Category Archives: being a student

Getting ready to start again

A new adventure!

I’m always amazed when I first get to a new country.  There are so many things to learn, look at, eat, and know.  Once I arrived, I knew I had found a place I could stay a while.

Along with a few ESL classes, I am the new Science teacher at an International School.  I’m spending my Winter Break creating science units and lessons for grades 3-8.  It’s So, So, SO much fun!   That is not sarcastic.  I’m really enjoying it.

My classes are truly international, with students from Europe, the Middle East, the Balkans, Asia, and the Americas.  I’ve been welcomed in from the first day and have met many other expats as well.  What a fun place I’m living in!

Dancing on the weekends never disappoints!  And, I have a new puppy, Zoe.  Technically, she’s not mine, my bestie rescued her, but I get to claim her while I live here 🙂  Zoe’s about 7 months old and had been hit by a car when very young.  She’s got a funny little gait, but she keeps up on our walks.  Getting to know how to be a good doggie second mommy has had its ups and downs, but mostly ups!  Yeah for conquering fears a little more every day.

I’m grateful for a good job, in a good city, with good people.  It’s the season to show our love for humanity.  And so, I will also be doing some volunteer work at the local orphanage hospital.  Holding and comforting tiny newborns and infants sounds like a pretty sweet way to celebrate the Season well.  I will let you know how that goes, because I expect pure, exuberant awesomeness to come from those days.

I need to get back to planning for a semester of science, but I wanted to check in with everyone and say Hi!  Go be awesome.

Tell ’em Ms. McKahsum told you to!





Hormone 15 – a Mari-ism

Hormone 15 – a Mari-ism

My 15th year was a doozie.  Lots of things.   So many things made that year a humdinging, what-the-heck kind of year.  But it also set my mind to the trying to understand that year.  It made me want to figure out what it is about 15.

When my oldest son was a teenager, things were a bit of a whirlwind.  I wish I’d had the understanding and the ability to articulate what I know now, but as I tell him every birthday, he’s my guinea pig.  He’s my first go round at being a parent of someone his age.  So most of my parenting has been winging it with him.  However, I noticed and started to pick apart that 15th year of his as well.  Things weren’t great up to that point, but 15, that’s when they hit their fever pitch.

I learned that hormonal changes are far more than armpit and facial hair in our boys.  They may not have periods, but those hormones take hold of our boys and chew them up, same as our girls.  I watched, I took notice.  It’s the science-y part of me; I observe, I question, I contemplate these types of things.  I have learned so much by being his mom.   And I’m pretty lucky for it  🙂

As my daughter came up on 15, I took notice.  Like me, she hit hormone madness with a full speed ahead, hold onto anything not tied down, double-engine train.  The lack of subtlety made it easier to see the stark contrast of “adolescent behavior” pre 15, and smack dab in the middle of head-on 15.

I am grateful that even through their teens, we had a good enough relationship that we could talk about whatever.  They usually turned bright red or did this (especially my daughter)

when I talked to them about sex, but, I’d rather have red, gaggy faces than STD’s, early babies, and naïve meanderings that could end up with emotional trauma.  (yes my kidittos, you’re welcome, btw)

So I was able to talk to her a little and help her understand, a little better than if we weren’t able to talk, the madness that hormones wreak.  It was a more modest, less developed version of the talk I had with my youngest son, but it got most of the main points across.

And so, as I combined my observations with myself, my oldest son, my daughter, other parents and their teenagers, I was able to finally formulate and articulate the “You’re going to be 15 soon” speech.  A speech which I attribute much of the continued success in communication with him to.

And it goes a little something like this:

 Son, you’re going to turn 15 in a few months.

When this happens you won’t like me.  I won’t like you.

It’s ok because we are going to love each other all the way through it.  We’ll be alright, because soon after that, you’ll be 16 and we’ll like each other again.

You see, somewhere around 15, a brand new hormone will hit your body.  One that will change the way you see everything.  One that has plagued humans since the beginning of time and probably threatened our existence more than any other natural cause.  It is the hormone that spawned the saying,

eat their young


And here’s why.

Up until this point, the only way you know how to understand and relate to your moods and feelings is by what just happened.  EVERYTHING that affected your mood, happened outside of you.  If someone took your candy away, you got mad.  If someone brought you a present, you got happy.  If your favorite cartoon came on, you felt elated.  If someone said something mean to you, you got hurt.  If everything was just normal, you were just normal.

Your mood and emotion was, and is for the time being, entirely dependent on external events.

