Friday, August 28, 2009

新竹市科學園路139號 - our new home!


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Welcome to Taiwan.


Who says you can't move half way around the world and start a new job within 36 hours? Well, that's exactly what we did. We arrived at 7am Thursday and taught our first class by 2pm Friday. It's been intense and overwhelming to say the least.

Upon arrival to Taipei, we were greeted by a taxi driver who brought us to David's English School. He, unfortunately, did not speak English, so it was a pretty quiet ride to the school; about a hour. We met Jesse, one of the Kids classes directors, who showed us our room and gave us a small tour of the surrounding community - shops and restaurants. She offered to take us to get some food, but we declined because we were so exhausted.

Back in our room, we struggled to nap. Our bed is nothing more than a stiff box spring and we have no sheets! Also, we needed to be up and ready by 11 to begin our orientation. We decided to venture out get some water (not able to drink tap water here) and something to eat. Who knew this would be such a difficult task!! Water was easy, just grab one! However, food was a whole different story. Menu's do NOT have pictures, so we were left to either guess or point to something another customer had ordered. Being so exhausted, we aimlessly walked past a number of shops before finally choosing one out of desperation. Fortunately, one of the cooks was able to speak a few words in English...we ordered bagel sandwiches with cheese, egg, and ham. Not bad for a first meal in Taiwan!! Because they were so helpful, we wanted to say thank you. Dan found a phrase in our phrase book and we practiced a few times before attempting to say this to the cooks. Of course they laughed because we didn't say it correctly and they had no idea what we were saying...luckily we had the book to show them what we meant. All in all not a bad first experience!

The afternoon was filled with training and tea. We had our first Bubble Tea, as well as Milk Tea...both very popular drinks in Taiwan. The training consisted of classroom lecture type orientation as well as observation of current teachers. When we finished at 9pm, we went straight back to the room and crashed! What a long day!

Day 2 was also very busy. Both Daniel and I were literally "thrown" into the classroom to teach our first classes - 2 hours each as substitutes for teachers who were ill. While it was definitely not the best experience, it will hopefully help prepare us for our own classes which begin on Monday. It was another long day, leaving us tired and overwhelmed.

As we enter into our first weekend, we are hoping to spend some time exploring our new city and catching up on rest. Although, we will need to spend some time preparing for our classes, as they begin on Monday!

Thanks for all your emails and messages, it's great to hear from all and know that we have such great support. More to come later!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Communication.

As of August 25th, we will no longer have a cell phone. DON'T CALL! We have set up a number of ways to communicate with family and friends to keep everyone up-to-date.

BLOG.
While we're away, we will do our best to update the blog regularly.

EMAIL.
When updating out blog, we will also be sending out an email to friends and family to let them know of the update and share any information we may not want to post online. If you would like to be a part of that email list, please send me an email and I'll add you in.

SKYPE.
If you haven't heard of skype, you're missing out! Skype is a free internet phone where you can call us and we can call you. If you have access to high speed internet and the program (free download here) you can call us; our username is the.ankneys. We also have a US phone number that you can call from anywhere in the US and it will call directly to our computer. If you would like our phone number, please email me. We will have voicemail, so if you call, leave a message and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Our goal is to stay in touch with family and friends during our year away, however, we hope to experience every aspect of the Taiwanese culture. If we do not respond immediately, please be patient, we will respond when possible!

Monday, August 17, 2009

It's official...we have jobs!


We're really moving to TAIWAN...7 days and counting!!!

Last night we accepted job offers with a chain school called David's English Center (the site is a bit broken, but you can get the idea). This comes as a great blessing as the past few weeks have been a bit discouraging...after a job falling through and a trip to the shore gone bad! We are thankful that we were able to find jobs at the same school - a tough thing to do, but something that we insisted on in order to enjoy our time off together. We will be teaching both youngsters and adults; our schedules will consist of afternoons and evenings which will allow us to experience the sites and sounds of this new country every morning.



