February 23, 2010

Good morning, Taiwan…

Well, this is the first attempt at writing a blog.  I’ve never done it before, as with many of you when you started your first blog.

The first thing that has gone through my mind is, what the hell do I want to say, that others would actually want to read.  To tell you the truth, I’ve only read one other blog, that being my mother’s (http://www.bettyneedshelp.blogspot.com/) for any of you that want to see what she has to say.

Perhaps, I should start with a bit of introduction.  My name is Bill, or as the kids in Tainan, Taiwan call me, Teacher Bill.  Yes, I am an English Teacher.  I’ve been living and teaching in Tainan for over 8 years.  In August, I’ll be starting year number 9!  Sometimes it seems like I just got here, the time has gone by so fast.

A typical day for me begins around 4:30-5:00.  I wake up early for a few reasons.  It’s quiet at 4:30 in the morning.  It’s also dark.  I get a lot of work done from 5:00 until around 7:30 when I start getting ready for work.  My typical day begins around 8:10 or so.  I teach a couple of classes at Junior High School, and then a kindergarten class 3 days a week at a bushiban.  A couple of hours off for lunch, and the country’s ‘sleepy time’ as I call it, then back to work around 2:00.  Most afternoons and evenings, I am either in class or travelling between classes.  I usually finish my day around 8:00-8:30, but there are a couple times I finish later.  Then, it’s home to watch a bit of T.V., have dinner, feed the wee beasts, then bed by 11:00, or 12:00 – depends if I watch “HOUSE” or not…

I work 7 days a week (which is not UNcommon in Taiwan), but I do only have 1 class on Sunday mornings.  The afternoon is MY time…  I teach approximately 45 hours a week (classroom time), lesson planning takes about 20 hours, so that doesn’t really leave a lot of free time for me.  So, writing this blog will be in the mornings.

To protect the innocent, I will try to refrain from using names, although, there are so many students with the same name, it wouldn’t make a difference anyway.  In one class, there are three girls named AMY.  So, I have to call them Amy1, Amy2, and Amy3 to avoid any confusion.  In another bushiban, on one particular day, I have 5 classes.  In each class, there is a boy named Andy.  When I speak about “Andy”, I have to be specific as to which class.

Over my 8 years in Taiwan, I have actually had, the most enlightening, enriching, and overall fun time of my life.  Over time, I will more than likely, write about some of my experiences.  We’ll see what happens…

Now, a bit of recent history.

About a month ago, I finally put my profile up on Facebook.  If you don’t know what Facebook is, well… never mind.  Anyway, about a week later, I got a message one Sunday on my Facebook App for the iPhone from my cousin Mike, whom I haven’t seen or heard from in probably close to 25 years.  About 10 years ago, I sort of fell out of touch with my family.  They thought, I thought… doesn’t really matter, it’s all water under the bridge now.

Anyway, Mike started sending messages through Facebook to my family back in Canada, and the next thing I know, I go from having 4 or 5 friends on Facebook, to over 70!  I know, for some of you, that’s nothing.  I’ve actually noticed that some people have over 1,000 friends!  OKAY LA!

So, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been chatting, playing Facebook games, and in general, getting reacquainted with family that I haven’t seen or heard from in a very, very long time.  I must admit that the first couple of days were extremely emotional.  I’d be sitting here in Taiwan, typing to my little brother, Scott, and actually crying.  I so missed not seeing him grow up and turn out to be the man he is today.  The last images I have in my memory of him, was a little boy.  He would have been in his pre- to early teens.  Now, he’s 31 or something, married to (I hope) a wonderful woman, Becky (since I’ve never met her), a little girl (my niece, again, whom I’ve never met), Chloe, and they are expecting a second child!  OMG, my little brother has a family of his own!  Time has really slipped by.

Another emotional moment was actually hearing my parents voices again after such a long time.  I called them at their home, and I think they were, how can I say, ‘shell-shocked’?  Both of them seemed genuinely surprised and happy to hear from me, as was I of them.  I had tried several ways to find them over these years, but in vain.  I had even resorted to searching through the obituaries from Ontario, Quebec, and Canada listings – just in case.  Nothing.  Apparently, on mom’s blog, she had done the same thing for me.

What I do find really interesting about this reunion, is that it happened during what Taiwan celebrates as Chinese New Year.  This is a time for family to get together once a year.  It is the longest holiday season, and is just as important to the Taiwanese people, as Christmas/New Years is for us western folk.

I know I’ve mentioned it several times on Facebook over the past couple of weeks, but with the blog, it’s a little more permanent I feel.  I really do want to thank my cousin Mike for ‘getting the ball rolling’.  For some reason, he decided to do a search, found me, reconnected my family… Mike, man, I really do love you a lot.  As kids, I really enjoyed visiting your family when I used to stay at grandma’s house, but now, I hope, we have a stronger bond.

Everyone has gotten a few years older, matured, and in some cases, a bit more gray-haired, but you’re all my family.  Please remember that, no matter what, I will always love and treasure my family.  Yes, I may be half-way around the world right now, but with Facebook, and Skype, and through this blog, perhaps we can all get to know each again.  And please, let me know when the next family gathering will be held… I will make every attempt possible to get home and see you all again.  So many of us have left us during this past 10 years, and it saddens me.  But, life goes on for the living.

Take care everyone, and my love to you all.

Well, it’s Tuesday, and it’s time to get ready for work…

P.S.  Mom, thanks for uploading all the pics… I’ve been showing them to my students, and I think they don’t believe that I was actually a baby!!



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6 responses to “February 23, 2010

  1. Very nice and well done son. I must say you managed to bring forth a few more tears.

    Love you,

  2. Dad Jacklin

    Good to hear from our son. You did a fine job and its better than a letter. It will stay on there for all to see, again and again. Maybe I should post a blog as well, but I don’t have any thing new to say. Same old stuff, over and over. See I am already repeating myself. Stop while I’m ahead. Thanks again, Bill.

  3. Scotty J.

    Very nice. Enough said.

  4. lindaJacklin

    This has really been a good start tothe year 2010 talking with you again.If you do get home for a family event we will declare a n english teachers holiday. You have also taught me about blogs thx Bill
    regards cousin Linda

  5. Sandra Livingston

    I love it Bill and I M so proud of you and your strength. Job well done to you and your family for getting together again. I miss you too and you better come and visit when you can. The girls love the pics and brag to their school mates about their mommy’s friend in Tiwain.. we should set up some pen pal stuff? Like you have time for that HAHA. Love ya, and your blog…Keep it up Luv Sandra and Crew

  6. Robin

    Just a couple comments…

    I think it’s funny how you have to call students of the same time by ie. Amy1, Amy2, etc. In my boys’ classes, when they have kids with the same names, they sometimes add the first letter of their last names to their first names. For example…Lucas has a few friends named Natalie but they aren’t Natalie…they are NatalieB and NatalieR. Even when I help out in the classroom I have to call them those names so they know I’m speaking to them.

    Re: Facebook. I think it’s amazing. How else can you find friends and family members that you are no longer in contact with? What a wonderful social networking tool, almost everyone in the world has access to. Yes, sometimes you can spend too much time using it, but I’ve only had good experiences with it. Very happy that my brother decided to sign up!

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