Christmas Eve (and New Year’s Eve) – Taiwan (2013)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs I finish this post, it is New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow is a holiday and there are three students here to hang out and see in the new year. A couple of them will spend the night and welcome New Year’s Day in our apartment.

Last week at this time, it was Christmas Eve. In Taiwan, Christmas is not a holiday. So on Christmas Day, I taught a two hour writing class in the morning, had a couple of office hours, and then taught a general English class for two hours in the late afternoon. (Sorry, no photo of me teaching in my Santa hat.)

On Christmas Eve day (Tuesday), I also taught and had meetings, but in spite of the work schedule, we still decided to have a special gathering for Christmas Eve at our apartment. We had a ready-made guest list. Let me explain.

Two weeks ago, I started meeting with a group of young ladies who were interested in working on their English writing. We had our first meeting on December 11 to explore our ideas and make plans. Some of the ideas include writing prompts, reading and commenting on each others’ writing projects, seeing and writing about a movie, and other ideas that we dream up along the way.

With high enthusiasm, eight young ladies agreed that we should do this on a weekly basis, so on the 18th we moved to another coffee shop for our second meeting. At that meeting, we had sign-up sheets for the next two Tuesdays, the Eves of Christmas and New Year’s.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn Christmas Eve, we had 8 for dinner, not the exact 8 that started out that first night, but our group is growing, and not everyone could make the holiday gatherings. But 8 for Christmas Eve was pretty nice. As my husband put the finishing touches on dinner, the girls put up the table top Christmas tree and decorated it. They had each brought a gift for an exchange. It was great fun, as everyone ended up with gifts that suited their interests. Santa brought writing notebooks for everyone, too!

Between Christmas and New Year’s, the main core of students in this group decided that they wanted to become an official student organization in the school. Since I’m already meeting with this group on a weekly basis, it’s no extra work for me. But it’s nice to get credit for being an advisor to an English Writing Club at a Taiwanese university. It turns out we needed 20 students to sign that they were interested in the idea. I had two sign up sheets with 20 each, so I could offer them to students at either side of the room if they were interested. I was shocked to not only get all forty spots filled, but have other students still asking if they could sign. Maybe I can start a movement. Prior to this, English writing has been a bit of a challenge on our campus, so as we go into 2014, there is an exciting shift. My work as a writing teacher here is starting to pay off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo tonight, on New Year’s Eve, we only have three visitors. But they have taken down the tree, watched some English comedy video, and are now working on a jigsaw puzzle. Two of them will curl up on our couches and spend the night (the 3rd lives next door). I get to see in the new year with my husband and three young women who are as interested in writing as I am. It’s going to be a good year!

One of the gift exchange photos

One of the gift exchange photos

Opening writing notebooks from Santa

Opening writing notebooks from Santa

Jigsaw puzzle on New Year's Eve

Jigsaw puzzle on New Year’s Eve

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19 comments on “Christmas Eve (and New Year’s Eve) – Taiwan (2013)

    • Thanks, Eva! I’m pretty excited about it. It’s wonderful to see people who are eager to practice the craft of writing, rather than just coming to class dreading it.

  1. Happy new year! It seems like 2014 is going to bring you some interesting things. You come across as a very dedicated teacher willing to go the extra mile. I had a professor like that in university and I still remember the evenings that he spend with a group of students twice a month discussing scientific papers very fondly.

    • Thanks, Emmely! Happy New Year to you! I love teaching and I love writing! So when there are students who are willing to go beyond what is required for the course and actually engage the material, I am there! haha I think it’s great you have such fond memories of such meetings. It was while I was an undergrad that a professor came to me and suggested that I go to grad school and pursue a career in the university. I’m glad I listened. 🙂

  2. Wow! You are doing a great job Deborah 🙂 My daughter is a linguist and I know how much pleasure she gets from reading and writing. So enjoy spreading the love of writing and languages and you will reap the reward of many years of friendship. Happy New Year to you and your family and all of your lovely students too 🙂 Avis x

    • Hi Avis! You are so correct. I have a student from my very first year teaching here who stayed in touch, and even after graduating, she and I are good friends. And this new writing group is such great fun! I was amazed at the interest. Thanks for the New Year’s wishes. I hope it’s a great year for you and your family as well. 🙂

  3. Wow! An official English Writing club sounds great and fun. A great way to start the new year and a promising start for a change.

  4. Love the gift sharing. Such joy to read. And nice to hear that you managed to get all interested parties you need. You must be good at teaching that you needn’t effort to even find learners to sign up for it.

    • Thanks, Rommel! I knew we had enough interest from when I first put feelers out to at least get 20 signatures. What surprised me was getting 40, with others on the sidelines. I don’t think all of these students will fully participate, but the fact that there is a core group meeting regularly and others wanting to check it out, I’m quite delighted. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂 Best wishes for the new year!

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