That is all about to change.

Don’t worry.  It’s part of life.  We all go through it.  We will survive.

The problem lies in how little we understand it.  So I’m gonna break it down for you.

Once this hormone hits your system, NOTHING, absolutely nothing outside of you will change, but your mood will.

Oh will it change.  Your mood will fluctuate like your vocal chords bud, with no sense of timing, or reason, or care for social circumstance.  Hormone 15 will mercilessly twist your brain up like it’s saltwater taffy on a roller coaster, out at sea, in a hurricane.

Yes, you get to add this to your changing voice, the fact that you stink, your Shaggy-esque hairs, and your extendo-limbs.

And because, so far, your mood has only ever changed by external events, you are going to try and find external events to lay blame on.  There won’t be any.  You’ll look for them anyway and you’ll find a few things that it could be; so you’ll turn all your hormonal driven emotion at whatever that is.  You will get confused and hurt and frustrated as you try to find the thing that made you so ……. whatever emotion you’re feeling.

(Usually the blame will go to me.  I get that now.  So I’m going to be able to handle it a bit better than I did with the last two, you lucky duck you.)

You are going to wake up one morning and hate life.  The sounds of morning that once made you feel happy because you love breakfast, will be heard with hormone-affected ears and you will feel The Hulk want to rage out of you with each clank of a dish.

Your clothes will piss you off.

Your pillow will make you want to cry.

The sky, in whatever state it is in, will frustrate and confuse you.

The smile and hug I am used to, as you leave for school, will be replaced with a scowl, because your inner hormonal demons don’t want to be touched and can’t believe they have to go to school.

All of your friends will be going through the same thing and you will run the gamut of emotional torture, frantic clinging, and bouts of ecstatic wonderment in all that is new in the world, which unmistakably, now you all can see more clearly than any other humans that have ever lived.

Oh, that Hormone 15 is a doozie.  You’re about to get flip-turned upside-down.

The good news is that A) after that first rush year, it calms down, B) you start to figure out how to live in your new body, and C) you start getting so interested in girls you forget about not liking me.

Of course, that’s when we’ll have the next set of talks generally titled, “Respect” and “No babies”.


* I got very lucky with my children that I didn’t have to have the Respect and No babies talks before the 15 talk.  I did have a sort of graduated/ age appropriate series of talks with my kidittos…..  In fact my daughter chose to skip one, because she knew it was coming and didn’t want the embarrassment; and instead learned a valuable lesson the harder way.  Which taught me that age appropriate is “while it’s still informative, i.e. before it’s needed”.

 How was my “talk” received?

One morning, my daughter was already in her usual teenage morning huff when my youngest son woke up, within a few weeks of turning 15.  I heard the uncharacteristic banging of doors.  The, (characteristic) yelling at each other about time in the bathroom, but with an added, and new, note in the male voice.

There was a grumbly boy eating his breakfast, hunched over and scowling.  And a frustrated and bordering angry re-entry into the kitchen after being reminded to rinse his dishes.

A refusal to be hurried for his sister and subsequent second argument, followed by a slamming of the front door as he left to go to school.

And then, as he reached the end of the walk, he turned around, still storming.  I watched by the front door, prepared to rationally deal with what was CLEARLY the first day of Hormone 15.  I stood my ground, stuck a smile on my face as he opened the door.

He glared at me as he asked, “This is that hormone thing you talked to me about isn’t it?”  To which I calmly nodded my head.  He grunted, half smiled, and said he’d see me after school.  Then he closed the door and walked back down the path.

Hormones suck.  Being real helps.  Boys and men are just as complicated as girls and women.  Society teaches them not to show it, or to recognize it; to push their complicatedness away and ignore it.  But it’s there.  All teenagers go through these emotionally havoc wreaking, scary, hormonal changes.  I sure wish someone had explained any part of this to me when I was a kid.  But hopefully, I can help other parents and teenagers figure out a good way to get through it.




What do you think?


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A lesson in parallels, holding my head up high: Stop victim blaming.

I cannot help but notice the undeniable parallels of my time in Mozambique and my time in Montana, besides the fact that they both start with M and have 3 syllables.  This month, and this weekend especially has been enlightening.

Let me elucidate a little.

I went to both places on a hunch, a spiritually guided hunch, knowing one person.

I went to Mozambique on the promise of a job as an Admin Asst for a construction company,  I am currently an Admin Asst for a construction company.

Both John Goosen and my dad are emotionally abusive.

