1. Taiwan, Eleven Years In (September 九月 2010)
When I think about it, after THIS year I will have been in Taiwan TWELVE years, and since I will be 36 next year that means I will have spent a full third of my life either living in, moving to, moving away from, or in some other way concerned with this island. 我快三十六歲了,也已經在臺灣十一年, 所以我生活的三分之一都跟臺灣有關係.
But for now I'm only up to the number 11. That's not so long, right? Never mind the fact that yesterday a coworker told me that when I first came to Taiwan she WAS STILL IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. I cannot tell you how inexpressibly old this made me feel, to think that soon-to-be college graduates were still watching "Yoyo TV" when I was first getting off the plane from Seattle. 雖然十一年不是很長,但是昨天有一位同事說我到臺灣的第一年,她仍是國小的學生,你無法想像我聽到時的感受,那些即將從大學畢業的學生居然在當時還是看幼幼臺的小朋友.
Oh well. I try not to dwell on these things. You're as young as you feel, right? If that's true then I am very young indeed, since all my training for the triathlon has probably put me in the best shape I've ever been in. I just wish, like probably everyone else alive, that I could live for a few hundred more years, never growing older or weaker or more confused.算了,我試著不要在這些事上放太多心思,在心理層面上,我仍然覺得自己還很年輕,我為了參加鐵人三賽所練習的運動項目,將身體鍛鍊到有始以來自己最滿意的狀態,跟大多數人的希望一樣,如果可以活個幾百年,不用擔心變老時的身體狀況和腦袋遲鈍的問題就好了.
Life is so short, you know. If you don't feel that way, you probably aren't over 30, you probably don't have children, and you probably never think how just yesterday you were asking your parents for comic book money, or falling in love for the first time, or opening your first bank account. I am continually appalled by the fact that my older daughter will be attending middle school in a couple of years. I can almost hear the clock going "tick, tick, tick..."生命很短暫.如果你沒有這樣的認知,那表示你大概未過三十歲?可能也還沒有孩子?更或許才剛脫離跟父母要零用錢的階段?談第一次的戀愛?第一次到銀行開戶?我可是一直都被我大女兒快上國中的這個事實提醒著,耳邊幾乎可以聽到時間運行的滴答聲.
Of course I know what my mom would say. "What, you're worried about being 35? How old do you think I am?" She would say this, and she would be right. I am still very young by many people's standards, and my age shouldn't bother me.我可以想像我媽在這個時候會說的話:"什麼!你煩惱自己已經三十五歲了?那你認為我幾歲?"她應該是對的,對很多比我年長的人來說,我是沒什麼理由煩惱自己的年紀的.
Never mind the fact that I can remember a time before CDs, a time before the internet, and even a time before Taipei had the MRT. Our lives are full of such milestones, and I suppose the best we can do is just reconcile ourselves to this fact. Sometimes it's not easy to grow older, but we are certainly fortunate to have the chance to do so.我記得那個只有卡帶錄音機的時代,還沒有網際網路的年代和臺北還沒有捷運的景象,我們的生命中充滿了許多像這樣具有里程碑特性的時刻,最好的態度就是接受,有時很難釋懷年歲的增長,但是有這樣的成長機會不也是一件幸福的事?
It's a good life, and it's a good world to live in. So here's to another year in Taiwan!這是一個美麗的世界,對我更是邁向在臺灣的下一年度的時刻.
2. Foreign Teachers, Public Schools 公立學校的外籍教師 (October 十月 2010)
I work for Tung Hai Elementary School as a Foreign English Teacher. In this capacity I am employed by the Taitung County Government. I have been working for the Taitung County Government for three years. 我是台東市東海國小的外籍老師. 我已經在臺東教書三年了.
Tung Hai Elementary is the second public school I have worked at in Taitung. I was previously the Foreign English Teacher at Tung Hai Middle School, where I worked for two years before deciding that smaller children were decidedly more pleasant to teach. Besides the middle and elementary schools, I have also taught off and on at Taitung University, working for both the English Department and the Language Center. 在臺東, 東海國小是我任教的第二個學校. 我以前在東海國中上班二年, 之後,我覺得教國小學生應該比較輕鬆一點. 除了在國中小上課以外, 我以前也在臺東大學教過美語會話跟TOEFL的課.
