2012-13 Students weekly updates

A Parting Note from Your Resident Director (written by 柯羅庚 Logan)

posted 2 Jul 2013, 14:23 by Logan Krusac   [ updated 2 Jul 2013, 14:23 by Unknown user ]

To Katy, Carly, Ben, Hunter, and Christian:

As I compiled your yearbook, looking over your photos, blog entries, and research essays, I yet again realized how impressive a group of students you are. It’s hard to imagine that a short 10 months ago you did not speak a single phrase of Chinese! Words cannot express how proud I am of you. Your personal and academic growth over this year is truly extraordinary. 

You have conquered one of the world’s most difficult languages, traveled around this entire country, overcome awkward cultural situations, engaged in complex people-to-people diplomacy, and served honorably as young US ambassadors. To spend a year abroad is not an easy task, and you have completed this challenge with great success at such a young age.  


Now you are closing one brief chapter of life and about to open another that will leave an equally indelible impact upon your personal growth. While your time in Taiwan has come to a close, the memories and relationships you have made, along with the important lessons you have learned, will last a lifetime. I am certain they will impact you for years to come in ways you currently cannot imagine.


It’s been an honor and privilege to be your resident director this year. While I cannot be your RD for life, Uncle Rogan will always be just an email away.

Best of luck,



Katy's Reflection on Her Year Abroad (written by 何愛琳 Katy)

posted 2 Jul 2013, 14:17 by Logan Krusac   [ updated 2 Jul 2013, 14:17 by Unknown user ]

Sometimes I think about how my life would be if I didn’t come to Taiwan. I would definitely not be able to speak Chinese, I wouldn’t have the good friends and family I have now, and my plans for the future would still be uncertain. Even though the initial purpose of me coming to Taiwan was to learn Chinese, I have also learned many equally important things. As a result of coming to Taiwan to study Chinese my beliefs and views on the world have changed.

I think the most obvious gain I have made over the past nine months is Chinese. I came to Taiwan unable to speak even one sentence. I still remember our first days together in New York when Logan introduced us to our new Chinese names. At the time, 何愛琳 was extremely intimidating. Chinese was so terrifying! I started at zero, so I suppose you can say that I have definitely improved! I have truly enjoyed my time attending Wenzao. Our teachers were outstanding; they were always patient and kind even when learning was frustrating. Even though Chinese is hard, studying under our teachers made Chinese feel like a breeze. Wenzao and the CCL have done so much for NSLI-Y in the addition of our Applied Chinese classes, summer classes, and many more. Many of my favorite memories of Taiwan took place in Wenzao, so I will always remember how my time here.

I would also like to thank our beautiful Queen, Jiang 老師。Jiang 老師 raised us from 你好 to where we are today. She taught our introductory Chinese course when we first arrived in Taiwan, and walked us through our first few sentences using patience and a lot of hand motions. But she made it fun and easy, all with the grace that only a Queen could have. She never minded our deviation from the book and was able to judge our level and plan lessons accordingly. She really enhanced our Chinese learning, and we all appreciate her hard work. We will miss having her as our teacher and her life advice. She’s an amazing teacher and a brilliant person, and I hope that everyone hoping to learn Chinese at Wenzao has a chance to work with her.

The highlight reel of our year naturally includes our extensive travels throughout Taiwan. I feel like I have seen more of Taiwan than many Taiwanese have, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that iEARN afforded us. Having a program like iEARN Taiwan has really enhanced the experience, adding fun opportunities that independent travel wouldn’t allow. For example, many of our travels were available because of the temporary host families and school visitations that agreed to host us for a weekend or so. I think all of us will never forget our times in Taroko and Taidong, especially after our visit to the local high school. We had the opportunity to participate in Taiwanese aboriginal dancing, crafts, and they even let us wear their costumes! I remember Hunter and Christian turning to me (while wearing a very remarkable feather hat) and saying that this was likely the highlight of their year.

Though temporary host families may be imperfect or awkward, I think it has definitely allowed for us to learn more about Taiwanese families outside of our Kaohsiung homes. Repeatedly being subjected to a new environment helps you build a thicker skin; embarrassment over slight slip-ups and the “wall” you tend to put up between yourself and others seem to disappear. What I most appreciate about our short trips was the overwhelming reminder that Taiwanese people (or people in general) are, as a whole, extremely patient and kind. Strangers can usually be trusted, and sometimes when you aren’t expecting it, they will go out of their way to make your experience better.

Some people who have certainly enhanced my experience here in Taiwan are the host parents of Christian and Hunter. Besides the open invitation for dinner, TV-watching, piano-playing, and more, every host family I’ve visited opened me into their homes with open arms. Hunter’s host mom quickly realized our love for shaved ice and volunteered to treat us many times during Hunter and I’s movie nights. I appreciate her knowledge of English in case my Chinese just was not enough, and I am especially thankful for allowing me to play her piano. Christian’s host parents and little sister, Sophie, are also just phenomenal. I love them to pieces, and I’ll miss Sophie surprising me with her genius whenever I visit. Christian’s host mom often talked with me frequently about her views on Buddhism, vegetarianism, the government, and many other things. I appreciate her openness and knowledge that she shared with me, and can honestly say that my views have changed as a result of talking with her over dinner. She (and Christian) helped me become vegetarian and to consider the affect my actions have on the world.

