Teaching English, learning Chinese in Taiwan

Hold on

Hold on

I am an American who has never left the country and who speaks no Mandarin Chinese. Nonetheless, Taiwan will be my home for the next four months.

Since childhood, I have harbored a hunger for adventure and travel. My grandmother is Chinese, and so I was particularly interested in Asian culture at an early age. I used to look at maps and globes, choosing the places I wished to visit. Unfortunately, those dreams of traveling always seemed as far-off as the places themselves.

Earlier this year, however, I discovered an opportunity to teach English at the Nan-Jeon Institute of Technology in Tainan County. Taiwan, nicknamed “Ilha Formosa” (beautiful island) by the Portuguese, seemed like a place that promised adventure. So, I snatched up the opportunity and haven’t regretted it since.

This chance to take on the role as teacher will be a whole new experience in itself. I knew from the start that this, coupled with the immersion into a new culture, would make a semester to remember.

Now, after months of preparation and nearly two days of plane hopping, I am halfway across the world. And I am fascinated by everything; the food, the smells, all of it is a symphony for my senses. I find myself taking pictures of everything; right down to the container my “naicha” (milk tea) is served in.

So far, my inability to speak Chinese has not caused any catastrophes. Street vendors seem to get a kick out of the “Meiguoren” (American) trying to order food. Unfortunately, my two years of studying Spanish does not help in these situations. But, catastrophe or not, I still wish to learn the native language. In addition to teaching and taking online courses from Missouri Southern, I also hope to take Chinese language courses from Nan-Jeon. After all, pointing and arm waving are not always successful means of communication.

I will begin teaching in two weeks. Until then, I plan on dedicating my time to exploring the local towns. Each day is full of wonder, and I can’t wait for tomorrow’s adventure.

[Editor’s note: Becky Husky arrived in Taiwan on Aug. 28. She also maintains a blogspot site with more on her story.]