Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hello Everyone!

I am back many years later to tell you the truth.

The truth is my year spent in Taiwan was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. That year propelled me forward and gave me the confidence to continue to learn languages and travel the world. I learned so many great lessons about the world while in Taiwan. I saw so much beauty. I changed my perspectives and grew so much. I wasn't just an ambassador for that one year. I remain one. Whenever I interact with anyone in a global setting (which is most of the time) I remember my role as an ambassador and I really look into my heart with every step I take.

The truth is, I was sent home early. I only lived in Taiwan for eight months total.

I want to explain, Rotary is an incredible organization. Once I returned from Taiwan, I continued to work with my local Rotary Club which really supported me the best I could have been supported while I was away. I volunteered helping out several times. And now that I am a bit older I even plan to officially join Rotary Club. I'd love to one day help out with the exchange program too.

I wasn't the typical Rotary Exchange Student because I wasn't actually from a family of Rotary members. And my district hadn't even done an exchange in decades! The local exchange program was basically shut down and I had no connection to Rotary at all. But I took it upon myself to meet with the Rotary in Trumbull, CT and I told them I wanted to go on an exchange. And they allowed me to revive the program. After me they sent more students out, and hosted students from all over the world. I was given a priceless gift from my local Rotary Club, but I like to think I gave them something of a gift too in sharing my love and passion for cross-cultural exchange -something I have remained heavy involved in, in both my personal and professional life. Now that I am an adult, I can't help but to smile at the memory of 17 year old me pitching this idea to a room full of people I didn't know at all and actually accomplishing my goal, but that's what happened. And I'm grateful beyond words.

So why was I set early?

The short answer is that in the Rotary Club I was placed, official Rotary procedures were not adhered to. For more information about this, feel free to contact me and I'd be happy to be more exact.


What are the solutions? 
Rotary Youth Exchange is a program that is worth its weight in gold. It's priceless and so many generations before us have worked to make it the program it is today. It's my job, all of our jobs really, to insure that this program continues to grow and continues to honor those who have worked on it in the past, as well as to secure it for those who will come after us. 

I truly believe that international exchange is not only life changing on the individual level, but it changes the world. This sort of cross-cultural exchange makes it possible for all of us, as global human beings to understand one another better and to improve the world through cooperation and common good.  

I don't claim to have all the answers, but I can say with absolute commitment that international exchange is my passion and since my original trip to Taiwan, I have traveled much of the world (including going back to Taiwan) and even have hosted international students and professionals from all over the world for many years now.

So again, what are the solutions? 

Well, we need to understand how complex these issues are. When it comes to international relations nothing is black and white. That being said, we need to find a way to uphold policies set forth by Rotary International. We need to find a way to provide more training, -especially sensitivity training. We need to figure out not only how to conduct exchange, but how to open our hearts. Above all, we need to remember we all are in this together. We are all working for the same thing.

I will be in touch with my home district Rotary Club, on how I can assist in continuing to support this incredible program. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Update

I have taken a break from blogging and I will be back to edit this and add some thoughts on my updated prospective. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Chinese New Years (part four) Trip to TaiChung

I went on a trip to Taichung with my host family.

On the way their my host mother bought this lunch for me. It's so perfectly Taiwanese.



This was my favorite. Fried Chicken, egg, ham, cheese, Taiwanese mayo, small bean sprouts. Soooo good.
"zha ji zan min zhi"

Milk tea.
"nai cha"


Scallion pancake wrapped around egg.
"Dan bing"

Three hour car drive.

We went to their friend's house. Their house was really beautiful and they kept giving me food. I really felt welcomed. At one point, I decided I wanted to get my camera from the car. My host mother also wanted to get hers. We are rather joint by our love of taking pictures. But we got really distracted by their neighbor's yard. You see, they had a garden and looked just so picture perfect Taiwanese. So even though we said we'd only be gone for a minute, we ended up disappearing for over an hour. XD My host mother is so funny like that. I really enjoyed it. So we went into the neighbor's yard and took a bunch of pictures. And then the person who lived there came and my host mother befriended her and we took pictures sitting on their bench. Which was beautiful. After that we went on a walk and found more picture perfect spots.  

Christmas Tree like flower pot. 
This was the friend's house.

Taichung isn't city, it's the countryside.

The first time I ever saw things growing other than tomatoes and corn. 

Cabbage. 


I love this. It's so hard to believe it's a real place.

Wow.



Lettuce. 


A Taipei girl in the country. 


Again, the family's home. So beautiful.

It seems like every Taiwanese family has one of these super cool tea sets. When I get married it's also my goal to have.  


After talking and eating lunch with the family, we went with the daughters to their University, which is so beautiful, married couples take pictures there. 

BUT, I cannot upload photos because the wifi isn't working on my phone lately, for some weird reason. So please wait until I find I way to solve the problem.










Chinese New Years! (Part three) 台中!Taichung!


So I did I a lot calligraphy during Chinese New Year Vacation. It was cool because my host grandfather came and practiced with me.  I will put more pictures up for this later.

Anyway, this character: Fu meaning fortune. Was my calligraphy goal. Because around this time of year, people hang this upside down on their doors to invite fortune into their homes. I want to give it to my host family.


These are my brushes. 



The next day we went to a Thai restaurant. I asked my host mother why we were eating Thai food on Chinese New Years and she said it was because we eat Chinese food all year and today is a special day. XD

But it was cool because I had never eaten Thai food before. 



It's a famous restaurant.


ANYWAY, that same day we went to a temple. Those of you who have talked to me off the computer will know, I LOVE going to temples. 


I told my host father I had never burned paper money and wanted to try. He seemed really happy that I took interest. He's very knowledgeable about Buddhism. So we donated some money, took some paper money and took some incense. We went around the temple praying at every alter and then I asked a question to the gods, and then I burned paper money. I love doing stuff like this. It's so cool. And it makes me feel so peaceful. 

You burn paper money for your relatives that are no longer with you. So that they will have money and be able to be happy where they are. And you burn money to thank the gods you prayed to. 

It just such a beautiful, healthy place to spend time at. 






You burn the money in here


This is the paper money




To light the incense.

I turned it on for you!



I love this picture.

People give food to their departed relatives and the gods.







ceiling

My host father found these things on a table and gave them to me. More about that later.