I think this thought is one that has especially resonated throughout my year here. I am the youngest of a large family from rural Indiana, and I have found myself in entirely unpredictable situations in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The overwhelming impact that we have on each other is evident when you notice that smiling at strangers on the street causes them to smile back, or that chatting for a few extra seconds to a woman on the bus might just merit you an invitation to dinner. Unlike the evident sense of individualism embedded in American culture, Taiwan seems to me to be a large family of people concerned for the welfare of their friends, family, and those they just haven’t had the chance to meet yet.

I couldnt summarize my year here in Taiwan and not talk about my host family. I love my host family as I do my American family. Tiffany and Emily are my sisters, and 爸爸 and 媽媽 are my second parents. A family blindly accepting a (almost certainly) crazy foreigner into their home for ten months is one of the most loving things I can think of. My family constantly went out of their way to make my experience better. I was included in all things just as their other daughters are, from dinners at Grandma and Grandpas every weekend to camping in Eastern Taiwan. I didn’t know it was possible to have that much goodness and patience one’s heart, but my host family constantly surprises me. My mom is the most caring, open, loving and joyful person I have ever met. Her bubbly personality and patience have kept homesickness and sadness at bay for the entirety of my ten months here. She is always willing to help me with homework, teach me how to cook new foods, take me shopping, or just listen to when I need to talk. I appreciate her love and kindness more than I could ever express. I owe the success of my year to my host family and will love and remember them for the rest of my life.

I want to thank everyone that had a part in helping me reach the end of my stay here in Taiwan. Thank you to iEARN USA and iEARN Taiwan for creating such an incredible opportunity for us. Thank you to Logan for being so patient with us, and especially for being our friend and mentor when we need life advice (or when we need anything, really). Thank you to Wenzao, all of our teachers, and those that nudged our Chinese in the right direction. Thank you to my friends and fellow NSLI-Y students for your help and support. And a very special thank you to both my American and Taiwanese families for raising me up with patience and love, and I only hope that I can make you all proud as I being to go out on my own.

Hunter's Reflection on Her Year Abroad (written by 江荷婷 Hunter)

posted 2 Jul 2013, 14:14 by Logan Krusac   [ updated 2 Jul 2013, 14:14 by Unknown user ]

“Where is your limit?  What is something that you truly cannot do?”

If I someone had asked me this question two years ago, in the right frame of mind I would have said “I can’t learn Chinese.”  At the time, I believed that to be an indisputable fact of life.  Fish cannot breathe above water, the earth rotates around the sun, and Hunter Jarvis is incapable of learning Chinese.  Facts.  Fast-forward to a year and a half ago, and my incontestable theory began to show its first signs of wear: as a finalist for NSLI-Y’s year-long study abroad program to Taiwan, I was going to be given an opportunity to try and prove myself wrong.  A little over nine months ago, I learned my first Chinese word:  可以。To be able.  Since then, I have spent nine fantastic months living and learning on this wonderful island and at the same time smashing preconceived notions about my own capabilities and self-worth.  The changes have not all been linguistic.  Now, as the clock is counting down my final days in Taiwan I can say without exaggeration that I improved as an individual having lived here.  This is not something that I did on my own, not by a long shot.  So, in this essay of sorts I would like to take the opportunity to thank those who made the most indelible impact on my character out of the hundreds who ‘contributed to the cause.’

Before coming to Taiwan, I was naturally quite reserved and erred on the side of timid.  As such, I was frankly shocked to learn that out of thousands of applicants NSLI-Y and i-EARN USA had chosen me to represent the United States on this program.  Being accepted in the first place proved to me that sometimes the ‘unreachable’ is not so far out of grasp if one actually tries to reach for it. The idea that one should take a chance and ‘seize the day’ whenever opportunity arises was one of the first that came to mind once I was officially in the program.  The pattern of ‘carpe diem-ing it up to the max’ continued in the form of signing up for oddball classes and CCL fieldtrips, developing new hobbies (such as the ukulele), solo-tripping around Kaohsiung, and eventually deciding where I was going to attend college.  I feel like I can only thank NSLI-Y and i-EARN USA for this particular lesson, as without embarking on this journey in the first place I might have never placed as much emphasis on ‘living for the day.’ 

On the same strand, I would like to thank all of the members of i-EARN Taiwan for making this whole experience as fulfilling as it has been.  To Doris, Jane, Andrew, Trendy Ariel Yang, and all those who keep i-EARN running smoothly—thank you.  You all have done a wonderful job in facilitating our wellbeing here, and while the road was not perfect you all were willing to listen to our concerns and addressed them earnestly when they arose.  I wish you all the best in the coming year.

Returning to lessons learned during my stay here, actually learning Chinese was (and is) very high on my list of achievements for the year.  Although a portion of my success in this regard can be attributed to personal perseverance and a ‘rediscovered’ desire to learn, I think the vast majority of my Chinese ability came from the innovative and patient manner in which it was taught to me.  This, of course, is something that I learned from the majestic and omniscient being that is, was, and forever will be Jiang Laoshi.  She was the only teacher that we had at Wenzao who exclusively used Chinese to communicate with her students, from day one.  When we struggled to understand a new topic or vocabulary word, she was inexplicably able to clarify subtleties of the Chinese language using very simple words and pictures, enabling us to learn the language as if we were children.  She taught us more than just sentence structure during our time as her student, and in fact turned out to have a wealth of life experience that she shared with us when it became relevant.  I do not want to share any details of her personal life here, but it should suffice to say that I hope to one day match her patience in my day-to-day life, and I will miss her guidance moving forward. 

