It was the best of days, it was the worst of days. I won't get too far into the bad stuff because apparently people can get in trouble for what they post on the internet, but it has all the elements of great literature: youthful strangers in a strange land, local politicking behind closed doors, racism, culture clash and tears--throw in an extramarital affair and we'd be all set.
And onto the good stuff: the 12 Kaohsiung Fulbright ETAs (that's English Teaching Assistants) will visit each of the 13 elementary schools where we could be placed by the end of Thursday. *aside: The process of placing us with an LET (Local English Teacher) also involves "speed dating" where the ETAs form an inner circle and the LETs form an outer circle and we rotate every minute until we meet all of our potential co-teachers. Why the foundation has decided to adopt such an awkward environment for social interaction is beyond my comprehension, but it's kind of funny so whatever.* We visited the first three schools today, and they made great efforts to woo us into making them our first choice school. A teacher at the first school argued that their school had the nicest facilities since it was only built 6 years ago AND tried to set me up with the national badminton champion gym teacher (you may think I'm joking... I wish you were right). At the second school, the principal boasted that his school was the oldest AND bought us bottled water and a laundry basket full of dragon eye fruit. The third school bought us iced coffee--a welcome treat on a searingly hot day.
And when we arrived at a fourth school (also a potential work site though not part of the day's official school tour) for a conference, the principal gave us buttons that he picked up in Beijing the previous week. Here's the one I chose:
Here's to a new tomorrow, hopefully one with more gunslinging pandas and fewer unpleasant encounters with messy, hidden politics. Cheers!
Thomas McGuane Reads "Riddle"
1 hour ago