Wednesday, July 29, 2009

reading homework

Yep, I have reading homework :p and I completely commiserate with my students. The good news is that No Place But Here: a Teacher's Vocation in a Rural Community written and published by Garrett Keizer about 20 years ago offers plenty of teaching wisdom. It's not, however, a fast-paced read like my science fiction/fantasy novels. Hey, speaking of fantasy, I need to finish reading Brisingr.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

think higher, feel deeper

Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winner, author of Night, Holocaust survivor, and teacher, was the main speaker at the Chautauqua Institution yesterday. I was fortunate to attend the lecture as part of a writing workshop led by three fantastic faculty members of the English Department at SUNY Fredonia. His lecture topic was morality - what is moral? My deepest impressions were:
- how kind, gentle, humorous, and young he seemed through his words and speaking manner
- the elliptical storytelling style of his lecture
- the affirmation of education as hope for humanity despite many failures (his famous caveat... "and yet...")
- the title phrase of this post, "think higher, feel deeper" was his response to an audience question (from a teacher) about a key theme for students

In other personal news, despite our successful trip to Taiwan and the leisure nature of our summer vacation since we returned home, pain and suffering seem to swirl around us over the past week in the form of accidents, illness, and death suffered by close friends. Besides the constant urge to weep and say "I hate (hospitals, cell phones, etc.)", I have the prevailing feeling and thought that there is no difference, no separation between people who are having a good time and people who are not.

Friday, July 24, 2009

July 2009 reading update

Typically I have grand plans for summer reading. So far, I've read about 7 fashion/beauty magazines (including one purchased in Taiwan, published in Japan, I think, since prices are in yen, but text in Chinese), a few chapters of The Mysterious Benedict Society (for Battle of the Books in my school this coming year), and Night (in preparation for attending Elie Wiesel lecture at the Chautauqua Institution on Monday).

Um, that's not terrible, is it???

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hey I went on a real vacation!

National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan, 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Literally we were baking on this terrace.

I attended middle school here (in Taichung area) when my family moved back to Taiwan. I had to relearn Chinese from scratch (and was left back one grade as a result), but in a few year's time, Chinese literature was my best subject. (In picture, the sign shows that the school is now a middle and high school.)

Sun Moon Lake in central Taiwan

You know, the kind of vacation for which you...

- compulsively pack and repack, make endless trips to buy souvenirs and every possible toiletry item you might need but packed in different ways to satisfy the air travel safety police,

- show up and relatives chauffeur you around nonstop to beautiful natural sights via death-defying taxi rides through packed city streets and narrow mountain roads and feed you heavenly food (for free, unless you count the price of your life at stake on aforementioned taxi rides),

- visit places where you lived and played as a child that bear some or no resemblance to your memories, and

- reunite with family members, somehow manage to speak the native language of your childhood (Mandarin Chinese) with enough fluency to impress the natives, meet new relatives (result of marriage and childbirth), and

- suffer Post-Travel Depression upon your return.

So I'm very sorry for going on a blogging vacation without notice in addition to the "real vacation" described above! I'm adding a few pics just to share a taste of the sights and sounds and emotions during this 10 day trip. I could write a book about everything that happened, so for now I just want to apologize for disappearing with no notice and say "happy summer vacation" to everyone!