I would also like to thank our other CCL teachers here, who were: the mysterious-yet-independent Cai Laoshi, the exuberant Zeng Laoshi, the spiritually enlightened Qiu Laoshi, the bubbly and hilarious Wu Laoshi, and finally the adorable Chen Laoshi.  They contributed greatly to our Chinese learning, and they really made class to be a rollicking good time!  (But in a rigorous sort of way.)  A big thank you as well to the staff working down at the CCL, who were always quick to help whenever we needed them and extraordinarily patient when dealing with our own shortcomings (forgetting to bring calligraphy brushes for the second week in a row, for instance…).  Everyone working there is really great, and whenever someone on the street compliments my Chinese I am quick to give credit where credit is due.  謝謝你們!

In the midst of all the official organizations that helped make this dream of mine a possibility, I cannot forget to thank those who were with me from the very start and who have been supporting me through thick and thin all this time—my host family.  They were kind enough to let me into their home and give me a place at their dinner table, and for that I cannot begin to express the depth of my gratitude.  They taught me something that every exchange student hopes to learn firsthand when abroad—that even if two people (or in this case, five) come from wildly different backgrounds, they can still be connected by bonds of friendship and even bonds of family.  I will miss them dearly when I leave, and hope that we will cross paths again in the future.  To Rosa and Dana, thank you for giving your all to make me feel at home here.  And to Terry and Allison, thanks for letting me your big sister!  I’ll miss you guys!

To Uncle Rogan, you rock!  In all honesty, I couldn’t have asked for a better RD and I’m glad that you were here every step of the way.  Your advice was always clear and constructive, and discussing decisions with you (important or otherwise) often revealed details about the situation that I hadn’t thought of beforehand.  The way that you are able to connect with local Taiwanese people has always been on one hand inspirational and on the other hand baffling, and I hope that the day will come when I am able to put myself out there to the same extent that you do.  I look forward to voting Krusac in 2028!  Cheers!

To Katy and Christian, I’m gonna miss the bejeezus out of you two.  Y’all are the mango on my shaved ice, the beans in my burrito, the soul to my ginger (ha!), the onions to my pretty much everything, the Articuno and Moltres to my Zapdos, the horses in my khalasar, the water in my (?) bottle (and subsequently on the floor), the Benedict to my Cumberbatch (and the Jake to my Gyllenhaal), and the believe-achieve of my… diamonds.  You guys are gonna be fabulous wherever you go, I will miss you terribly wherever I go, and it is my dearest hope that we will YOLO together once more in the (near!) future. 

This last part is dedicated to all of the other fabulous people that made my Taiwan experience as unforgettable as it was, which includes all of our temporary host families (Miaoli, Jiayi, Taidong, and Tainan) as well as the host families of my friends for opening their homes to me (often without much notice…!) and making me feel as welcome as you did for your own kids.  And of course, all of the gratitude in the world to my poor family back home who have been supporting me from afar since day one and who I really should call more often.  I love you all! 

I suppose it’s time to finally say goodbye now, but before I go I’d like to answer the first question I asked at the beginning of this essay, ‘what are your limits?’  Thanks to everyone who made this whole shindig possible, the answer is clear.  There are none.

Christian's Reflection on His Year Abroad (written by 吳克禮 Christian)

posted 2 Jul 2013, 14:04 by Logan Krusac   [ updated 2 Jul 2013, 14:04 by Unknown user ]

Honestly I had no expectations upon hearing that I would be spending a gap year abroad in Taiwan studying Chinese. When I heard of NSLI-Y and that there was a way for me to spend a year abroad studying language free to me, I knew that that was something I absolutely needed to take part in. I had done the exchange thing before, and my year in Norway was definitely a life-changing learning experience, so I didn’t quite know how much more my mind could be blown by this world. The decision to spend this year here in the small island nation of Taiwan is certainly one of the best decisions of my life. I had some vague ideas floating around in my brain about what type of random adventures I would get into this year, but never could I have guessed that this time here in this hot, foreign place would change who I am entirely as a person. A new family, new friends, a new school, and even a new name. I knew that all of these things would come with huge changes in my life, but I never could have predicted how this year would turn me into the person I am right now.

    From seeing some of the most beautiful scenery this planet has to offer, to playing Chinese checkers on the road with some friendly old Taiwanese people, to spending semi-awkward nights in the homes of strangers in unknown towns, I have made all sorts of extremely fascinating, valuable memories to take back with me to the United States. I feel that it’s important that I take the time to acknowledge the most significant people who have helped make this year what it’s been, and have through that helped me grow as an individual.

    The first thank you is for the United States Department of State and American Councils for putting this whole NSLI-Y program together and selecting lucky little me to be a participant. I need to thank iEARN both in the USA and in Taiwan for organizing everything we do here and preparing us for our journey here in Taiwan. Knowing that we have to constant support of iEARN is highly comforting, so a big thank you is definitely required in that direction!

    Of the five host families originally picked for the students this year, I know that my host family is the perfect match for me. I need to thank iEARN, and whatever mysterious forces were behind matching the host families up with each student. If I hadn’t been a vegetarian, I wouldn't have been placed with my extraordinary vegetarian host-mother, and this year would have been vastly different if it wasn’t for living with a person as wise and enlightened as she is. Before coming to Taiwan, I thought that living with a Taiwanese host family would just be something that would help me improve my Chinese language skills and cultural understanding. I figured that my host family here in Taiwan would be nothing more than that - just a hospitable host family who I would reside with for the year, however, my relationship with my host family turned out to be much more complex than that. I’ve found a household that I really fit into, and a family that can teach me new things about life every day. My host family always made me feel extremely welcome and as an actual part of the family. From important life lessons taught to me by my host mother, to learning how to play badminton, I’ve gotten a lot from my host family experience. Written words cannot express the thank you that I need to give to my host family here in Taiwan.

