In the Announcement to K’ang, it is said, “Act as if you were watching over an infant." If a mother is really anxious about it, though she may not hit exactly the wants of her infant, she will not be far from doing so. There never has been a girl who learned to bring up a child that she might afterwards marry. For the past 10 weeks, we might not really get what Project Support Diverse Learner wants to teach us, as long as we learn it with our great attitude, we would not be far from doing so.  After Weeks by week’s discussions and lessons, we found out that we thought “diverse” in a narrow way. Then we kept self-examination ourselves: Am I really known myself as well as I think? How do I identifying myself? What self-determination have I made in my life so far? What is diverse in Taiwan? As a future teacher, what can we do to support every student trade out their own treasure with their own way? We always stay hunger, stay foolish. And that is before we open a window to look back ourselves, to see the world in different way in Richmond, America.

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The Diversity Make The Beauty

What’s My Name?

In addition, the differences of names also can be seen between the two parties. Americans’ middle name, usually, is given from father, grandparents or relatives. There, people do not think his son following his father’s name is taboo. Some people are even willing to give his own son the same name. On the contrary, the Chinese name usually contains the expectations and hopes toward children. We use the specific meaning of the word hoping children will become what kind of person. Like 「稚賢」”Zhi Xian”, parents expect children have a child heart, and become saints. In the past, when patriarchal system stand, the people deliberately avoid using the same name, the same words or the homophone as his father and the elders.

Good Article Is Like A Snake

We joined the ten-week online courses in the spring semester. We are five students from National Taipei University of Education were trying to understand the structure of the article American students have written. And we were trying to comprehend the way American talk. What impressed us the most was Jenny, another exchange students in VCU. At the beginning of her talk, she said, “My topic is……”, the topic come up in the beginning. After that, she will tell us his ideas and the way she thinks. Analyzing the architectural of the article help us to save time of reading. And here we got an interesting point. The logic of the mind caused different architectural of articles.

In Chinese, we separate into four paragraphs, “Introduction”, “thesis”, “supporting paragraphs”, “conclusion”. We put the conclusion at the end of the article. You may not see the key concept until you read to the end. There is a saying goes in Chinese “a good article is like a snake”. If you try to grasp the snake’s tail, the snake will turn over and bite. If you try to grasp the snake’s head, the snake’s tail will sweep to the front. A good article, the head and tail echoes. The endings of the last paragraph is corresponding with the beginning paragraphs, they are inseparable. In order to read the Chinese articles, you have to use your imagination. Great articles can make you stroll in a wonderful scenery, after you read you would feel memorable.

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Calligraphy of Snake Written by Yun-Ming Chu祝允明,

Ming Dynasty Calligrapher.

Raise Hands To Get The Chance

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We saw a quite different situation which is not common in Taiwan in the Laburnum Elementary School. When we asked a question to the students in our teaching progress, “Do you know what does Taiwanese do in Chinese New Year?” Many students wanted to answer the question, but when we choice one of the student to reply the question, he just scratched his head and said, “Well……It is difficult for me.” They raised their hands even they didn’t know how to reply to. They will raise hands before thinking carefully. Although they don’t know how to reply, they actually get the chances. Most students in Taiwan, they will think about the question first, if they are not sure the “correct answer”, they won’t raise their hands even there are some ideas their minds. Students in Taiwan are afraid of being fail due to many teachers in Taiwan punish the students when they don’t reply the “correct answer”. Therefore, students in Taiwan became quiet in the classroom. They do not want to raise their hands to speak, so give up the opportunity to express themselves at the same time. If you want to survive in U.S., you have to express your ideas bravely. In these years, we internship in some elementary schools, some of the teachers using enhanced system, students become much more enthusiastic than before. Students in Taiwan are changing. Don’t look down the negligible change, it can overturn the traditional mindset.

