Skip to main content

Tales from the halfway point 🙂

First day of school: 

They rolled out the literal red carpet. Watching the lion dancers and the marching band as they handed us bouquets, I thought, ‘Shoots. I guess we really have to step up to the plate now.’

What is this movie called?

I’m in a movie theater. It’s my first excursion with my host sister. I don’t know if it’s just a translation error, but I think she told me that this was homework from her Math teacher? Unclear. But it turns out that it’s a Bollywood film about a Dad who coaches his two daughters to become professional wrestlers. During the ending fight scene, while being moved to tears for the thousandth time (not helping my struggle to read the Chinese characters), it hits me: I’m so far away from home, drowning in emotions. But no one in the theater, besides my host sister and her friends, would be able to guess my levels of linguistic and cultural separation just from the way that I look. What a world this is that anyone around you could be experiencing something truly wonderful to them at any moment.

Alex and Paul at the Air Base:
What I learned on the bus ride to the air base: It’s customary, at least at No. 9 Middle School, to have group signing session said on the way to a field trip. Thus, you should always have a song prepared.

On the bus ride back from the air base: These kids, who sang/ screamed about unrequited love and ‘being a postman’…? Are also eager to talk about politics, financing the older generation’s retirement, and Taiwan’s culture and history. While they are undoubtedly silly, they’re also so sophisticated and so so special.

The first time my host mother let me help her with the dishes:
I didn’t’ grow up doing chores in my house for two reasons: 1) My mom wanted me to focus on Ballet and my homework and 2) Washing dishes took me about 500 years when I was a kid– so there was also a competence issue. Fast forward back to Zhuhai and I’m having a hard time navigating how I should accept the hospitality my host family has graciously rolled out for me. It’s hard to accept a situation with strangers where I take and cannot give anything in return, but it’s a place I find I have to inhabit often on this trip. So the first time my host mother let me do the dishes made my life dreams come true! <-That’s dramatic, but in my mind it was a vote of confidence and a graduation to an interaction deeper than that of a host and a house guest.

Kiwi and the Monkey King:
Usually I’m down to try anything as long as I can take a shower/ wash my hands afterwards. As long as you have access to a working washing machine, you can be fearless. That being said, I am human and I have a list of fears. My top 10 definitely include the possibility of people becoming tired of my presence and people who dress up as the Monkey King. I met a super cute 5-year old named Kiwi and her mother invited me to come to dinner and a show with them. On this play date, I was confronted with both of these fears. What happens when I exhaust my Chinese vocabulary? What happens if the Monkey King jumps into the audience? Turned out that Kiwi and I could communicate through tickle fights and she held my hand though the entire show.

Qi’ao Field Trip: 
Best eggplant of my life!!! Thank you to everyone who partook in the arduous process that is barbecuing an eggplant whole. Thank you to Mark and Scamo for the grass jelly! Thank you for sitting on the bus with me Laurie!

I killed a cockroach!!!
It was one of those rare nights where neither my host sister nor I had anything going on. I came home to find her sitting on the couch watching TV. In the middle of an episode of a popular show called Running Man, a cockroach rolls into the house from the balcony. In the heat of the moment, I get up and throw my shoe at it. I turned around to get a tissue. My host sister looks at me, shocked and impressed. One of my proudest moments.

Second half, here we come!