Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dong-Ao Elementary Sport's Day 東澳國小運動會

****The children here are full of love and energy****

Dong-Ao (東澳) is located on the Eastern coast of Taiwan, between Hualien (花蓮) and Yilan (宜蘭). It is a beautiful, rainy little bay, backed by mountains. The main industry is fishing, however surrounding areas host factories which extract White Stone for drywall and housing, and a grey stone for cement.

The town is small and composed mostly of aboriginal Atayal Taiwanese (1 of 12 groups). With a story not dissimilar to many aboriginal populations (Australia, the US), numbers are diminished and alcoholism is prevalent. Years before, this land all belonged to aboriginal peoples. After the Japanese Occupation (between 1895 and 1945) the land was given to the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang 國民黨), and the ruling governemnt party since has offered compensation packages involving satellite dishes (60 Channels) and monthly checks (enough for some beer and too many rounds of Mah Jhong, such that school fees are hard to come by).

However, there are more recent efforts to preserve the traditional elements of the culture (though heavily criticized as "exploitative and 'superficial'"), and many aborigines are taking personal steps to advance their voice in the community. In fact, the majority of Taiwanese have some degree of shared blood with aboriginal peoples.

The political and cultural image of the community aside, Dong-Ao is a beautiful town, with moss covered concrete, multi-colored tiles and flowerbeds, and ancient trees set between a backdrop of mountain and sea.

Spring is here and the school-year is nearing end.

It's time for annual aboriginal community Sport's Day Competitions!

Schools take (more than) a few class periods to rehearse and prepare for the weekend events, which take place on school grounds and draw most of the communities.

At Dong-Ao Elementary School (東澳國小) competitions range from silly relay races, 100m Dashes, and Archery Marksmanship while students also perform traditional aboriginal songs and dances.

Song and Dance are important parts of the aboriginal culture.

****The head of the curricular office at Dong-Ao leads students in a rhythmic and soulful tune****

The song tells the story of Atayal courtship and marriage.

****5th graders perform a courtship dance****
****This involves circling each other in time with the music****

****After a successful courtship, the couple are married. The boy does a protective dance while the girl mimics traditional female roles, such as weaving and preparing food****

****Races were the bulk of the competitions****
****Preschool Heat****

****Kindergarten Heat****

****1st Grade****

****4th Grade Girls Heat****

****4th Grade****
Smoking is still a prevalent habit here, even on school grounds and during a sporting event.

****A Healthy Onlooker****

***The whole community gets involved in the racing********Parents desperately try to convey the race concept to their toddlers****

****Some clearly would rather not participate****

****Grandpas get involved****
****As well as Grandmas****
****Future Participant On the Sideline****

****Able-bodied young men from the community chat and smoke on the sidelines after a race****
****Face of Determination****
****100m Dash Buddies****
****Full Support for all Members - Cheers on the sidelines and motivational words from the MC for this participant with a cane****
Archery is an important part of the culture, reflecting times not so long ago when targets weren't paper printouts.

****6th Grader Spears a Wild Boar****

****Some friendly competition amongst community members****

Monday, April 7, 2008


Here are a few glimpses of beach scenes in Yilan County:

NanFang Ao (南方澳)is a fishing port-town in Southern Yilan County (宜蘭縣). The town is known for the soft, black sand beaches, a temple housing enormous Jade and enormous Gold Mazu (媽祖) statues (which made it the religious center of the county a long number of years ago), and fresh seafood (one of the few places in Yilan County where restaurant workers stand on the streets and try to coax you from your car and into their restaurant (instead of the 50 others down the road).

****The Dogs of NanFang Ao 南方澳****
****They're Dirty****

****Frances (Mary Poppins?) Visits NanFang Ao 南方澳****
Yilan County is located on the Eastern side of Taiwan, so a scooter ride down good ol' National 2 will get you to a number of beaches and bays. This one is near Dafu (大副), just South of Yilan City.
****The aptly named Turtle Island (龜山島) is located just off the coast. Access to the Island is restricted to only a fortunate few who sign up with the right people****
****Turtle Island Head****
****Actually Has a Tail****

****The beach is definitely dirty in places****

****Josue and Julie walk out a ways on the breakers****
****These breakers are all over the coasts - efforts to thwart nature (Typhoons)****
****Good for Posing****

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Christmas Catch-up

December 26th, 2007
Yilan Catholic Church
"Twas the Night After Christmas"
Hosted by: Josue Cofresi and Laura Burr
Performances by: Yilan County Fulbright ETAs, Yilan University English Students, Church Choir

****Josue, emphasizing a bit too much how Santa likes his Sugar Plum (Fairies)****
****K80, Casey, Michelle in Sugar Plum Action****
****Katie and Laura belt out Jingle Bell Rock in (near) perfect unison****
****ETAs Gather for Julie Goshe inspired "The Christmas Wish" (I think)****
****More Christmas Love****

****How the Grinch Stole Christmas Gave me Chills****
****The Magic of Christmas as performed by K80 and Co, Candy****
****What do We have for Her, Johnny?****
****Jeannie Rose performing a breathtaking Liebestraum****
December 25, 2007
Gong Jheng Elementary School
5th and 6th Grade English Song and Dance Competition
****This rendition of "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" won first place at the county-wide English Easy Go! Competition ****
December 28th, 2007
Yilan Train Station
****Safe Journey****
****Christmas Performance with Sign Language song (note 春 for spring in the background, a month and a half away from the spring festival, 28.12.08)****
****Christmas Outfits****
****Gong Jheng Elementary Gym 6th months after typhoon/water damage****
Creative gift from tutoree:
The pink envelop reads "PS to cut balloons", pointing to a toothpick in regards to the 6 small balloons on the side. Each balloon contained a small piece of paper with writing on it, reading "Dale: 博達 (Chinese Name): You are a good teacher: Weeeee! (answer to "what did the snail say riding on the turtle's back?")" amongst other things. The big paper reads "Dear Dale, Merry Xmas, You are a good TEACHER" and "Empty-pig Angela (sister)"

****"Good" here to describe teaching is clearly a relative term.****