Tuesday, 29 October 2013

School Trip to Feitsui Reservoir

Taiwanese public schools run two trips a year per class, and I tag along on my son's trips whenever the opportunity arises. In his first year we managed to do three because he moved classes, so he went on one class trip, then moved to another class and went on his new class's excursion, too.

The destinations seem to depend on the wealth of the majority of the parents. At my son's previous school the parents were lecturers, business owners and professionals of various kinds, and the trips entailed some cost, such as our trip to Baby Boss. This is a venue where children dress up and act out a work role, such as a doctor, dentist, pilot, nurse etc. After their working day of half an hour is over, they receive wages, which they can then spend in the shop. This is very popular among parents of younger children but I have to say we won't be returning to Baby Boss in a hurry. It was so crowded that we spent hours queueing for about one hour of entertainment. And the division of work roles between the sexes - such as the assumption that  girls want to be flight attendants and boys want to be pilots - was depressing.

Another trip we took was to Pingxi Mining Museum and the nearby Shifen. This was far more interesting as it was an introduction to the history of ordinary Taiwanese people, the poor, hard-working mining families of the area. It was also an opportunity to get into the mountains on a beautiful, warm day. What more could I ask for?

At my son's current school the trips have been less ambitious and entirely free, if you don't count Easycard use on public transport. This is probably because the parents at this school are shopkeepers, labourers and other poorly paid professions. Volunteers and English speakers are also far fewer than at the previous school. It's an interesting insight into different aspects of Taiwanese society for me.

From our perspective the school suits our needs well. Previously, my son knew lots of children who spoke enough English to translate for him, and who also liked practising their English with him. Now, he has to speak Chinese if he wants to be understood. And because the school is small, which isn't popular amongst most Taiwanese people, he can get lots more attention from the teacher. As far as I can tell there's also less academic pressure. In fact, after hearing tales from parents whose children are inner city schools, I'm sure this is the case.

Trips with our current school have included the Children's Recreation Center, the Fine Art Museum and the Lin Family Mansion followed by nearby Xinsheng Park. I find it enjoyable being out with the children my son talks about all the time. He refers to them in terms of their class number, which seems to be standard terminology for talking about your classmates. For example, he was telling me today that number 4 got told off for running in the corridors, so he said it wasn't him, it was number 8.

Our most recent trip was to Feitsui Reservoir. We had bad luck because it rained heavily all the way there, during our visit, and all the way back. The days before and after were fine and sunny. Instead of walking around the beautiful emerald waters of the reservoir, we spent most of the time sitting in a lecture hall listening to an entertaining presentation of a member of staff and watching a film about the flora and fauna in the area. We braved the rain for twenty minutes or so before we returned to school.
The reservoir received plenty more water the day we visited.

The water on the left retained the typical emerald color.
As well as the beautiful scenery, a Taiwanese friend was telling me today you can buy some kind of delicious ice treat near Feitsui Reservoir, and the stories of all the wildlife and insect life in the area were intriguing. Another place in Taiwan we must visit again!

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