I was invited last minute to a friend of John Goosen’s wedding, I was invited last minute to a friend of my employer’s wedding.

I went out dancing with the group of people I barely knew for both weddings.

And here is what made this weekend, these particular moments stand out to me.

A couple weeks ago, someone I know posted his outrage at a man who had choked a girl and thrown her across a room.  At first, I thought he was standing up for me, shedding light on what had happened.  But, it was about someone else he knew.

That being the case is fine.  Be outraged. We all should be. And he was properly outraged at the abuser and stood up for the victim.  But it was in the comments where ‘situation’ came up that began to bug me.

The idea remains that there are situations that violence can be tolerated, understood, or at least not in need of outrage.

This woman’s situation and mine were parallel.  We were both violently attacked, choked, and thrown across a room.  I was continuously assaulted for half an hour.  I don’t know what else happened with this other woman, but it doesn’t matter, two men decided that was the way to behave.  She and I were both violently attacked. Neither of us deserved it.

This weekend’s wedding and ensuing revelry gave me tangible evidence, something so very in my face real, that the last shreds of doubt are gone that even one tiny bit of my assault was my fault.

I am, quite literally, in the same setting I was expecting in Mozambique, same job, same social circle.

And, the first time I’ve really gone out while here in Montana was practically the same situation as the night before I was assaulted.  Wedding of people I’ve only just met, out on the town, dancing, drinking, etc.

Here in Montana, I’m having to be the same kind of trusting, the same kind of maneuvering through the living situation, the same kind of putting myself out there socially.  It’s too similar to be mere coincidence.  I believe that the Spirit has given me this glimpse, this reminder, this moment to be able to compare and to see truth.

Every step of the process that wasn’t safe for me, was John Goosen’s purposeful, deliberate fault.

I put as many precautions into going as I knew how to, but he was intentionally creating an unsafe environment and circumstances, while also creating the illusion of the opposite.

Everything that made Mozambique unsafe for me was his orchestration.

It was not my choice to go to Mozambique that made me unsafe.  It was not my choice to “make the best of the situation” that made me unsafe.  It was not my choice of living situation, my choice to leave Turkey, or Taiwan, or Czech, or America that made me unsafe.  Nothing I did made me unsafe.

It was solely John Goosen’s deliberate intentions to manipulate me, lie to me, isolate me, threaten me, make me feel unsafe, and ultimately assault me that made me unsafe.  His choices made me unsafe.  He made me unsafe.  He assaulted me.  He is at fault.


John Goosen. Willem Johannes Goosen of South Africa.


JohnGoosenFB; living in Mozambique

There is no situation created where the victim of violence is at fault.  No domestic situation, no relationship status, no style of clothing, no sexual orientation, no amount of alcohol, no color of skin, no language, no religion, NO anything, EVER that is deserving of ANY kind of violence.

I don’t know if it just makes people feel unsafe themselves to think that this type of violence could happen to them, no matter what, without provocation, without reason, so they have to make the victim have some fault in order to absolve themselves from the possibility that it could happen to them, and therefore feel safer.  I don’t know.  I don’t understand it.

But I put myself in exceptionally similar situations in both places, and here, in Montana, with the same type job, having to work through things with my dad/ live with an abuser, going out with new people, mostly men, wedding of new people, drinking, dancing, general debauchery, etc.  I was completely safe.  People I had only just met, my male boss, a bar situation, lots of ways that could be construed as putting myself into dangerous situations.

And if a violent action had happened to anyone there, it is reasonable to think that others would blame the victim.  It was only a “fun night out” because no one ended up in a violent situation.

In Taiwan, I lived with 4 men.  I was never in danger.  Not once in a year and a half did any of them even come close to raising finger to me.  They were kind and protective.  In a wide variety of situations, I knew at all times that I was safe with them.  Living with men doesn’t make me unsafe.  I wasn’t lucky that I found a rare breed of good housemates.  The general population of men are safe.

Being a victim does not make the scenario dangerous.  Being an abuser does.


Because we do so little to put the focus and the blame where it belongs, abusers get away with violence over and over again.  We only live in the “dangerous” world, because we don’t stop violence, instead we question people for being victims.


I did 2 sets of 8 pushups today.  My wrists are healing, my mind is healing.  My determination remains strong and new avenues to pursuing  justice are coming around.

My goal is to make sure that John Goosen can never hurt another woman, another person, again.

