so many people. I met Dianne Murray who picked up my blog through the LM_NET listserv; I made friends with Sandy and Michael in Neipu; I heard from my wandering professor, Annette Lamb and my friends and family were able to know I was safe during typhoons and earthquakes.

This blog has simply served its purpose.

I’ve gotten into the habit of creating a Top Ten list when I travel. I guess it’s a way for me to reflect and give thanks. Here it is and I’ll see you next time!

CAMPBELL’S TOP TEN:

  1. Favorite souvenir: calligraphy from my student
  2. Best memory: Christmas at Foster Hewitt; riding the banana boat with Kristen in Kenting
  3. Favorite new words: ‘xing-xing’ (Chinese; star); ‘alight’ (British; to exit)
  4. Favorite place: The Dream Mall
  5. Most unusual food (that I ate): gelatinous rice balls
  6. Best teaching tool: YouTube
  7. Favorite picture(s): those taken in Kinmen
  8. Most difficult adjustment: getting used to a new standard in cleanliness
  9. Most important lesson learned: cultures are different on so many levels!
  10. Regrets: None

A menu in a western restaurant in Kaohsiung.

5 countries in two days.

Typhoon.

Diverted plane.

A stay at the nicest hotel in Taiwan. Just as an example, they were kind enough to pack a breakfast for me because they knew I was heading to the airport early. How nice is that?!

People keep asking me about the flooding in Taiwan, but I was in transit when the flooding happened. I’ve spoken to my friends in Pingtung and they were not affected by it.

I suppose if I got into poetry I could arrange that into a clever little piece to close out my year, but I don’t! Besides, I’m finding that vestiges of Taiwan appear in my memory constantly. I drive through the streets and wonder where all the people are! I’m relieved to see that people do stop ar red lights and there are no left turns on red. The biggest adjustment? Fitting back into this time zone. I mean, waking up at 5 am to do a blog post is not my style. I’ve come back during the summer sale season and have found bargains instead of high prices. The price of gas has double since I left. WalMart has built a new store within walking distance of my home. My sister tells me of the numerous calls her agency receives from parents who want someone to take their children because they cannot afford to feed them. There is still no bus system in this city to speak of, yet We have a massive new airport about to open and commuter transport lines from Fishers to the city. I’ve heard Chinese in Meiers. Still didn’t understand a word of it, but it took me to a place I’m calling home.

I do plan to come back and post my Top Ten list. If you have any questions related to Taiwan, go ahead and post them and I’ll post your answer here.

WHEN does IPS begin?? LOL

I’m almost home!!!  I’ll leave on Friday and I’ll be home on Friday.  The International dateline thing is corny. but cool!

I am in Taiwan, though.

Michael Buble was in my ear today.

Another airplane
Another sunny place
I’m lucky I know
But I wanna go home
Mmmm, I’ve got to go home

China was great. No, it wasn’t a tourist destination. It was work; good work that I really enjoyed. Guess I’m just weird like that! When last I saw the students, they were on the way to Beijing in hope of getting their visas to the US, in hopes of convincing the right people that this is a one year, one shot deal and they’ll be returning to China. Some do still need placements in the US, so let me know if you’re interested!

So sorry to say I will leave China with the image of the air nestled strongly in my lungs. It began quite clear because it has been raining, but everyday I was there, the air got dustier and dirtier. I could see, smell and feel the particulates as they traveled my nasal passages. Not a good feeling at all. In China, I felt the newness of being in an unfamiliar place, but I actually found myself smiling about going back to dirty ol’ Taiwan. I don’t know the language, but I can maneuver and I can do a bit of communicating.


Maybe surrounded by
A million people I
Still feel all alone
I just wanna go home

Coming home…yeah, I think of Taiwan as home!!…was an interesting trip; an exercise in character development! Did you know there’s a typhoon sitting on the southern shores of Taiwan? Because of the typhoon, I couldn’t land in Kaoshiung (where I left a suitcase!!) and landed in Taoyoun instead. We sat in the plane for an hour because someone thought the typhoon would clear up and we would be able to land. I’m hoping it will clear away tomorrow morning when it’s time to head to the US!