Thematic Courses—Learning Gets More Close To Students’ Experience

We went to the Laburnum Elementary School and shared the customs of Chinese New Year and Chinese Zodiac. Actually, they are in the thematic courses. They had been taught the Egypt culture, and the class on the day we visited is Chinese culture. They are going to learn the Indian culture after learning Chinese culture. Students will learn three different cultures at the same time and they can find some commons and differences. The design of the courses added Geography, History, Biology, Mathematics, Reading, etc. into the courses. We added Mathematics in our Chinese culture course. Students counted their birth year and searched for their own Chinese Zodiac. Students were very interested in our class, and totally engaged in the process. We think that learning in the thematic courses is more close to life. They will learn Geography, History, Biology, Mathematics, Reading, etc. due to they want to complete the mission. Students love challenges and they love to overcome challenges more and more. Therefore, they have more motivation to learn, only because they want to overcome challenges. In Taiwan, the design of the curriculum separate everything. First is Reading class, second is Mathematics, and third is Science, etc. It is hard to give rise to the motivation in the separate courses design. Students learn the knowledge without motivation in the separate courses design, though they learn fast, they forget it very fast too. I think it would cost us decades if we want to change the curriculum design in Taiwan.

 Art Is Life, Life Is Art.

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In Richmond we will see the local art, culture, history, which are integrated in people’s life, we can see the mural on the wall everywhere. This is the works that government and people cooperate together, according to the local characteristics, cultural to design their mural. The shopkeepers are pleased to let their wall be paint, and so the overall design is more complete and more harmonious. Standing before murals, thinking what Richmond is trying to convey their culture, how to implement the thinking of art in which people’s lives. Meanwhile, we also think about how do Taiwan show its own culture through art, what Taiwan’s culture? And how do we bring art into in life.

One thing we were surprised, is the first Friday of every month they will set the “First Friday Festival." In this day, there will be a lot of artist to display their individual artist’s creation in the shop in the whole street, and the store will be ready to make music and snacks for the passengers. A shop in which I saw a small block of paintings, full of children’s drawings. I got to know they are the shopkeeper’s two daughters’ masterpiece. When I asked the little girl (about five years) which are her works, she pointed excitedly at this and that. We see how they cultivate the art from really young age, let the children express their own way to see the world by using crayon. Instead of giving a lot of skill above amendments, but let the simple beauty shown in front of others. It also demonstrates the respect to the children’ art from parents, leaving passers-by seeing the beauty of this style. Some parents may feel that their children may not probably paint well, rather than displaying her daughter’s paintings. Children need to be praised, it is rarely mentioned in the Chinese culture, we ask each other not to be proud but modest. But we have to learn the facts that it is important to praise and encourage children and each other.

Standing In The Torrent of History 

On the Monument Avenue, stand a row of statues, which commemorates the Civil War and the defeated southern generals. During the Civil War, Richmond was the core place of Confederate, and most of the people there supported the slavery. The war was ended with the confederate defeated. Why did the posterity set up a monument to commemorate them even we are against the perspective of slavery now? Aren’t they defeated? Don’t we oppose the slavery right? This is what I think when I saw the monument statues. Later, after the locals explain to us, we finally understand why. They respect their history and know it is just the part of their blood. Even if they are defeated, even if they adhere to the belief that they now do not agree, but they respect their history and what’s the general’s efforts and exploits. When I looked at a bridge next to the James River, the written records which people said during the Civil War. There were some people, Lincoln, defeated party generals, who witness his partner run into the fire of the town saying this with the sadness and pain filling the heart. Because of this travel, we start to identify our own culture. When we saw other people so attached to their history, we think of: Do we respect our own history? How to influence people around us to let them attach importance to the history and identify who they are?

Better than better

In the lesson about multicultural classes in our trip, although most of the time we are willing to share with our Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) students the story of the self-identity. But at the same time, our own definitions are cleaner, more for our own cultural identity. We are shaped by the education a lot, more or less on our mind is: All the things in the West are better than us. So in this cultural tours, the first impression of America is everything “are" better than Taiwan. After the reflection, we see both goodness more of each other. We can learn a lot from America and lead our future direction, but in the Chinese culture, Taiwanese culture, we also have many treasures witch are waiting to be excavated. This is what we can be very proud of doing when we come back and share with the people around or our future students about it.

