目前分類:My Life in Taiwan (25)

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book devlivery  

The books are finally out. A friend bought a few copies and took the photo when he got the delivery. I am very pleased to know that everything went well to this point. Hopefully, readers will enjoy this book as much as we enjoyed writing it. The book comes with a CD. I listened to some of the sound files. They are fantastic. It is definitely a big "plus" for readers who need some real life modelling from the native speakers.

Here is the link to a site where you can get the book online.

http://www.kingstone.com.tw/book/book_page.asp?kmcode=2018052518495&lid=search&actid=wise

If you have any questions, you can also follow us on Facebook: 這時候,美國人會怎麼說? 


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The new book is finally in the press. The following is the note from our chief, Jason Lo, to share with us his personal thoughts.
Thank you, Jason.
          

 

記一段難得的友誼:

當出版社通過我的提案時,我的第一個想法是:「糟糕,我給自己惹上麻煩了。」寫英文參考書,我行嗎?這可不比在網路上提供英文協助給初學者。寫書必須不能有任何差錯,而且內容必須夠充實、夠嚴謹。我知道我的程度有限,我必須找同伴。而我所認識的幾位英文大師,他們本身都有忙碌的本業,我很懷疑他們是否願意加入,即使願意,他們抽得出時間嗎?

懷著忐忑不安的心情,我找上了Julia Wei, Tony Lu 和 Stemfax。主要是我和他/她們幾位常互動,我們可以隨時連絡得上。美妙的事情發生了,他/她們都欣然同意了,而且完全不計較稿酬。

文章標籤

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Can you imagine of losing two children at one of the busiest place on earth in the summer? It was not my imagination because I did. I lost two children at Walt Disney World, Florida, once. Here is one of my travelling stories.

 

Years ago, I pioneered the first study tour for King Car Education Foundation and lead the first group of children and parents to visit Jacksonville, Florida. That was their first time to organize a large group of people to travel overseas for a summer camp at a private high school in Florida. I was asked to be the volunteer to lead the group as an escort teacher. At that time, I was hosting a radio program called Co Co and Po Po Time for King Car. It made perfect sense for King Car to send us as the escort teachers to oversee the ESL program organized by the private high school in Jacksonville.

 

Most of the group members were children, but we also had quite a lot of parents who came along with us. The private school organized some activities for parents during the day when the children were in class. I do not remember the exact number of people we took with us on that trip to Florida. I would guess the total number, including adults and children, was about 52 people. It was not easy to please everybody in the group, I would say. The worst part was to take care of a group of children whose parents did not come on the trip with them.

 

In the group, there were two cute brother and sister who were particularly hyperactive throughout the whole visit in Jacksonville. They were not the greatest listeners and always wanted to do things their way since their parents were not around. Ever since we first met, I had realized that it would be a tough journey with both of them. For every step of the program, I literally had to repeat my instructions many times to them to ensure that they would follow closely.

 

After three weeks of language camp in the private school, we finally started a week long journey to visit different attractions before heading back to Taiwan. One of the attraction stops was the Disney World, in Orlando, Florida. Everyone was excited about the visit to the Disney World where thousands of tourists from all over the world would roam through each day.

 

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It is Father's Day tomorrow. Here is a song that I personally love very much. On this special day, I would like to dedicate the song to my father (and in-laws) who is in Heaven looking down on us. I didn't tell my dad often enough that I loved him very much before he passed away. I guess the traditional culture we were brought up didn’t encourage us to openly disclose our love towards each other in the family.

My father and I didn't quite see eye to eye after my mother almost died from a surgical operation. I also resented him for many of his failed business attempts that affected our life for so many years. It was unbearable for me to see my mother worry about him over the years. He was the one who made me rethink about the definition and the purpose of a traditional marriage.

My father, however, was the drive that made me the way I am. I learned to be independent from the very young age. He was the one who encouraged me to be a leader and to love life passionately. He was the one who brought laughter and fun to my family. We all got his good sense of humour. If my mother was the one who instilled in me the virtues of self-discipline and diligent work ethics, my father would be the one who inspired me to be adventurous and ambitious.

The truth is, as much as I loathed my father’s faults, I love him dearly. He was a charming man and a loyal friend to many of his acquaintances. He was the listener that I shared my glory and sorrow with when I was growing up. I have the image of my father. I am my father!

