During the first four days of the winter break, I traveled to Yunlin in South Taiwan with my students for voluntary work. In fact, traveling for the sake of work always makes me anxious. It was especially so this year because I started the semester a few months ago with passion and ideal, but when it ended, I didn't see any trace of my effort left in the students. At this moment, I only felt like running away from the crowd.
When my colleagues recorded the whole trip with cameras from the beginning to the end, all I have is this sketch. For me, experiencing the moments was much more important. Only by doing that could I get to see more clearly the true colors of my students.
I did love to observe the looks of the local kids, though. I was especially attracted to the innocent visages and eyes of first and second graders. Time leaves marks in elder children little by little. I found it a revolution against the world in trying to keep that purity in our eyes as we age.
I sneaked into the kitchen to draw how everyone found their place in the kitchen. The beautiful and fresh produce from Yunlin gave so many vivid colors to the space.
I often disappeared for some fresh air when no one noticed. He-An Elementary School is surrounded by farmland. One morning at 7 a.m., I stood by the roadside to draw the rising sun. Next to me was a girl who desired to be loved but was hardly loved. We breathed in the morning silence, but I felt we had said so much.
My colleague took me to a nearby personal market for buying baby corns. In the country, farmers usually sell produce in their trucks. However, this family displayed everything on the ground floor of their own house. Though there wasn't much space, I was surprised by the variety of the choices they offered. I was so thrilled that I couldn't help but borrow a stool from them and began to sketch at the roadside. Sometimes I saw villagers come by scooter. They picked what they wanted and decided how much they would like to have just like in any other market.
Halfway through my sketch, the granny sent her granddaughter to give me a can of coffee for free. When I said goodbye to them, she even invited me for lunch. People in the countryside are so hospitable and generous. I brought home a huge box of produce, most of which was gifts from the villagers.
Looking down from the jetty, it was a vast farm field. At 2 p.m. when the sun shone like in summer, one or two farmers could be spotted. Behind me kids played and laughed happily on the small campus.
In the evening while I was sketching, I heard the head of the village announce important news through the loudspeaker. Standing outside a row of red-brick houses, I could hear what was going on inside as well.
After the trip came to an end, I am wondering about the reason why I had such a hard time during the past semester. Might it be that I didn't open my heart?