It looks like I'll be working in Pingtung next year. I haven't signed the contract yet, but the rest of the transfer process is a done deal.
Provided all of this goes according to plan - and I really hope it all goes according to plan - I'll be working at Fangliao 枋寮 and Yuguang 玉光 Elementary Schools next year. Fangliao Elementary School is in Fangliao Township, on the ocean, and Yuguang is further north, in Jiadong 佳冬.
Why? I've been asked this a lot. My reasons are:
1) I really want to change schools. I've been in my present school for eleven years, and a change of scenery would be good. I also want to grow as a teacher, I want new challenges, and I'd like to see if I can do what I do in a different place.
2) In Pingtung I'll be closer to my daughters. I've already got one daughter in Wenzou 文藻 University in Kaohsiung, and the other's headed to a vocational school there next year. Fangliao's a little over an hour by train from Wenzou University, and my younger daughter's vocational school is even closer.
3) I like south Pingtung, and I could see living there longer term. Fangliao and Jiadong aren't exactly paradise, but they're close to more scenic areas. If I get along well in Pingtung I'll probably want to move further south at some point.
4) I can can transfer to Pingtung and stay in the Ministry of Education's FET (Foreign English Teacher) Program. The FET program allows Foreign English Teachers to transfer to any county that isn't funding a competing program. This means that if I want to move back to Taitung (or on to another county) in the future it'll be much easier to do so.
Make of my reasons what you will. Is my decision brave? Is it foolish? Am I kidding myself? Am I doing the right thing? I honestly have no idea what's really going to happen next year, but it seems like the right choice now. I'm taking an educated guess, and I can only hope my guess will be proven correct in the future.
Am I leaving Taitung forever? No, definitely not. We're keeping our apartment in the city, and Fangliao, where I'll probably be living next year, is only two hours away. I'm not going away forever. I'm not even going that far.
Taiwan is a small island, and it's not like Pingtung is that hard to get to. So if any of my friends or coworkers are reading this, don't worry. I'll be around, you'll be around, and given time I'm sure we'll meet again. In a place this small, how could we not?
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