First Day!

Woke up feeling refreshed, and not jet lagged on Sunday morning. Took a walk in the YongShin Park Resort’s beautiful garden. Then I met up with Duke & Hilary and took a walk through the attached park. Which was down a mountain! Be careful how far down you travel, you need to make it back up. We met with Taiwan GSE leader for breakfast. Then we had our first welcome meeting, where we met the District Governor, numerous AGs, and gave our first presentationin

Lunch was at the Resort, were we sat with our GSE counterparts who will be visiting PA. It’s a real treat to get to met them! Most years the teams are exchanged at the same time.

A short car ride through Taichung. Many blocks that we passed have both apartments and fields of rice or trees or other crops. Some lots have hoophouses or high tunnels! I did not expect quite so many urban farms! We made a quick stop at a 7-11 – truly universal! And then we were at Flying Cow Ranch – a beautiful, active dairy that has many educational and agro-tourism activities. We took a tour, helped in translation by Rotarian Sky – an IT Professional. Then we had dinner, banquet sky. There was a lot of Karaoke and dancing!


Food report – Sunday March 19th

Breakfast: American style sandwiches. Veggie sandwich on white bread, roast beef on a sesame bun, and tuna on a sesame bun. All had American Cheese (!!!) I learned not to ask for coffee American style – it’s far too watery.

Lunch: buffet style! Items included mushrooms, fried Chicken in a couple styles, beef noodles, greens, two soups, a rice casserole almost like Mac & cheese and more. Dessert was fruit (fresh fruit everywhere!) and a custard. We decided it was most like a flan, not turned out. There was a beverage that I thought was ice tea – it turned out to translate as “vinegar”. Sweeter than most vinegars I know, I think it was most like kombucha, a fermented drink. I am going to try to find out more.

Dinner: banquet style at Flying Cow Ranch. We were joined by many members of our host clubs for the next few days. We were warned to take it easy on the dishes when eating at a banquet. I still ate far too much early on. Notable dishes included an appetizer tray with spicy squid, fish (raw? Not sure, but it was good), beans. There were two different soups – one where we cooked items in the soup, another that was cabbage and pork. Pork loin on the bone, a pork and rice dish, shrimp in a red sauce. One of my favorites was a steamed green leaf (bamboo?) with anchovies. It sounds very simple, but it was oh so good. Desert was fresh fruit and ice cream from Flying Cow Ranch. I had to admire the gentleman at another table who ate his ice cream with chopsticks! #goals

What a way to start day 1!!

We arrived in the darkness, tired and weary.  I woke up before 6AM, unable to rest anymore.  So I headed out to explore the grounds we were on.  What a joy and surprise to find us high above Taichung City in the midst of gardens and sculptures. Locals were walking and doing QiGong and Tai Chi. I found myself so grateful and thankful for this opportunity.IMG_3743

We’ve arrived!

After a very long travel day, we have arrived in Taichung, Taiwan!

We were met at the airport in Taipei by members of District 3640 Rotary and members of the GSE Team that will be visiting District 7390 in a few weeks.

We then took a bus ride, from Taipei to Taichung, joined by our GSE counterparts. They helped us set up our Taiwan SIM cards and gave us a crash course in the Line App (Taiwan’s preferred cell messaging app). The bus was beautifully decorated on the inside with curtains, fringe, and fantastic patterns.

We stayed the first night in the YongShin Park resort. We all were able to shower & clean up from our travels From what I could see, when we arrived close to midnight, the grounds are beautifully appointed here – I am about to take a stroll in the sun.

Food report: For the most part, we ate airline food. I will not bore you with photos of those. Our greeting party gave us a box of “American” sandwiches when we arrived. Egg salad on white bread, and mini “burritos”.




Heading Out

We left Harrisburg International Airport before dark today! District Governor Kevin Cogan said goodbye to us.

Now we are in Atlanta, waiting for our flight to Tokyo. Then it’s just a short hop to Taiwan!


The Itinerary

This week we received our itinerary! Our hosts have clearly put a tremendous amount of effort into planning a thorough and multi-faceted experience. Museums, temples, schools & universities, parks, farms, municipal offices… and the Wednesday before we leave, an entire afternoon of shopping. They thought of everything.

Today we received the heaviest snowfall of the winter in our area. I (Lisa) was grateful for the snow day and extra time to prepare– and am quite looking forward to the subtropical climate.

triple check everything

Our preparations are well under way! In less than 10 days we depart for Taiwan and Rotary District 3460. We are finding ourselves occupied with plans and lessons. Our lessons include everything from basic phrases to culture to history. Our Team Leader, Kent Wiedemann, who has spent time in Taiwan, has been extremely helpful in these matters.

We were lucky enough to be able to meet with the Rotary District 7390 Governor  Kevin Cogan. He gave us information about the history of the GVSE and about our district. We are about to embark on a tradition of international exchange!

We also had the opportunity to ask questions of LTC Yang Shui-wei of the Taiwan Army. Many of these questions related to the culture, the food, and the environment of Taiwan. We appreciate his time!

Our Team Members are (L to R)

Claire O’Brien
Lisa Howald
Hillary Henson
Randal  “Duke” Adams
Kent Wiedemann

GVSE 2017

Starting in Mid-March, Rotary International District 7390 will be sending the 2017 Group Vocational Service Exchange (GVSE) Team to Taiwan.

Our Team members are Duke Adams, Hillary Henson, Lisa Howald, and Claire O’Brien. Our Rotary Team Leader is Kent Wiedemann. We look forward to sharing our trip with you!