The Courage Make Ours Extraordinary

Met The Culture

When we stepped into a totally a different environment,  we often felt that is a difference between two cultures. It could be a small differences and it could be a big one. United States is a country definitely have a very different culture for us. When we entered the airport lobby, a big hug welcomed you to United States. Those tired, scared and uncertain feeling during the flight had disappeared after this hug. The next few days, we also got many warm hug and sincere eyes from people. We felt that although we are in a foreign land, feeling the warmth of every encounter. Although the friendly way is different with the people from Taiwan, it is still the familiar feeling.

Proceeds to teach primary school, we found that all children are the same from all over the world. They are so curious and serious about the new things. In the classroom, when each pair of bright eyes staring at me, the stomach pain were cured, English spoken became affluence, on stage without nervous to share the things about Taiwan, New Year, Chinese zodiac story. After class, students asked all about Taiwan curiously. What do we eat? Do the students well behaved in Taiwan? Are you and your partner is relatives? Their desire and curiosity about knowing the different cultures is very strong and pure.

The last night before we left, we went to a theater that only broadcast at seven o’clock on Saturday night. Before 6 pm they had a long queues outside. Only two dollar fare for the movie Cinderella broadcast today. It is a very old movie theater. Before movie started. the band stage ascend. That is a well-known harpsichord on the stage. A gentleman played the various sounds of the harpsichord, just like when we listen symphony. So mesmerizing. Before he played the last song, the musicians turned around and told about this theater’s story. Then he said he was going to play a song that every time before American baseball game start, it will be sing and play. The song is called"Take Me Out to the Ballgame".

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When everyone sang" 1, 2, 3 " Daniel began to cry. We all feel touched by the atmosphere. the music stage slowly descend while finishing playing the music. And then the movie screen lights up slowly. Suddenly we were covered in the American collective consciousness. This is not about the movies. What does the movie play is not important, The most important is the theater wants to give everyone “the experience while watching the movie,"  but not like that each bird love to hear himself sing. We watched, we laughed  and clapping together. When the movie finished playing, people gradually dispersed. We stood in the ancient and magnificent dome, felt so amazing and unbelievable, and how the power of culture can be that strong and specific.

 Culture Barriers

In Richmond, the most impressive thing is that Chin-Chih had said “You can say no." Everything has their own room for negotiation. Your own considerations come first in everything. No one can require you, and you must have your own decision-making power. Also, remember to express clearly, or people do not understand what your needs. This is totally different from our culture background. We are accustomed to receiving ours elders’ requirements. The benefits of groups will always come first. We are not get used to say no, nor ask others for assistance. So when we started to communicate with the local people here, they think we are euphemism people and  we think they speak so directly. Both sides don’t know what to tune up. In order to survive in  Richmond, which is a new place for us, we began to try to speak the thoughts from our heart, try to say no, try to speak directly. Suddenly, everything becomes so much easier.

After A Beautiful Culture Crossing

Have you ever experienced the familiar scene in foreign place? Because we knew the excitement of the story behind, we deeply feeling appreciate, and more than moved by it. Remember that night we went to Mr. Hinterlong and Ms. Holton’s home. Last time when they came to Taiwan, we were theirs receptionist. Before we left, they said next time when we visit United States, please come and visit them and make hand-make pizza together. The first question before we enter their house is,  Do we need to take off the shoes or not? Mr. Hinterlong told us that it is Chinese’s culture to take off the shoes before enter somebody’s house. So we can just go inside with shoes on. Or you can choose to take it off. Those words made us felt that they understand our culture and explain it carefully for us and respect our choice. It the kitchen, we were greeting by a full table which all the ingredients were ready with a ingredients name card besides the plate. When I looked closer and asked, that was Mr. Hinterlong and Ms. Holton’s children, Daniel and Sarah’s handwriting in Chinese!

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It took their whole day to write them down. At that moment we would like to give Daniel and Sarah a big hug for thanks. It is very touched and moved when somebody respect your culture and care about you in foreign place. It is very caring and thoughtful! Thank you so much! Also we found out that I had grown accustomed to giving others a hug.

