A field trip must be the Taiwanese children’s version of the Kentucky Derby: a chance to wear the biggest and/or coolest and/or most ridiculous hat you own.

I was cautiously excited about our field trip. It would be nice because it’s a day of no teaching, but it would be exhausting because it’s a day of walking around outside in the heat organizing a bunch of third graders.

I yawned multiple times JUST ON THE BUS. I gave my students the book I’m reading now – Some Prefer Nettles – and they picked out the words in the text they knew, like “earthquake.”

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At our first destination – a nature park in Zhishan – the students presumably learned about the flora, fauna, and history of the area. I’m not sure though because the volunteer leading us around spoke Chinese exclusively. (I’m not complaining. While it would’ve been nice to learn, it’s also nice to not have to pay attention.) So I mostly stood around and checked stuff on my phone.

The volunteer had the kids do a pretty cool archaeology activity. First they did a practice dig in some sand, discovering shells and ceramic fragments.

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Then they had to rummage through some old clothes and use what they found in the pockets to guess what the people were like. HANDS-ON LEARNING FOR THE WIN! The kids had a fun time so that’s all the matters.

We ate lunch – a juice box and several pieces of different kinds of bread. Not nutritious at all, but I suppose it’s practical. The school has connections with a bakery so it’s cheaper. And “lunch boxes” (what an American would think of sort of like a takeout bento box) has a lot of food in it – usually a lot of rick, a piece of meat, hard-boiled egg, veggies, tofu. One of my co-workers said we don’t take this on field trips because it would be messy and the kids probably wouldn’t finish their food; with the bread they can take home leftovers. So it makes sense, but it’s really unsatiating.

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After lunch we went to the former garden residential palace of the dictator Chiang Kai-shek. There were a lot of other tourists there and even another school also on a field trip.

There was no learning at this location. We went solely to take pictures of the kids beside the well-maintained topiaries and for Chinese tourists to take pictures of us. Waste of time? Maybe. After three pictures, we went to the bathroom area and sat around steaming in the sun for an hour. The kids bought ice cream and played games.

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I post a lot about how I don’t like my job and I don’t like teaching kids. This is true, but I still like kids. They’re inherently funny. They don’t hold grudges. They’re curious and generally unafraid to question things. They like you for no reason (granted some dislike for no reason…). And working with kids who speak English as a second language increases the hilarity level.

As we were trudging through one nature trail, one of my third graders said, dramatically, “Teacher! Hold me!” She meant “hold my hand,” but she said it in such a way that reminded me of a diva in a 1940s film.

Another student was telling me how her Uncle is afraid of heights.

Student: “Teacher, are you afraid of high?”

Me: “No. What about you?”

Student: “No.”

Me: “So do you like being high?”

My grammar has depreciated significantly since coming here.

 

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