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4 posts from October 2014


CIEE students head traditional theater for Mid-Autumn celebration

                                                                                                                                                  By Carol Hsieh

The CIEE students in Taipei attended a cultural music performance on Sept. 6 in the Wanhua district in celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival.


“At first we were planning to have a BBQ party as we often do for Mid-Autumn Festival,” said CIEE Director Christie Chang. But she changed her mind after she learned there was going to be a Chinese orchestra performance. “It’s culturally specific and I think the students could gain a lot from it,” she said.


The students were invited to the backstage immediately before the show itself to see the rehearsal and interact with the performers.


Megan Ferguson from Seton Hall University, who had been in Taiwan for the second week at the time of the show, said that before the show, she could only imagine that the performance would be very different to the Western musicals she is familiar with.


“Prior to preparation for the show, I was not sure what to expect,” said Ferguson. “After watching part of a rehearsal for the show, I was very excited! It was an incredible opportunity to hear some Chinese music from all parts of the country.”


The show, titled Storyteller’s Music Theater—The Legend of Li Mao, was put together by Taipei-based Chin-Yuan Chinese Orchestra and Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture.


Cheng Hui-Chung, the costume designer for the orchestra members, helped connect the CIEE students to the cultural event.


“Ideally, we hope that foreign students could know more about Taiwan through various cultural aspects of color, sound, odor, taste, and sense of touch,” said Cheng. “This performance covers the cultural aspects of sound and would show the students the various music and vocal styles developed on the island through time.”


The arena took place in the older part of Taipei, where many ancient buildings were kept and transformed into cultural shops, theaters, or featured restaurants. It was also one of the spots in Taipei where French director Luc Besson filmed for the movie Lucy in 2013.


In the show, a man speaks on stage as he wields a writing brush just slightly smaller than his hand, performing Chinese calligraphy large sheets of xuan paper. A band of traditional music artists, either sitting or standing at the other side of the stage with their Chinese flute, zither, pipa, or other less common-seen music instruments, follows the man’s tone and tempo, playing out streams of beautiful ethnic melodies.


The man with the writing brush, or the “storyteller”, tells of the stories of a fictitious music talent Li Mao in ancient Taiwan. Originated in China in Song Dynasty, the storytelling is a traditional form of stage performance in which the storyteller, often with a script in his hand, strings a series of events in a novel with words, songs, and sometimes a little acting.


The talented orchestra members and vocalists complement the storyteller’s words with lyrics, music pieces from various eras of the Chinese and Taiwanese history.


“In the very beginning of Taiwan’s music history, the island was filled with natural sounds” like the sound of whistling wind, of animals, and of trees, said Cheng. “Then, the sound of Taiwan’s aboriginal people joined, followed by sounds of various instruments introduced to the island at different times.”


Some of the student might find it hard to follow because of language barrier, but the CIEE ambassadors present were there to explain the story.


Michelle Poulin, an Anthropology and Asian Studies major from New York, said the musicians, particularly the opera singer, impressed her the most. “They were incredibly skillful, and the music they produced was unlike anything I've heard before,” she said.


One of the student ambassadors, Lu Yuan from central Taiwan, said that the mission of helping foreign students learn about Taiwan is interesting and at the same time challenging. “It is even like learning about the culture of my own country all over again.”


“I think the Chinese orchestra performance was pretty fun for most of the students, because they seemed quite interested in the show,” Lu said. “I talked with some of them and could really feel that they like the island. I’m happy to know it.”



2014 Fall, Course of Events V

Shenkeng Old Street, New Taipei City 

                                                                                                            By: Joe Chang


Shenkeng Old Street is a renowned hot spot for its history and tofu delicacies. It was flourishing because of tea industry, but, as days go by, it’s not bustling as before. Here, stinky tofu is a must-eat snack. Besides, you can find some oldtime things here. 

螢幕快照 2014-10-13 下午2.41.20

This afternoon, we went to Shen- keng Old Street. As we arrived the old street, a row of oldtime houses came into our eyes. Along the street were so many tofu snacks and interesting toys. Some of us tried stinky tofu. The taste and smell was pretty special. 

螢幕快照 2014-10-13 下午2.42.27

Except for the “special” delicacy, we tasted shaved ice with taro balls. We also entered a restaurant and sampled tofu delicacies there. It was amazing that tofu, actually, could be cooked in so many ways! After making a hearty meal, we strolled along the street. We saw plenty of children toys that accompanied most Taiwanese’s childhood. There were some souvenir shops on the street. But it was a little pitiful because most shops were going to close then. 

螢幕快照 2014-10-13 下午2.43.15

The toy in the picture also brought us lots of fun. It brought you a strange feeling like bugs walking on your head. There were plenty of amazing toys that made ours wide open. Hope we will come back some day. 