For years, I have carried this guilt that I did not stay in Taiwan long enough to care for him and I did not stay with him by his death bed. I couldn’t forgive myself that I didn’t get to the hospital in time to say farewell. Every year on this day, it is like my therapy session. This song is merely my redemption for my guilt. For my father in Heaven, I love you and I miss you.

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The following is an article I published at English.Tw.

 

 

Many friends have published their thoughts on why they wanted to learn English. Well, I can not type in Chinese because I don’t have any software to input Chinese characters. I am not familiar with the keypad phonetic input either. (I am a computer dummy, you see.) So, I am just going to post my thoughts in English.

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My grandparents grew up under Japanese rule, so they were quite fluent in Japanese. Every time when they had serious matters to discuss but did not want us to know, they would speak to each other in Japanese. Growing up with my grandparents in Chiayi, I realized a very important benefit of speaking a foreign language; a language is a tool to communicate, including secret messages. (Unfortunately, I didn’t get to learn much in Japanese, but only our code names in Japanese. Heheheh…)

 

When we were living in Si Men Ding, Taipei, my tall handsome neighbour, three years of my senior, was a product of interracial marriage. However, his mother later remarried and moved to the USA with the new husband. He was left to be raised by his grandparents as their son. This guy had blond hair and blue eyes but could not speak a word of English. When his grandfather died, I was the one who dialed up 411 international operators to try to locate his mother’s new phone number and delivered the sad news to her family. I realized, English is a tool that I can use to help people, and get messages across to people who are foreign to our culture outside Taiwan. (Heck, I didn’t get a date with the guy but I told myself then, I might be able to make some money speaking English one day.)

 

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A Wallflower

Definition 1: a flower name, a member of the mustard family, is cultivated for its attractive flowers.


Definition 2: a person who, because of shyness, unpopularity, or lack of a partner, remains at the side at a party or dance.

No kidding! I was a wallflower.

A while ago, someone asked me to write about my dating stories. (Remember that, Jean?) My reply was, “You don’t want to know. They were pathetic.” The truth is they WERE pathetic indeed! People may think that I am just kidding. When we were at school, I probably organized more school dances and trips than anybody could have imagined. I had a group of good friends who always helped me out for the organization. They were there to fill the party dance floor and be the participants for the trips. When I was organizing a big event, I almost always needed to rally a group of faithful supporters to make the place look less empty. I guess it is like organizing a political protest; you just need to find a group of people who can carry the placards and shout loudly. (Hehehe….) So, there must be some interesting love encounters or courtships for me! Well, not exactly.

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I found this article sitting in my file folder for a few years. It was intended as a personal reply to my dear sister Kat. My sister Kat is a sweet heart. She is working in education as a manager for an after-school centre. She also inherited the stubborn family traits. In fact, she is probably the one who has most of my mother’s good characteristics. I realized that I am not really that good at writing in Chinese. It actually took me hours to type an article like this. Sadly, when we don’t use the language skill, we lose it eventually.

 

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Date: 31 Dec 2006 23:20:31 -0800

>Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Julia's old blog":

Hi,我是你的二妹,同樣為孩子盡心盡力的人,我想老天爺對於人類所經歷的"得到""失去"絕對是公平的.我很佩服你總是可以control everything by yourself,而我們一直是隨著命運的安排來過生活,所以,那天我很感慨的告訴LISA,爸跟媽只有生""給你和RICHARD,也許是這樣,所以我們姐妹兩人工作穩定卻生活平淡.-你的童年真是多彩多姿,雖是同ㄧ家人,卻令我生羨,相信這段時間即使再忙的你,都有辦法做得稱職,May god bless you加油喽!!!!

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給二妹的回信:

 

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My mother was a very attractive woman. However, a girl from a poor family had no means to marry early in life. In fact, her marriage was a sheer beautiful accident. Apparently, my father, who was on leave from the marines, saw my mother pass by my paternal grandparents’ house one day. My mother was on her way to visit a relative who happened to live next door to my grandparents. My father was so taken back by the glimpse of her that he immediately rushed inside to urge my grandparents to find out who the pretty girl was next door. The next thing was that a matchmaker was sought to help talk to my mother’s family and then a marriage was later arranged.