    While all of the official iEARN organized trips and host family stays were cultural and such as could be expected, I would never have gained such a firm grasp of Taiwanese culture if it wasn’t for my amazing Taiwanese friends who acted as my tour guides throughout the year. When you’re with a group of fellow Americans and someone mentions, for a cliché example “stinky tofu”, you’re not going to think that that’s something you want. The thought that could run through your brain is just that that is something foreign and something disgusting in the eyes of your culture. However, if you’re surrounded by Taiwanese friends that you’re fond of and close to, these strange foods and customs become normal and something that you are much more willing to embrace. The annoying mopeds on the road that you see with your American classmates are seen in an entirely different light when walking on the road with Taiwanese friends. For me, by far the greatest part of an exchange year is just befriending the locals at a personal level and becoming immersed in their group of friends. Seeing how to local young people interact and what they do for fun results in me questioning my own behavior with friends in the past and causes my sense of humor to only become more unique and confusing, something which I feel is an oddly true testament to my time spent abroad. Knowing that I’ve made friends and memories for life allows me to feel that this year in Kaohsiung has been a true success.

Another unique person that I need to thank took my Chinese skills from zero and helped me linguistically develop to where I am today. This person is of course one of my amazing Chinese teachers, 姜老師. While obviously all of my teachers deserve a thank you, this teacher (whose name I’m not quite sure how I should write in English, let’s just call Her the Queen) has played an exceptionally important role in my year. The Queen has used Her indescribable language and communication skills to teach us this confusing, but amazing language, all without ever using a single word of English. The Queen has always been there to help us with any questions we may have about Chinese, and also any questions we may have about life. I’ve never before developed such a strong personal relationship with a teacher, and the fact that the entire relationship since August has taken place in Chinese just speaks to the fact that the Queen is one of a kind. Never before have I had as much respect for a teacher as I have for our Queen. The Queen is an amazing woman who I have made a large role model in my life.

The final person I need to single out to thank is our Resident Director here, Logan. No matter what time of day it is, or how trivial/annoying the problem is, Logan is like an omnipresent mentor during my time here in Taiwan. I know many of us current students have expressed that we just wish Logan could be our RD for life. Logan has also played been a significant part, not only by doing his job as our leader, but also by turning out to be yet another role model that I’ve had the honor of getting to know. Had it not been for Logan, I would surely be a lot more clueless about what I wanted to do with my life right now, and honestly I cannot say that I could have ever wished for a better resident director.

This has been the most life-altering experience I have ever taken part in. It’s been an amazing year and I’m looking forward to taking the skills and ideas I have acquired over the past ten months and using them in all my future endeavors. Every little thing I’ve done here, and every little interaction I’ve had has played a part in shaping me into the person I am now, and for that I’d like to once again say thank you to everyone who has in any way been a part of this exceptional year.

Carly's Reflection on Her Year Abroad (written by 白愷莉 Carly)

posted 2 Jul 2013, 13:59 by Logan Krusac   [ updated 2 Jul 2013, 13:59 by Unknown user ]

I would like to give thanks to the many people this year who helped make my exchange a positive experience.

First I would like to thank the American Government for selecting me to receive this scholarship. With it I have been able to pursue my interest in Asian Culture and Asian Languages.

Thank you to iEarn and Logan for teaching me about people. It has greatly prepared me for the real world.

I would also like to thank my two host families. I have loved living in both your homes and I am grateful for the way you both treated me like family. You both are welcome at my home in Alaska anytime.

And to my Taiwanese grandparents: thank you to my grandpa for teaching me which foods pairs nicely with a  good cup of oolong tea and my grandma for teaching me idioms over dinner.

To my Taiwanese friends who have gone out of their way to develop friendships with a foreigner with limited Chinese, I will miss you all dearly.

Also a big thanks to my Chinese language classmates who kept me laughing through countless hours of Chinese classes.

And a huge thanks to Ben for being a great friend throughout this year and keeping me sane throughout the difficult times. I'm happy to have formed a friendship that will last a lifetime! I look forward to traveling to Tibet next year with you! Don't be late!

Finally, thank you to my wonderful teachers at Wenzao. You are all very patient and have a great sense of humor. I hope to stay in touch with you all.

Again, thank you all for sharing your love of Taiwan with me.


我很想感謝很多人。 你們都幫我有好棒的一年 。我今年的收穫很大。


 我也想向iEarnRogan 表示感恩。 他們教關於人際關係。這個知識幫我準備融入真實的社會。

 我也感謝我的兩個寄宿家庭。 我真的愛住在你們的家。我感恩你們把我當做你們自己的家人。我歡迎你們來我在阿拉斯加的家。



 我也想感謝我的同班同學。你們都很幽默, 每次上課的時候讓我大笑。

 我特別想感謝Ben 當很好的朋友。這年困難的時候你幫我避免瘋掉的心態。我很高興認識他, 我們的關係一輩子都會保持。我很期待明年跟你一起去西藏旅行。不要遲到,一定要準時。



Ben's Reflection on His Year Abroad (written by 馬維彬 Ben)

posted 2 Jul 2013, 13:44 by Logan Krusac   [ updated 2 Jul 2013, 13:44 by Unknown user ]

There are many people I would like to thank today.

