And now, the end is near…

Que up the Frank Sinatra; My Way…

We shared our last Taiwan Rotary dinner this evening.  It was a combination 1744th meeting of Taichung East Rotary Club and farewell to District 7390 GSE team dinner.  It was one of those bittersweet nights filled with joy for what we’ve shared here and knowing that we will soon join our loved ones back home.  On the other hand, such sadness to have this experience that has touched all of our lives so deeply be coming to an end.

Rotary District Governor Joy was there to host us this evening, just as he was the morning after we arrived.  Joy asked us each to speak about our time here.  He really wanted to know what Taiwan has meant to us.

The theme from all of us was the unbelievable kindness, hospitality, openness, and love that was shared with us here.  Lisa noted so well that every host family was even more kind to us than the last one was.  Hillary gave some specific shout outs to a few Rotarians who really touched are hearts and made our time together extra special.  Yo, Mickey! (Chest pound, fist pump, peace).  I was so glad Claire noted that her home is open to any of our new Taiwanese family whenever they are in PA.  A sentiment that is shared by all of us.  I don’t know what Kent said, because he gave his comments in Mandarin.  I can tell you however it got laughs, applause, and when he speaks Chinese, our new friends are both impressed and appreciative.

We will all miss this beautiful island and the people that make it so great.  I believe we can all say, “I Love Taiwan” and know that there will be a piece of this place and its people in our hearts forever.  Listening to my team members share their thoughts tonight and the conversations we’ve shared on this trip, I believe none of us are the same people that left Harrisburg on March 17.  This truly is a life altering experience.

I do not know the words that can express the gratitude I feel to Taiwan Rotary District 3460 and our home Rotary District 7390 for giving us this opportunity.  Thank you does not seem to be enough, but it is what we have.  So with the Chinese word we have likely used here the most, I say Xiexie.

 

 

 

921 Earthquake Museum

If you recall one of my posts from our first week in Taiwan, we visited Shih-Gang dam which was damaged in an earthquake.  The earthquake was one of the biggest to occur in Taiwan and we have heard of it frequently on our trip as it changed the lives and landscape of the country forever.

Here it is known as 921, as it occurred on September 21, 1999 at 1:47 am.  The quake registered 7.3 on the Richter scale destroying over 50,000 buildings, railways and other infrastructure totaling $10 billion USD in damages.  There were over 11,000 people injured and 2,415 lives lost.

One area of the fault line opened up directly under a school, that has now become the museum with much of the destruction preserved.  The museum is a great facility with many hands on activities that get children engaged in learning.  How and why earthquakes occur is demonstrated.  There are building blocks and models to understand the science that goes into construction with floating foundations and structural support.  There is even the earthquake experience which is a movie going through the events of 9/21 while you sit on a vibrating and quaking floor.

The museum is a great memorial to remember those who were lost and to educate the next generations about a danger that is ways present in Taiwan.  To see the destruction captured in time is a sobering reminder of the power of nature that is out of our control.

 

 

Alice

Yesterday’s lunch destination was extra special.  We were at Lita’s Paradise, a boutique hotel/restaurant.  (I highly recommend it if you find yourself in Taiwan.)  Before our meal we had a presentation from Alice, the daughter of the owners.

Alice shared her Student Rotary Exchange experience and how it has changed and defined her life.  She described herself as a quiet and shy person who had been bullied and didn’t have much confidence.  Her first few months with her host family in Brazil was difficult also.  She was struggling to learn Portuguese and living in a small rural town, when she was accustomed to city life.  Her host family gave her the ultimatum of learn the language or go home.

She worked hard to learn and got better every day.  In an effort to show her host family she cared and wanted to be there, Alice asked to prepare a meal.  Eggs, tomato and green onion was a traditional dish she knew from home.  With that meal it all started to turn around for her time there.  By the end of her trip she was the best Portuguese speaking exchange student and she made friends she will have for life.  She couldn’t believe when more than 100 people turned out for her farewell party.

Since that time, she has backpacked across Mexico and wrote a book about that experience called 45 Days in Mexico, has a cookie shop at the family business, has consulted on menus for restaurants in Taipei, giving a TED talk, and more.  She’s 19 and a senior in high school.  WOW!

Oh, and the food was amazing!  Both in presentation and flavor.

Taiwan Yunlin Irrigation Association

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Taiwan has a rainy season which will start around June and a dry season which we are in now.  However, agriculture and industry need water year round.  The role of the TYIA is to manage the water resource for the area.

They do this through the collection of surface water during the rainy season and supplementing with ground water resources throughout the year.

A series of canals that can direct water throughout the county are managed from several locations. The picture of the model shows the many canals.  More than 70% of the water goes to agricultural production.

The visitor center where we learned about the TYIA also had some great agricultural artifacts.

Mingtan Power Station

Mingtan dam and power station is a reservoir below Sun Moon Lake.  The two reservoirs work together as a pump-storage power station.  This is a technology we use in the states as well.

When the demand on the power grid is high water is released from the upper reservoir to turn the turbines and create power. Usually overnight, when demand on the power grid is low, water is pumped back to the upper reservoir and stored for its next use.

The Taiwan Power Company gave us a good presentation on their facility.  A scenic and productive location.

Sun Moon Lake

We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day to visit Sun Moon Lake.  It is a very popular weekend destination and I can see why.  Turquoise blue water surrounded by green hills and a quaint vacation town.

We all took bicycles around part of the lake to the visitors center. There we had a great view of the lake and learned a bit about the aboriginal Thao people.

We then had lunch at the top of the Wen Wan Resort Hotel overlooking the lake. Another magical day in Taiwan.

Field Day at Fang Ywan School

Yesterday we started our day playing with the kids and taking a tour of their school.  We played a team game where you roll the tire to a little table that has two bowls of water. There you blow a ping pong ball from one bowl into the other, then roll the tire back to your team. Lots of cheering and fun for all.

Some of the kids were eager to practice their English with us.  They all giggled when we made our attempts at speaking Chinese.

We toured the art department and the library.  There are some fine young artists.