 

For my mother and her family, the marriage was considered a good catch because my dad was a charming young man and his parents were very reputable. What more could she ask for? However, life was not easy for her to be a wife to the first born son and the first daughter-in-law in a large family. Her adult married life was not a smooth peaceful ride. In fact, life was full of disadvantages and disappointments for someone like her who always feels ashamed of not being able to read and write.

 

After having four children and establishing a hairdressing business, my mother still did not have any chance to go back to school for continued education. She spent her time raising her four children. After my father fell ill to cancer and paralyzed, she took care of my father full time for many years. After my father’s passing, she then moved on to help care for my brother’s children. After my father had passed away, she finally decided to do something that she always wanted to do for herself.

 

A few years ago, I received a Christmas card in the mail. It was a greeting card from home. My first nephew had just started grade one and he was so adorable. I read the cute writing on the envelope and opened to read some more. Surprisingly, the card was signed by my mother. My mother had gone to school to learn to read and write! Those words were not childish writing done by a 7 year-old. Those were precious print pressed down hard, stroke by stroke, by my mother’s bony hands. I held that card close to my heart and cried my eyes out. For those people who do not appreciate the privilege of education, they just don’t understand how lucky they are, compared to those who luck out in life.

 

It has been and always will be a struggle for my mother to learn to read and write. But at this point in life, she just wants to do something that she did not get to do long time ago.

Four years ago, when my mother came to visit me, she was studying Japanese in her spare time. We had a giggle about that. Of all foreign languages, why on earth would she pick Japanese? She really should learn English which will eventually benefit her if she ever wants to come to visit me. I guess the truth is she is more familiar with Japanese than English since her generation grew up learning Japanese when Taiwan was occupied under the Japanese rule.

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The purpose for my trip to Taiwan was to be with my mother. The hugs from my mother just made me melt after long hours of tiresome transcontinental travelling. It was embarrassing, but I just had this urge of holding on to her like a little kid the day I arrived. For the whole time I was there, I fully prepared to spend my time at home with her. The funny thing was that my mother was probably busier than any of us. It was a big laugh among us that my mother had her own appointment book and we had to “book” our time in advance in order to take her places. What does an old lady like her do to be so busy? Well, let’s start with a few interesting things about my mother.

 

If the literacy rate in Taiwan is 96.1%, as stated in the Wikipedia, my mother would be one of those 3.9% illiterate population in Taiwan. My mother, like many people in her generation, had very little formal education due to her life circumstances.

 

My mother had a really hard life. She lost her father when she was less than three years old. My maternal grandfather was a farmer who was accidentally electrocuted by a downed hydro line at the rice field. During the Japanese occupation, life was a devastating hardship for a widowed mother with two young daughters. My grandmother was not entitled to anything because my grandfather was not the oldest son, and certainly there was nothing left for a family with only two daughters as the heirs. 

 

My grandmother rented a very small rice field from relatives to farm as the main meager income to support her family. My mother and my aunt had only been to school for a couple of years before the war erupted. Everything in life was interrupted for a few years. By the time peace time finally arrived, my mother had already passed her formative years. For a poor family of three females, it was obviously too late for my mother or my aunt to go back to school. My grandmother kept her older daughter home to help her farm the land and made the decision to send my mother away to learn a skill. My mother started her apprenticeship as a hairdresser in the County of Chia-Yi in her early teens.

 

My mother has my grandmother’s physique and personal traits. She is very petit and very shy with words. She is one of those very traditional Taiwanese women who would rather swallow their pride and plow through the hardship quietly on her own. My mother was a very good apprentice at the salon but she had suffered so much teasing all her life because of her illiteracy. Illiterate people are not ignorant; however, people, including those dear ones in the family, could sometimes put her down with mean and harmful words like adding salt to a wound.

 

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出外一條龍在家一條蟲 = Me
 
This is a phrase that my mother used to describe me when I was in Taiwan. She could not understand why I was always exhausted whenever I got home. She complained that I could walk for days leading the hiking group through the mountains, or I could work through several nights to get my proposal completed for work. However, whenever I hit home, I would plop myself on the chair or in bed just like a zombie. Somehow, I could not convince her that I was capable of accomplishing anything at all. She used to say, “How on earth are you planning to manage your own household one day?”
 