I would like to start by thanking the United States Government for awarding me this scholarship and providing US students the opportunity to travel to other countries, study languages not commonly taught in the United States, and immerse themselves in new cultures. I believe the mission of the NSLI-Y program is of paramount importance in our modern world.

Second, I would like to thank iEARN USA and iEARN Taiwan (Curtis, Jennifer, Doris, Jane, Andrew, Ariel, and Logan) for implementing this scholarship. It has been a very enriching experience.

To the amazing teachers I have had for my Chinese classes this year – Jiang, Wu, Chen, Cai, Qiu, Zeng – thank you so much for the impressive work and effort you all put into teaching Chinese to my classmates and I, and for having the courage to teach five students who started from knowing absolutely no Chinese. It must have been very difficult at times, but your dedication has allowed us to advance greatly in our language acquisition.

Next, I would like to thank Carly for being an awesome friend this year. I can’t imagine what these ten months would have been like without you. We have shared in so many experiences and I can’t wait to share in more. I’ll see you in my future travels!

I would also like to specially thank Chris and Craig, Carly’s godparents from Alaska. It was with them that I spent two of my most culturally enriching weekends in Taiwan. I was able to further my interest in tea, travel to Taiwan’s most famous tea growing regions, bicycle through the Eastern Rift Valley, hike in the Central Mountain Range, and see Jade Mountain - the highest peak on the island and the icon of Taiwan.

Most importantly, to my host family, thank you so much for your generosity and kindness in taking me into your home and treating me like family. I have enjoyed every moment living with you; going on walks together, meeting your extended family, speaking over dinner has all been a greatly appreciated experience. You have helped me improve my Chinese greatly, and I will never forget the genuine, warmhearted people you are. I will miss you very much, but I’m sure we will stay in touch. Know that you will always be welcome at my home in California.

Everyone this year has impacted my experience in some way, and I will never forget what I have learned this year. I have witnessed so much of Taiwanese culture and I reached a level of Chinese I did not think I would achieve. I thank everyone who helped me along the way and I wish you all the best in the future.


我先想感謝美國的政府,給我這個獎學金和給美國的學生機會出國,學外語,和學 新的文化。我覺得在我們現代的世界, NSLI-Y 的目的是最重要的。

然後我想感謝美國和臺灣的 iEARN (Curtis,Jennifer,吳老師,康老 師,Andrew,Ariel,和 Logan)給妳們的時間實行這個獎學金。這個經驗很豐富的。

這下來,我想感謝我今年的中文老師(姜老師,吳老師,陳老師,蔡老師,邱老 師,和曾老師)。真謝謝您們發奮教我跟我的同學中文,特別是因為我們本 來都 不會說中文。我知道有的時候教我們中文可能很難,但是是因為您們我們現在會說 中文。你們都非常好的老師!

然後我要感謝白愷莉今年當非常好的朋友。我不要想今年可能是什麼樣如果沒有 妳。我們在一起去了好幾個地方,和分享很多經驗。我很興奮分享更多。

我也很像特別感謝 Chris 和 Craig,愷莉的阿拉斯加乾媽和乾爹。是因為他們我 去看了臺灣最有文化的地方,比如說阿里山的茶園,在臺灣的東裂谷騎腳踏車,在 中央的山脈爬山,和去看 玉山,這個海島最高的山和最代表臺灣的地方。

最重要,我想非常感謝我的寄宿家庭。真謝謝你們的一片盛意,歡迎我來你們的 家,對待我跟家人一樣。我真玩賞了每一秒住跟你們在一起。在一起散步, 認識 你們家庭以外的家人,跟你們常常聊天,我都玩賞很多。你們幫了我學中文很多, 和我不會忘記你們是這麼熱心的人。我一定會想念你們很多,但是我 知道我們一 定會保持聯繫。我歡迎你們來我在加州的家,什麼時候都可以。

今年,每一個人幫了我很多,和我不會忘記我在台灣學到什麼。我看了很多台灣的 文化。跟去年八月比起來,我現在的中文能力比較好多了,這就是因為你 們。我 很感謝每個人在台灣幫我了。我祝妳們的未來太平盛世。

A Journey to Alishan (written by 馬維彬) Ben

posted 27 Jun 2013, 02:00 by Logan Krusac   [ updated 27 Jun 2013, 02:12 by Unknown user ]

