On the penultimate day of our Taiwan trip, I thought I would reflect on Global Education. The kids and we, the teachers, have been in school every day for nearly two weeks. We have come to depend on one another, taken risks in language, cultural, and daily life. We have experienced Taiwan and Taiwanese culture to the fullest. While we have shared our experiences through this blog, tweets, Facebook, and Flickr, nothing substitutes for being immersed in a country, meeting people, participating in the vibrant cultural life of a country to help make the world a smaller, more personal place.
We now understand the difference between Taiwanese and Hakka culture. We can differentiate between good dumplings and not so good ones. We enjoy our stops at 7-Eleven, knowing we will probably not buy breakfast at the stores in the States. We have enjoyed the sun RISING out of the Pacific Ocean and will think on this the next time we enjoy sunset at the Oregon Coast.
Are we changed as a result of our trip? Absolutely, and in all good ways. A shy Chinese speaker was overheard to remark recently, "They understood me!" When asked what he had said so successfully, he joyfully exclaimed, "I said I wanted number 1 and number 2! A journey begins with the smallest of steps. Li-Ling prepared the children beautifully for the trip. Their classroom Chinese easily translated into successful home stays, meals out, shopping, cultural experiences, etc. School provided the training, but Taiwan cemented the success.
The idea behind global education is to connect students to their world. It is about meeting people, finding out about cultural similarities and differences. The posts the kids wrote demonstrate they understand the concept of global education. Their musings about Taiwan are proof of their powers of observation, understanding of cultural components large and small, and their grasp of group dynamics.
We asked kids to agree to three precepts prior to the trip. We asked them to self-regulate technology, and, specifically, not post pictures to Facebook. We asked them to rely on the group. And, we asked them to try to speak Chinese where possible. For the most part, kids rated themselves successful in these areas. This is a sign that even though the students are young teenagers, they carried themselves in a mature fashion throughout the trip. They majestically practiced the ideals behind our Global education program.