2014 Fall, Course of Events II

3-Day Excursion 

Heading to Miaoli                                                                                         

2014.09.02                               By Andria Huang

This day was the first day for us to gather and get to know each other. In the morning, everyone got up in an excited mood. The first touring site was 苗栗銅鑼客家文化園區. The center was full of creative designs and artwork. The guide explained the Haka culture fully and expressively. And there were three high-tech machines with screens of many different types of clothes. You could browse through and choose one of which the machines will simulate how you look in those clothes. And then, you could send the pictures to yourself to make a memory. We really had lots of fun with them. 


In the afternoon, we visited 鹿港 (LuKang) old street and the “Gentlemen alley”. This alley is so narrow, only two people walk at the same time. When all the men walk through it, they have to raise their hands to prove that there is no sexual harassment intended. After a whole day trip, we were all tired. At night, we stayed in 香客 building which is for those who go to temple to worship the gods. 


Taiwan Times Village, Nantou 

2014.09.03                                          By: Sharpay Kao

This morning, as soon as we walked into Taiwan Times Village, with the yellowish lights and wooden furniture, we felt a sense of nostalgia. The building brought us back to 1960s in Taiwan. Let’s explore the old-fashioned together! 


Top Painting & Spinning 

Everyone got a plain top and started painting it with different styles. It’s said that top was originated in Song dynasty and that it was at first served as a pastime within palace maids. Tops then became popular among common people in Ming dynasty.

After we finished painting, an elderly master taught us how to spin a top. The master could fling it and make it spin in his hand! 

螢幕快照 2014-10-06 下午12.54.02你會打陀螺嗎? 

What’s more, this pavilion exemplifies the life styles of 4 major groups including the Holo people Hakka people, military dependents village, and aboriginals. You can see what it was like back in old times. Nevertheless, some traditions are still practiced by people nowadays. 


They are real ducks!  ↑                                      ↑ There was a time when tricycle was major vehicle. 


Sun Moon Lake, Nantou 

In the afternoon, when the lake appeared outside of the window, we knew that we were finally at Sun Moon Lake! Firstly, we visited Wen Wu Temple (文武廟) and Shuan Zang Monastery (玄奘寺). 


Some of us inserted a coin into 聖籤機-a machine that gave you a lot with some verses answering whatever you had asked to Gods; it was such a cute design! 

螢幕快照 2014-10-06 下午2.14.36

↑The machine mentioned above was like this. After you ask question(s) in heart, insert NT$10 and the doll would go inside to the miniature temple and then deliver the lot to you. It was like fortune-telling machine. 


Touring around the lake is a must when visiting Sun Moon Lake. We sat on a boat, feeling the breeze, and listened to Christie introduce the story of Lalu (拉魯島) island. It’s believed that the island is where Thao tribe’s ancestors rest. 


When the sun sank into mountains, it also meant that dinner time was coming! We had aboriginal style dinner featuring iced sapodilla (情人果 冰). Afterward, sitting in a circle beside the lake, we had some beer and cookies, playing fun games together :)


Sun Moon Lake and Hugo Assam Tea Farm, Nantou

2014.09.04                                                                      By: Joe Chang

At the third day of this trip, some of us went to a temple, and the others choose to cycle around the lake. Everyone was so itching for it because of the breathtaking scenery along the way. Several of us cycled ahead, went around the lake, arrived at the end with achievement. The others took a rest at Xiangshan Visitor Center (向山遊客服務 中心). The center also played a 3D movie to introduce the lake. After cycling, though most were pretty tired, but the changeful lake view is the best visual feast ever. 

螢幕快照 2014-10-06 下午2.27.06


Yuchi black tea- One of the 10 best kinds of tea in Taiwan

Near the Sun Moon Lake, there’s a renowned kind of tea, Yuchi black tea. The tea is Assam tea, introduced from India. As days go by, Assam tea in Yuchi has developed into plenty of types. 


his afternoon, we visited a tea factory and learned how to process tea. It was pretty interesting to roll because it gave off a relaxing fragrance. After putting the tea into the oven, we went to learn the right method to make tea and also know more about the tea culture. Before we were leaving, we packaged our own tea as a gift! The tea culture brought our trip into an immaculate finale. 


 Special thanks to Jimmy Zhang for proof reading the blogs!

2014 Fall, Course of Events I


2014 Fall CIEE  Settles Down  0830            

                                                                                                                        By  Peggy

Arrival 1

After a long flight, finally we are here together. 

A new place , a new adventure. 

Welcome to Taiwan! 



Excited but Exhausted  緊張刺激又疲累的分班考

All the students have to take placement tests in the morning. Everyone is really exhausted and so nervous about the results after the test.Hope they all do well on the test. 


Welcome Party

After the test and CIEE program orientation, finally it's time for fun ! CIEE cuture ambassadors prepare a wonderful party for the students. 


螢幕快照 2014-10-06 下午12.17.18

They also find their language partners at the party. Everyone looks so excited about learning Chinese!! 


After the night, everyone is getting closer to each other.

We will definetely have more fun in the future days ! 


Special thanks to Jimmy Zhang for proof reading the blogs!