Taiwan Time

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The Lantern Festival

April 9, 2008 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

Visitors from Home

Jeff and Karen Neisler, friends from Samaritan House (our home church in Rogers) came to visit. The weather was windy and cool; they got to see a lot of the Taitung area. Here we are eating at a breakfast shop.


Ruthie and Karen take a break from riding, on Green Island.


Like me, Jeff loves the beautiful coast in Taiwan. Below Jeff is the salt water hot springs. Green Island is one of only three places in the world that has them.


This is a tomb site. These are all over Taiwan. I’ve asked several people “who gets such a tomb” ? Apparently it is for prominent/wealthy. This is a Buddhist grave as most are, but there are also Christian gravesites.


The Lantern Festival  

The Lantern Festival is a Buddhist celebration —-really a big thing. These are street dancers from various temples.


As you can see, the costumes are colorful and fancy.


Despite appearances, the Buddhists we’ve met seem to be tolerant and gentle. There can be big problems in families if someone leaves Buddhism.


These are “lanterns”– actually hot air paper balloons. Notes are written on the side, such as wishes for “good health” or “prosperity.” The balloons float well up into the sky until the oil fires burn out. This evening a gentle breeze carried the lanterns out over the ocean. Dozens of balloons lit up in the dark sky.


The main event is the “Handanyeh” parade. Young men take turns being carried around on a platform while other men throw packs of large firecrackers at him. We had heard of this before but seeing it was something! Supposedly evil spirits are scared away by the firecrackers. However, one person told me that it is a tradition based on story of a a cruel village mayor. One day villagers got fed up and three firecrackers at him.


The man on the platform wears only a wrap around his middle and face/ear protection.

Our friends the Neislers and another friend, Robert Wu are in the crowd of perhaps several thousand.


How badly hurt are the men? Some suffer only minor burns; others have to be taken to the hospital. Why do they do it? Young men get to show their bravado… like our rodeos, I guess.


This temple tower has eight stories, each with a shrine to a diferent Goddess/God. We took this photo just before climbing the structure.


Winter in Taiwan

February 27, 2008 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

Ruthie is rehearsing with the Bible Study group.


This is some of our Bible study group. They are getting ready to sing Christmas Carols at a city event attended by hundreds of people.


Singing on stage


Our Church

Ruthie is entering from the street. There are several Christian churches in Taitung.


These are many of the church members. The ones holding flowers were baptized earlier in the day.


This is the baptism ceremony. Two large tubs were used. The pastors are all women in this church.


Our son Gabriel came to see us in January. We are on a tall hill in downtown Taitung. He stayed nine days.


Gabriel and Ruthie looking over the city.


At the bottom of the hill are several holes like this one dug into the side. The Japanese used these for bomb shelters during World War II. Japan left Taiwan after the war. They occupied the country for 50 years.


We took Gabriel to Green Island. It was windy and cool, unlike our first trip there last fall.


Gabriel and Ruthie looking over the Pacific Ocean.


This is a Buddhist temple. They are everywhere.


Gabriel at a temple.


Some are large; some are very small.


Inside a temple.


Irving is teaching in the Grade four class.


Ruthie in class. Wednesday is the “short day” for all schools. School is out at noon and teachers have meetings. Students do not wear uniforms on Wednesday.


Just before the winter break. Students do a big cleanup of the school.


Fun in PE class.


Arkansas Week

We made a presentation about our home. Students were very interested to see and hear about where we come from. We presented a Power Point program, sang songs and talked about Arkansas. They like photos of Beaver Lake.

Thanks to the Arkansas Tourism and State departments, gifts of Arkansas pens, pencils and lapel pins were given to all 660 students. They were delighted.


Ruthie’s accordion playing and singing always makes a big hit.


A grade four class on Arkansas Day.


One of our students.


Visit to Taroko Gorge. Taiwan has a beautiful gorge made of marble. Because of the plentiful marble supply, marble is inexpensive and used in many buildings.

This was a stop on the way there. This monument marks the Tropic of Capricorn. South of it you are in the tropics.


The marble Taroko gorge. It is beautiful!


Beautiful scenery.


A swinging bridge over part of the gorge.


More from “Taiwan Time”

December 19, 2007 by · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Here are some more photos of our school, Ren Ai Elementary. On Monday mornings, we have a flag raising ceremony.  Taiwan has long lived in fear of an invasion from mainland China.  



img_0001_3.jpg, 6 

 All students have to clean the school in the mornings.


Drum practice  


 Some beginners practice on their instruments.


