2021年6月20日 星期日

My School Year in Review 我的學年回顧

What a year it's been.  Quite the rollercoaster ride if I may say so.  The agony and the ecstasy, the sound and the fury, the being and nothingness... all compressed into 11 short months.  Of course I can't share ALL the details - some matters are better kept private - but what follows is what, in most general terms, happened to me during this school year.當然!我沒辦法分享所有的生活細節, 以下是我這一學年來生活的大概.

August 八月

We moved into the house we're renting in Xinkai Village, Fangliao Township.  The landlord took FOREVER to get the house ready for habitation.  It had been sitting empty for a long time.  We were happy about the parking space, the yard and the view of the mountains, but the house has - and continues to have - some problems for sure. 我們在八月的時候搬進枋寮新開的房子, 這間房子空了很長的一段時間, 所以房東花了很久的時間才準備好讓我們入住. 我們很高興這裡有自己的停車空間和院子, 以及山間景色, 只是房子一直陸續有一些小問題.

My younger daughter was also moving into the dormitory at Kaohsiung Hospitality University.  Because of this we spent a lot of time driving back and forth between Pingtung and Kaohsiung.  I know Linyuan, Xiaogang and Daliao much better now. 我小女兒搬到高餐大的學校宿舍, 因為我們經常開車往返高雄屏東, 我現在也比較了解林邊,小港大寮

September 九月

I started work at Fangliao and Yuguang elementary schools.  Fangliao is of course in Fangliao Township, and Yuguang is in nearby Jiadong.  Bicycling to work that first month was WEIRD.  I'd been bicycling between my apartment and my old school in Taitung City for 13 years, and going to different schools, on the other side of Taiwan, felt surreal.  I bike a lot farther to work now, but I don't mind it. 開始在枋寮國小玉光國小上班, 枋寮國小當然就在枋寮鄉內, 而玉光國小則是在佳冬鄉. 第一個月騎腳踏車去上班時感覺很奇怪, 我之前台東騎腳踏車往返自家與學校13年, 現在則是在臺灣的另外一邊, 並且去二所不同的學校, 感覺超不現實的. 我現在騎腳踏車去上班的路程比較遠, 但我一點都不在意.

Fangliao Elementary School, my main school, was easy from the beginning.  The kids were very eager to learn and interact with me.  Yuguang was more of an uphill battle, but a year later I think I can say I've made a lot of headway.枋寮國小是我的主聘學校, 學生很積極學習跟與我互動,  玉光國小就比較具挑戰性, 經過了一年, 我認為自己能力也增強了.

October 十月

I grew a little frustrated with Yuguang, my second school during this month.  The communication there was not great.  In the beginning I thought it might be racial, and related to me being "the foreigner," but I later realized that many of my coworkers were having the same problem.  In Pingtung this is a common occurrence.  Most teachers don't teach very long in any one school, administrative positions are constantly changing hands, and the communication between schools, the county government and the central government can be an obstacle.  This is an issue in any rural place, and most of Pingtung is VERY rural. 這個月我對玉光國小有點失望, 那裏的溝通不是很順暢, 剛開始我以為是因為族群的關係, 因為我是外籍老師, 但最後了解不只我有這問題, 在屏東這是常發生的事. 很多老師在一個學校的任職時間不長, 行政職務常換人, 造成學校, 縣政府及中央之間的溝通有困難, 這是鄉下地方會遇到的問題, 而大部分的屏東非常鄉下.

Our younger daughter bombed her first semester test at Kaohsiung Hospitality University, but I'm happy to say she's doing much better now. 我小女兒第一次在高餐的期中考考得不好, 但我很高興她現在進步了.

We also took a trip to Tainan and had a great time. 我們去台南玩得很開心.

November 十一月

I started to feel more confident about what I was teaching and why.  In the beginning I wasn't sure if what I was doing in Taitung would work in Pingtung, but by November I was feeling at ease with the kids. 我開始對我教學的內容與原因更有信心. 剛開始時我不確定我在台東的方式是否適合屏東, 直到11月, 我與學生之間更自在了.