At present, besides myself, there are 6 other foreign teachers working in Taitung County. There is one at Guan Shan Elementary, one at Lu Ye Elementary, one working at both Bao Sang Middle School and Feng Li Elementary, one at Bao Sang Elementary, one at Ren Ai Elementary, and one at Tung Hai Middle School, where I used to work. 除了我之外, 臺東縣還有六個外籍老師. 一位在關山, 一位在鹿野, 一位在寶桑國中跟豐里國小, 一位在仁愛國小, 還有一位在東海國中.
This makes five out of seven teachers working in Taitung City, where most of the schools and most of the students are. I believe six of us are Americans, with one Australian. Three of us are men, and four are women. 這群外籍老師當中, 六個是從美國來的. 另外一個是從澳洲來的. 三位是男生, 四位是女生.
When I first came to Taitung, there were only four other Foreign English Teachers. One of them was a girl from Canada, another was a guy from Texas, and another two were an older couple from South Africa. A couple of them had a lot of difficulty getting along with their coworkers, but I think this difficulty was more due to their individual personalities than any other factor. 我第一年到臺東時, 全縣只有五個外籍老師. 一位是從加拿大來的小姐, 一位是從美國德州來的男老師, 還有一對南非來的夫妻. 其中有兩個不太適合這裡的工作環境, 這應該是因為他們自己的個性問題.
A couple of the Foreign English Teachers were so bad that those schools will not accept Foreign English Teachers anymore. This is a sad thing. Most of the teachers, however, have done a good job and it would be good to have more like them. The problem facing most of the county governments throughout Taiwan is simply recruiting enough teachers to meet the demand. There are plenty of foreigners living in Taiwan who would kill to work for the Government, but they don't meet the requirements. If I could, I would certainly hire some of them, but of course I'm not the one making all the rules. 有兩個外籍老師的表現讓他們的學校以後不再接受任何的外籍老師. 這是件很可惜的事情. 除了他們以外, 其他的外籍老師的工作表現都很好. 臺東縣的問題不是外籍老師不好, 而是常常找不到符合資格的外籍老師. 臺灣當然有很多外國人, 只是教育部要求的資格條件有很多限制.
Foreign English Teachers working in Taitung public schools can find themselves here in one of two ways. The first way is to get hired by the Ministry of Education (M.O.E.) in Taipei. After they hire them, they can request (or be sent) to work in Taitung. The second way is to apply directly to the Taitung County Government. In either case their pay comes from the M.O.E. 臺東縣徵聘外籍老師的辦法有兩種. 第一個是由教育部分發, 第二個是縣政府自己徵聘. 不管他們是由哪一單位徵聘, 他們的薪水都是從中央政府撥款來的.
It is my hope that the Government can keep this program going. There are certainly problems to be faced, but I believe that given the efforts of both Taiwanese and Foreign educators we can continue to do a lot of good for a lot of young people. In a larger sense, it's not just about teaching and learning English. It's also about bringing people and cultures together. 我很希望臺灣的教育部會繼續推廣這個教學計畫. 我們當然還有一些問題要改善, 可是我覺得外師跟中師一起合作可以為英文學習加分. 從長遠的目標來看, "外師"的功能不只是教學方面而已, 也是培養世界觀跟了解其他文化的媒介.
3. Facebook 臉書 (October 十月 2010)
Does everybody love Facebook? Sometimes it seems like it. 全世界都愛臉書嗎? 有時候好像是這樣.
Facebook is very popular all over the world right now. People in America love it. People in Taitung love it. I'm sure there are even people in Kazakhstan and Sierra Leone who spend hours playing "Happy Farm" and obsessing over how many "friends" they have. 在全世界,"臉書"受到熱烈的歡迎. 美國人愛它. 臺東人也超愛它. 我想連哈薩克共和國和獅子山共和國的人都玩開心農場和利用"臉書"交友.
My only problem with Facebook is that it's not real. Not in the way many people think. In a way it seems real - you have pictures of your friends there, you seem to be interacting with them - but these interactions don't really amount to much. 可是在"臉書"上的世界是虛擬的. 臉書會給你 "有朋友" 的感覺,你可以看到他們的照片,似乎和他們有許多交集, 可是那樣的互動卻不是很有意思.
People don't ever say anything important on Facebook. This is because Facebook isn't a very good way to communicate. Part of the problem is the number of "friends" you have, another part of the problem is that some people use Facebook more than others, and another part of the problem is the very public nature of any information posted on Facebook. Even if you are careful about your "privacy settings" on Facebook, a lot of your information is available to a lot of other people. 在"臉書"上沒人會說什麼重要的事. 這是因為"臉書"不是什麼溝通的好系統. 部分原因是朋友群的多寡,或是有的人使用它的機會比其他人多,再來是個人資料的保護,因為你放在上面的任何文字都是容易就被他人取得的.