I used to work long hours in Taiwan. When I was a student, I would leave home at 7:00 every morning to go to work and then go to school at night. After I graduated, I would work during the day at my office job and then quickly flag a taxi after work to get to Fu Jen or to the language centres for my evening classes. I would not get home until way passed 11:00 at night. On the weekends, I sometimes would have to go to the radio station to record the episodes for the children’s radio program or to prepare for the week’s lesson plans. Once a while, I might meet up with my friends on the weekend as well. I was not home most of the time. Of course, whenever I reached home, I was ready to crash!
 
Home was always the place where I could cut off all communication with the outside world. Now, I still work long hours. I leave home at 7:15 and usually get home after 6:00. Sometimes, I volunteer for programs in the evening. Home continues to be the last resort where I can have total freedom and relaxation. I love to be home where I could coop myself up all day long and do nothing, absolutely nothing! House work can wait. I guess I am just not cut out to be a housewife. Maybe my mom was right after all. I AM 一條蟲 inside and out. Hahahaha…. Shame on me!

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Personally, I think there were so many interesting things to write about my university life but they might not sound interesting to any of you. (You may log off now.) I really believe that I had a very much fulfilled university life. The only complaint about my university actually came from my mother because I spent most of my waking hours at school for work, student clubs or classes. I guess I was hardly home. According to my mother, home was like a hotel to me, a place only to sleep in. (Hehehe. Sorry, Mom!) She even had a saying for me, something like this, I was like a dragon outside my home but I immediately became a worm whenever I hit home.
 
I was one of those university students who were busy getting involved in clubs and the student union. Ever since the first year of university, I started working part time on campus as a copy girl and later a secretary at the Physical Education Department. In addition to my student loans and scholarship, I needed those jobs to earn more money to help pay for my expensive tuition, imported books and other living expenses. I remember that I worked in the back of the university campus and had to walk all the way to the university administration office many times a day. I finally saved enough money to buy a brand new bike for work one day but it was stolen a day later. I also met a lot of kind people, great teachers and famous athletes through my work. Those were precious memories that would never fade away in my mind. (Maybe I will write about them one day. I believe blogging will help me combat my early Alzheimer later on. Hehe.)
 
Ever since high school, I loved going to different camps in the summer. One year I signed up for a week-long military camp. That was an eye-opening experience for me. I could slide on a rope with a fork of a tree branch over a river or walk with two suspended ropes like a trapeze to cross the valley. (Note 2) I could take the rigid discipline and the long march over the mountains. I could take the lean meals, little sleep and the heavy workout days in and days out in the heat. However, one thing I couldn’t stand was to take a 3-minute cold shower with 20 other screaming high school girls. (Hahaha, don’t get any wrong idea!) The interesting thing was that everyone cried, whined and complained about the life in the military camp, but by the end of the camp, everyone cried, whined and didn’t want to leave. They were reborn through hell, I guess.
 
As you could see, the camps that I went to were quite different from those popular ones that many young friends would take nowadays. In fact, not too many of my peers would sign up for the camps that I had taken. I did learn a great deal from those experiences though. Any hardship could either defeat a person or make this person stronger, and I’d like to think that those experiences of hardship only made me stronger in spirit and more willing to take risks. (Note 3)
 
At the end of my freshman year, I had the opportunity to attend a week-long leadership training camp, which was named after the three resilient plants in winter: pine, bamboo and plum tree. Honestly, it was so long ago and I simply couldn’t remember much about what I learned from that workshop/camp but I did meet a few good friends, with whom I later made some business connection. Through the leadership camp, I was given a very precious opportunity later to become an activity guide and a camp leader. I started working as a hiking leader and a camp leader for high school students during the summer and winter vacations when I did not have any income from my part time office work at school. (Note 4)
 

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I started teaching right after I obtained a BA in English from Fu Jen. Before I graduated from Fu Jen, I received a “second-hand” information from my friend who happened to have a friend that worked at the Continuing Education at Fu Jen Catholic University. (Hahaha. Networking is very important.) Apparently, the Continuing Education Department was accepting applications for instructors at the main campus in Hsin Zhuan. They were looking for teachers to teach a pronunciation class and an introductory conversation class. All I needed to do was to submit my resume, two lesson plans along with my full English self-introduction and a demo instruction on a cassette tape. It all sounds very simple and easy right now, but I was all stressed out then.



