I have been living in Taiwan for nine years and during most of my time on this beautiful island I have been an English teacher. In fact, it was July 24, 2004 that I landed on Taiwan and quickly got to work as an English teacher at the Kindergarten level. Nine years have passed now, and along with cherished memories and an ever growing collection of names and faces of some fantastic students, I will be taking home a love for tea and a new memento from one of the friendliest students I met along this fantastic adventure.
May, a mother of two teenage boys and wife to a local mechanic, has been my student at Spontaneous English School for nearly two years. Always prompt - and rarely missing a class - she enjoyed our in-class conversations, topics and assisting other students whenever they needed clarification on a specific word or topic of interest. (She was also a great help when it came to correcting my spelling!)
On the eve of my final "adult" class May approached me at the beginning of the class with a large plastic bag and thrust her hand toward me as if to say, "Here, take this. You'll love it without a doubt!" Well, I did..and without even opening the box I knew exactly what it was: A very old, well-kept and maintained tea set. I was not only shocked but my breath was quickly taken away by the generosity and honour of this gift she extolled upon me.
See, I don't just simply open up a book, stagger to a page and start teaching. No. In fact, in our classes we never used books and only read articles to help the students with their reading ability and comprehension. While considered unconventional to some, my classes were all about daily life, current issues and a collection of conversations from day-to-day experiences. Again, daily life. And this is how May (and all the other students) found out my true, deeply held love for (Taiwan) tea.
So, without further ado let me present this little piece of history. A thoughtful and cherished gift that I will use for an eternity, remembering my good friend, my hard-working student and my unending affection and love for Taiwan: The Tea Set!
Thank you, May. With each and every tasty cup of tea that I brew, share with others and sip myself, I remember this tea set and the wonderful energy you brought to our classes.
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”