I suppose Facebook wouldn't be as frustrating if people didn't place so much importance on it. In America, people also obsess over MySpace, Twitter, and God knows what else. The trouble only comes when people view these sites as a valid alternative to social interaction. What you have in this case is a lot of people who are really spending hours and hours alone, somehow convinced that they have been spending those hours in congress with other human beings.如果人們不那麼重視"臉書"就好了,在美國, 很多人也用 MySpace, Twitter和許多其他網站,問題是他們將這些工具當成和人群溝通的主要管道,最後得到的只是整天在電腦前打字罷了.
Please don't think I'm judging you for using Facebook. I use it too. I just think we need to take it - or leave it - based on its relative worth. Facebook can't replace a good talk with a good friend. It can't replace hours spent with our children. It can't serve as a substitute for the people we love and care for. It might serve to accentuate these connections, but it will never come close to replacing them.我並不是說使用"臉書"是一件不好的事,因為我自己也在用,我只是認為應該回歸到最原始的使用它的目的,"臉書"沒辦法取代和好朋友談話的樂趣,也沒辦法取代和孩子相處的樂趣,它也沒辦法取代我們所關心的人,它可以幫我們維持親朋好友間的聯繫,卻永遠不能取代他們.
We always have the power to choose what manner of future (or present!) we live in. We could be like those poor souls in the Matrix, plugging ourselves (or being plugged) into computers, thinking things like Facebook have a relevance beyond temporary amusement. Or we could work towards making this world a warmer, more human sort of place. One step towards this warmer, more human future might be limiting the amount of time you spend on Facebook, and instead finding something else to do.我們都有改變我們現在的生活與未來的能力,我們可以像電影"駭客任務"將自己想成是電腦的一部分,差上插頭進入"臉書"的世界,或是將我們的世界營造成有人性的溫暖地方,我想在現實世界努力是比在虛擬世界有趣多了.
4. Bicycling, Swimming, and Running 騎單車, 游泳和跑步 (October 十月 2010)
1. Bicycling 騎單車
Bicycling in Taitung is great. Within a few minutes, you can find yourself in some very beautiful, and very remote areas. 10K from anywhere in Taitung City will bring you to Jia Lu Lan, Jer Ben, or the the slightly-less-scenic parts of Bei Nan. 20K will bring you to Du Lan, Tai Ma Li, or Lu Ye. 30K will bring you to Jin Dzuen, Jin Feng, or just past the Gao Tai "Terrace". After 40 or 50K you start to come to the county borders, with Hualien, Ping Dong, or even Tainan awaiting the hardier cyclist. 臺東真是一個適合騎腳踏車的地方. 從臺東市出發,你可以在一個小時內到達許多漂亮的景點和小村鎮. 10K 以內的路程景點包含加路蘭, 知本和部分的卑南地區. 20K 以內可以到達都蘭, 太麻里, 或是鹿野. 30K 以內可以到金樽, 金峰, 或是鹿野高台. 超過 40K 後就適合比較厲害的有經驗者,因為那就大概要跨縣了.
Bicycling is also a great way to commute. There isn't much traffic in Taitung City, and there is almost NO traffic in the rest of the county. Of course people still love their cars, but commuting by bike can be a healthy and environmentally friendly alternative. 臺東的交通很順暢,所以騎腳踏車上下班是一件值得推動的事情. 當然很多人在市區還是喜歡開車, 只是騎腳踏車能讓身體更健康也是保護環境的最佳選擇,當然是需要大家多多推廣 .
There are plenty of bike races in Taitung. Just a couple of weeks ago the county hosted the "Taitung Cup," which stretched from Jer Ben to Yu Li in Hualien County. This race featured 100 and 200K divisions. It was too far for me, so I didn't go! 臺東也常舉辦腳踏車比賽. 兩個禮拜前,臺灣杯單車比賽路程更是從臺東縣知本到花蓮縣玉里. 它分為 100K 跟 200K 兩部分. 我覺得太遠所以沒有參加.
2. Swimming 遊泳
Swimming in Taitung gets more complicated. Much of this, I think, is due to certain superstitions about water. Many local swimming spots are described as "dangerous" or "dirty" by local people - for reasons that are often frivolous. 在臺東,游泳活動比較複雜一點. 可能是因為中國人對水的禁忌. 這裡有很多地方可以游泳, 只是很多臺東人都覺得"不乾淨".
