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!!

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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.

Happy 26th Birthday, Rodney Brice Campbell!

Avoid high luggage fees by using technology and your public library to lighten your load!

  • Pack your library card!
  • Check your library’s website to see what audio devices support their audiobooks.
  • Borrow audiobooks freely from your library while you travel!
  • Rather read? Download ebooks to you laptop.

Who needs Kindle??

This map shows Taiwan taking its hit on Thursday. Could this be a Typhoon Day??  (NO SCHOOL!)

Rose and I bought our train tickets in Kaohsiung and headed to the platform.  The tickets were for a local train.  I typically don’t like to get stuck on these trains because the tickets have very little information on them.  Luckily, we had the agent write the time on the back of the ticket, and from the time we were able to determine from the signs that our train would be on platform 3.  However, once we got to the platform, we had no idea whether the train would be on 3A or 3B.  3B or not 3B, that was the question!!  I pointed at the train and asked someone about to board “Pingtung?”  Response “I don’t know”, in English no less!  An usual answer for someone about to board a train, don’t you think?  I asked two more people and got the same answer.  Now about this time you have to be wondering why these people were getting on this train had no idea where the train was headed.  It wasn’t that they didn’t know!  They knew where the train was going as well as they knew where they were going.  What they didn’t know was how to say in English the same thing they would say in Mandarin.  In Taiwanese culture, no one wants to be wrong and you don’t necessarily want to tell someone they are wrong.  They didn’t want us to be wrong about knowing where we going, they wanted to do this back and forth that would allow them to tell us what we wanted to know.  It would not have been unusual for them to say “Yes, it’s going to Pingtung” when in fact it wasn’t.  This seems like incorrect information to me, but they would be telling me what I wanted to hear. The fourth person questioned knew English langauge (and culture) well enough to point to the train on track 3A and tell us that was the correct train, not 3B.

Class 6-4 invited me to their graduation dinner on Monday. The students designed and created a love invitation, and delivered it and arranged my transportation. My hostess for the evening, the talented and outspoken Tina, picked me up promptly at 5:30 and took me to Noble Family Steak House for a truly wonderful evening!

This past Wednesday, the 6th graders graduated from Raey Guang Elementary School. They spent the previous week signing shirts and yearbooks, cleaning classrooms and saying good-byes.

Wednesday, they were greeted with flowers and banners. Some of the younger classes made special posters for them.


Students took a final walk around the campus before entering the filled auditorium.

Each student was handed their diploma by the principal and awards were presented by special guests: principals from other schools, head of the PTO and me!!

One of the traditions is to have a fifth grade student (memorize) and deliver a speech to the graduating class. She did such a wonderful job!

After the ceremony, teachers and students line the path the graduates would walk as they symbolically left the school for the last time.

This is me with my mom, dad and older brother shortly after I was born. This photo has nothing to do with Taiwan, but everything to do with my dad. My dad loved me! He loved all three of us! His love, his sense of responsibility, his faith and wisdom has given me a healthy respect for all men. He taught me to take care of my family, to value knowledge and to explore and enjoy life. I wonder what he would say about me being in Taiwan for a year. If he were alive and healthy, there’d be a good chance he would make it over here to visit. He was that kind of guy. On this Father’s Day, I hope he is at peace. And to you as well, if you’re a dad reading this!

Here in Taiwan, Father’s Day won’t come until 8 August–my dad’s birthday. The word for eight is ‘ba’ and August is the eighth month, so, the date is ‘ba ba’. In Chinese, ‘ba ba’ is ‘daddy’. So, 8 August is Father’s Day!

I’ve spent time this week signing yearbooks. I haven’t done that in quite a while and all I could remember were the timeless phrases like “stay as sweet as you are” “don’t change” and “2Sweet 2Be 4Gotten”. I could be more creative with students I knew a little better, but all in all it was a fun thing to do! The yearbooks are fun memories and have wonderful shots of students throughout the year. It will be one of my favorite souvenirs.

The 6th graders will graduate next Wednesday. They will go from the fun, protective elementary school environment to an regimented, test driven junior high. I’m speaking from a classroom perspective. It is quite possible that the students do manage to find time to have fun as they get into the upper grades. Why just yesterday I saw a young man at breakfast with a pink rose in his backpack that he obviously intended for a special girl. But, the classroom changes from one where teachers pretty much let the kids play and be children. The textbooks are so extremely easy and lacking in content while the middle school books feed information faster than many college level books. Jr. high and high school students spend the evenings and weekends in cram schools or in groups at restaurant tables where they work furiously to finish homework assignments. Students are often seen even on the weekends in school uniforms because they are attending classes.

I can be walking the streets on any given evening and have a group of young people approaching me. You know in the US when a crowd of teenagers approach, many may decide to cross the street or duck into a store. Here, there is absolutely no reason to fear! The most memorable thing that may happen is some shy boy turning around–after they have passed– and saying “Hello! How are you today?”!! It is comically cute! Little children are a bit different. Too often, they are afraid of foreigners and will scream and run. Black, white, blonde, readhead it doesn’t matter, the reaction is the same. It saddens me that it still happens even in my school but that is so offset by the reaction I get from the students who know me that I don’t give it much of a second thought, other than to wish I could have spent time with them all. Yeah, I’m here to teach them English but so many people here have never ever seen westerners that just exposing them to a taste of my part of the world can be a greater lesson. We talk about this great flattening provided by the Internet, but if it stops us from getting up off our duffs and visiting people, the only thing that flattens in our perception of others. Unless of course we take the time to read someone’s blog!! LOL

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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Taipei

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