A Story of War (Part 1): Japanese Students Finally Meet Taiwanese Students

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It felt very much like an army camp before a battle. Teachers running around everywhere, students getting into groups, lining up, repositioning, lining up again, waiting for the army of Japanese students to arrive.

The numbers of the “enemy” were far greater than our own, but I have to say, we were much better equipped. Most of the members of our Taiwanese battalion had 50% English ability, although it depended on the moment; if you are too afraid to use this mighty weapon, it is exactly the same as not even having your English ability in the first place. The Japanese army had most of their infantry at a surprisingly low 15-20% English ability (because they were the enemy, I’m exactly sure about the number). They won the numbers game however; we were outnumbered perhaps 5:1.

While the Japanese students came onto the battlefield, I was a pilot standing in the middle of a line of infantrymen, all of us clapping our hands, applauding them for their courage to face us on the battlefield. I was disguised well. But one Japanese student saw it on my face, and gave me a high-five as he walked by.

I sat still during the first stage of the battle in one of the 300 seats in the auditorium, where the leaders of both armies attacked and counterattacked through microphones and translators. The principals of both schools tried matching artillery strikes, but somehow failed to make a real connection. Then they sent in the air force, and I was up.

I had prepped my shooting skills with another teacher a few days before, and even went to the flight simulator every night for the past week, so I was confident that I would be well prepared. However, the weapon I was using felt wrong. English? I was going to give it my best shot either way. I am a pilot, after all.

Everything went silent and became clear, as what usually happens when I’m in the cockpit, poised above the opposing force.  I unleashed my full 99% English ability on both the Japanese and Taiwanese troops. My bullets and rockets missed for the most part, which was sort of expected. I was then surprised to see another pilot flying next to me, holding a more practical weapon, a 70% Japanese ability. Most importantly, she had the will to use it, so she hit almost every single member of the Japanese army.

We landed on the airstrip, hustled back to the 300 seats in the auditorium, and immediately slung on our packs and grabbed our rifles. We were now infantrymen.

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Taiwanese Students Prepare to Meet Japanese Students

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I signed up to be a tour guide for incoming Japanese students from a sister school. I did not think it would be a huge time commitment. Maybe one or two info sessions before the Japanese students come, and an entire busy day of showing them around the school and Taipei. But no, the teachers at my school who are organizing this event are giving us so much preparation. I expected to go through probably one-fourth of the preparation that we are actually going through right now.

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In America, whenever we had foreign students visit our school for a day, we would just receive an email a few days earlier explaining the situation, and would be given a reminder to come say hi to the students at a designated time. The students would be given a tour of our school. No big deal.

In my school in Taipei, we are treating this like a huge event. But this is a sister school, and it happens every year, so I guess it is a big deal.

Today we were taught how to make eye contact, shake hands firmly, and introduce ourselves in English to the Japanese students. The teacher had us look into the eyes of the people sitting around us for 10 seconds without breaking eye contact. Next was shaking hands. Then introducing ourselves.

The teachers kept reminding us (threatening us) that we should be outgoing with these Japanese students, and to have the guts to speak in broken English. To help, we were given a short list of small talk topics like the weather in Japan and if it was their first time in Taipei.

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In America these things come naturally as teenagers become adults. But in Taiwan, I think students don’t have as much exposure to formal settings because they spend more time studying instead of doing extracurriculars. You rarely can find a student here that is participating in a volunteer organization outside of school.

On a related note, my host mom and I were talking about air hostesses and found out that they are completely opposite to the students here. My host mom said Asian air hostesses are generally younger, more attractive, and more welcoming to customers when compared to American air hostesses. American air hostesses are generally older and less welcoming (by welcoming I mean the Asian concept of being sort of subservient in a way).

Anyways, I can’t wait for the Japanese students to come to our school and see how the two cultures interact.