Students visited the National Museum of Taiwanese history today, and learned a little bit more about the history, development, and various ups and downs of the country they’ve been exploring for the past week. Topics that were covered ranged from the creation of early Taiwan, waves of immigration from other smaller Asian countries, and also the aspirations of modern day Taiwanese people. These were all explained through life-size figurines and genuine artifacts from big events, making the whole experience very interactive and relatable.
Today, the students had the rare opportunity to witness an authentic aboriginal tribe in the hills of Ali Mountain. The tribe is called the Tsou Tribe, and is the only aboriginal tribe to reside in the 阿里山 area. Students first witnessed a traditional hunting dance, and then took a tour around the cultural village, interacting with local tribe members, as well as traditional Tsou architecture and tools.
Afterwards, we experienced an authentic tea ceremony, during which students were educated about the origins, processes, and idiosyncrasies between Oolong and black Alishan tea.
As an educational counterpart to these two cultural experiences, students were asked to reflect upon the idea of cultural sustainability. Upon deeper reflection, students delved into a deep discussion about the value of tourism and whether or not it contributes to the sustainability of aboriginal cultures.
All in all, it was a very eye-opening and introspective day for our students!
Day 4 started out bright and early with a Mandarin lesson. We took shelter from the rain and substituted our usual golf-course classroom with an indoor gymnasium. Mr. Chang led the class in covering the topic of past tense in Mandarin, using examples from recent activities during the last couple days as examples.
Afterwards, students took a step back from the hustle and bustle of Taipei city to the quiet and serenity of a Confucius Temple. Students learned about core Confucian values, and tried their own hand at calligraphy writing and handwriting analysis.
Lunch time brought with it the exciting, one-of-a-kind experience of eating hot pot! Each student was equipped with a plate of raw goodies and a pot of boiling broth, and we all went to town, tucking into steaming chopstick-fulls of freshly cooked delicacies.
We then headed up a mountain to get a first-hand look at Taiwan’s hot springs! Despite the foggy and cold weather today, students warmed up by witnessing a natural hot spring. The distinct and hard-to-ignore smell of sulfur permeated just about everything, but it was balanced by the beautiful scenery and the opportunity to cook some hard boiled eggs in a bubbling cauldron of earth heat.
We made a much-appreciated transition after the sulfuric hot springs to some equally beautiful, but much more pleasant smelling attractions. First was the Yangmingshan Flower Clock, and students spent some time taking in the uniqueness of flower architecture, and the beginnings of cherry blossoms dotting the mountainside. Afterwards we visited the Taipei Public Library in Beitou, giving students a chance to appreciate the unique architecture that earned this building its place as one of the 25 most beautiful libraries in the world. It is also known for its green and eco-friendly building plans, and students were asked to go on a scavenger hunt for certain Mandarin phrases amidst this famously sustainable environment.