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Friday, the foreign teachers headed north for a meeting with the MOE (Ministry of Education). It was a much anticipated meeting because we didn’t know that we’d get a chance to see each other again before leaving! It didn’t seem right not having Eugene and Kristen here since they started this with us, but I’m sure they were with us in spirit!

Most of us took the opportunity to have one last fling in Taipei and for some of us, this meant an evening of jazz and delicious Italian food at Capones, a shopping trip to 101 and New York, night markets, movies, a visit to the National Taiwan Democracy Hall Memorial (AKA Chiang Kai Shek Memorial) and other enjoyable stops along the way, like Cold Stone Creamery, Macaroni Grill and Barista Coffee.

Sounds more and more like we’re ready to be at home, huh?

The weather up there is quite a bit different from here. The rains have almost always been up there. It is hot and very, very humid! It rains just about every evening in Taipei now. Pingtung had rain 3 or 4 evenings last week and it was always in the evening. Typically, it clouds up in the evening here and looks like it’s going to rain, but it doesn’t. The rain passes us over, making this a very hot part of the country. It’s interesting because the same weather patterns that keep the rain away from here also trap in the pollution from this region making us about the most heavily polluted part of the country.

While we were in Taipei walking the streets trying to find NY Bagel, Carolyn wanted to stop and take a photo of the Statue of Liberty look alike. A lady walked up to me and asked me where I was from. I am quite often asked that question when I go to visit other cities and given that I live here in Pingtung, I tell them that I’m from Pingtung. That’s my home for now and that’s where I live! Yea, if you know me you think I’m being my typical smart azz self, but I don’t think so. I’m not a tourist and I don’t want to give that impression! If they continue to ask what country I’m from, I will tell them I’m an American. Obviously they know I’m not Taiwanese, but there are folks here from all over the world! Someone who is a white westerner could be from North America, Europe, Australia. A black person could be from North or South America, Canada, Africa and Asians could be from Vietnam, America, Philippines, Thailand, China….anywhere! and if you don’t ask you won’t know!


Chris Collier (Center for Inquiry; Alan Smith (Arsenal Technical High School); Sean O’Gara (Indianapolis) Caterina Blitzer (IN Department of Education), Edith Campbell

In addition to the Teachers to Taiwan Program, the Indiana Department of Education also sponsors a program which takes Taiwanese teachers to Indiana.  This program brought administrations from throughout Indiana and Michigan, along with representatives from each state’s Department of Education in order to interview prospective teachers and discuss forming sister school programs.  Last Tuesday, those of us teaching here from Michigan and Indiana met with the group in Taipei.  It was a pleasure to meet colleagues from the Indianapolis Public School District!!

 12.jpgPingtung  2-28 Memorial

28 February is Memorial Day, a national holiday in Taiwan.  To commemorate this day in Taiwan’s historical consciousness, many people choose to fast in remembrance of the cruelty of those times in Taiwan’s past. From midnight to midnight, drinking only water, why not join the people of Taiwan as they meditate so that we may find better ways to take action in this world. As we feel our hunger, let us be reminded to share the stories of Taiwan’s past on that day.

This is what unfolded on that fateful day.

After the end of World War II, the Allied Forces left the occupation of Taiwan to Chiang Kai -shek, who was still holding on to large parts of China with his Nationalist forces. The Taiwanese, who had been under Japanese rule from 1895 through 1945, initially welcomed the Chinese Nationalist forces. But their joy soon changed into sorrow and anger, when the new authorities turned out to be repressive and corrupt.

The 28 February 1947 arrest of a woman selling cigarettes without a license was the spark which led to large-scale public protests against repression and corruption. For some ten days, Chiang still on the mainland and his governor Chen Yi kept up the pretense of negotiations with leaders of the protest movement, but at the same time they sent troops from the mainland.

 As soon as the troops arrived, they started rounding up and executing people, in particular scholars, lawyers, doctors, students and local leaders of the protest movement. In total between 18,000 and 28,000 people were murdered. Thousands of others were arrested and imprisoned in the “White Terror” campaign which took place in the following decade. Many of these remained imprisoned until the early 1980s.

Until a few years ago, the events of 1947 were a taboo subject on the island. The authorities did not want to be reminded of their dark past, and the people did not dare to speak out for fear of retribution by the  secret police.

 The US press reported on the incidents in 1947 both in the New York Times and The Nation. Yet, despite the Cairo Declaration, the US did not act or Formosa’s behalf.  The regime from mainland China was able to establish itself on the island.

 When, after forty repressive years, the harsh martial law in Taiwan was lifted in 1987, the newly-formed Taiwanese democratic opposition started to push  authorities to stop covering up the facts, and to come to a full airing of the matter. It wasn’t until 1990 that the Kuomintang finally decided to open the records. In 1992 President Lee asked for reconciliation and decided that a monument would be built in Taipei. Other memorials had been built earlier in Chiayi and Pingtung.