I really wanted the job but I also knew that may people, as some of my friends had revealed to me, were also eyeing for the same position. For an undergraduate student, it was very brave in my part to apply for the position. It was a good opportunity for me to go through the interview just for the experience though. I thought I probably would not get the job at all because I had to compete with all those graduate students from the Linguistics or English Literature departments. It was a bit intimidating. (Well, maybe I went to the right temple and prayed to the right God. Gee, it is too bad that I can not remember which temple I went to because I may have to ask for more luck. Hahaha…..) Somehow, I ended up with the job offer. You could imagine that I was totally on cloud nine.



I wanted to work at Fu Jen because I had full intention of applying for the graduate study in linguistics. Plus, they paid really REALLY well, way better than a language centre in Taipei. When I graduated, I was teaching at two different centres during the day in Tien-mu and Shih-lin. Life was good and the pay was even better. I liked working with children; however, without a degree in Education, a regular university graduate in English Language was not allowed to work in a formal school setting. So, it was a no brainer that I should happily accept the job to teach adults at the Continuing Education at Fu Jen Catholic University.

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I was extremely busy during my freshman year. My friend ND got me a part time job working at the university snack/photocopy shop as a photocopy girl. I was so excited about that job because that was where the PhyEd students hang out. Hahahaa… I got to meet all the famous national baseball players from my hometown Chia-Yi. (I should have asked all of them for the autographs.) Where I worked was right under the auditorium and right next to the building of Students’ Centre. So, I could go to the Club and hang out with my pals before my class or after work.



I might not be the smartest student but I sure did work hard, at least to the best of my ability. I hang out at the library a lot. To be honest, the first year was a bit of a culture shock for any freshmen at the English Department. Remember, we did not grow up learning English at a very young age. In fact, language centres for young children were unheard of when we were young. Suddenly, we were put in a full English immersion setting and had all these foreign instructors and professors teaching us in English. It definitely took a while for all of us to get used to it.



My favourite course was Linguistics. Our instructor was a very interesting character who was not too much older than we were. I think he just graduated from the grad school at Fu Jen. He certainly introduced me to a very important stage of my English learning as well as the realm of English rock music. I got to listen to the first album of the bands, America, Eagles and W.A.S.P., when a group of us visited his home in Shih Lin. The instructor for our Conversation class, a Philippino Chinese, was big into another band, Air Supply’s music. She used to tell us to listen to their songs because the band sang each and every word so clearly that it would be easy for us to understand. It is very interesting that I officially stepped into the pop rock music at this time.

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The other day one of my long lost university classmates accidently came across my old blog at another web site and she emailed me immediately. What a surprise! Internet has made the world a little bit smaller and brought people closer to each other. My friend found out that I did not bring any old university photos with me. Immediately, she made up a PowerPoint slide show for me with many of her personal photos. At the end of her email, she said that she could not find me visible in any of those photos. I was always missing in action? (Hahahaha…. NO WAY! I guess she just purchased those photos with "her" in the photos.) I was there in most of those events, but I was always in the background. I guess I felt more comfortable to be the “mother hen” who organized the events, but I was often in hiding or shy away from group photos. I am not really photogenic anyway. Hehehe. The slide show definitely brought back lots of memories. Thank you again my friend (O.F.) for your thoughtful slide show and the effort.

I felt at ease when I was at Fu Jen. We lived in Yung Ho city at the time and I had to commute to Hsin Zhuan everyday. The only way for me to be close to the campus life was to get a job by the university campus or in the university. I was lucky enough to find part time jobs and later on a full time position within the campus. My first two years of university life was evolved around the campus.

I was very active in extra curricular activities, student clubs and student council. For the freshman year, I was in cheerleading team. I still remember that skimpy outfit we had to wear while doing those Can-Can kicks with two pom-poms and dancing to the song, Eye of the Tiger. (I never liked that song anyway.) I had a great experience participating in the team but also realized the cheerleading thing was not really my cup of tea. The outfit sure got some unwanted attention, though. Hehehe.

The main student club I was actively involved was very small and on the verge of extinction. I didn’t really know how I got dragged into it. I just remember I was at the Extracurricular Clubs Fair organized by the student council. Somehow, without much knowledge of all the clubs, I got signed on to the International Philately and Pen pal Club. Later on, the Club chair, a guy from the Math Department, kept calling me up at home and asked me to help him out. I did not really like the way he organized the event and how he managed the club, so I did help him out a bit to do the leg-work. Eventually, I became the chair a year later. Go figure!

