Last weekend I had the weirdest experience ever! Middle in Chiayi, the middle of Taiwan, the middle of South-East Asia, a man was waiving at me. The moment I came closer he said to me: “Nice to meet you; I am your father!” Instead of a thrilling “Nooooo!” such as Mark Hamill performed Luke’s reaction after Darth Vader revealed the truth of their relation, I was not shocked at all. Sure it was odd to get to know my Taiwanese dad and my Singaporean younger brother but I guess that is the spirit of the *higher pitch* Host Family Program.
To calm down everyone who got nervous because of the title, I am not adopted. My fellow exchange student colleagues aka friends and me joined the Taiwan Host Family Program set up by the Ministry of Education. Hereby Taiwanese families volunteer to add one or more students to their family tree and help them whenever it’s possible. And my Dad is really supportive; but more of that later, because I want to tell you the whole awesomeness of this awesome day!
First my alarm on my mobile phone raised his sound until I could not cope with it anymore and had to get out of bed to turn it off, awesome. Next, I brushed my teeth, awesome. … *Awesome fast-forward*… My friends and I drove by train to the city of Chiayi, where we received our name tags. I knew that I would meet my new family but to make this day more awesome I even got a new name.
After switching to bus we arrived at the Zhulu Community in the middle of sub-tropical forest area, where we finally met our host families. My dad was alone there because mom had to work, but this was fine for me. My new brother from Singapore, father and I had a lot of chatting to do – we last saw each other 65 years ago at Christmas (the same joke was as funny as I told it to my host family – so not). It was really interesting to get to know these people. My pop is a Mini fan and also build his own cars, my brother studies and is absolutely funny. After some quality time, we got free lunch boxes consisting of local specialties such as pressed bamboo-rice-wraps, awesome.
Shortly after the refreshments we went to a stage in the Zhulu township. The Zhulu tribe is an indigenous community located in the heart of Taiwan and so we got to see traditional dances expressing their daily lives: Women have to plant and harvest, clean, cook, look after the children and make clothes, while the men go fishing, hunting and killing people at war (back in the days, hmmm). When the traditional dance battles ended I volunteered as one of 15 exchange students to dance along with the Zhulu members on stage. Anyone who stayed in an animated club-hotel with a kiddy-club knows the steps we danced, but with the music and atmosphere it was, you guess it right, awesome! The Video of our Taiwanese wiggle-waggle can be seen here (https://www.facebook.com/jason911vs996/videos/1324137957599254/) generously recorded by my host dad.
The next station of our family reunion was a do-it-your-own rice mochi pounding and jelly making. I proceeded to wash seeds from a tropical fruit in water to produce the local specialty jelly-drink; and yes, you drink the jelly. It is really interesting, because sometimes I had to chew the jelly before swallowing due to its density. However, after consuming my rice-stick and jelly-drink we got another hour for quality time with the family.
We got a lot tips for tourism in the nearby natural area and finally we had to say “good-bye”! It was not too emotional because we exchanged phone numbers and contact info, so we will keep in touch.
My friends and I drove back to the train station in Chiayi by a karaoke-bus, but here I won’t give you any footage of our singing, otherwise you will abandon me from the next singing contest. I just give you the list of songs: Take me Home Country Roads, Lemon Tree, Hey Jude, 500 Miles and the Birthday Anthem. All in all, it was an awesome day with awesome experiences, awesome people, awesome food and awesome awesomeness of the Taiwan Host Family Program.
Lustig, weil das Wort Resümee aus dem französischen kommt. Also, meine Freunde und ich nahmen an dem „Taiwan Gastfamilien Programm“ teil und es war wirklich genial. Mein Taiwanesischer Host-Paps und mein kleiner Bruder aus Singapur sind interessante und lustige Leute. Gemeinsam verbrachten wir bei dem indigenen Volk der Zhulu, wo wir neben gratis Verpflegung, traditionellen Tanzeinlagen zum Mittanzen einem Mach-dir-Selbst-Kochkurs für lokale Spezialitäten miterleben durften. Der Tag war genial, meine Gastfamilie ist spitze und ich hoffe, sie können mir meinen Aufenthalt in Taiwan noch schöner machen!