 Scholars who want to conduct research about the February 28 incident complain that they cannot get access to a number of government archives. Although the Executive Yuan’s Ad Hoc Committee on 2-28 Incident has so far issued two volumes of findings from the archives, the Department of Defense continues to refuse to make public records in its archives covering the period from 1945 to 1950.




Although I knew it is colder in the north, I was quite excited to head there this past weekend. I’d be staying in a hotel and that would mean soft western mattress and a room with a thermostat!! Rose decided to head up with me, so we hopped on the High Speed Rail and arrived in Taipei almost at jet speed! Thinking I was going up alone, I splurged a bit to stay in a convenient hotel so that I wouldn’t have to explore parts unknown by myself. O! It was well worth the splurge! While too many give the hotel poor reviews for being ‘too western’ and being located in an area void of any activities, we found The Grand Hyatt laden with comfort and located in the heart of the happenings! Outside our window? A full view of Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world!

Saturday morning began by meeting new friends. We met a young Canadian living in Japan, his wife and children and had very interesting conversations about a variety of topics. The most interesting to you will probably be the mention of the first all-Black prime time TV show in Canada which his sister co-created and co-stars in. I was able to view episodes online and yeah, I’m a sucker these days for anything I can see online, but “Da Kink in My Hair” really is a good show!

Any day that begins with new friends has to be a good day, right?!

We walked over to “NY Bagels Cafe” where I had PANCAKES!!!!!!! and steak and eggs and a close your eyes and savor the moment cup of coffee!

Our first stop for the Taipei International Book Exhibit was Hall #3, comics and manga.

And we were immediately separated in the crowded. We each lasted as long as we could stand being in the throbs of young people who were on a mission to get the latest books, see the characters and collect paraphenalia for their favorite manga and comics. I also made it to the other two halls where I was able to meet a few authors, learn about the features of Google Book, and see what books are popular in this corner of the world. This year’s exhibit featured Australian literature and I was really disappointed that I missed the opportunity to meet Mark Zusak, author of one of my favorite books, “I am the messenger“. Just a few observations I can make about books and literature here:

  • The fastest growing format is that of the comic (DUH). The comic format is moving into other genres.
  • Manga is growing in popularity with girls.
  • Reading for information is more popular here that reading for enjoyment. Exception: young people and manga.
  • Publication of western books in this region lags US publication by several months, if not longer.

Even after our long day surrounded by books, we still had the energy for a night on the town! Just down the street, was “Brown Sugar“, The Jazz Club in Taipei. There, we had a deliciouss supper, heard great stylings by their house band and had an enjoyable close to a very good day.

Yeah, this posting is full of superlatives, it was just that kind of weekend and it was just that much harder leaving the city thinking that I may never be back again. Never.  What a sad and final sound!  (There are not many months left in this gig!)! I’ve had so many wonderful memories in Taipei from Kris, Sean, Suzanne and I first venturing up there with Amanda while we were in training, to our field trip to Snake Alley, our Christmas get together and then, this incredible experience!

Yep, Taipei is world class!

Yeah, we had some fun! That would explain why there are no photos from Haulien. Last week went by so quickly!! All of these weeks have been going fast!

Kristen has gone home. We really had a great time together. We’ve forged a great relationship, like the phoenix rising from the ashes. We’ve learned so much from and about each other! She should be home as I write.

Mr. Hsieh and his family gave is a ride to the high speed rail station north of Kaoushoung. From there, it took us about 1.5 hours to do by train what a car would do in 4 hours. We got in late, but Kris, Sean and Suzanne went out partying, mighty Hoosiers that they are! The next day some of us went to the museum, some of us slept all day, and some went to 101 Mall. It was nice to get back up there and see the city and all that I had missed before. I had wondered what was so great about Taipei, and how it classified as a world class city. I saw it this time! WOW!! I don’t have the pictures to show all the stores, banks, clubs, theaters… so much!! I had always heard what a dirty city Taipei was and that was part of why we went south. That and the prospects of a beach in this county. So, we end up in one of the most polluted counties in the country, at its northern tip, completely inland!

The other teachers are fairing well. Marilyn visits an orphanage regularly, takes Chinese classes and visits with a 92 year old Jesuit priest on a regular basis. Rose works with two other foreign teachers and has developed situational classes in her school’s English Village. The Granderson’s have a beachfront home and work together in an elementary school. Carolyn tours a lot with her school families and will soon be joined by her spouse. Suzanne is located just outside Taipei and can see the ocean from her school. She’ll be going home for a brief visit soon, then returning to finish the second half of things.

Strawberries are in season. I picked some up from Carrefour today and hope to finish them soon. Fruits here don’t have preservatives and don’t last quite so long. They taste fresh and juicy!

Well, this is the time on the blog where YOU have to do the writing. C’mon, how about ‘Merry Christmas’? A snow report? A mouth watering report of Christmas dinner? Something??!!

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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July 2018
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