Feeling Taiwan in my heart – Part 1

Things I look forward to doing.

It’s been over 5 years since we left Taiwan in 2012. It has been over 11 years since I first set foot in Taiwan in 2006 as a newbie English teacher/OMF Partner. These were great years. I enjoyed my time in Taiwan, not saying it was always easy, it was often sticky hot, lonely, confusing and tiring teaching and living in a new culture. The things that stick in my head as the best things, are things that I hope will be even more awesome in returning as a full-time missionary.

Language learning

When I first began learning Chinese in 2006, I was unknowingly signing up for something that would change my life. Although I was usually broke and without money my first year in Taiwan, I did have enough to take some language lessons. I fondly remember going early to language school everyday on my scooter, buying some kind of snack to accompany my milk tea and practicing my Chinese characters on paper. The one school had squatty potties in most places and it was a while before I located the “Western Toilet” as it was labeled. My classmates were Japanese, Korean, Australian and American. I didn’t have lots of time to practice my language outside of the classroom, because I always had to rush off in the afternoon to teach English until late at night.

Now, in 2017, I can only look with anticipation at the chance to get back into the language. This time I want to begin learning Taiwanese, and continue my Chinese. Will this be in a class, or in a one on one situation? I don’t know. I also want to be able to spend more time with the local population in Puli, and let them know that they are part of the success in me learning the language. Missions is not all about me telling them about Jesus, but in fact building a relationship with them so that I will be able to tell them when the time is right. When they are playing a part in my language learning, I have become dependent on them, they are linked to me, and this is the best way to come closer with them to learn about their lives and what they think.

Milestones in my Chinese language life

  1. Ordering Food at McDonald’s – This is a big deal. Using Chinese to do this feels really good. It is important to be able to do some basic things in the language, ordering a big-mac or ice cream makes you feel good.
  2. Ordering Tea – Taiwan has thousands of tea-stands selling tea. The art of learning to order tea gives one a sense of belonging. At first, I only knew one tea, Green Tea. Then I learned that I can choose my level of sugar, the amount of ice, and began to distinguish between the 50 different teas on the menu board.
  3. Responding in Chinese – Many times I would be standing somewhere in line and hear someone say “foreigners don’t understand” in Chinese. It was a pleasure to respond with “I understand.”
  4. Understanding my students – My students would say things in Chinese about me, or make comments if they got upset. When I answered them in English to something they said in Chinese they figured out I understood. I always played dumb though.  “Teacher, you know Chinese.” “Who me? nooo.” “Teacher say Chinese, say Chinese, teacher.”

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