We must have visited Taitung because I have many pictures of it on my phone.  Sam's Burger, the roof of our apartment building and the ocean. 我們應該回過台東, 因為我手機上有台東的照片, 有餐廳的, 我們公寓頂樓的和海邊. 

In November the Pingtung FETs (Foreign English Teachers) attended a press conference at the Pingtung County Government building.  After the press conference an odd, disjointed meeting was held, during which many of couldn't figure out who was talking, or why.  It was a jarring introduction to other local FETs, and I can't say it left me with the best feeling.這個月屏東的外籍美語教師在屏東縣政府大樓參加了一場記者會, 記者會之後是一場奇怪的會議, 很多人搞不清楚誰在台上說話, 或者是為什麼, 是一場吵雜的外籍美語教師介紹會, 感受不是很舒服.

Visited Xiaoliuqiu with my wife, and we walked around the island.  I still don't think renting scooters is necessary there, but those hauling diving equipment around would probably disagree with me.  It was a fun trip. 我和我太太到小琉球沿島步行一圈, 我覺得在那裏租機車不是必要的, 但那些帶著潛水用具的人應該不會贊同我的看法. 這次的經驗很有趣.

Around the end of November BOTH my schools had all-day sports days on different Saturdays.  Those two weeks were exhausting. 我任教的二所學校都在這個月的不同的星期六舉辦戶外教學, 那二個星期很累.

December 十二月

Found two kittens in a Jiadong cemetery.  They were so tiny they could both fit in the palm of my hand.  Mango and Milky are both happy and healthy now, and probably breaking something in my house as I type this. 在佳冬公墓撿到二隻小貓, 牠們小到可以一起待在我的一個掌心.  Mango 和 Milky 現在很健康快樂, 當我寫到這裡的時候, 牠們應該在屋裡的一角破壞東西吧!

Went to a three-day orientation (I know!  December, right?) in Chaozhou for the local FETs.  We'd had other seminars in Wandan and Pingtung City before that.  The logistics of getting teachers from places as far apart as Pingtung City and Hengchun poses problems.  I sometimes think it might be better if they just separated the county into three zones, and just conducted FET meetings that way. 到潮州參加三天的外籍教師研習, 在這之前曾在萬丹屏東市參加其他的研習, 要各地的老師們一起參加同一場會議是製造問題, 我認為屏東縣分成三個區域舉辦外籍教師研習會議會比較好, 畢竟恆春屏東市間的距離不短.

Took my brother-in-law and his wife to Kenting, Manzhou and Mudan.  Got a lot of great pictures out of that trip. 帶我妻弟和他的太太去墾丁, 滿州牡丹. 我們拍了許多很棒的照片.

January 一月

Must have been in Taitung for at least part of Chinese New Year.  I'm seeing a lot of pictures of Taitung and Hualien on my phone.  At some point during that time we drove back to Pingtung City, where several school principals and I presented an English education plan to the Pingtung County Government.  Our plan was approved, and this went a long way toward securing me another year's employment in Fangliao. 一部分的農曆年假期我們應該是在台東, 我在手機上看到很多台東花蓮的照片, 假期間我們也回來過屏東, 幾所學校校長和我一起在屏東縣政府介紹美語教學計畫, 我們的計畫獲得認可, 也給了我下一學年在枋寮服務的機會.

February 二月

Chinese New Year vacation was extended so that they could disinfect the schools.  I doubt that anyone was very sad about this.  I must have also gone to Taitung in February, because there are pictures of my cats lying on the furniture in our apartment. 新年假期延長了, 因為疫情的關係要消毒. 我懷疑有人會不喜歡放假. 我應該也在二月回去台東了, 因為我看到我們的貓咪在我們公寓家具上的照片. 