This month’s, this weekend’s parallels bring me even more healing.  Even more understanding. Even more determination.  Everyone deserves to live their dreams, go for their moons and stars, to be the best version of themselves.


There are some really wonderful groups out there I’m aligning with, some great bloggers, and some non-profits with strength beyond what I am capable of solo.  Violence stops people from believing in their greatness.  It stops people from believing in each other.  It stops peace.  No amount of violence can ever bring peace.

Education needs to include teaching ways to achieve peace.  Education needs to be given to everyone.

“If we don’t teach our children peace, someone else will teach them violence”  Colman McCarthy


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First classroom

First classroom

My first classroom. Teaching for a construction company means they’ll build as we go! Pretty 😎 cool .

imageLearning vocabulary

Learning vocabulary

Getting prepped and excited for starting my first full week next week!
My Address for any one wanting it, for the time being is…
Escondidinho, Ilha de Mozambique,
Province of Nampula, 25

I’m off to go make visual aids and manipulatives for my restaurant class.
Love to you all! Especially my kidittos!!!


Maybe, maybe not

So, as I sit and work on my Good-bye Taiwan posts, going through hundreds of pictures, resizing, sorting, deciding, etc…. I’ve had this one thought keep running through my head.

I know that it is non-productive to let a thought sit and fester, so I figure, I’ll just write about it, get it out of my head, and then it will quit pestering me.


I say pestering rather than bothering because, I don’t know that it bothers me so much. It’s just a point of view, and I can fully respect it. It doesn’t hurt me or make me feel bad. Rather it just has me thinking and it keeps coming back, and I’m not being very productive as I ponder it.

So, here it is.

I was told recently, in a nice way, that I am a complicated woman. Maybe, maybe not.

When I was first told that, I agreed. But the more I think about it, the less I think it’s true. I could be wrong. The fact that I keep thinking about it may actually point to the fact that I am.

Here is where my thinking has been taking me; the reason I say, “No, I’m actually quite uncomplicated”.

Now, I, like each of us, am unique. I have my own set of circumstances, filters, patterns, history, etc. My particular rumbled past could very well be seen as complicated. With that I would agree.

But I, the person, am really quite simple. I don’t really understand the rules of all the social games people play. I don’t play them. I see them played out but I never quite have understood why. It doesn’t make any sense to me to act as if you are not interested in someone in order to get them to like you, or to judge another person based on your own past instead of their present.

I am me, plain and simple. I say how I feel when I feel it. I’m fairly incapable of hiding my feelings, though I will try to be happier if I’m feeling down. I live in the moment as the moment plays out. I ask for help when I need it. I give help whenever I can. I don’t judge people by their past or my past.

I am honest with people, I’m not brutal about it, but I am honest. I admit when I see a fault of mine. I try to work on issues in my life. I am open about myself, my past, my hurts, my triumphs, my goals, my hopes, my experiences. I don’t try to hide anything. I face life as it is and try to make the best of it.

I live for the joy. I want to give joy. I want to feel joy. Joy is nowhere inside the twists and turns of the social chaos and drama that most people wander around in.

Maybe what makes me appear to be complicated is that people who are wandering in the social “NESS” can’t figure out my “angle”.

But, that’s the thing, I don’t have an angle. I will share any part of my life with anybody that wants to hear about it. I will joyously be with the people around me, just because they are there with me.

I am not looking to manipulate, coerce, bend, change, or stop anyone from whatever path they are on. I will give advice if asked. I will be a listening board. I will play devil’s advocate in order to help someone else see another side of an issue they’ve asked me about. But I will also say, “I’m just playing this role, I’m not telling you to do this or that, just helping you see other sides”.

It’s not my place to tell anyone what to do. I have had a lot of experiences. I have lived a lot of roles, held a lot of jobs, and gotten a broad spectrum of education. I will happily tell a story about my life if it relates to something I have been asked about in hopes that it will help that person make their decision for their best interest.

I have also been called a “Yes woman”. I love new experiences. I love living in the moment. I love being with people. I am an avid learner. I love hearing people’s stories. I love watching the dynamics of interactions. I say yes to all kinds of new things as well as tried and true things. How else will I know?

I learn so much from my many experiences. Even the ones that don’t turn out the way I think they will, or others think they will. Every experience is a way to learn and grow. Every one.

