Madison is going on week #10 in Taipei, teaching dance, acting, and singing to kids and adults!
QBC: What you have you learned from this experience?
MADISON: Kindness is never overreacted- At first, I spent a lot of my time lost and alone. But the generous offers and conversations with my students, their parents and kind strangers made a world of difference.
The world doesn't revolve around North America- being a middle class Canadian white girl, I've never been a minority in any sense- until now. It's very true that you never realize how much you take for granted until you have to go without. For me losing my primary method of communication was hugely eye opening and an important lesson in compassion for others.
Never underestimate the power of body language- At first I was shocked by how little English many of my students understood. But it quickly dawned on me, so little of what I was teaching required oral language at all. To get the kids on board, having open welcoming energy to entice them to participate was all it took.
Also, guava is a green fruit you can eat like an apple, 35-degree weather everyday isn't fun, the body can produce a shocking amount of sweat, Taiwanese love 7/11 and always travel in Asia with an umbrella handy.
QBC: What's the funniest thing that happened while teaching?
MADISON: Students class misheard my name at first and called me "Miss Medicine" for a week straight. Until eventually they asked if I was a doctor back in Canada.
QBC: What similarities and differences did you notice between teaching Canadian kids and Taiwanese kids?
MADISON: I think in North America from a young age we place a lot energy into comparison and how we line up with those around here. For the most part I've found the kids Taiwan lack the same competitive drive or perhaps, to say, they have a better sense of play is more correct. Consequently, because they don't feel driven to excel, narrowing their energy to focus on the goals of class can be challenging. I've found that finding tricks to turn the work in to fun as opposed to "work" has been one of time best tools. Because for many of the students if the class isn't driven by their desire to have fun, there's no way they'll participate at all.
That being said there are countless similarities. For the most part all kids thrive on discipline from those they respect, all kids are hilarious, all kids can be naughty without guidance and all kids are innately kind.