 Some 5th & 6th grade students.  The girl in the middle is “aboriginal”, a descendent of the Pacific Islanders that originally inhabited Taiwan.  


The faculty celebrate  my 60th birthday.  They are so thoughtful.   


We do a “Big Bad Wolf” skit.  


Playing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”  


“Sports Day” 

This is a whole day devoted to everyone participating in activities.  Every student can be in three events as they compete with other classes.   






Also, the school band and drum corps performs.



 An adult Traditional drumming performance  


The  school band is very good. 


Director Du is new to the school and hopes to rebuild the band program.  He is a proud “aboriginal.”  


Teacher Sophia, Teacher Vicki and Teacher Annie 


Ruthie is with Teacher Hong.  We live on the third floor of her house.


Ruthie and I went to “Green Island”, a must for people visiting here.  It is an island with breath taking beauty and lies 35 km from Taitung.  Rental scooters were available to make the 12 mile perimeter road around the island.  We went around twice. 





Ruthie looking over the east coast of Green Island.  A Typhoon blew the roof off.


Irving at the lighthouse 


It also has a crumbling prison where Chiang Kai-shek imprisoned tens of thousands of people who were perceived to be against him.  Many never returned.  There is a  Human Rights Memorial there.   


More later from “Taiwan Time”

October 23, 2007 by · No Comments · Uncategorized


Greetings from Taiwan! 

We have been here for over 5 weeks and are getting used to things.  We spent about 10 days in orientation in Taipei
County.  This included various talks on culture, schools, language introduction field trips and even a Tai-chi lesson.  We certainly learned a lot in such a few days.   
This lady’s language(Mandarin) lesson was so much fun because of her enthusiasm.  Ruthie was the best student. 


While we were there an earthquake rattled the place….my first. Since then, two typhoons have hit the island to a greater or lesser extent depending where you were.   Danger?  Not much.  The worst danger here by far is the traffic.  There are cars, buses, trucks going everywhere with moped scooters buzzing around like like bees! A night in Xanxia (near Taipei) .


The orientation was really first class with very good speakers and events.  The food was very good but took some getting used to.  The accommodation was very comfortable, also.  Here are   Rose, Gene, Ruthie and Carolyn.  Gene and Carolyn are also from Rogers, Arkansas.


Ruthie with Derek, one of our trainers.  He is really funny. 


At the end, we had a ceremony with officials awarding certificates.  Officials and teachers had arrived to escort us to our teaching posts. 


Ruthie and I were touched by all of the care.  We remember our experience in the Peace Corps in
Africa 30 years ago.  The training program was good, but living conditions were very Spartan during training;  people were sick from the food.  We rode dusty buses, trains and trucks, trying to get to our locations.  We waited  hours at a time for rides….often all on our own.

Now we are at Taitung, a city on the southeast coast.  It is a beautiful area with mountains to the west of us and the
Pacific Ocean to the east.  It is a city formed by the delta of four rivers that come out of the mountains and pass through Taitung.


We have been teaching here inRenAi
Elementary School for three weeks;  it has been a good experience.  Now the students are getting used to us.  As far as anyone knows, we are the first foreign teachers posted at this school.   



We teach English to grades 2-6 one class a week.  Since this is a large school it gives us a full schedule, but we are a “mile wile and an inch deep”.  Education officials seem interested in giving  young students exposure to native English speakers. 


We are doing Power Point presentations (homemade ones),  singing songs (sometimes with us playing musical instruments) and acting out lessons. More later …..from
Taiwan Time
Silas Irving  & Ruthie Granderson

Hello world!

October 17, 2007 by · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

Hello; we are the Grandersons.   We are going to Taiwan to teach English in an elementary school in Taitung.

I, Irving, and my lovely wife, Ruthie, have  taught 35 and 30 years respectively.  This includes four years together in the Peace Corps teaching in Ghana,  Africa.

We have been teaching in the Rogers School District for the last 22 years and it has been a great place to work.

I am a career science teacher mainly in grades 6-9;  Ruthie is a high school math teacher.

We are looking forward to our assignment.  Taitung is a smaller city by Taiwan standards and is located on the east coast.  I am  excited to live next to the ocean.  Growing up and living in Arkansas I have not had the chance to see the ocean much so it should be fun.   There is  a good beach 1.5 km long near Taitung.

Two other teachers from Rogers are also going to Taiwan with us.  They are Carolyn Scott (with her husband Gene) and Marilyn Hodgin.  We have become friends and will tackle this adventure together.

More later on “Taiwan”                      S. Irving Granderson