In early June, Carly, her godparents, and I traveled from Kaohsiung through suburbs, countryside, and up winding mountain roads to the tea capitol of Taiwan: Alishan. Traveling to the vast tea growing region, we passed sections of road and entire mountain sides wiped out by landslides, tea fields, and bamboo forests. On the first night, we checked into a little hotel in a small tea village called Ruili. That evening, at around 7:00, the hotel owners took all of the guests on a small night walk to see fireflies. As we were walking back to the hotel, we passed something besides the fireflies glowing on the bottom of a tree trunk. Upon closer examination, we discovered that it was a small cluster of white, bioluminescent mushrooms. After our return to the hotel, the owners taught us how to make a Taiwanese specialty called Zhuang Yuan Gao or “first place cake.” Finally, they performed the Chinese tea ceremony for everyone. The next day, we drove to a turnoff in the road and hiked to an area along a river where erosion had created small crevasses in a cliff side that swallows now inhabit. After our hike, we continued to drive on the road until we passed a group of tea field workers on their lunch break. We decided to get out of the car and talk to them. We learned about the tea picking season, how the workers pick tea leaves, how their salaries are determined (by weight of tea leaves picked, not by hours spent in the field), and much more. We decided to then begin our drive to the actual top of Alishan. However it started raining the heaviest rain I have seen in Taiwan, and clouds obscured the entire mountain side, so that it was only possible to see about ten feed ahead. Because of this, somewhere along the line we made a wrong turn and ended up at the bottom of the mountain. The day was getting late, and we needed somewhere to stay. Carly and I then remembered a bed and breakfast called Mimiyo we had tried to book when only the two of us were planning to go to Alishan. It was a small place, but when we wanted to go it was completely booked. We decided to call back and see if, just by chance, they might have an opening. They did. So we drove back up the mountain to the halfway point, a town called Shizhuo. The B&B owner’s wife was waiting for us here with her car, and after we took a short 7-11 break, we followed her down a small side-road. The road wound down rock slide areas, into a river bed, and then back up numerous mountains, the whole trip lasting around forty five minutes. Eventually we reached our turn-off, a gravel road that took us past a tea processing facility, through a bamboo forest, through tea fields, and eventually to the beautiful Mimiyo, situated on a terraced section of the mountain, overlooking tea fields, valleys, and the Alishan range. The place was beautiful, and the dinner that night, cooked by an older aboriginal woman, was some of the best Taiwanese food I have had in Taiwan to date. That night, around the fire, Carly, her godfather, and I sat around a Japanese-style fire pit, tea kettle suspended over the flames, and we talked to the owner and the other guests, telling them that we were very interested in Taiwan’s tea culture, and that we were planning to travel to the top of Alishan to buy tea. This immediately incited a very strong reaction, all of the guests warning us that Alishan was an overpriced, unauthentic, tourist destination, where huge tour groups from China crowded the streets and trails. They told us also that much of the tea sold on the top of Alishan was not even Alishan tea; some of it came from China and Vietnam. We decided to heed their advice and the next day packed our bags and drove down to a tea shop hidden in the small town of Dabang. The owner’s wife graciously invited us to sit down around the tea table, and she then began to prepare different teas for us in the traditional Gongfu style. Carly and I engaged in conversation with her, in Chinese, the whole time we were there (around one or two hours), and we also spoke with the owner and the three other guests present. We soon learned that the tea shop we had wandered into was actually one of the best in Taiwan, winning the title of Best Alishan Tea for a type of tea they produced in a Taiwan-wide tea competition. This competition tea now sells for $10,000 USD per 600 grams. In the end, I bought 850 grams of one of the best teas they sold, a winter-picked high mountain oolong tea. With our visit to the tea shop, we took a few pictures with the owners, and then headed back down the mountain, toward Kaohsiung. Our Alishan adventure turned out to be one of the most experiential, culturally-enriching, and (in terms of real-world language practice) beneficial trips I've been on in Taiwan!

上個週末,白愷莉,她的乾媽和乾爹,和我從高雄走到臺灣的茶首都:阿里山。我 們在走的時候,經過了一些被地滑毀掉的公路和山邊,茶園,和竹林。第 一天的 晚上,我們訂旅館房間了在小小的茶村莊叫瑞里。那時候,晚上七點左右,旅館的 老闆請了那邊的客人跟他去散步看螢火蟲。回旅館的時候,我們看 到樹幹上在煥 發的東西,但是不是螢火蟲。去了看一看,就發現是一種白色,生物發光的香菇。 回旅館之後,老闆叫我們怎麼做一個台灣傳統的小吃叫「狀 元糕」。最後,他泡 了工夫茶,請我們喝。下一天,我們爬山爬到以各地方,有住在斷崖上的燕子。爬 了山以後,我們一直開到經過一些在吃午餐的茶園 員,我們決定下車,跟他們說 話。學到的事關於採茶葉的季節,茶園裡面工作的人怎麼採茶葉,他們的薪水怎麼 算(看採茶葉的重量,不是看幾個小時在工 作),和另外很多東西。我們就決定 開到阿里山的上面,但是開始下大雨了,霧很濃。因為這個,所以我們最後到山的 下面。時間已經很晚了,還沒訂房 間。白愷莉和我就記得一家以前在上網看過的 民宿叫「秘密遊」。我們打電話給他們,看有沒有空的房間。他們說有,所以我們 開到山上。民宿老闆的太太 在那裡等我們,她陪我們去她的民宿。哪個民宿好漂 亮,旁邊有茶園,對面有阿里山山脈。那邊的晚餐也非常好吃。我們那個晚上就跟 民宿的客人說話,告 訴他們我們想去阿里山上買茶葉。但是他們說如果要買茶 葉,千萬不要去阿里山上,那邊有太多遊客,那裡賣的茶葉不一定是從臺灣來的, 也太貴。我們決 定聽他們說的話,下一天去一個村莊叫達邦的茶葉店。老闆的太 太泡了給我們喝差不多五種茶。我們跟她和另外一些客人說了話,發現了那個茶葉 店是阿里 山區最好的。太們在比賽贏了第一名,他們的比賽茶就是一斤三十萬臺 幣。最後,我買了佷多冬天烏龍茶的茶葉。我們就回高雄了。我們在阿里山的旅遊 原 來對我們的文化理解有最豐富的關係。

People Are Always the Best Resources: Asking My Aboriginal Friend for Help (written by 江荷婷 Hunter)

posted 27 May 2013, 01:40 by Logan Krusac   [ updated 27 May 2013, 01:48 by Unknown user ]

Hello hello and 大家好!It is I, the not-so-aptly-named Hunter of the iEARN clan! (I say this because, contrary to what my North Carolinian upbringing may have led you to believe, I in fact have never legitimately hunted anything over the course of my life. Unless rooting around for the last intact tortilla chip in a bag of nothing but cornflour shrapnel can be considered hunting, in which case I am nothing less than a modern Artemis.) Today’s blog post will feature… story time!  As you may or may not know from having read the blog posts of my 同學們,these past few weeks we have been markedly busy with researching and preparing to present our final projects.  These projects were assigned to us by the iEARN team in order to give us an opportunity to learn about a facet of Taiwanese culture in a more in-depth way than what we would have likely encountered through casual research.  So, this is the story of how I went about getting the hands-on information.


