If you’ve scrolled far enough in my blog to the first time I was in Taiwan or you’ve read basically any foreigner’s blog about living in Taiwan, you’ve probably heard about Taiwanese hospitality. I am continually amazed by the generosity and kindness I encounter here.
For example, I’ve been trying to plan a trip for an upcoming long weekend to one of Taiwan’s islands, and my co-teachers Tina and Claire have gone above and beyond to help my friends and me. They’ve reached out to their friends and travel agents and have communicated with ferry companies and BnBs that don’t have any employees that speak English just so that we can make it to Penghu during one of the busiest weekends of the year. Eternally grateful.
Earlier this week, one of the special education teachers at 鎮北 named Eva invited me up to her classroom to eat lunch with her and another co-worker. During our short conversation, they learned that I enjoy hiking and eating and invited me to join them on their hike this weekend.
When I arrived at the meeting spot today, I was immediately gifted with a bottle of 冬瓜檸檬 (winter melon lemon tea). I was shocked that they remembered it’s one of my favorite drinks because I had only briefly mentioned it the first time we met.
We (and Eva’s daughter who also happens to be named Jasmine and my co-worker’s husband) spent the rest of the afternoon trying out different trails at Shou Shan and chatting. Aware of how serious I am about improving my Chinese, they spoke in Chinese 99% of the time. Although I spent most of the afternoon listening and saying “對” (right/correct) because I’m still not entirely confident in my speaking skills, I know that these types of experiences that bring me out of my comfort zone are exactly what I need to bring my Chinese level up.
They also treated me to a wonderful dinner of xiaolongbao, wonton soup and noodles, pork spareribs, and shaved ice for dessert.
Eva has already offered to take me to a Buddhist monastery I’ve been keen on visiting and has also invited me to do a waterfall hike in a neighboring county with her family. I truly am so thankful for all the people I’ve met here that have welcomed me into their lives, that make me feel so at home, and that genuinely want to help me improve my Chinese.
I actually told my friend Serena yesterday that one of my goals for this year is to be more selfless. I am very aware of how selfish I can be and in a country that’s known for its hospitable people, selfishness is not going to cut it. It’s actually quite difficult because I have no idea how I can possibly repay all the people that have been so kind to me…but I’ll work on it.
Author: Jasmine Zahedi, 2017-2018