Something old and something new:
My last few posts have catapulted my mind in a million different directions. All of my posts do, actually. It’s just . . .
Sometimes it’s hard to focus on a single string of thoughts. Tangents are everywhere.
Today, then, rather than wax philosophical, I’ve decided to talk history. It occurred to me recently that I’ve never explained how I ended up in Asia in the first place. I’ve also been thinking about starting a weekly section — “Forever Friday” . . . maybe? — and, well, if I do that, why not combine the two?
And so, without further ado, here is the first installment of . . . whatever this is. I hope you approve!
In the Beginning . . .
A sheltered white girl from Northern California wanted to get away from home. After graduating from high school, she went to a private university in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Here, she thought about pursuing many different things, but in the end — no matter where it led (or didn’t) — English had her heart.
Upon graduation, she entered the work force as a copy writer in Tennessee. It was a good job, and one she excelled at, but one she didn’t love. (Deadlines are stressful!) And so, at the end of 2008, she moved home . . . and couldn’t find a job. She ended up working as an ophthalmology assistant for a year — a job she was grateful for but detested — and thus was thrilled when, in late 2009, a friend asked if she’d be interested in teaching in Taiwan. Though Taiwan was not her first choice, she’d always wanted to live abroad. She said, “YES!”
She arrived in Taipei just in time to welcome the new year. Helloooo 2010! It was a big change, and not at all what she had expected. The following were some of her impressions during the first few days she was there (from my former blog, tai tao, which I wrote while in Taiwan):
Taiwan is wet. For the first two weeks I was here, our town Sanjhih was so socked in fog that I had no idea we lived on the coast, no idea that our apartments were located on a mountain . . .
Drivers are crazy here, and scooters and stray dogs swarm cars like gnats. You can park anywhere — including in the middle of the street. And the temples! There are temples everywhere! . . .
Reflecting on New Years Eve downtown:
I’m not used to this — not used to standing out. But here in Asia, where even cartoon characters have dark hair and slanted eyes, I do — like a sore thumb . . .
And it makes me wonder: What is the value of diversity?
In the States, it doesn’t matter if you are black or white or Filipino or Hispanic—when I look at you, I think “American.” In Taiwan, nothing could be further from the truth. You have brown hair and green eyes? Red hair and freckles? Must not be from around here . . .
And it’s not that you’re not welcome—you are! It’s just that they notice: You’re different. And you notice, too.
I miss blending in.
It was a big change. And, as it turned out, a good one. That little island was going to challenge this sheltered white girl, and mold her, and take her to new, unimagined heights. She was going to become a better person with a whole new perspective of the world at large, and she’d owe it all — to Taiwan.