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This is just for fun. I heard many comments about Richard Marc's Waiting Right Here. So, I just picked out a few more songs I liked in the past. Of course, people I went to school with probably would remember a couple of these songs. These are just the songs I happened to find on YouTube. Anyway, no significatn reasons for picking these. The significant ones are hard to find.



Amanda by Boston: It is sad that the lead singer committed suicide. I love his voice!





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My grandparents raised me since the day I was born. They took me from my mother’s arms to care for me in their bedroom in the attic. We lived in a big old house in Chia-Yi City, right behind the downtown provincial hospital and next to a temple. I love that city! My grandfather was a scholar and a civil servant who used to work in the city hall. Wherever we went in town, people seemed to recognize my grandparents and greeted them with great respect. My grandmother used to be so proud of showing me off to people because she became a grandmother at the age of 43. My grandparents were like my parents when I was growing up.
 
My grandmother raised three sons and two daughters. My father was the oldest one, the first born to give them a grandchild. They raised me in the family home, so my parents could be spared to focus on building their careers. My parents were young when they started a family and had me right away. It was not easy for my father to pursue his career in Chia-yi because farming was the main industry in Southern Taiwan then. He was an engraver. He decided to leave the family in Chia-yi and moved up north to run his business. Later on my mother, who ran a beauty hair salon, also left Chia-yi with my younger siblings to unite with him. I was left to stay with my grandparents.
 
My grandparents took care of me and taught me many things while I was growing up in the south. The advantage of growing up with the grandparents was that I got to know a lot about their past history and the family stories. The disadvantage was that I never got close to my parents until later on when I was older. This is one of the reasons why I never encourage my friends or family to send their young children to study abroad on their own. Young children need their parents!
 
I had never been in a kindergarten class. I remember my aunt took me to a kindergarten to visit her friend once. I felt very awkward meeting children of my own age. I felt I was a lot older than those kids; however, I was fascinated by the toys they had. I was given a rocking piggy bank there at the kindergarten. That was my first ever toy. In fact, I did not grow up with toys, never played with a real doll. I always made my own toys such as dress-up paper dolls or games.
 
I had tons of pastime activities in my grandparents’ home. My grandfather used to take me everywhere on the weekends. My grandmother was a stay-home housewife, so I used to tag alone wherever she went. They allowed me to roam the field across the street at the hospital or climb the trees to pick fruit in our yard. My best buddy was the boy next door who was my age but he was a bit slow. There was another girl who lived behind the temple and her grandmother used to run a small variety store. My grandmother used to tell me that her grandmother often took advantage of the little kids who shopped in her variety store. When I left for Taipei, I never got to see them again.
 

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Another Reflection: I Am Not Smart Enough!?
 
I often tell my students that they, one day, will surpass their teachers (or just me) because they have to learn a lot more new things which did not even exist when I went to school. They always giggle and get a kick out of my comments. They are only in Grade Three and they think that I am just trying to be funny whenever I say that. I am simply telling them the truth! (Look at me. I can’t even get my blog to do fancy tricks!)
 
When I went to my elementary school by Xi Men Ding in Taipei, my grade six homeroom teacher sometimes called us being so thick with concrete brains. Once a while, she would change and tell us that we had tofu brains instead. So, I got really confused. “Do I have a concrete brain or a tofu brain?” I asked myself. Was my brain supposed to be soft like tofu or hard like concrete? Well, I didn’t figure that one out, but I was smart enough to move on to the junior high school.
 
When I went to my junior high school, my grade seven teacher told me that I was smart and witty. I was very proud, but then I scored only 75 point on the IQ test. I didn’t know what that meant. (Apparently, that means “developmentally challenged”.) I just remember my teacher called me to his side one day and told me with a straight long face that I should take the test, any test, seriously. Maybe I should have taken it seriously, because my principle later told us that we would be up for no good if we couldn’t go on to a public senior high school. Gee. I was ready to give up right then and there, but then I got lucky and just barely made it to a public high school, the bottom one on the list. I was so happy that I told myself that I should start to work harder since I would not get smarter.
 
