Saturday, 18 June 2016

GWC Exchange - Five Years On

As my time in Taiwan nears its end, my blogging has regrettably slowed down to a near standstill, but fear not, I'm back to update you on my adventure.

I have to backtrack to the beginning of May, which kicked off with preparations for the arrival of the GWC kids.  They were embarking on the first leg of the exchange that I undertook five years before.  The groundwork included a trip to Kaohsiung, 高雄, which I welcomed as respite from the relentless studies of my Chinese class.  In hindsight, that  wasn't my finest decision as I had my final exam in a few days and could hardly feel less prepared. 

Time passes fast when you have a deadline, and as soon as we had finished the prep, GWC arrived.  Unfortunately, I was not there to greet them myself as I had again taken time off school and university (again not my best decision) to take a three-day trip with Winnie and family (when I say family, I mean extended family - cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, you name it).  The chosen destination was the small island of Peng Hu, 澎湖, off the west coast of Taiwan.  It chucked it down for two whole days, which made me feel quite at home actually, so it didn’t detract from the experience for me.

When I returned from the thoroughly drenched island of Peng Hu, 澎湖, I met the GWC kids.  After filling their young heads with wisdom accumulated over the past 9 months,  I offered my assistance whenever I had free time...which, unfortunately for them, was often.  Just as it had for me five years before, time passed incredibly fast that week.  The days were jam-packed with activities, so that jet lag wouldn’t set in for the GWC visitors.  I shall recount some important highlights.  

Top-rated activity must surely have been badminton with the awesome Maggie Sproule (GWC Chinese teacher).  As a team, we were unbeaten resulting in a 4-0 scoreline for Scotland against Taiwan!  Another team event, which gave me particular personal satisfaction, was the GWC pupil involvement in my hockey class.  Their participation meant that, for the first time, my Taiwanese students were able to witness what a small hockey game should look like when everyone doesn't run at the ball. Wednesday (25th of May) was Kaohsiung, 高雄, day and a greater contrast with our preparation day, we could not have had - the pouring rain had been replaced by glorious sunshine.  First stop was the British Consulate where Maggie and I enjoyed tea and cakes while watching the pupils explore.  This was the day when the group really bonded - by the end of the trip, all were chattering harmoniously (if a little too loudly).  

All good things must come to an end, and so did the GWC students' trip to Taiwan.  The trip culminated with a visit to Taipei where the aforementioned agreeable group of pupils would be deposited at the airport.  But not before packing in a few more experiences.  Firstly, a visit to Tai Zhong, home of the Earthquake Memorial Museum, where my Chinese teacher from 5th year at school was reunited with her favourite pupil!

On arrival in Taipei, the first order of business was some exercise - up a steep hill that revealed a fantastic view of Taipei city.  Unfortunately, my presence of mind was lacking at the summit and so are photos (most likely due to the temperature - 37C!).   Last stop before the flight home was Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world from 2004 until 2009 when the Burj Khalifa in Dubai overtook it.  (See what a wonderful source of useless information I am!)   There, we met a group of past GWC teachers and a solitary ex-pupil.  I had previously stood at the base of Taipei 101, but this was my first time ascending the building to the highest point accessible by the public.  What a way to end the ‘shortest’ week I have experienced in Taiwan!  And so, it was time to say a sad farewell to Maggie and her students.

Well, that leaves me 2 weeks behind on my blogs.  University work has been intense for the past few weeks.  Sadly, I have finished at Cheng Kung University (成功大學) and sadly, I have no more excuses for slow output of blogs.  Hopefully I'll catch up soon... 

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