Last April 26, I received my list of matches for “The World in Your Classroom – Taiwan” project from the organization. Quickly after reading the matches, another email popped up in my inbox. Teacher Tracy (Hsuan Chen) greeted me with a warm message. One of the highlights of her message must be her introduction of the students. This part cracked me up, so much laughter!
Please allow me to introduce my class first. The class consists of thirty-one 11-graders, including 20 crazy, out-going girls and 11 shy-at-first-but-actually-talkative boys. The class itself is an “English experimental class.” In addition to the 4-5 required English courses that normal high school students take per week, students in this class have 8 hours of English class each week. Their English ability is better than average high school students, and they basically have no problem understanding the lecture or expressing their thoughts.
Excitement immediately filled me! I looked forward to the day that I’d meet then because they sound like an interesting bunch of kids.
Additionally, Teacher Tracy asked me if I could share about the life of migrant workers in Taiwan. She informed me that her students are conducting an annual public presentation on June and they’ve chosen this specific topic. Willingly, I told her I’d conduct interviews with Filipinos I know who have been working here in Taiwan. I was able to interview Professor John Francis Diaz, Mama Marita Casuga Hsu, and Kuya Meneleo Tolentino. Sir Kiks’ interview was special since he enthusiastically agreed to do a video sharing. Moreover, his perspectives were helpful to the students and his answers were very informative and elaborate.
After weeks of anticipation, May 18 came along. I hopped on a train to Taipei and arrived an hour early. See? I’m absolutely excited for the lecture! While waiting for Teacher Tracy, I roamed around the school grounds. Walking around, I found it refreshing. It was a nice environment with medium sized buildings, tall trees, vast grass fields, and cozy benches. “Similar to my university in Zhongli,” I thought.
Teacher Tracy met me and asked me to wait at this room in their faculty lounge. After an hour of staring at walls (Okay, maybe more likely staring at my phone.), she told me it’s time. Stood straight up, picked my bag up, and marched into the classroom.
“Ni hao!” I blurted out to the class. As the presentation was set up, I introduced myself to them even though they already knew some things about me. I started my lecture with a getting-to-know-me section and proceeded into Filipino culture.
One of the most interesting parts was when I shared my experience as an exchange student in different countries. Educating them about the life as a student abroad; how I overcame the challenges of living in a new country, how I dealt with being independent, how I opened up to cultural diversity, and more. I saw the spark in their eyes when I began my discussion. They started asking questions and became more active.
Later on, I presented the request that they made. Since they were about to hold their final presentation this coming June, I helped them collect relevant information for their topics. Concluding with this, they were grateful for the help and invited me to attend their event on June.
The lecture didn’t end right away. After finishing my presentation, they came up to me and asked lots of questions. They wanted to know more about my global and personal experiences. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we had to cut off our fruitful conversation. I gave them my Line and Facebook details so that they can contact me anytime.
To my surprise, they gave me Taiwanese snacks! It was a shock to receive so much gifts from these students. I was overwhelmed and almost cried at one point. (I did tear up a little especially when I got hugs from them.) They gave me a variety of traditional food like pineapple cakes, sun cakes, biscuits, noodles, egg rolls, eggs, and more! My favorite part of their gifts was the little cards that had cute messages and also explanations of why they chose that particular food as a gift.
Even after that day, they’ve been sending me messages and were keeping in touch.
To this class, as I’ve said before, go out there and see the world. No fears, conquer those fears. Bravely travel and educate yourself through the experiences that you’ll gain. Be confident, more confident in yourself as well as your abilities like English speaking. That’s how you’ll discover the world. However, don’t forget that Taiwan is home. Come back home.
This first class was just the start. Having this experience sparked up more excitement for my next matches. My goal: to inspire students to see the world.