The Identification Make Ours Unique

English Name or Chinese Name?

In Taiwan we began to learn English since primary school. Everyone started had their English name, which was usually chose by a teacher or your own choice. However, the name is not much meaning, easy to use in English teaching. We used English name but we never think about the relevance  between English name and Chinese name. Years later, from Taiwan, we went to United States. Should we introduce ourselves in English name or the name on passport? Our VCU’s professor, Dr. Chen, comes from Taiwan. She called herself “Chin-Chih". Wherever  is she and whoever she met introduced she will introduce her name as “Chin-Chih". On the other hand we introduced that we were “Daniel, George, Jack, Yvonne and Rynn". When we saw the name tags that VCU prepared for us, which had our name written in Chinese and English alphabet, like 溫仁 and Wen-Jen. But there weren’t any English name on it. In that ten days, we had to introduce ourselves anytime. Sometimes if we have the name tag with us, we will introduce ourselves with Chinese name English alphabet, like Chih-Hsien but not George. And introduced ourselves in English name while we didn’t have the name tag with us. Then we began to ask ourselves what is my name? Who am I? Using English name made people remember you quickly in a short time, however, Chinese name was more difficult to pronounce for Americans, which couldn’t remember at once. But Chinese name was derived from our family. When we introduced our name, we got to know the Chinese name is beautiful and we understood why my parents gave us the name and the meaning behind. We knew whom we are, where we come from.

The Past of Taiwan with Our Self-Identification

Unlike Taiwan Politician, what they want is Taiwan independent from China or Taiwan is part of China, they feel deep about Taiwan, the country, but not for us. Instead, the Taiwan, the land makes us think about our self-identification. For example, America has a wide land, much bigger than Taiwan. Because of its huge land, instead start from understand everything in States, how about start understand from the land we grow.

Taiwan is a small, tiny place compare to nearest country. Like every country, politic always connect with Taiwan’s history and it made Taiwan unique. Like Daniel’s family background. Daniel was born in Hakka family. Hakka is his mother tongue. When he was born there was Martial Law or White Terror happening, and dialect couldn’t be spoken. You only can speak Mandarin, the language fitted by law way back time. Daniel was entered to high school when the government declared Martial Law ended. The Department of Education started implementing the dialect language contest. For benefit while apply university, Daniel’s high school teacher encourage Daniel to take part in Hakka language contest. Then, Daniel started practice his “mother tongue”. The incident happened that time had cut up the relationship between him and his mother tongue—Hakka. At the same time it also cut up Daniel’s self-identification on his culture. Political hegemony happened again and again in people from Taiwan.

Way back the era, it is really hard to find self-identification with Taiwan. At least for Daniel, he’s only been to America for ten days, it is really hard for him to feel am he is proud as people from Taiwan, or is he really a people from Taiwan. Jack and George just start realize their relationship with Taiwan the land. The kid used to be abandoned by country, now being found back again after a ten years. It is really hard for them to feel deep for the country. We all think that we need some time.

At The End of Diversity—Unique

In this journey, we were experiencing the concept of diverse learning. We are very diverse in living life, crisis management and so on. Everyone’s reactions are different. Because of diversity, we argued, but as a mature person, we need to solve the problem in the end. At the end, we passed all those obstacles and become extraordinary, by went through the ten weeks Project Support Diverse Learner, teaching in America elementary school, culture conflict, how to deal with the snake on the road, etc. On the other hand, we found out that each person in an individual person. We are irreplaceable. Without them become our partners, we won’t have this wordpress. As a future teacher, it is our responsibility and duty to support student from ordinary, through extraordinary, to unique.

Postscript

Do you remember the question Chin-Chih and Nicole always asks every time after the lesson is over? Let us answer it too!

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What you have learnt from America’s trip?

How would you apply them on your future teaching?

