2012 graduate David Peters spent a year teaching English in Taiwan. He sent us some reflections on his time tehre.

A Year on Cold War Island

Tue Jun 4, 2013

When you come to Kinmen, I'll bring you to eat at every beef noodle joint in town. You don't have a choice, like it or not, we will go to every single one. Monday, we'll go to Xin Xiang Feng for knife cut beef noodles. How about Lao Die for spicy beef noodles on Tuesday for lunch? Oh, and we must go to EZ Life Talk Together for dinner on Wednesday, they've got really terrific fried beef noodles with small red peppers. I know you'll love it, because, actually, there's nothing else to eat here.  

NPR reporter, Rob Gifford, never mentioned Kinmen, it's symbolic history in the Cold War, or it's beef noodles when he lectured about his travels in China at Symphony Hall one cold evening back in 2008. Though it is only twice the size of Chicopee, Kinmen, formerly Quemoy, is an important part of Chinese and Cold War history because it is at the front line of cross-strait conflict between China and Taiwan. It was also an important topic during the Kennedy/Nixon Debates of the 1960 election.

Having been trained in English writing and literature at the Elms, I found that a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship was right for me. Following graduation, it allowed me to use my teaching skills, gained from tutoring at the Academic Resource Center and Homework House, in a Taiwanese classroom to benefit Taiwanese students' English education.

In October, I coached the English club at my school, Jin Sha Elementary, for an English speech competition where the students enacted the classic Indian tale of the 6 Blind Men and the Elephant. For two months, we practiced daily after lunch, first by reading the script and later by memorizing and working on pronunciation and acting. As a coach, I was able to draw from my decade-long experience of playing in competitive bagpipe competitions.

As all real progress takes place in the preparation, the day of the competition brought me back to the competition field as we calmed our nerves by working on tongue twisters as the other schools hurried to get their scripts polished. In the end, we got 2nd place out of 20 schools. Every student in the group felt as though they gave their all and put out the best performance possible. That's what makes me proud as a teacher.

The Readers Theater competition was important to me because it was the first time that I matched my gifts and experience together with a community in a way that truly benefited myself and the community. I recommend Elms College to anyone who wants to be a global thinker. It was the place that prepared me to see from the lens of another culture and I am incredibly fortunate for the opportunities that the Elms and the Fulbright grant has given me.

Submitted by David Peters '12. Look forward to another article from David in this summer's upcoming Elms College Magazine.

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