Throughout my senior high school, I tried my best in everything, almost everything. I was really good at grabbing the ball at the girls’ basketball games. But then, basketball is really a game for giants, not for a short person like me. I also went through the semi-military style of training in the target shooting team and won a gold medal. I was so proud of myself. The sport of target shooting did not discriminate me of being a short and stubby girl, but it was hard on my hearing. (Sometimes, I am deaf as a post. hehehe.)
 

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I have a bad habit.
 
Sometimes I would like to stare blank into the empty air like I was lost with thoughts. I often do that to reflect on a moment of my life experiences; the decision I made, words I said, messages I wrote, or the people I came across. This kind of reflection exercise could happen so instantaneously or spontaneously like a day dreaming session. I often call this my meditation moment. Da-Pong used to ask me, “Hey, what are you staring at? What thoughts are going through your little head right now? I almost can hear the ding, ding, ding in your head!”
 
I like to reflect on my past. There are so many moments in life that we have to make an important decision without knowing what the outcome will lead us or what the future will hold. Now, looking back on those experiences, we can finally reflect on the paths that we took with a different sentiment and critically analyze whether we had made the right or wrong decisions. We could honestly look back on the crossroads we took without any further consequences.
 
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A Decision on Career Choice
 

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Many people I know have been under tremendous stress at work. Often the stress was the result of office politics or nasty administrators. I have encountered a few of those as well in my career. People who know me well would tell you that I am a softie and a trouble shooter, and I don’t “play games” when dealing with issues. I am still quite “old school”, I guess. I would be one of those who would defend honour and integrity all the way to my grave. It was my misfortune to meet this guy when I had my dream job working for a convention and events organizer years ago in Taiwan.
 
A couple of years after I graduated from university, I started to wonder if teaching ESL to children at an after-school language centre was truly what I wanted to pursue as a day job. I was quite happy to be a teacher. As a matter of fact, I quite enjoyed teaching adults at Fu Jen University in the evenings. The money was more than good, but I did not know if the freelancing type of teaching job was what I wanted to do during the day. I looked around me; many of my friends were either in teaching or in the business sectors. I didn’t really know if I would like to pursuit a business career. I started asking and networking with some friends. I could not tell you how I got the information then, but I was told that one of the famous travel agencies (I will call it the XTravel here) was planning to open a subdivision as an event organizer to help big organizations plan their conferences.
 
The XTravel was very reputable. The subdivision turned out to be a separate entity but remained under the big umbrella of the mother company. The conference company was affiliated with many other sub-divisions, such as rent-a-car, tour planning and hotel booking. I was just thrilled that I would have the experience of planning events from scratch for hundreds of people from all over the world. I used to do that for inter-school events, summer camps or corporate outings during my university years. Finally, I could put my interpersonal skills and language skills to use at last! Anyway, the job interview went well, and I was hired and introduced to the Omni-president of the XTravel a few days later. The president was a very gentle man, for whom I still have great respect for to this day.
 
I started working for this company full time and our office was located on the 11th floor of the XTravel building. My company was great but very small. We had five girls and a male manager working in the same office. I adored the girls I worked with. They were all new graduates, very energetic and lots of fun. The job was interesting and challenging, and I just loved it! There was only one problem, my manager, the guy who actually hired me.
 
My manager was a tour guide and an assistant manager for the in-bound department of the XTravel. After he obtained his MBA in the States and returned to Taiwan, he came up with this brilliant idea of operating a conference company. He wrote the business plan and submitted it to the XTravel Board of Directors. At the time, Taiwan was in its boom time. Many organizations started to sponsor workshops, small conferences and conventions. It was perfect timing for his brilliant ideas. Unfortunately, his brilliant idea fell short right off and stopped at the business plan. He really had no ideas how to target his potential clients and promote the company. 
 

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Dear Family and Friends:

It is unfortunate that my passport is not up to date. My new passport will not be ready until July 24. By then, it would be too late for us to leave for Taiwan. I have a conference in mid August and I have to go back to set up my brand new classroom in the last two weeks of August. (Hopefully, the new furniture will be arrived by then.) So, I am very sorry that I have to scrap the plan of going home this year. Instead, we are heading for Europe to visit friends there for a week and a half. I have not seen Taiwan for 7 years now. I know the island I left has changed quite a bit. I really miss all of you though. I would like to wish all of you a happy summer. (I heard that it is awfully hot over there.)

Julia

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