Wen-Jen(Compliment/ Praise)

DSC09864Compliment to other people is a way to show their courtesy in American Culture. In Taiwan, we do not usually to praise other people. Also, when we get compliment from other people, we will feel embarrassed. In America, no matter in the class or our performance in elementary school, the compliments to us which had given by homeroom teachers has become our positive reinforcement. In Taiwan, for parent, no news from school represents a good thing. The reason is that the school teacher only call parent for what the bad thing that children have done in school instead of their good performances. That it is why in future teaching, I would praise my student with letting their parent know how excellent their children are and please be proud of him. Not because he got perfect grades but something outstanding he has done. Even though it is a small step in society, it is a big step for the kids in his life.

Chih-Hsien(Respect: Just do what I want to do.)

I really enjoy the culture I saw in this ten-day trip in Richmond, because I can sit any where I want, and no one see you with strange eyes, so I don’t care how others think about me, I just be myself. The day we visited DC, I sit on the ground beside the Reflecting Pool, and stare at Lincoln Memorial. I love the moment I sit there, do nothing but stare at the scenery and take a rest. Perhaps, I need more courages to sit in the Taipei main train station, and just observation of distant people’s every move. I still have not enough courages to be the first one, instead all, some changed. I feel no longer surprised when I saw people sit in front of the a crowded place do he want to do, no longer feel weird. No more strange eyes to kill the courages of the guy who want to be himself just like me. Besides, I am going to treat every students who express in unique ways with the same eyes. I am ready.

Yi-Fang (Self-Determination

During the ten weeks Project Support Diverse Learner, we kept mentioning about the self-determination of student, teacher, and parent. When I have arrived Richmond, this concept kept pounding me from everywhere. In my growth background, we do not need to make choices by ourselves. Everything had been well planned by our parent. All we can do is following the path they chose. But this is totally different in Western parenting. Children are the master of themselves. They need to make choice and being responsible for the choice they made. Teacher and parent is supporter for them, not their decision maker. We can feel the difference when we taught in elementary school. The mission we gave student was drawing their Chinese Zodiac on red envelope. Most of the students finished them quickly. Unlike elementary student from Taiwan, they would write down the auspicious words which had prepared on learning sheet as supplementary information without teacher asking. Their learning passion has surprised me. I think this is the result of American Education to teach student they need to think of way to solve problem, which means they need to decide themselves and take the responsible, make them become a spontaneous, good attitude students. I hope I can think outside of the box of education in the future to let student learn how to make decision for themselves instead of me choose for them. They sail their own ship.

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I found out I was not understand the duty of social worker at the very beginning of Support Project Diverse Learner and I never thought from their perspectives about what they could do to help student for better learning. It made me think that who else can become my partner on student learning no matter what their background is. When I visited elementary school in Richmond, I could see they support each other, from principle of elementary school to a helper in school cafeteria. If teacher wants to improve themselves, the school has prepared resources rooms only for teacher. Teachers could find any teaching material or books to improve their teaching. Also teachers can exchange their experiences with other teachers in that room. They are partner to each other. During the IEP meeting, homeroom teacher, therapist, parents and people who involved in student learning will attend. Right now student do not have a chance to attend but teacher will make sure his part in the profile, such as the things he likes to do or hates to do. They are on the way of let student can attend IEP meeting in the future. Besides the support from school, the university in community will give teacher, student and parent support in student learning. They are holding a partnership. While we are teaching, we are learning too.

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He-Huai(Integration)

The subject, such as Mathematics and Science that we have learned in school had been separated since we were young. Only a few teacher or curriculum will do interdisciplinary learning. In America elementary school, student learns by different topic or cross disciplinary subject design to let student learn in comprehensive way. This is what I want to do in my future teaching. Not just a reminder, it is a self-demanding. It is a really difficult thing to do in Taiwan elementary school. Although they still have their own timetable through the whole year with separate subject learning, but it is more flexible in gifted-talented class. The curriculum needs to be design for student better learning, let student know the world, the knowledge, and the skills in different way. Besides, we could see how they connect the art, history, and school motto into their living life. In my future teaching, I would like to spend more time on design curriculum and classroom decoration to make student to be influenced by environment.

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