I am looking out on the 6 p.m. traffic in peripheral Shanghai from the ninth floor of a hotel room, with white linens and a shower, as I write this. I intended to close my Taiwan journey sitting in the Taipei Taoyuan airport before the beginning of my next adventure, for poetic effect, but never quite got around to it. My last string of posts ended abruptly, I know, but too much has happened since then, even before the close of my exchange, for me to recount. Suffice it to say that there were moments of euphoric laughter, subdued joy, simmering discontent, and helpless disgust. I can’t say that the experience was all it was promised to be, nor can I say that I magically transformed into an outgoing, child-loving, charismatic leader ready to save the world. But I did grow in other ways: I learned to take risks, to work through imperfection, and to strive to see beyond face value. But I have neither the patience nor the time to write a common app essay about my growth and struggles and the epiphanies and reflections from this journey. I would have left this blog unfinished, to tell the truth, but for the fact that I must thank the people who made this experience truly unique and life-changing.
Despite the various factors that ultimately undermined this experience for me, I have nothing but fond thoughts and memories of the many people whom I will remember long after I forget the other details of this trip. The AIESECers in Taiwan and Yale, of course, made this trip happen, and I am grateful for that. But my host family, Luna, Nick, and Trista, had no obligation to house and feed me, yet they truly made my first month in Taiwan special and I am sincere when I say that I will remember them, and hope to keep in touch. They are inextricably linked to my impression of Taiwan, and it is a sweet, nostalgic one already.
Then, there are Kanchih laoshi, his wonderful wife, Jimmy, Ferniza, and Xiao Buding. I think of them as my second host family, after the countless times I squeezed into the back seat with the kids after school, or to go travel on the weekends, or to watch the sunset in some local secret and enjoy a delicious dinner afterwards. I wish my two “families” all the best and I can’t wait to hear about the dear kids as they grow up!
Of course, the teachers at Beishi were always kind and considerate, trying to make me comfortable and happy at all times. Wan laoshi and Bohan, you really made me feel at home during my first days at Beishi. Thank you for your friendship, and all the best in the future! Lily, thank you for your constant help and support. You went above and beyond, even taking Bambi and I around Tainan on our last weekend. Principal Lin, you were the first staff member I met in Taiwan, and you did everything you could to help me and make me comfortable throughout. There are countless other people at Beishi whom I appreciate and remember, and I hope that we may meet again someday. Thank you for all you have done.
Finally, there are my fellow EPs. I have said what I needed to say to you already, but I must repeat that the friendships I formed with you are perhaps the most special and lasting part of this experience. I would love to thank each of you again, but I don’t think that’s quite necessary, or appropriate, now, especially as most of you will never read this. But if there is one person I must mention, it is Bambi. Bambi, you were my companion and friend from the very beginning. We went through so much together, starting from the uncontrollable laughter in that apartment in Tainan, to the countless #stupidthingswedidinTaiwan, to the hardest goodbye of my whole trip on the steps of Angels’ Hostel in Taipei. It will be hard, but I really do hope we keep in touch and meet again, either in Canada, Thailand, or anywhere else. Finally, just one comment: go bravely onward towards 12 o’clock, and we’re sure to find our bubble tea someday 😉
And now I am looking forward to going home after nearly nine weeks on the other side of the world. Since leaving Taiwan, I’ve visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China (the People’s Republic, that is), stayed in five-star hotels, and debated every aspect of Chinese and American life with my fellow “student leaders” of the inaugural Zhi-Xing China Student Leaders’ Academy. And yet, every time I buy bubble tea in China, I miss the night market in Madou, and every time I toss another plastic water bottle in the trash, I remember the meticulous waste sorting in Taiwan. But anyhow, every story has its close, even if life continues, and this must be the end of Aiesec Taiwan Blog. See you again someday, beautiful island!