In December of 2008 Brian Hartenstein and family left America for an adventurous life overseas to live and work throughout Asia, raising three daughters with a sense of wonder and awe at the possibility of the world. It is now 2016 and the adventure continues back home in Oregon. This blog remains as a time capsule to that period. Thank you so much to all our friends around the world. Please stay in touch. We miss you all!
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Cow Tongue Cakes in Lukang
It's graduation season once again. Time to say goodbye. This time, a trip to historic Lukang, or "Deer Harbor" a traditional little town south of Taichung serves as our farewell stop.
Graduation will always be bittersweet.
You work so hard and give so much and then...poof! Time is up! Books are tossed. Kids run away without so much as a ..."Smell ya later, Dude!"
But these trips with the students bring about a certain satisfaction.
I've always held to the idea that students must be put on a physical journey...that they must pass through something... the experience is theirs, and the teacher is a guide.
That disrupts the normal pattern here. I ask these graduating students if they've ever had a teacher that was special or if they've really felt inspired by an educator...it completely shocks them.
They reject the question completely. Here teachers don't connect, they don't relate...they yell, they scold, the only question they ask is..."Is if finished yet?"
It's no wonder that my students have no connection to the material...that they are unable to think or reflect... they just want me to tell them the answer...they want me to tell them what to say...I ask them what they think and they stare back at me so sleepy eyed and empty...their heads slowly laying on the desk...in a matter of seconds they are fast asleep.
In this cultural vice of cram schools and pointless worksheet education...where the very creativity of a kid is squeezed and strangled out of them with multiple choice scan tests and useless memorization tasks... it's no wonder most students crack.
Well, walking around Lukang that day, it felt so good to be out of the school with the students. Walking around and laughing, telling jokes, observing funny things, seeing them for who they really were, just being together as people.
Well... maybe I'm just being reflective too.
This time in Taiwan is drawing to a close...and I'm searching for meaning in everything.
So sweet little days like this are extra fun...like a gracious serving of cow tongue cake! Sitting here in the street cafes, breaking bread with students... even if it's only for me...feels just right.