Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wishing all of my family and friends a bright year ahead

Here is to you (to me, too) an incredibly awesome year and many more.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Japan the wonderland 美しい日本

Last week, I hopped over to Japan for a few days, just to take my mind away from worries and frustration. Japan is such a beautiful and clean country with courteous people everywhere.

We woke up early everyday just to see as many places as we could during the short stay. I tried to get by with my rusty Japanese talking to local people that I ran into. Most people were helpful answering my questions. I even visited a women's club to inquire about the membership price. It was similar to "Curves for women" in the states, where women rotate to do aerobics and weight training using machines. Then I visited a children's cooking school. Kids were so cute to look at, and I pretended to be one of the parents waiting to pick up my child by sneaking in the parents' observatory area.

Food was wonderful and the presentations were just too pretty and classy. I miss the sukiyaki and oodon noodles especially. Oh, and we had hot spring baths in the hotel for two nights. Everywhere I went, I felt respected, and every morning when we left a hotel, the staff came out to say goodbye with bows and hand waves. It was so good to be treated as a honored guest.

To my surprise, the living expense in Fukuoka is very affordable and if I were to move to Japan, it would be my first choice. I wish to do some hiking around the volcano area and visit some local families if there is a chance to do so. I also want to try some of the farmer's tofu dishes if I ever go back to Aso. But first of all, I need to brush up my Japanese.

I think I left my heart in beautiful Japan! 私は日本を愛する

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

About the scent of the koalas

Marie, the caretaker explained where the scent of koala came from.

If you ask me what the most important thing is in communicating cross-culturally, I would say to pay attention to the cues of non-verbal messages. You see, here Marie was probably becoming a bit annoyed by having to teach people how to hold the koala (esp. with ignorant foreign tourists) as it could be repetitive and boring. I can imagine how difficult it can be to deal with a line of tourists who come here just to hold the animal for once and have their pictures taken.

So I decided to approach her during the break and asked if she would be willing to explain where the scent of the koala came from to my students in Taiwan. Immediately she showed me this beautiful smile and agreed to do that with my camera.

People like to be respected and it is universal. Even in a situation where we don't speak the language of a person we run into, ackowledging the person's existence with a genuine smile and eye contact can be helpful. The power of empathy breaks cultural boundaries.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Greetings from Australia

Australia was wonderful with beautiful weather and interesting people. I guess I wasn't successful in toning down my near-American accent because people asked me about it all the time. If I ever had a chance to visit again, I want to do some trekking and beach visiting. The sun highlighted the end of the Australian summer with blazing heat. I finally got to see the famous opera house and koala with my own eyes.