I was in a short term amorous friendship not long before my change in relationship with Sven. I’m not sure I would have been able to recognize just how right Sven is for me if I hadn’t known this other wonderful man. Does it make me bad that I didn’t choose to stay with this other guy? No. Does it make him not good enough? NO. Just not right for each other. I’ve been in a small number of long term relationships that ended. And I have learned amazing amounts about me, about what I want and don’t want, about my interpersonal relationship skills, where I need improvement, where I need to stop accepting less than, and how to speak up for myself.

I have watched many mothers berate themselves for being bad mothers, when really they’re just normal mothers. We forget so easily that we are also just people. Just women. We don’t get super powers bestowed on us at the moment that baby cries for the first time. We are just fuddling through this the best way we can. I actually (sort of) think that no one should have just one child. It’s the next one that you start to realize that you’re doing just fine, in fact you were probably a little too harsh on them and yourself. I apologize every year to my oldest on his birthday, because he’s my guinea pig. I’ve never been the mother of a child his age before, plain and simple. We’re gonna tackle it head on, hope for the best, and apologize when needed.

I’ve made and lost friends over the years. I’ve held on and been held onto too long. I’ve let go and been let go of too quickly. I’ve been hurt and I’ve hurt others through overlooking. But every experience teaches me. I let go of the negative and keep the lesson.

Through all the life, all the childhood, all the parenthood, all the womanhood, all the new and old experiences, through all this, I live each day one by one. I try to connect experience with new opportunities, but I pretty much just jump in with the best of intentions for myself and everyone with me.

I trust everyone until they give me a reason not to. I like everyone until they give me a reason not to. I think everyone is trying their best and I try to help. I am really, simply, just out there in the world to be. I like to be. I like me.

I don’t think I’m complicated. Maybe I am, but maybe not.



The last day with (a possibly unhealthy attachment to) my students from last year

The last day with (a possibly unhealthy attachment to) my students from last year


I guess because this school year has been so difficult, I’ve continued to visit my old class.


I’ve tutored some of my students this year. And I’ve wished I could still been their teacher.


They have a great new teacher. A friend of mine. They are in great hands. Thank you Tr. Shannon for all you’ve done for them this year!

But I have missed them.


Yesterday was the last time though.
I went and played and sang songs with them.


It was so fun to hear them talking about Turkey.  Truly wonderful that Tr. Shannon had taught them about Turkey!  They were excited to hear about new students I will be teaching.


I gave them all my email and a request to be their pen pal.  It will be great to hear from them.  I love when I hear from my students from Washington middle school back in the states!


Amazingly I didn’t feel sad, but rather empowered to know that these wonderful children have such a great start in their lives.


Then I had my last tutor session.
And then I went to the last wonderful dinner.


So happy with her new bunny puppet from a trip to the zoo20140618_17023620140618_170823

The fact that Tiger now has a shark is truly scary.  And that shark’s teeth were actually sharp!!  I have a cut on my leg from them.   Can we rethink the design of children’s toys here people??20140618_170636 20140618_170735

I felt a sincere need to bite his hand at least once so he’d understand it actually hurt……   but I didn’t.

Dinner was really yummy.  I need to look up the name of the place, but it was all vegetarian food and they were very very accommodating to my dairy allergy!!20140618_184121 20140618_184129 20140618_184624Seriously the best pumpkin soup I have ever eaten.  Hands down.  The best.20140618_185831 20140618_190414 20140618_190515 20140618_191155 20140618_191341 20140618_191413 20140618_191421 20140618_192438 20140618_194012One of THE cutest things ever was watching Tiger try to follow my example of twirling my spaghetti.   He had only one noodle, but he was twirling so very carefully.  I have video, but am still entirely too webilliterate to figure out how to upload it.

so you’ll have to picture it


PS,  Still falling,

faster and more happily every day.


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Accountability in Education

Accountability in Education

*though I am writing this mostly about what I’ve noticed in Taiwan, Americans, take note, because the Taiwanese are trying to emulate American educational systems and we are not setting a very good example.


Yes, we need more accountability. The problem is that the accountability is being firmly placed in one lap rather than shared amongst all those responsible for a child’s education.

Firstly, and in my estimation most importantly, the accountability for a child’s education has been taken away from the child themselves. It is such a gigantic disservice to a child to not hold them accountable for their own education.

Why should they care if they are educated if they feel no responsibility for it? Why should they feel pride in their education if they barely do anything to receive it?

Some politicians and directors/ board members of educational institutions etc., would contend that there should be more private schools, ask more money for tuitions, create more charter schools, or anything else to charge parents for their child’s education.