So, what is an aspiring indigenous scholar to do? I didn’t have any reliable contacts.  Uncle Rogan knew about a few high school students with Amis ancestry, but had neither met them personally nor knew if it would be convenient for us to meet.  Doris and Jane of the iEARN 老師們 suggested that I interview some performers at Pingtung’s Aboriginal Cultural Park that I would be visiting, but I figured the employees would not be interested in answering questions from some foreign chick with a funky dye job. (My suspicions were indeed valid—the environment after the performance was very much like ‘take a picture with us and go away so we can drink some damn tea, can’t you see that we’ve been doing this for hours?’ Or so my social paranoia led me to believe. The reality, I think, was somewhere in between that and perfectly lovely people who were just reciting their scripts.  That being said, I felt like I had no options to exhaust.


I found my contact.  Nothing left to do then but to give the woman a call and ask if her offer of letting me try on her aboriginal clothing still stood.  To the average person, this would be a simple task.  But for those in the know (friends, family, college essay recipients), it is a clearly addressed fact that I have one irrational phobia that trumps all others: that of talking to strangers on the phone.  The knowledge that someone I don’t even know perhaps miles away is hearing my voice rustling in their ear and judging me without even letting me explain myself with rapid, apologetic body language just… creeps me out.  One would think that a job as a receptionist for a large business (which I worked at for several months, ironically enough) would have beaten the fear out of me, but no.  Not entirely.  Buried deep beneath the gnarled roots my psyche there lays a hellish beast with scarlet eyes and murderous talons—and as he sharpens his claws under the base of the tree that is my sanity, from his blood-soaked maw emits the underworld’s most horrendous, ghastly sound: RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!



That’s… pretty much my story.  I tried on a bunch of nifty outfits (if only legitimate ceremonial-wear wasn’t so expensive…!) and spent some time with a neat older lady.  We took a bunch of pictures with our camera phones and iPods. I got some good Chinese language practice in (not that I don’t practice daily—it just helps hearing comprehension to listen to an unfamiliar voice) and I made a new friend.  And I did it on my own!  As childish as it might seem to wax poetic only to have the story’s point be something like, ‘look at me, I did it by myself!’ that is what I feel most proud of.  That’s me: cultivating self-motivation, one complex social interaction at a time.

The Importance of Maintaining Compassion (written by 白愷莉 Carly)

posted 17 May 2013, 09:44 by Logan Krusac   [ updated 17 May 2013, 09:44 by Unknown user ]

As the Philippines-Taiwan incident explodes in the media, I have been trying to follow the story and reactions from a local point of view. In case you haven’t seen the news lately, recently a fishing vessel was shot at by the Philippine Coast Guard while in Filipino waters because they were being ‘rammed’. This unfortunately caused the death of a Taiwanese fisherman, and has led to an ultimatum from the Taiwanese government in which it will issue sanctions against the Philippines unless an apology is issued with-in seventy-two hours.

I am by far not an expert on the relations between Taiwanese and Philippines government, nor of their history, but I have been using this current event to gain perspective and insight from my Taiwanese and Filipino friends. From the beginning of the event I have been asking my classmates what they think of the issue and what they have heard about it.

One reaction I would like to share is written by my host sister Jubbie Chang. Following the news she wrote a status on Facebook with her feelings about the incident.

你可以不雇用菲律賓勞工 (但如果你已經雇用了 也請好好對待他們)

有運將在菲律賓勞工的面前吐口水 用三字經大聲的咒罵人家
連我上前勸阻都被冠上叛國賊 背骨這種難聽的字眼
台灣的菲律賓勞工看不懂中文 聽不懂我們的新聞在說什麼
搞不好都搞不清楚狀況 突然被人家當狗一樣的對待



Her words have already been shared over 8,300 times and her message seems to have picked up speed throughout the younger Taiwanese generation. For the non-Chinese readers, or beginners like myself, her main point is for the Taiwanese to remain kind to the Filipino people. She was outraged by a Taiwanese taxi driver at a train station who yelled at a disoriented Filipino, and she was called a ‘Traitor’ for defending the Filipino. Her message is simply that this is an issue mostly revolving around the two governments, and mistreating Filipino’s who are living and working in Taiwan is not ‘nationalistic’, or ‘patriotic’, but is downright xenophobic.

Another quote I have recorded from a different friend is:

如果妳不說對不起我們就把馬英九送給你們當總統。 怕了吧!

“If you do not apologize, we will send you President Ma”, Scared?”

This catchy line is bashing the current president and his current unpopularity in Taiwan.

Other classmates I have asked about the issue agree with the Taiwanese government that the Philippines need to apologize but are upset at how this small incident has exploded and is now affecting Filipinos’ lives in Taiwan.