It kinda flustered me that an airline company could do nothing to help me get my suitcase from Kaohsiung to Taipei overnight. But such is where I am. It amazed me that students in China were able to think critically and creatively much more so than those I worked with in Taiwan. Shouldn’t those in a democracy be better prepared to find, analyze, assess and evaluate information? Well, I’ve got great friends taking care of the suitcase for me, so life goes on. Thanks, Fulin and Riz!!!!

And thanks, Evan James for handling that post the other day!

And I feel just like I’m living someone else’s life
It’s like I just stepped outside
When everything was going right

These past few days have brought rare and welcomed rain to Pingtung and because of the rain, the air was particularly clear.  Looking out my bedroom window, I was given a rare view of the mountains that surround the city.  I could see my school situated on the eastern boundary of the city.  Plush palm trees line the river behind the school, filling the land to the mountains.  This was such a nice present for my last day in the apartment!

So, now I’m in Kaohsiung, where I’ll be until I fly to Changsha.  I look forward to meeting the high school students with whom I’ll be working, seeing the differences in Chinese culture on the mainland and on this island and preparing these students for an opportunity of a lifetime.  I know how much this year has changed me, imagine what it will do for these teenagers! 

Today was the last day ‘the girls’ got together on the Asian side of the big pond!  Well meet again on the other side!! It’s only fitting that our outings ending in the same place they started:  The Dream Mall in Kaohsiung!

Carolyn (Arkansas), Me! and Rose (Michigan)

Yesterday, Flame and I were in a previously mentioned discount store. I just had to get some of the while lacy covers for my car seats and while I was looking at the boxes, I notice this child about 4 or 5 noticing us. (She could have been 4 or 5 because people are 1 yr. old at birth here.)  This child had that wide eyed look of fear on her face and it was about to turn to tears!  She saw me, this fat little Black woman with curly cute hair and Flame, this tall white woman with long, wavy red hair.  We may as well have been the Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snow-woman!  I smiled and I waved and the tears flowed.  She tried to hide behind her mom and mom told her something in soft tones.  I kept smiling, waving hating to see such terror on this child’s face.  And then, miracle of miracles!!  She smile!  She waved!

Yes, this is what I teach.

I don’t think time has ever flown faster than it has this week!  It is already Thursday!  This time next week, Pingtung will be a complete memory!  What I haven’t mentioned here yet is that when I leave Taiwan, I will be spending 8 days in China helping to prepare a group of high school students for life in the US.  I’ll be in Changsha, China in Yunan Province, basically going from the hottest part of Taiwan to the hottest part of China.  I’ll swing back through Taiwan to get my luggage and fly home in time for Nick and Rho’s wedding!!

In the meantime, I’m getting last minute details out of the way and in the midst of all the ‘to do’s’ are mundane things like shopping for food!  I was in Carrefour picking up some fruit.  I counted 7, SEVEN!!, types of mangoes and THREE varieties of kiwi!  A-mazing!  Mangoes don’t grow in Indiana.  I will miss mangoes!!

It rained here almost all last week.

Saturday, I took the high speed to meet with Carolyn and Jaci to go to Sanyi.

Chayi is on the Tropic of Cancer.

Sanyi is known for its woodwork.

I stayed the night in Chayi and on Sunday, Carolyn and I had a wonderful three hour pedicure that involved exfoliating, massage and paraffin.  For Carolyn, there were flowers, too!

We had lunch at McDonalds and this couple proudly displayed a lizard on their table.

In August, 2007 I will be leaving Indianapolis with my daughter, Kristen, to live and work in the Republic of China (Taiwan). This will be my fiftieth year on this planet and my first year living in another country. This blog will let you join us on the adventure!
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Chikky Soup Meets Stinky Tofu by Edi Campbell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
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Taipei

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