HOWEVER, that is NOT putting responsibility on the students. That’s putting it on their parent’s wallets. It creates a crevasse between students whose parents have the financial ability and those who don’t.

How is it fair to a child when the education they are able to receive is dependent on the financial ability of their parents?

They didn’t choose their parent’s lives. They have no say in the financial situation of their parents. It is devastatingly unfair to strengthen or curtail a child’s pursuit of knowledge based on the circumstances of their home. It always has been. It always will be.

All children have potential to be good, upstanding, contributing members of society. They learn how to do that as they grow up. Children spend the majority of their maturing lives in school. So the schools are teaching them, directly and indirectly what kind of society member they can become. If they are taught that they deserve less or deserve more because of their parent’s situations, then they become adult members of society that both directly and indirectly blame their life choices on those of their parents and other adults in their lives, instead of taking responsibility for their own behaviors and actions.

Taking away the child’s accountability for their education harms EVERYONE.

Children are no longer being asked why their grades are failing, teachers are. Why would a child care about their grades if they know that the teacher will be penalized for it and not them?

Instead of trying to learn what is being said in English, they wait for the Chinese translation. They don’t have to earn their grade. They know they will get an 80% or higher even if they sit there and stare at me blankly.

Instead of accountability, they’re being given undue amounts of power.

Kids are by nature manipulative little guys. They have to be. It’s natural. That’s how they get taken care of when they can’t take care of themselves. OK, but they unconsciously (and sometimes consciously) use that in every situation until they mature enough.

Secondly, the school’s Administration and the Department of Education are not accepting any accountability for the programs that are clearly designed to fail students. Schools have become businesses instead of Institutions for education.

Institution: noun: an organization, establishment, foundation, society, or the like, devoted to the promotion of a particular cause or program, especially one of a public, educational, or charitable character.

Schools are fundamentally necessary to pass on and continue the educational advances of mankind. They are instruments of the proverbial “Village” to nurture and develop our young into well-functioning, creative, and contributing members of society.

They are NOT supposed to be money making machines that churn out masses of simple minded, cookie-cutter, semi-educated sheeple for the other money making machines to feed off of.


Thirdly, parents are more concerned about the grades the child gets than whether or not they are actually learning.

This sends me back to the 80% or higher no matter what the child does. Schools will not allow teachers to give grades based on actual learning. They have to be based on what the parents will “accept”.

It can be argued that an 80% is considered a very low grade to Taiwanese students and parents, but it’s an unrealistic consideration universally.

There’s very little accountability from the parents on ensuring that their child is doing their part in learning. They don’t want the students to have a lot of homework. They won’t “accept” homework they don’t understand.

The way the word ‘accept’ is used here in Taiwan is a whole other blog…… oi.

They want to see mastery without the work involved. The ‘work’ is supposed to be done in class, by the teacher. If they don’t know what is happening in class, they assume nothing is. They can’t “accept” that the child could be at fault. And it cannot be pointed out that the child might be having difficulty learning due to a disability. Disabilities are entirely ignored.

Unlike American schools where disabilities are integrated but still given extra support, here in Taiwan the kids are all thrown together and the class has to be toned as close to the least able as possible.

I’m all for equal educational and social opportunities, but the extra support is necessary to fulfill that. I taught a First Grade class with a wonderful young boy that was disabled. The class loved him being there. But he had a support tech with him to help him as needed. She was invaluable in both his education and that of all the other students. The class moved along at a consistent pace because she was dedicated to his needs and made sure he got the extra instruction or practice needed to keep up. Everyone benefitted.

His disabilities were not ignored, they were observed. His needs were not overlooked, they were given consideration. It’s a big difference.

And again, these kids, who could really excel with proper support, are underserved because they are still given that 80% without any help to have earned it.

Finally, we get to teachers. Sadly, too many foreign teachers here are just in it for the paycheck. Not all, so don’t get your knickers in a twist, but too many.

It’s far too easy to not care if the children are educated because no one else does. . It is sadly far too true here.

We don’t dedicate ourselves to ensuring there is understanding, practice and mastery. We have a pace we have to keep. We have students of all levels in the same class. We have unrealistic expectations.

Many, many of us put in a lot. But we are also here short-term and it shows up in our efforts.

We could really make a change for the better if we chose to, but we don’t. Yes, I am including me in all this. I have not made myself as accountable for my student’s education this year as I should have. I listened to all the people at the school instead of sticking to what I know would work.

With all the accountability for a child’s education being placed in the laps of teachers, many teachers are shrugging it off and justifying it through blaming the system, which shrugs it off as cultural differences.

