I have three stories about today that are worth sharing. There is always so much going on that it is often difficult to know where to start, so I have limited myself to three. All wonderful experiences, very different but also similar.
The first was during the day when teaching. Kate, Terry and I are teaching class 4b between morning tea and lunch. A wonderful class to teach. On Tuesday they made us sweet tea to share with them, then again yesterday. Today as we walked into the classroom, late again… oops, the class was sitting in a circle on the floor with their recorders and music. In the middle of the circle was a spread of food, carefully arranged on a red cloth. That moment of walking a cross the threshold into the classroom gave me the most incredible feeling of being welcomed with absolute sincerity. Of knowing that what I have to offer is valued by the those I’m teaching. So often as a teacher I have felt like what I am trying to teach, my knowledge and interests and enthusiasm, my presence in the classroom, is felt by the students to be an infringement on their lives. They’d much rather be somewhere else doing something else with someone else and this person at the front of the room keeps distracting their attention away from those more important things… well teaching here is the complete opposite of that. We are welcomed in and asked to stay. When I said “let’s learn verse three words” I got “yay!” Not “ooh.” It gives me this little bubble of joy inside that makes me so happy to be a teacher.
The second thing today was the performance given to us as a thank you by class ten who we are doing songs from The Ring Bearer with. This post seems to be full of praise but these guys are also a wonderful group to teach! Attentive, alive, interested, energetic, musical… And this was before they performed for us!
In the last half hour of the day we all settled down on the steps of the hall to watch a performance of some kind. We knew that they had performed it before, they had taken it to the goetheanum the previous year to perform there, and that is was a traditional Taiwanese something or other, but apart from that we didn’t know what to expect. Year ten performances can very easily dissolve into embarrassed laughing fits and awkward speeches…
Instead we got the most incredibly powerful performance. It was a Taiwanese aboriginal dance, the Chinese having arrived in Taiwan about 300 years ago. All of the students were singing and dancing. Call and response. Rhythmic. Focussed. Honest. Intense. The boys began, standing in a circle stepping to the right, arms interlocked. The girls joined in later. There was such a clear difference between the boys and girls. Clear masculine and feminine without any feelings of sexism or segregation. The rhythms and the chanting just kept going, and rather than getting tedious or feeling repetitive, the longer it went on, the more powerful it became. And all the while there is a part of me thinking these are year tens! how did they learn it all? How are they this mature? Wow! Could Australian year tens do this? I can’t picture it at all. There really are no words to describe the feeling of our entire group during this performance. It was WOW with so much emotion, so much gratitude, and the incredible feeling of being allowed to experience something special. Of being so lucky to be able to see something so strongly linked to the place we are in, its history and the people who surround us. Something that can’t be bought or found on a tourist map. So thank you class ten, for sharing that with us.
The third thing is a more subtle quiet experience. After school a few of us with our host families went to a large park for dinner. This park is about three minutes walk from the house I am living in and is an incredible place. Beautiful. Attention to every detail. Lakes, stairways, paths under rows of trees, a water stage, a spot on the top of a bridge where if you could hear your voice bounce back to you whenever you spoke. Beautifully placed rocks. All arranged to match ancient feng shui principles with dragons and turtles and white tigers and more all represented. I wish I could remember and write down all the things I was told about what the many things represented. Instead I took lots of photos, of which here are just a few…
And so ends another day. Tomorrow will be a long one, 8am-10pm wish us luck!