Thursday, May 29, 2014

How writing this post made me homesick for a place I only visited

I taught English in Taiwan for six months. The culture, language and humidity were all new to this girl on the cusp of be coming a legal adult. Thankfully, enough people spoke a little English and were kind enough to help me when I was lost or didn't know how to tell the taxi driver how to get to my apartment. 

Most of the younger generation spoke English. They usually went to their regular school from 7 AM-5PM then they went to an English speaking school. I taught elementary kids (loved them & their teachers) in the morning and adults in the evening. I found myself judging intellect on the lack of conversation skills. Until one of the men I taught told me, in broken English, that he was one of the top physicists in Taiwan. What an idiot I was! I repented and vowed to never judge on someone's speech again. 

My students and ransom strangers loved to practice their English skills on me and I, in turn, I fell in love with the people and their customs. 
I can not fathom how hard it is to move from one country to another. To learn customs and language and try to feel a part of the community you live in. 

A few years ago I read a beautiful book about such a struggle. A Vietnamese family moving to America. I loved this book. 

A history lesson of Saigon's people written in free verse and set in two countries; Vietnam and America. 

A lesson of patience, love, family, endurance, bullying, sacrifice and generosity.

Ha is a young girl living in Saigon on the verge of war. Her family slips on a navy ship defecting from Vietnam and sails to a land of promise, America. The voyage is hard. Trying to fit into an all white school is even harder. But the strength of her family and friendship in unusual places guides and helps her.

I read this easily in one day. The images of a young girl relearning a whole new life stuck with me throughout the next few days.

Worth reading out loud to children/students to give them a good perspective of a person of a different nationality and their struggles.

Strange. Writing this post made me homesick for a land that I only visited. I loved those people and that land.  


Stacy at The Novel Life said...

I remember reading a post somewhere about this book and thought I really must read it. . .and then promptly forgot to track the book down or add it my tbr list. thank you for the reminder and for sharing your experience abroad - it's definitely eye-opening when our perceptions are challenged.

Brona Joy said...

Did you find any interesting Taiwanese authors that you could recommend while you were there?

I've only read books about mainland China & Hongkong. The Taiwan perspective would be fascinating.

Brona's Books