I realized I haven't actually addressed a lot of the basic details of what I'm doing and what my life is like here yet. So how about we try that? I'll try to make things sound way more interesting and entertaining than they actually are, to make for better reading.
For the month of August, I'm in orientation. Orientation is basically serving to get us acquainted with the city, the education system in Taiwan/Kaohsiung, our fellow Fulbright ETAs, teaching English at the elementary school level, what our positions will entail, and the local English teachers with whom we'll be placed. So far we've covered all but the last one (arguably two) of these items. We're probably meeting with some of the local English teachers (heretofore referred to as LETs) starting next week, and once we meet them, we'll have a much better idea of what they expect from us.
So for the time being, I am in orientation from about 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. My weekends are totally open (save for the plans made by my very motivated peers), as are my nights. Once August ends, I have absolutely no idea what my schedule will be. We've heard that we'll be working anywhere from 20-35 hours a week at our various schools. I'll be working with a specific LET (to be selected through speed-dating-esque interviews next week) 3-4 days a week, working at an English Village on Wednesday afternoons, and hopefully sleeping at least 8 hours a night.
What's the English Village, you say? So glad you asked! There are various "English Villages" throughout Kaohsiung (in different elementary schools); they are basically micro-stores/malls/airports/banks/what-have-you. Every 5th grader in Kaohsiung goes to an English Village at least once a year to practice "every day English." At first I thought this kind of thing was a huge waste of money (whatever happened to writing 'POST OFFICE' on the board and going from there?), but after seeing the English Village at Ling Zhou Elementary School, I decided that having such elaborate "pretend" locations would be incredibly exciting and motivating for kids. I know that I'm looking forward to spending Wednesday afternoons playing the role of an emo barista, disgruntled postal worker, or inept bank clerk.
Because no blog post is complete without pictures, and because the English Village is really that impressive, I present you with these images from the Ling Zhou Elementary School English Village airport.
Fake flight schedule. Elaborate, eh?
Oh no! Billy lost his bags at baggage claim. Again!
In the fake airplane. I told you this was elaborate. (Shiela, Dan, Shana, me... pic courtesy of Shiela)
There's more to be seen and more to be told, but you'll have to wait until next time!