One great outside swimming spot is the "Flowing Water" Lake in the Forest Park. Yes, there are signs that tell you not to swim, but everyone does it anyway. Several unwary visitors have drowned in this lake, so the superstitious avoid it like the plague. I don't believe in ghosts, so it's not a problem for me. 在臺東市, 很多市民會利用森林公園的活水湖游泳. 大家都不管那些"禁止游泳"的牌子. 當然也有些人不敢在那個地方玩水, 因為湖很深而且還發生過多起溺水意外. 我不相信這類的事, 所以我在那邊游泳沒有問題.
There isn't any good place in Taitung City to swim in the ocean. This is due to pollution. Many of the older houses in the center of the city have drains and even toilets that empty directly into local rivers, and these rivers of course empty into the sea. For cleaner ocean water, you have to venture north to Beinan, Dong He, and Cheng Gong townships. There are several places to swim in Dulan, and this area is also very popular with the surfing crowd. 臺東市的髒汙都被卑南溪跟太平溪沖到海邊去了,所以要到卑南, 東河, 和成功才有比較乾淨的海邊. 特別乾淨的是都蘭附近. 衝浪的人最愛都蘭.
There are some swimming pools in Taitung City and Jer Ben, but these tend to be of a seasonal nature. I would recommend the pool in front of the Vocational High School, on the way to the airport. It's open year round, not expensive, and it is fairly clean. 臺東市跟知本都有游泳池, 可是冬天開放的不多. 我覺得"農工"的游泳池是最好的. 它冬天開放, 而且交便方便和地方乾淨.
There aren't any swimming competitions that I know of - not in this county. The closest thing is the triathlons that several athletic associations host throughout the year. The Taitung County Urban and Rural Athletic Association, the "T-Man" Group, and the Taitung Super Triathlon Association all host triathlons in the area. These range from the shorter "Olympic" distance (1K swim, 40K bike, 10K run), to soul-crushing, 220 KM-long affairs that send competitors to local emergency rooms. 臺東縣好像沒有什麼游泳比賽, 可是每三, 四個月就有鐵人三項比賽. 城鄉運動協會, T-man 團, 還有超級鐵人都在臺東舉辦過鐵人比賽. 有的是1K游泳,40K騎腳踏車和跑步10K的,更有的是跑到累死人的加倍賽程.
3. Running 跑步
Running here can be a problem if you don't like tracks. A lot of people keep dogs to guard their property, and this makes running through rural areas a bit dangerous. I've found that the best place for road running is probably the "Ma Heng Heng" road that circles the city. There are fewer dogs here, and there is also a bicycle path that scooters (mostly) avoid. 在臺東的路上跑步真是危險. 很多農夫喜歡養看地的狗, 所以在鄉下路跑的人要特別小心. 馬亨亨那條外環道比較沒有狗. 那條馬路的車也不是很多, 所以在那裏跑比較安全.
I would discourage anyone from running along the highways. It is extremely dangerous, and people get killed that way. If a track is more to your liking, there is the popular track next to Taitung University's "old" campus. There is also the usual slew of tracks at local public schools. 我覺得在臺9線或是臺11跑步很危險. 如果你比較重視跑場的安全性的話, 東大有個很熱門的操場. 除此之外,也有很多公立學校的操場.
For runners there are the triathlons mentioned above, and there also several running events such as the Taitung Marathon, scheduled for this month. Those interested in running events in east Taiwan are hereby directed to Race Events in Taiwan, which posts events from all over the island. 喜歡路跑的人可以參加鐵人比賽. 這個月有臺東馬拉松. 想要參加東部路跑比賽的人應該先看跑著廣場的網站. 全島的路跑比賽資訊都在那裏.
Whatever you decide to do out there, please be careful. There are a lot of crazy people driving cars in Taiwan, and it is best to exercise caution! Reflective bands are a good idea if you exercise at night, and it is probably best to avoid major thoroughfares if possible. Exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, but only if it can be done safely.無論你喜歡什麼運動都要小心! 路跑跟騎單車的人要注意交通狀況. 夜裡的時候, 帶著反光帶是一個很好的方法. 最好也不要在常常飆車的地方運動. 運動雖然對身體很棒, 但是我們一定要關心自身的安全!!