The school that we'll be teaching at is located in Hsin Chu City, a city about an hour and a half south west of Taipei. It is home to a number of historical sites, museums and the new Science and Technology Industrial Park. The famous Chenghuang Temple Night Market is also located in Hsinchu, where I'm sure we'll find some delicious treats. We will also be conveniently sandwiched between the beach and the mountains!

Now that we have jobs, the next step is getting there! We got an amazing deal on our flight, but have to leave directly from NYC - although, this is convenient for saying goodbye to Dan's sister Kristin one last time. Our flight leaves August 25th at 11:45pm. The flight is about 18 hours, however, we will have a brief layover in Anchorage, Alaska before arriving in Taipei 6:05am August 27th.

Check back as we will post updates over the next week before we head out next Tuesday!


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Summer Recap.

Summer is meant to be a time of rest and relaxation, right? This summer, Dan and I have had a month long vacation to do just that.


















We began our summer with a mission trip to Broad Street Ministries in Philadelphia with our youth group at Market Square Presbyterian Church.

The trip began with a train ride to Philadelphia following Sunday morning service. The train ride offered a laid back atmosphere to get to know some of the youth better. Once in Philly, members of the Broad Street staff, Bakim & Mike, greeted us and took us to the church via subway, a new experience for most of the youth.

Broad Street Ministries is located in the heart of the city on the avenue of the arts, in an old Presbyterian church.

Find out more about the church and ministry here.

Our week was filled with various volunteer opportunities throughout the city. We both had a very different week, as we were a part of different groups. Some of the projects we were a part of included cleaning up a park, making food at a group home, serving lunch at the church’s weekly lunch for the homeless, working on art in the church, organizing donated clothing, and working in a food bank. Each evening we would have a recap and debrief of the day, followed by fun and games...

Bananagrams!


Kung Fu!
Giant Jenga!

Overall, it was a successful week and a different experience from youth events we’ve been a part of in the past. We enjoyed getting to know the youth from Market Square, as well as other groups at Broad Street. Upon return from the trip, it was a hard realization that we would be leaving this church having just built such great relationships. We hope to stay in touch with youth and adults and someday return to Market Square.



After our trip to Philadelphia, we headed south to North Carolina on a road trip. Dan and I have been interested in Asheville, NC as a possible home for our "planned community." We figured this would be a great time to check out the area. We spent a few days getting there, visiting Shenandoah National Park and Jefferson National Forest and camping at remote campsites along the way. Once in North Carolina, we visited Hot Springs where Dan was able to experience his first White Water Rafting trip on the French Broad River (as I'm sure you can imagine, he LOVED the name of the river about as much as he loved the adventure!).
We spent two days checking out Asheville, which was all it took to fall in love with the area. With the blue ridges and forests, rivers and streams, as well as the wonderful arts and music to be found everywhere. We will definitely be back someday...

Finally, we headed north to Indiana to visit friends and family. We first stopped by Ashley and Travis's house in Columbus for a few days. After an unsuccessful day of jet ski-ing, we decided an evening of camping would be fun. We headed out to the campsite and set up around 10pm then relaxed around the campfire catching up on the past few months.

Next, we were off to my parents house in northern Indiana for a few weeks. Dan was able to learn some much needed farming skills and together we helped my parents clean up an overgrown orchard.



We took a weekend trip to Chicago to visit Kyle and some college friends, where we were able to expereience a free concert in the park by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Upon return, we stopped to have dinner with Bethany - catching up on travels and job prospects. We ended our time visiting Matt at his new townhome in Indianapolis. As we headed back east, we took a pitstop in Ohio to visit Ryan and Danielle for lunch to catch up.

Now back in PA, we're still enjoying the rest and relaxation summer brings, but still spending time on the road visiting family and friends out here. We hope to visit everyone we can as we will be gone at least a year...maybe more!