This past Thursday, I left work at 復興國小 a little early to help out with a project at 前鎮高中. Two of the senior English classes were going to interview Kate, Maya, and me in order to practice doing interviews and writing biographies. When their English teacher told me that their English was probably the same level as my elementary school students, I assumed she was being modest on behalf of her students. When I got to the first class, I discovered a group of kids who had extensive English vocabularies (or at least good dictionary skills) and absolutely no willingness to speak English. They would pass around a piece of paper and say to each other in Chinese, "No, you say it," until finally, one of them pitied me enough to actually say something.
The second class was much more excited about the exercise and asked me some pretty fun questions. When I got assigned to their group and they all cheered, then presented me with my favorite Taiwanese drink (a 紅茶拿鐵), I knew it was going to be better.
They all introduced themselves, asked me lots of questions (more interesting than my students' "Why are your eyes blue" and more fun than the prior class' "what setbacks did you encounter in your childhood"). Then they asked if I wanted to go to the night market with them after class. I hesitated, thinking about how tired I was and all the things I needed to do at home, but ultimately decided to go, and I'm glad I did.
Here's a picture with me and the group that interviewed me in the second class. I love their class shirt.
We went to the Rui Feng night market in the north part of the city, the biggest night market in Kaohsiung (I had not been there yet). It had everything from food to carnival games to shopping to even pets. I was really close to asking the price of the dachshund puppies in a small miserable cage, and even closer to asking how much this crazy squirrel cost:
(I was around a ton of squirrels back home and was never tempted to take on in as a pet, but here in Taiwan...)
We also played a bunch of carnival games. I tried to show them how they were all rigged and then how to overcome those built-in inequities, but I think it was lost in translation.
Speaking of which, being around these 17 year olds was a great relief from being around my 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. After the English project was over, I told them they could speak Chinese with me if they wanted. Unlike with my primary school students, this did not mean that they abandoned English outside the door of their classroom and never looked back. They still tried to speak English with me all night, and resorted to Chinese only when they really couldn't think of how to say it in English (about 10% of the time). I was really impressed by their attitude, and the fact that they took the time to come out with us (Kate and Maya came too) in this important time otherwise spent studying for their college entrance exam.
Finally, here's a picture of me and several of the students who took us to the night market, taking one of MANY pictures in the MRT (subway) station.
Now, I'm off to take the 高鐵 to 桃園 to meet a certain 男朋友 at the 飛機場!