5. Going Home 回家 (November 十一月 2010)
Since I first moved to Taiwan, I have been home six times. During my first year here, I went back to Seattle twice - once during Chinese New Year and once during the following summer. That was back when I was still getting homesick for the States all the time, and I needed those trips to reinforce the fact that, yes, Seattle was still there.我第一年來臺灣到現在,我總共回去西雅圖六次,第一年更回去了二次,一次是農曆新年,另一次是暑假.那時候我常常想家,回去的主要目的只是為了確定我熟悉的西雅圖仍舊在那裡.
As the years have worn on, of course, I have been home less and less. After my second trip home it was a full year before I went back, and after my third trip it was two years. I now consider the trip home a once-every-two-years event - that is IF I have the money to go.隨著在臺灣的時間愈久,我第三次回去跟第二次回去的時間舊間隔了一年,第四次跟第三次又間隔了二年,現在我只希望每兩年能有錢回去一次就好了.
Part of my trouble is that I am traveling for four now. In the beginning, it was just me and my then-girlfriend, later to be my wife. After our second trip to Seattle we had our first daughter, and then the airlines began adding several thousand to our ticket price. Later on, my older daughter needed her own seat on the plane, and this meant three tickets instead of two. The arrival of my younger daughter - loved as she is - only compounded the problem.剛開始只需要付二個人的錢[我和我當時的女朋友(現在的太太)],之後加上寶寶的幾千元,等孩子大一點就是三個人的錢,因為她需要買自己的位置,再加上後來的小女兒,所以我們現在出門就是四個人的機票錢啦!
If I want to take my family back to Seattle this summer, that means buying four tickets. That also means A LOT of money. In fact, it means so much money that my bank account will get emptied, and this after saving for more than a year already. It's hard to see all of my money fly away like that, especially when one of my daughters is not so far away from junior high school, and I begin to think about money she might need for college.如果我想要在暑假帶我的家人回西雅圖,那就是一項足以讓我破產的龐大的費用.很難接受我們辛辛苦苦存的錢就這樣飛走,因為我大女兒快到上國中的年紀了,我已經開始想到她未來求學需要多少費用了.
As it is already November, and as I will certainly need to purchase tickets by May, I begin to worry about this situation. I would like to visit home very much, and I would also love for my daughters and their grandparents to have the time together, but I wonder if the expense is really worth it. Should we go, and say to hell with the money? Or should we stay, and wait another year to go back?現在已經11月了,如果要回去,我們五月份就要買好機票,我很想回去看看我的家鄉,也想讓我的孩子和她們的祖父母有機會相處,我只是不確定花這麼多錢在這上面是否值得?我們是要不惜代價地回去探親?還是明年再回去?
Naturally there is the pressure I feel from my parents. They miss their grandkids, and the time they spend with my daughters is precious to us all. At the same time, I ask myself if going back is really the responsible thing to do. No, money isn't everything, but there are times when money is a very good thing to have.當然我可以感受到我父母想念我們的心情,他們想念孫女,希望有時間和她們相處,這對我們大家是一件重要的事,但是同時我也反問自己:這是負責任的行為嗎?雖然錢不是一切,但是在很多時候,有錢是一件美好的事.
I'm sure there are many other foreigner residents in the same situation. They might not have kids, they might not be married, but nevertheless a plane trip back to North America, Europe, or wherever else is never cheap. For those just arrived in Taiwan, this will probably be less of a concern, yet as years pass it can become a serious burden. It's not easy to divide your life between two continents, especially not in the long term.我想很多在臺的外國居民都有這樣的問題,他們不一定有孩子也不一定結婚了,只是飛機票到北美,歐洲或其他地方都不便宜,對剛到臺灣的人來說,也許機票的價錢不會成為回家的考慮因素,但是時間久了,卻也是一項負擔.長期來說,將生活依國家切為二半是件很難的事.
Then again, I suppose my family is lucky to have this choice. I have many Taiwanese friends who can only dream of visiting America, and also many friends in the States who can only dream of escaping to Taiwan. It would be nice if we were all like those guys on Star Trek, who can just teleport wherever they want, but until that day we'll just have to count the days, count the money in our bank accounts, and count on our better judgment to steer us toward the right decision.我想我們家是很幸運擁有這樣的選擇權,我的一些臺灣朋友期待有一天能到美國玩,一些西雅圖的朋友只能對臺灣充滿想像.如果我們可以像電影中的情節一樣,利用轉換器將自己送到任何想去的地方就好了,但是直到那一天來臨前,我們仍需要算著天數與金錢,並且依據自己的判斷能力做出對的抉擇.
Oh, and here's wishing you a happy Thanksgiving. Wherever you might be.無論您身在哪裡,祝您感恩節快樂!
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