星期五, 8月 10, 2007

ICLP Goodbye Party

Our last day of class and ICLP is hosting a goodbye lunch for us today. I'm looking forward to the good food! Since yesterday, it seems as if a good chunk of the student body has already left for home though.

They awarded us certificates too.

Last Day of School

the class tried to gather for a photo but word didn't really spread too well and only 1/3 of the whole class made it into this official photo.

I just finished my last class. To be honest, I feel awful right now because my one-on-one teacher asked me pointedly about what I wrote about her on my evaluation form. I was immediately put off by this because of my strong feelings about anonymity regarding critiques (and because maybe I didn't say ALL nice things!).

At the end of each semester, ICLP students receive an evalulation form for each class taken. It is essentially just a dozen questions with reponses based on a numeric scale and the option to write comments on the back. They are completely anonymous and are handed into the secretaries on the 4rth floor, so in principle, one should feel free to be honest so that the school can make adjustments and catch potential problems early on.

I considered withdrawing my evaluation altogether after the interrogation from my instructor, but decided to let it remain. I'm glad ICLP provides a channel for feedback and I shouldn't let one teacher's curiosity cause me to deny the program of its dedication to continuous improvement.

In retrospect, if I could do it all over again, I would have taken a page from my classmate's book and privately discussed my needs/problems with my instructor much earlier. My classmate saw a problem back in July, wasn't satisfied, and immediately arranged to speak with his instructor outside of class time to essentially tell her that she wasn't making the cut. They discussed how she could improve until they were both satisfied.

星期一, 8月 06, 2007

ICLP and Chinese Culture

Many people probably wonder whether they can truly learn about Chinese culture while studying Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan. The answer, confusingly enough, has to be both yes and no. ICLP will definitely say "of course you can learn about Chinese culture and society here!" But I have strong reasons to believe the ICLP program is firmly seated in the Blue camp. The typical Blue supporter believes he/she is Chinese and dismisses the idea of a Taiwanese identity. The typical Blue supporter, when thinking of what is Chinese culture, thinks of Qing-era Chinese culture which the Chinese brought with them en masse when they fled to Taiwan in the 1940s. Chinese culture in Taiwan, overall, is much more rich and vigorous than Chinese culture in China, but bottom line...it is not PRC Chinese culture. So the answer is yes and no.

During the first week of class, two of my three instructors, made it pretty clear which camp they were in, and the lack of neutrality made me feel quite uncomfortable actually. I began to feel the same way at ICLP as I did in China. It was an eerie feeling having to self-censor myself all over again...quite scary, actually. One of ICLP's major textbooks, because it originated in the 1960s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) era, reeked of KMT propaganda...excessive history of China, national Chinese identity...pushing the idea that China was theirs, even though it was they who fled as refugees to Taiwan after losing to the Communists in 1949. ICLP was not inclined to updating this textbook.

The majority of teachers in ICLP are Blue. When I thought about why, it made sense. Education, the way to control minds and disseminate propaganda, has historically been under KMT control. Because Chinese language had to be imposed on Taiwanese people, who was likely to teach Chinese language but the most hardcore of the Chinese? It drove me nuts to hear my instructor say "We Chinese" this and "We Chinese" that. I just wanted to scream, "Teacher, with all respect, you think you are Chinese, but you've never been to China. I've been to China and you are definitely NOT Chinese. You've been taught all your life to believe you are Chinese, but you were born on Taiwanese soil and have lived in Taiwan all your life. Yet you deny you are Taiwanese. Why, teacher? Why do you continue this delusion?!?!?!"

I highly recommend students studying Chinese language in Taiwan to take the opportunity to learn a little about Taiwanese history, people, and culture, too. Taipei is considered to be the Chinatown of Taiwan (the Chinese who fled to Taiwan mostly congregated in Taipei) so to learn a little something about Taiwan, one need only leave the city limits.

星期三, 8月 01, 2007

ICLP Final Days

ICLP summer session is coming to a close and this week I have seriously been losing all motivation to do any studying. I suspect this is due to the fact that I have been away from home for over 15 months and I'm at the point now where all I can think of is going home.

So far this whole session, I have only missed 1 class in each course (3 total), mainly because I hadn't prepared well enough for the day's lesson. I'd really like to keep that record until I finish on the 10th.

I'm kind of glad now that this session is only 8 weeks rather than 12.

星期一, 7月 30, 2007

An ICLP Student Tip: Transportation

* When buying your MRT Easycard, remember to present a student ID to receive the special student rate MRT card. Don't pay adult fare if you don't have to!

* Riding the bullet train (HSR) from Taipei to Kaohsiung takes roughly a little less than 2 hours and costs 1490 NT. The HSR is predominantly filled with grouchy middle-aged men trying to sleep. Once you've taken the HSR, everything else just doesn't cut it. Riding the 自動 train from Kaohsiung back to Taipei, despite it being the fastest regular train, takes 5 hours and costs 845 NT. It is usually full and has all sorts of Taiwanese people riding on board.

* Taipei taxi fare starts at 70 NT.

星期四, 7月 26, 2007

The Student Lounge

Lately, when walking into the lounge to grab books from my locker, there have been scads of students sitting around tables, books open, chatting away about everything under the sun. I'm not really sure if any studying is actually getting done, but everyone who frequents the lounge could call each other a friend by now. Many of these groups end up planning trips to places like Hualien or Kending over the weekends.

The lounge has a sink, water machine, microwave, mailboxes, daily newspapers, and lockers, which makes it a central hub for everyone.

I spend more of my time in the library, typing these blog entries. Call me a geek. :)