A Story of War (Part 2):

After getting a full view of the battlefield from the fighter jet, I felt over-qualified to be joining the infantry on the Taiwanese main assault. The skirmishers had gone in already, I’d flown above the battle and missed most of my Japanese targets, and now we were going in for the first frontal ground attack.

The commanders gathered us into attack squads of about 10 each. Training with the commanders since last weekend, I’d come to realize that they were incompetent. They were hesitant to give any orders, had little control over the Taiwanese infantry, and preferred to wait for the generals to step in instead of just doing something first and questioning it later. Last saturday, I’d almost complained to the generals about the commanders’ incompetence.

We were thirty minutes late to intercept the incoming Japanese troops. We were quickly briefed, again, on this new weapon called “water dumplings”.

“How do you use this weapon on the Japanese? With English?” The commander of my squad said, half testing us, half hoping that we would tell her what to do.

“You wrap the filler with the wrapper, then nuh-nuh-nuh,” one soldier said, gesturing with her hands, intentionally failing in the last part of her sentence, just like the commander, because she had split intentions. Half was her being scared of being correct, and half was her not knowing the words in English. I wanted to jump in.

“Yeah,” the commander said, suddenly seeming like a soldier herself, lowering herself to our status by not taking control.

The enemy was upon us and we frantically deployed the “water dumplings”. They were coated in an incendiary called “Taiwanese culture” which made the new weapon even more devastating.

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The weapon seemed to be effective, as you can see in this action shot. Look at their cheeks! Water dumplings!

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With my 99% English ability and one squad member’s 70% Japanese ability, we successfully stopped the enemy from advancing using the water dumplings dripping with Taiwanese culture.

After the smoke cleared, my squad was still good for the most part, but a few members had some burns. The Japanese enemy was hit more than we were, which was good, and they had fled toward the hills in the distance. The commander stumbled next to me and pleaded that we continue with the attack. We trudged forward, the generals rumbling past us in their jeeps, and the commanders lagging behind us with the weight of their fears and insecurities.

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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.

Golden Gate Bridge

One cool thing about living on Stanford’s campus in Palo Alto is that the Caltrain station is really close and San Francisco is then only a short train ride away.

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San Francisco is usually cooler in temperature than Palo Alto because San Francisco is surrounded by water. Fog was covering the “Twin Peaks”, two hills near the center of San Francisco. Fog was covering the top of the Golden Gate Bridge for awhile. Even though I was wearing jeans and a hoodie for the first time this summer, the breeze traveling up the hilly streets of San Francisco made me cold.

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We joined the hundreds of people already walking on the bridge.

The wind intensified as we walked onto the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge walkway was pretty cramped because cyclists were supposed take up one half of the space.

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Knowingly throwing objects off the bridge was quoted as a misdemeanor.

I overheard someone say, “The bridge isn’t golden in any way, shape, or form!”, and inside the gift shop there was a book with a title asking the same question. The bridge is that shade of orange to increase its visibility, and it’s named after the Golden Gate Strait, the area between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay.

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Amazing view of San Francisco.

I suggest bringing extra layers to put on here because it gets really windy and chilly.

I also suggest you go to Tampopo, a Japanese restaurant in Japantown in San Francisco. They have amazing ramen and the food comes sooner than you think.

 

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