Unfortunately, the ones who are being harmed by all of us adults not being accountable or responsible are the children we are supposed to be helping.

So what do we do?

We start holding the children accountable. They need real consequences and real rewards for taking responsibility for their own education.

We need to help them discover how this education we are providing will impact their future, and how their role in learning impacts what they learn.

We need to hold the Administrations and the Department of Education accountable for the amount of time students have to learn, for the quality of materials, and for understanding that language is inexplicably tied to culture and though we, as adults, need to respect the culture we are choosing to live in, they, as educators, need to respect that teaching English cannot be done using Taiwanese methods.

And we need to take accountability for educating these children, for preparing them for their future. We are their glimpse and we need to make it a good one.


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A little bit of teaching in Hsinchu

Bug Day is a little different than I’m used to



These bugs are fantastic!







You’re pretty much not going to get me to hold one though.



The farmer in the dell actually needs explaining before singing……..  Or they sing random syllables that don’t make any sense……


Food gifts are fairly common.  It’s making my co-teachers love me, because they get to eat it all.



There are some really funny things that come through the books I grade!!  Like the the little ‘tired’ face that’s flipping us off….



Or the need to do a lot of guessing at what they mean…..



stopping child cannibalism at home, some things are just important to do as a teacher


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Making sure they understand when you’re asking a question and how to answer it.





And then there’s the fun moments, when a student uses all his best English to show you what he made over the weekend!


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Good times, and looking forward to all that’s ahead of me!


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Taiwan odds and ends for today

Taiwan odds and ends for today

I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to really absorb more of my surroundings as I am preparing to leave Taiwan.  I have really enjoyed my time here, mosquitoes aside.

It’s been raining a ton.  I’ve been noticing all the flowers starting to bloom.  It’s getting greener and warmer by the day.  Here’s a few photos from my meanderings and of course, some food.

Just like dad

Just like dad

I had to scramble in my purse to get this photo in time!!  They got on the escalator.  The little boy, feet firmly planted straight down being cautious, holding the rail.  Dad assumed the position you see straight away.

The little boy looked at his dad’s feet, looked up at his face, back to dad’s feet, then to his own feet.  Then, ever so carefully, gripping the rail for balance, he put one foot over the other until they were crossed.  He looked at his feet, at dad’s feet, back to his feet to make sure it was right.  He looked up at dad’s face, who was still unaware of what was happening, then pushed his arm forward on the rail, so he could lean a little bit.

He did a full body look then back to dad, broke out in a smile then turned to face front, just like dad.  It was then I decided I needed this picture.  This reminder that everything we do, everything, they look up to.  This was such a sweet reminder of that.


Phenomenally cute faces on the children here.  Taiwanese kids are SO cute.


I love helping with homework!  Why on earth they need to learn about American money is beyond me, but hey, I know it, so we can do it!


Since I helped her she decided she could just give it the right grade!  Haha too cute!  I don’t know what her teacher thought of it, but I like it.


She’s buying my funny with American coins!


These two are fun to work with!


Why is it that in a place where there is a “World Soybean Milk Magnate” the only place I can get soymilk in my coffee is at Starbucks?






These three signs were all on the same building for the same restaurant.  I don’t know, but I thought it was interesting!



Next door was this awesome restaurant.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe owners kept bringing over food for us to try, good food special to their restaurant.  Definitely eat there if you’re in Taipei!!  Yum.


pork and vegetables


chicken and peanut deliciousness


seriously the best fried tofu I’ve ever eaten




And this delicious dairy-free sweet roll.  I ate 2!!  YUM

Good night folks!  Day 13/30 done and done!


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I am not afraid…… of much

The bad stuff is easier to believeanigif_enhanced-buzz-6015-1389474753-18

The negative is a record that plays over and over again like this gif.

It repeats in our heads, in the background, in the forefront, all around us.

We’re taught from early on NOT to feel good about ourselves.  It’s stuck up, conceited, arrogant, narcissistic.  We have to see the bad and have the bad pointed out in order to be acceptable. We’re human after all.

Every direction we turn we hear don’t do that, don’t wear that, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t be yourself.  Be what every one else thinks you should be because you are not good enough as is.

Fear is instilled and leads our lives.

A while ago, but not too long ago in the grand scheme of things, I gave up religion.  I did not give up the idea of a higher something, but I gave up religion.  I gave up being afraid.  For me, religion is man-made, fear-based.  It began in fear of the unknown and continued in the fear of nonconformity.