Currently I have a good friend and classmate from the Philippines with whom I have been learning Chinese for over a year. Because a member of her family works in the embassy, following the ultimatum, she still doesn’t know if she needs to return to the Philippines with her family or not. It saddens me that a family clearly involved in learning Chinese, and learning about Taiwanese culture, might be sent home; I believe it is a loss to the Taiwanese people.

My hope is for people to maintain compassion in these unfortunate times. No matter our decent, Taiwanese or Philippine, we are all just people. Becoming xenophobic, or creating racial slurs, is as far from “patriotic” as one can get. Instead, I hope the Taiwanese people can begin finding the courage to turn their anger into positive energy, to teach about their culture and become sympathetic ambassadors of their country, and to make a point of creating relationships with the Filipinos in Taiwan who are living in a foreign country amid an ebbing tide of alienation.

R&R at Taiwan’s Southernmost Point (written by 馬維彬 Ben)

posted 17 May 2013, 09:37 by Logan Krusac   [ updated 27 May 2013, 02:06 by Unknown user ]

Last weekend, amid our Chinese midterms and final project preparation, the five of us, along with Logan and Andrew, headed to Kenting (Taiwan’s southernmost spit of land), for a bit of rest and relaxation.  Unlike our previous, highly scheduled trips to visit schools or Taiwanese landmarks, our outing to Kenting was for the most part just greatly appreciated free time.  We left at 8:45 on Friday morning to make the 2 ½ hour journey to the touristy beach town, passing from the Kaohsiung metropolitan area to sparsely populated countryside spotted with rice fields, beetle-nut plantations, and mango trees.  Eventually the highway began to twist around the southern end of the central mountain range marking our entrance into Kenting National Park.  During this first day (Friday) we were to visit a few key places of interest in Kenting and Saturday was to be a free day.  Our first stop on Friday was to a small dock area. We boarded a special boat with a submerged, transparent bottom and headed out into the ocean.  As we sailed, we were able to pass over a huge coral reef.  Although there were many beautiful fish living there still, the coral itself was, for the most part, gray and dead, a sad result of pollution in Taiwan. After this we went to see a lighthouse and a boardwalk along the southernmost tip of Taiwan.  We then headed to a few of Kenting’s most famous beaches, the first of which was a beach whose sand was not made of rock, but rather 96 percent shell.  It is the purest shell beach in all of Taiwan, and as such was protected, so we weren’t able to walk onto it.  We were able to feel a sample of the smooth shell sand in a small visitor center next to the beach though, which was interesting.  After this, we headed to a place known as 佳樂水 (Jialeshui) on the Pacific Ocean side of Kenting, where the rough waves have carved otherworldly patterns in the sandstone.  We took a bus tour along this stretch of coastline, passing rocks that the tour guide said looked like the Guan Yin Buddha, a frog, an upside-down pig, and a human face.  It was very windy here and it was raining a bit, but it was fun. This marked the end of the first day, and we returned to the town of Kenting and checked into our hotel.  The idea of a nighttime stroll along the beach was too tempting however, so Carly and I went to a beach right outside the hotel and walked and talked for about an hour, the warm water occasionally crashing into us.  On the second day, Carly and I went to this same beach, where we just hung out for about four hours.  Eventually we went back into town, had some Thai food for lunch, and proceeded to pay for what were advertised as massages, but what turned out to be the most painful Chinese acupressure imaginable. With this, our relaxing trip came to an end and we headed back to Kaohsiung.

上個星期,在同一時間考期中考和準備我們的年底報告,我們五個跟 Logan 和 Andrew 去了墾丁(台灣最南部的地方)休息和放鬆。不像我們以前有安排的學校和地標參觀,在墾丁大部份的時間只是空閒的。 我們是禮拜五早上八點四十五分離開高雄的, 然後開車兩個半小時了到墾丁。我們先經過了高雄的市區,再經過鄉下的稻米田,和檳榔和芒果的農園。終於,我們到了墾丁國家公園。星期五,我們計劃了去一些有趣的地方,然後星期六沒有什麼安排。 星期五,第一站是一個碼頭。我們上了一艘有透光地板的船,然後航行到海。航行的時候,我們橫越了一個巨大的珊瑚礁。雖然那裡有很多美麗魚,因為台灣的污染,大部份的珊瑚本身已經死了,灰色的。以後,我們在台灣最南部的地方去了看一座燈塔和走到一條路。然後我們去了到一些墾丁最有名的沙灘。第一片沙灘全部都是百分之九十六貝殼的。但是,因為那裡是台灣最純淨的貝殼沙灘,我們不能走到沙灘上。我們只好在沙灘旁邊的遊客中心,觸摸貝殼沙子的樣品。以後,我們去了到一個地方叫佳樂水,在墾丁的太平洋邊。在那裡,太平洋的波浪雕刻了一些怪外形在砂岩上。搭一輛公車的時候,我們的遊導告訴了我們那裡有些石頭看起來跟觀音,青蛙,翻過來的豬,和人的臉一樣。在這裡,風很大,也下雨一點,但是很好玩。第一天就結束了,和我們回到墾丁去了,在旅館入住了。 可是,我們覺得一個夜裡的散步在海邊可能很輕鬆,所以白愷莉跟我去了旅館對面的海灘,散散步,聊聊天。第二天的時候,白愷莉跟我回去了那個同一片沙灘,閒晃四個小時左右。然後我們去了墾丁市區,吃了泰國菜,然後去了一個地方本來以為是一家按摩店,原來是一家指壓店。指壓之後,我們的身體全部都很痛。以此,我們的墾丁旅遊結束了,我們回去高雄了。

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