Finding the Rabbit
Hello,Before the end of the last term, I borrowed my housemate Rodger's camera, which has infinitely better video capabilities than my little HP does, and filmed snippets of my classes. So here they are. Endless thanks to Ron Meske, who let me post these videos on his website, since they're too big to stick on this blog or to email. The first one is my kindergarten, with Mick and Thomas, and Nicole is there as the TA. The other video is my CE02 class (Eric, David and Ian, left to right as you first see them). I thought you might like to see them in action and hear them speak.In order to watch the videos, you'll have to download them, which means that you have to save them somewhere on your computer. Go ahead and save them - they're safe. It should only take a minute or two, because they're only a minute or two long themselves. Then you can watch them anytime you want to, without being online.Here are the links:http://www.themeskes.org/heather/Kindergarten.mp4http://www.themeskes.org/heather/CE02.mp4Have a safe and wonderful holiday season!Heather
Nihao -This isn’t really an installment, but here are a bunch of pictures from the past few weeks. I’ve gone several places in that time, and I’ve been really slow at getting the pictures together. I still have more pictures waiting to make it out into the cyber-spotlight, and Clara and I are going to a place called Yeh Liu this weekend, so doubtless I’ll have pictures from that too.
Also, please notice my spiffy new Links section in the sidebar on the right. The first link is to my email address, which I set up as an easier way for you to send me your comments rather than posting them under each picture. This way I’ll see them a lot faster. The other three links are for the blogs of my friends (those who have blogs that I know about, anyway). The first one is for my writer friend, Sandra, in the States. The second one is for my friend Clara, who is very present here in Keelung, and the others are for two fellow Shane teachers, Kai and Natalia, who teach at schools in Taichung and in the Taipei district of Dong Hu respectively. Check them out.
One of the coffee houses we've started haunting is Han's, right across the street from the night market in my neighborhood. Here are Alice, Clara and Nicole on Ai San Road, during our walk there after work. This was the night before nationwide elections took place. For the past month Taiwan has been inundated with campaign flyers, banners, text messages to your cell phone, and these horrible little trucks with loudspeakers that drive around very slowly and blare a constant stream of propaganda and catchy little jingles promoting their candidate's views. Say what you will about American politics - at least they don't do this! And, as if that wasn't bad enough, during the week leading up to the elections fireworks went off all the time. Suddenly Taiwan was a very loud place to be, and I was very glad of my fourth-story cave that didn't have any windows. But on the other hand, the atmosphere has been celebratory too. Dennis told me later on that on this same night there was a presentation of traditional Chinese dancing going on in front of the cultural center, which he went and watched. He said it reminded him of the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. In this picture, my three friends had stopped in the middle of the street to watch giant fireworks going off over the City Hall building. I tried to catch them in their moment of wonder, but my camera was too slow and they had time to pose for me.
Two of the people making my stay in Taiwan so damn excellent!
And a third one, Clara. She's somehow been ingratiated into the Shane family, even though she doesn't work there. She's American, and studied Chinese in college in the States, which means that aside from being a good friend and companion, she's been invaluable when it comes to getting over the language barrier - when no native speakers are around, that is.
You can get 10% off on ice cream during the winter here! Photo by Nicole.
Last Saturday evening, after classes had ended for the week, we threw a surprise going-away party for Dennis. All of us Shanies were there, plus Jennifer's sister Melissa, and Clara, who stopped by later on. Dennis was well and truly surprised, and it was a good sendoff for a situation that had become lukewarm at best. We ordered pizzas and munchies, and Jennifer cranked up the music on her computer - ABBA, of course - for a rockin' disco time. This happens to be one of my favorite shots of Stephanie.
The party got really exciting when Alice challenged Nicole to a contest to see who could fit the most cherry tomatoes in their mouth - whole. Stephanie raced back and forth between them as this bowl gradually emptied out.
Bypassing the pizza to go for the cherry tomatoes.
Can she do it?!!
And the winner is...Alice! She surprised us all with this feat. Not only is stuffing your face a very un-Alice thing to do, but Nicole definitely has a bigger mouth! And no, this is not a "before" picture; every one of those tomatoes did come back out onto plates so that they could count their booty. In the end, Nicole had 29 and Alice had 28, but it was voted that Alice had won by volume, hence the very Taiwanese V sign - for victory.
What started out as a way to keep my hands busy became a frantic origami party, with everyone making what they knew how to make, which then became a pile of paper gifts for Dennis. I made the piano, Jennifer made the chair to go with it, Clara made the crane, Nicole made the rose, and Jennifer made the talking frog which Dennis is holding.
Wild and crazy party-goers.
One of these past Sundays, Clara, Dennis and I took the bus up the coast a bit to visit an old fort called Bai Mi Wong Fort. There are several forts around Keelung; because of its very strategic location it has been a favorite spot for military defense as well as shipping and docking. Here is one view of the massive western harbor, which is the busiest entrance port in all of Taiwan and China. Today, not much was going on, probably because of the weather, but you can see what it's capable of.
The fort seemed to have been built into the hillside, the better to defend the island. It was a chill, VERY windy day, with weak lighting besides, so half of my pictures didn't come out. But there was a really cool playground across the street with rubber tiles instead of grass. That was an interesting, if surprising, touch.
Looking south along the length of the fort. Notice the staircase going up the side of the hill opposite. We climbed that!
The gorgeous northeast coast of Taiwan. This is what the fort was defending. At various points in its history, Taiwan was occupied by Holland, Portugal, Japan and China. Its Portuguese name, La Isla Formosa (The Beautiful Isle), is still widely seen here today.
More defense posts. There were long loopholes (slits) cut into the hillside for guns here. This fort reminded me somewhat of Fort Wayne in Detroit, which is more or less underground.
Clara in a...hole. I'm not sure what this part was used for. Behind her are stairs going down, and off to either side are stairs that are blocked off at the top.
Walking back to the bus stop. This is a typical Keelung street, and despite how it might look to Western eyes, it's not poor. The people live much more simply, but look how nice the cars are.
There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.
- Robert Louis Stevenson