Busy Summer Fun

Jon and our two friends Mac and Tom at Peace Music Festival

It’s hot and sticky and the cockroaches are out. Summer has definitely hit. Jon and I have been trying to get away from stinky Taipei every weekend (pollution + 30 degree heat = really gross). We’ve been going to the beach, hanging with friends, and checking out markets and music shows.

Jen's student Nancy at Sports Day
Jen's student Milo on Sunglasses Day

Along with the summer heat, I’ve been sweatin’! Things have been pretty crazy busy and tiring for me at school lately. It’s exam and student report time, and I have graduation for my kindergarten to plan for. Yes, you heard me right. Graduation for kindergarten. Apparently people take it pretty seriously here, especially at my school, where I teach some of the wealthier kids in Taipei. Each class has to perform a song and dance, except for the two graduating classes (5-6 year olds). They put on a 20 minute play. A PLAY! And they’re only 5! And it’s all in English! It’s amazing what you can get these kids to do. Fortunately, I don’t have those two classes, I get to teach two classes a song and dance. One is the 50’s “Lollipop” by the Chordettes and the other is some Spanishy sounding, get-in-your-head-all-day-pop song that is called “Chocolate” by Soul Control, whoever that is. Both are fun for the kids, so that’s all that really matters. I’ve been able to sway the Chinese teachers I’m working with to teaching the kids their dances in a more “western” way, not in the drill-seargant, abusive way I have unfortunately been a witness to in the past. Consequently, everyone is having a lot more fun! (I think one of my goals in life now is to be a spreader of fun-ness.) Anyway, it still baffles me how seriously this is all taken over here, parents and teachers expect so much. These kids are expected to be superstars. What ever happened to laughing at how cute kids look on stage just because they are up there? Regardless, my dances are going well, and my kids are super cute. I love them all. I just hope I can suck it up until the end of June.

Which brings me to my next topic - Jon and I seem to be following the change of season with a change of our own - we’re leaving Taiwan. Very soon. It’s hard to believe for us, but we’ve only got a month left here in Taipei. In some ways it feels like we’ve only been here a short time, but when I think back to when we first arrived here, it feels like that was very, very long ago. I’m different now, not sure exactly how, but I know I feel it. I’ve done so many different things here, and I have been pushed over boundaries that I didn’t think I’d go across. But I have, and I’ve grown, and I love the adventure this has been. In April and May I was having a very hard time for various reasons deciding what my plan should be; stay a little longer or go? What it finally came down to is that I feel I need a change, so it’s time to go. The plan for me is to head to the Philippines by myself to volunteer for 2 months or so. I’ve been wanting to help people suffering from poverty for a long time, and now that I know how to teach, I feel I can contribute something worthwhile to others. So that is the plan for now, and it’s getting me pretty excited.

Yay for a new adventure!