Photos by Hui-chen and MJ Klein
UPDATE: If you think my story is bad, then check out this story from Thailand!
Awhile back Hui-chen and I attended a lunch given by the local elementary school. While I was at the lunch they asked me if I wouldn’t mind coming to an event and talking with the school kids about camping. I told them that I’m not qualified to teach and am not a teacher, but as long as it was informal, sure I could come and talk with the kids and teach them about camping.
Here we see Ms. Huang asking how many students will be camping overnight at school this evening. I was surprised at how many were staying overnight.
Next, I was asked to talk with the kids. The first thing I explained to them was the meaning of the word “outdoorsman.” They were shocked to find out that I have spent up to a few weeks at a time in the forest alone. I used their newly learned vocabulary in the course of my discussion.
Here I am explaining how to select a campsite. Later some high school students were scheduled to come over and set up some tents for the little kids. I had a question/answer session and the kids asked some pretty good questions, showing that they were indeed paying attention. One kid asked how to make a place to sleep and I showed them how to build a lean-to shelter. I had brought one of my Dutch ovens and told the kids that I was going to bake them a cake over a campfire that evening. Of course they never heard of that before and were very surprised to learn that this is even possible.
Another kid asked me if I would be joining the water balloon fight they had planned for later on. “Sure” I said. “It would be fun.” Little did I know….
Believe it or not, I am exercising hard every day and losing weight, although photographs like the above are discouraging.
Next, we all went outside for some more activities. Ms. Huang had several things lined up for the kids to participate in which would show how much they had retained from the classroom experience before. I thought it was pretty cool and the kids seemed to enjoy it.
I didn’t mind getting wet at all. I didn’t mind even being targeted and ganged up upon by most of the students. This is what kids do. A couple of the boys came over to my side and were on my defense team (but not the one shown here). Several students got behind me and clobbered me very well. However, I noticed that something was hitting my back, and it wasn’t balloons – it was fists.
A young girl was actually punching me as hard as she could! I asked her to stop doing that, but in the meantime, the other students had re-loaded (from a seemingly endless supply of water balloons) and were pelting me good! A few more water balloons popped nearby and I heard a little voice say “get the foreigner” in Chinese. Then, more fists hitting me! It seems they weren’t satisfied with balloons, it was as if they wished to do me bodily harm. I heard some kids farther down make remarks like “we’ll get the foreigner now” and when I looked up I saw them running towards me with a tub full of water. Well, I wasn’t going to just let them throw that on me so I got off the field and walked up to the class room level and was able to cut them off just as they were about to throw it. That same little girl who was previously hitting me screamed at me in Chinese “give that to me you foreigner! that isn’t yours!” referring to the tub of water I had spilled out and was holding. She then started punching me as hard as she could, screaming “you foreigner, I’ll get you foreigner!” over and over. Clearly, this situation was turning ugly and I got a very sick feeling in my stomach – the feeling that I get when I encounter racial prejudice. That girl has some serious issues and I certainly didn’t need that. I told Hui-chen that we were going home because I’d had enough. I went back into the classroom to get my belongings when 2 students came up to the door with a tub of water and were actually considering throwing it on me inside the classroom when some adults (Taiwanese) showed up.
The head of the Parent’s Union (or whatever it’s properly called) tried to talk me into staying but I told her that she wanted the kids to learn a lesson, so here’s one: no cake, no campfire, no song because the foreigner is not welcome and is now going home.
I don’t know about those kids, but I sure got my Taiwanese education today.
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