March 三月

I began to obsess over the quality of the air in Fangliao.  To be fair it was bad, but it has improved considerably since.  Lately it's been as good as the air in Taitung.  When the wind blows south from Kaohsiung the air here is not great; when it blows north from Kenting it's good. 我開始在意枋寮的空氣品質. 說真的, 之前的空氣品質不好, 但一直以來都在改善中. 最近的空氣品質跟台東的差不多, 當風從高雄往南吹時, 空氣品質不好; 當風從墾丁往北吹, 空氣品質是好的.

I believe this month was when the DRAMA started.  During March the MOE announced - innocently enough - that we needed to register online for the next school year.  Some teachers took this to mean that the MOE was "cleaning house," and that many of us would lose our jobs next year.  To be sure, the implications were scary, and the online form was less than forgiving, but things seem to have calmed down since. 我相信事情是從四月份開始變得戲劇化的.   三月份MOE通知外籍教師, 為了下一學年的準備, 外籍教師要上網登錄學經歷, 有些老師覺得這是不是表示有的人會得不到下一學年的聘約, 是要藉機辭退某些人嗎?  這隱含的意義很嚇人, 而且線上表格填錯了是無法修改的, 但是這件事現在似乎平息了.

The part I hated most was the health check.  I hate hospitals. 表格中最討厭的是健康檢查, 因為我痛恨醫院.

April 四月

My wife started part time jobs in Laiyi Township, and a kindergarten job in Chaozhou.  She now knows the streets in Chaozhou better than I do.我太太開始在來義鄉潮州兼職, 她現在比我清楚潮州的街道.

We took a trip up to Guandzeling Hot Spring Area in Tainan.  That was a surprisingly long drive, and the hot spring area, which we'd visited once before, was disappointing.  On the way back we visited Qishan District in Kaohsiung, and that part of the trip was surprisingly interesting. 我們去了台南關子嶺溫泉區, 到那裏的路程比我想像中的長, 我對那個我們多年前去過的溫泉區有點失望, 回程的路上我們順道去高雄旗山, 那裏比我想像中的有趣.

My sister Julia had her baby in April.  This fact continues to make me happy. 我妹妹在四月份生產了, 這個消息讓我很開心.

May 五月

Visited Taitung briefly, but didn't see many of the usual suspects.  We went to one of the hot springs in Jerben on the way back. 回了台東一趟, 短暫的停留, 沒有和平常會連絡的朋友碰面, 在回程中去了知本的溫泉.

Wandered around downtown Kaohsiung with my younger daughter, while my wife took the TOEFL test.  We went to Cijin / Qijin and Dream Mall.  A temple festival was underway in Cijin, and this event was unpleasantly loud. 我太太去高雄參加多益考試時, 我和我小女兒在高雄市區蹓躂.我們去了旗津夢時代, 旗津正在辦廟會非常吵.

And oh yeah, COVID.  The coronavirus, realizing that the people of Taiwan felt left out of the global pandemic, decided to visit Taiwan during this month.  Cue widespread panic over schedules, distance learning, masks and hand washing... and it ain't over yet! 喔! 新冠病毒突然發現臺灣沒有趕上世界的傳染的潮流, 所以決定在這個月到台灣觀光.  讓大家原訂的計畫都亂了套, 遠距教學, 口罩和洗手......這還沒完呢!

June 六月

The end of the semester approaches.  I've been teaching online classes for weeks.  What are our plans for summer vacation?  When will life become normal?  Will the world end tomorrow?  Will my neighbors ever learn to turn down the volume on their KTV?  The answer to this and other questions will come, we hope, soon. 來到學期的尾聲, 我也上了幾個星期的線上教學, 我們在暑假有什麼計畫? 什麼時候生活才能回復正常? 明天是世界末日嗎? 我的鄰居們會學會調低他們的KTV音量嗎? 我們會有答案嗎? 我們都希望有, 並且很快地.

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Note: Thanks to my wife for translating this one.  Since it was about us and not just me I felt that it was better for her to read it first and then put it in her own words.