Religion was perhaps necessary at its origins.  People needed a way to understand.  Leaders needed a way to manage people.  Ok, I get it.  But, for me, it is currently unnecessary and creates far more harm than good.  Faith is great.  Morals are great.  But the whole my god is better than your god, or lack of god, is a whole lot of bull$it.

I got tired of being afraid of everything.  I was afraid of not being good enough for anything.  If I don’t pray often enough, for the wrong things, too much.  I was afraid of whether  I went to church enough, was faithful enough, believed enough.

So I stopped being afraid.

I heard a quote about fear being the root of all negative emotions.  It resonated.  All of a sudden so much of my life was clearer.  I was angry, jealous, or judgmental about this thing or the other, but those emotions were based in my fear of inadequacy.  I was dependent, hurt, controlling, or tried to do everything for someone else, but it was all based in my fear of abandonment.  We yell because we’re afraid of not being heard.   We’re afraid of not being heard because we’re afraid we’re not worthy to be heard.  It’s just true, the negativity is based in fear.  I stopped just reacting and started trying to uncover the underlying fears.

I started just being me.  I started learning to like me.  I started, slowly, healing.  The less afraid of being myself I was, the better my life got.

I started facing my fears.

Am I inadequate?  I looked through as many ways as I could think of and nope.  I’m not.  Turns out I’m not only adequate, I’m generally more than.  I still have a few areas that I need more work, but generally speaking, yeah, I’m fine.

Am I going to be abandoned?  No.  I’m right here with me all the time and I like me.  If people come into my life and choose to leave, it’s their loss.  That’s not being conceited.  I’m not perfect, I am human, but I am also worth people’s time.  I do my best to be the best me I can be to everyone I know.  Therefore, quirks and all, I think it’s a loss not to be my friend.

Is it ok if I’m not heard?  Yep.  I will say what I feel.  I will be diplomatic as possible, but I won’t sugar coat anything.  I’m open about me and who I am.  And, just like I don’t always hear what others are saying, I won’t always be heard.  I won’t always be listened to.  The things I have to say are not always important to the people I’m saying them to.  End of story.  I am worthy of being heard, and if someone else chooses not to hear, it doesn’t devalue me.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. 

And then I found this quote.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  Marianne Williamson



I still have a few deep-rooted trees I need to dig up in my fear forest, but I’d give myself a 85% clear.  I know what they are, which helps a lot, I just haven’t gotten them out.

I was blessed enough to find my “mamma”.  With her help, with a lot of hard work, with a lot of therapy, some more hard work, and a bit of time, I have discovered that I really can shine.  I really am great.  I really can be exactly me and I’m awesome.

There’s so much less drama

I used to HATE that saying “nobody can make you feel bad”.  I used to think you have obviously not lived my life, because a lot of people have made me feel bad.  But through this fear understanding I finally realized it’s true.  t really is a choice.  I’ve had a lot of really crappy shit happen in my life.  A LOT.  But,

Who I am is because of how I choose to deal with it.

I WAS a victim for a long time.  I allowed myself to feel victimized.  I behaved like a victim.  I replayed those negative messages over and over and over and over again.

I had drama.  Oh did I have drama.

And then, I didn’t.

I stopped choosing to be a victim. I faced fears, I learned lessons.

I stopped choosing to be helpless.  I stopped choosing to feel hurt and started choosing to learn.  I stopped accepting blame for things that weren’t my issues.  I stopped taking on the guilt from other people’s actions.  I stopped putting blame on others for my actions.  I stopped giving my power over my actions to other people.  I stopped giving my power away to reactions.  I stopped living in past recordings of negativity.  I stopped the drama.

Am I perfect?  Hell no.  Do I always remember right away. Nope.  Do I have it all figured out?  Not at all.


But I have a lot more figured out than I used to.


I’m not afraid to be me. I’m not afraid to be alone.  I’m not afraid to travel the world.  I’m not afraid to be told I’m wrong.  I’m not afraid of new ideas.  I’m not afraid to experiment.  I’m not afraid to try.  I’m not afraid to let others be themselves.  I’m not afraid…..   of much.   (I’m still afraid of dogs, but not like I used to be)

What I am is hopeful.

Hopeful that I can help others stop living in fear.  Hopeful that I can lead a good life.  Hopeful that if I have a maker to meet, I will do it with a continued clean conscience.  Hopeful that my life will continue to get better and better.

And I think it will.








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