The anticipation is almost too much to resist!
Tomorrow, Giraffe is having a ‘new student drive’ is all I can describe it as. On top of all the other things going on, we’re welcoming new students to our school. Should be a lot of fun. I just hope that I, as the foreign teacher and non-Taiwanese person in attendance, that it will go smoothly. In past, I’ve been involved in these ‘drives’ to entice new students, only to have the students freak out because there’s a foreigner! Taiwan, or perhaps it’s just Tainan, is still a somewhat ‘closeted’ city when it comes to foreign people.
I’ve been here going on 11 years, and I still feel the uneasiness some people feel towards ‘outsiders’. You’d think, that in a country where they embrace the American lifestyle, want a ‘white person’ teaching English to their children, would rather speak broken English to you, rather than you speak broken Chinese to them, that they would pass on that acceptance to their children.
I know that the ‘1 in 25’ kids who see met, will be scared out of their minds. They will think that I am a ghost or a monster, or some other nonsense. These preconceptions that children have, must only come from either their parents or grandparents. Perhaps, due to their situation, they never watch a foreign program, or ONLY watch Chinese television. Perhaps it’s because there just aren’t a lot of foreign people in Taiwan/Tainan, that the kids are exposed to us.
As far back as I can remember, we always had ‘foreign’ kids in my classes. Even at the most remotest of schools, there was always children of other cultures in my schools. We were taught, from a very young age, that everyone is a person. Racist remarks and jokes and other such comments, were not only NOT TOLERATED at my schools, they were not well received at home either. Perhaps it was because MY family comes from such a wide background, that the message hit home and was reinforced quite strongly.
When I look back at the problems that the United States went through over the years, with black people in particular, and don’t see that same type of situation in Canada, I must stay, I really do feel extremely proud to be a Canadian citizen! Yes, there are still neanderthals out there, who believe that white people are the only people, but I want to believe that in Canada, we embrace our diversity, our various cultures, our acceptance of people.
So many students in Taiwan want to embrace the “American” culture. They dress like Americans, they eat at ‘western’ restaurants, they watch American television (albeit dubbed or sub-titled into Chinese), and in many cases, even want to study in America. So why, do younger children still have a ‘fear’ of non-Chinese or non-Taiwan people?
Over the years of my teaching here in Taiwan, I am thankful to say that, this prejudice or ‘fear’ is not as commonplace as one may interpret from my blog entries. In fact, although there are the many who do stare, or make comments to their parents, for the most part, a couple of classes, or just my giving them a high-five or smiling and talking to them in English, and then my smattering of Chinese, usually is enough to help these wayward children realize that we, white people, are not monsters or ghosts, or beings that go bump in the night!
So, I’m looking forward to helping my school tomorrow with the ‘drive’. I think it will be fun to see first-hand, what goes into trying to lure new students to come to our school. The more students, the more classes, the more teaching I get to do. Perhaps with my being present, will show the parents that I am approachable, a nice guy, and not to be feared. Perhaps they will see that I am not afraid to be in a room full of ‘non-English-speaking-people’ and pass that insight to their children.
Besides… the more new students, the more potential storytellers!! Hehehe…
Speaking of which, only two more days to the regional competition. My ‘jitters’ are over now, and for me at least, tomorrow and Sunday morning before the competition, will be concentrating more on pronunciation and expressions. I am really looking forward to Sunday’s competition. I have more belief now that our five students will score very well in their respective categories. All my apprehensions of not ‘making the cut’, are gone. Now is my task to get THEM psyched out and really wanting to ‘go for the gold’!
These next couple of days will zip by rather quickly. Before I know it, it will be Sunday afternoon, and then my students will show ME, what they are made of! I know that each and every one of them, besides wanting to win, and wanting to please their parents and Janice, really do want to show ME what they can do!
I said at the beginning of this year, that this is going to be MY year! This year, 2012, has got to be better than last year. Not only for the storytelling competition, but for my life as well. This is a milestone year for me. So far, six months in, it has been one hell of a pleasurable ride. And I don’t want to get off that ride yet! If this year was a roller coaster, I’m still riding to the top of that first hill… I am anxious to get over that hill, and soar, almost out of control and yet still enjoying the twists and turns ahead, that get my heart pumping – that make me feel alive, that make me realize, life is good!
May, Marcus, Jonas, Nadia, and Elva… as I said in my previous entry, I am very proud of each and every one of you, and even if no one else is behind you, you have one HUGE fan who will applaud their hands sore and believe in you and your efforts and determinations, in competing for our school. You have a friend, a teacher, and an adopted ‘gege’, who is behind you all the way!
I’ve done as much as I can to this point, and no matter what place you are at the competition, and I am still extremely proud to be your English teacher!
That’s it, that’s all… for now!