Saturday, October 16, 2010

2 trees a week

I don't know how to plant a tree really. Gonna work on my green thumb back at home.

But just some quick research says that each American's 20 pounds of carbon emissions can be off-set with 100 trees a year.

I'm kind of interested in this idea, though. Maybe it's the basis for a portfolio project. Maybe I turn it into a mini company? I don't know. Just early thoughts.

Name thoughts. Hmm.
1 week 2 trees
100s a year

Hmm. I dunno. Something like a club. People can track their progress and others' progress online?

Friday, October 8, 2010

What a week!

I cannot believe that I've finished saying goodbye to all my students. I'm a little emotional right now. It's been a whirlwind week of goodbyes, photos, cards, parties, a Phil Collins serenade, and even a field trip to McDonalds.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into coming here. I feel really lucky to have experienced teaching these wonderful students. They are all so special to me. They will have a million foreign teachers, but they will probably be my only English students. I'll definitely never forget them. Almost two years teaching most of them.

I'm so touched by the gifts and handmade cards. The cute pictures and the sweet letters. I want them to know how much it means to me. I really hope they do.

It was also pretty amazing working in each class with a Taiwanese co-teacher. I learned so much from them about so many things, especially how to teach. I think it's actually a pretty rare opportunity to learn how to teach in this style where every teaching moment, you are working with an experienced, talented teacher who can help you along. Great people and a lot of fun, too.

Here are some pictures of the week of goodbyes:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This is the first of a series of 2. I'm painting from a photo of an old man. I really like painting old people. I guess that sounds strange. I like the texture in their skin (and someday mine!). There is a wealth of stories and experience living in those textures.

The accompanying painting will be of an old woman.

I like the idea of painting people I don't know. And I envision hanging them on my wall like they are someone important. Maybe they are. I don't know. Probably to someone. I like the humor and mystery of it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mad Libs with my High School Students

I don't remember "studying" grammar. It's just too long ago. It's pretty accepted around our school that foreign teachers are terrible at teaching grammar. It's second nature to us, so we have trouble explaining it. And so much of learning grammar is through application, mistakes, and correction until is just becomes natural.

I DO remember, however, hours on end of Mad Libs. We LOVED Mad Libs growing up, and I swear it's the only reason I know the parts of speech (okay that and being raised by two English majors – Mom being an actual English teacher and Dad graduating from Yale) . So, when it comes to teaching parts of speech, I feel quite confident.

So, with my older students (pictured above – a trip to TGI Friday's), I really enjoy activities doing Mad Lib variations. We did this on Saturday with sentences and each sentence starting with the name of a student in class. Here are some good ones:

1. Billy found a monkey reluctantly in the desk because there was a thing barking at somebody.

2. Alan plays frog happily in the amusement park because there was a god hugging a bear.

3. Katie builds a hole in a lovely way in the toilet because there was an elephant cutting a finger.

4. Leo hurt a chair in a lively way under the bed because there was a pig robbing a baby.

And my favorite:

5. Penny eats teenagers carefully in my house because there was a toilet drinking some alcohol.

Oh fun. Word play. Love it.

Monday, September 13, 2010


This weekend I went to 台南 to see Taiwan's oldest city/former capital. Bobo's (Bobo is my roommate/Chinese teacher/awesome friend) sister picked me up from the Bus Station at 2am and took me to her house. Yet another example of how wonderful Bobo's family is, and how hospitable and kind Taiwanese people are.

The south is known for being a little more religious. Houses usually have a small shrine set up inside and Yaya's house had a neat little one. There was soft temple music playing when I came in. That was cool.

台南 is the spot where the Chinese first came over about 400 years ago and ousted the Dutch presence in Taiwan.

I saw the temple dedicated to Zheng Cheng-Kung (Kongxinga). Very old and really beautiful. Below are photos of the temple and some with me, Yaya, and Kenny (Yaya's son):

Next, we went to Taiwan's first Kong Zi temple (Kong Zi is how you say Confucius in Chinese). Also about 400 years old. Pictures!

Then my camera lost its charge! Oh dear. After that, I went the fort where the Dutch were defeated. And I saw this amazing little show at a Temple for a God's birthday. There were drums and firecrackers and costumes. At the end, a Taiwanese woman grabbed my arm so I could join the rest of the people running toward the god to grab lucky cookies from his necklace. Fun experience.

Really great trip. Tasted lots of delicious food and spend time with Bobo's sister's family and their mom. Such sweet people. Used a lot more Chinese. It was really fun. Love Tainan. Great little city.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A new painting idea about love.

I'm not quite sure how to work this one out yet.

A strange question popped into my head. Have joking, of course, but how can we really love if there is space between our atoms. You will never really and truly get close to someone. There will always be space. A really small one, though. I guess that literal albeit minuscule space is a metaphor to me. You never really for sure know what someone is thinking, right? Love means you're putting a lot of trust in another person. You are taking a risk, however, a risk that is well worth it. But there's always going to be that little space between your atoms. Which isn't bad at all.

I might make this various cell shapes with varied scale (some large, some tiny). Weaving in and out of one another but never touching.


Thursday, August 19, 2010


Wǒ bù gǎn xiāngxìn wǒ xué zhōngwén.
I can't believe I study Chinese.

Just though I'd write a quick note about Chinese. I simply can't believe that my path took me here. I never thought I'd study Chinese. I once a week walk out of my bedroom and to the dining room table for Chinese class (I live with my Chinese teacher now). I never really had much interest for Chinese either. But now, even though I can barely communicate with a nine year old, I am really fascinated to study the language. I'm pretty bad about speaking, but I read Chinese everywhere and I love learning a new character and then seeing it around the city. I've gotten to the point where my Chinese teacher and I will have conversations only in Chinese (but it's not a real candid conversation because she's acutely aware of which words I know, and I know she speaks slowly and clearly for me to understand). Still pretty fun, though.

Sometimes I look back on the crazy thoughts I had when I first got here. I actually thought my students would be grateful to be introduced to English. I thought they would be happy to study a language that looks like it sounds. Looking back, it's a really stupid thought. It's stupid because I didn't realize the extent to which English breaks its rules. To them, English is as mysterious as we think Chinese is.

I love listening to people describing a character. 個大裡面一口. There's a big in a mouth. Like we have compound words, they have compound characters. A complex character could be made of 5 or 6 smaller versions of other characters. And the characters are combined in a way that makes sense or tells a story. Or sometimes I just see a story that makes sense to me without knowing if it's how the character evolved or not. Like garden:

:土,口 and in a 口.

The character for garden is enclosed and has the character for earth, mouth, and clothes inside. And what is a garden but an enclosure where our food and clothes come from. SO cool. I love it.