Friday, January 31, 2014

Handdrawn Seachien Village / 手繪溪墘村


I say, I need to sketch a place to really know it. 


I took many photos this winter in Seachien Village. However, to build the memories of a place into my head, I have to sit down for one or two hours to sketch. What really excited me was, I drew some sketches of the same place last year, and I was looking forward to what I would produce this year. 


   The weather was deceptively sunny, but the cold wind raged as I sat on the embankment drawing. As I had tried sketching on freezing days in Europe, the last thing I wanted to do was to walk away without having finished any image. 


   If I hadn't drawn the sketch, I wouldn't have gone up to the farmer and asked him about his crops. In fact, I had walked past him cooly right after having taken photos earlier that day. 


   I waved goodbye to him when he was about to ride his scooter home after our chat. 


   I could never resist the charm of these red-brick houses whenever I came. I did the sketches in the evening last year as well. This time a lady who came out to dump garbage spotted me. She asked if I was killing time. I said no. I came to draw the houses on purpose because I found them so beautiful. 


   When I came last year, I felt a great force in me, which I directed to drawing. However, this year I was in a very poised state of mind. Without the fire, I knew the drawings aren't that powerful. 


   On the last day before we left, I went to the same spot behind the cafeteria of He-an Elementary School. I drew right there last year, and I'd like to see what my picture this year would look like. Last year my student Croc emerged out of nowhere and spent a few minutes with me while I was sketching. Interestingly, this year I had new companions. The two kids living in the house on the left side of the image came to greet me. I thus realized, we will always run into new people. There are new sparks for every moment. In my world, there isn't "the best moment" for every moment has its beauty. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

All grown up / 都長大了


I've been asked the purpose of service learning often. Simply put, it is about learning how to take care of people and things. 


   We've been doing service learning for two years in He-an Elementary School in Yunlin. In the same place, it's particularly obvious to see the change in others and ourselves. The children from Taipei and the children in Yunlin have both grown up. I have too. 


   I'll conclude the trip with this photo and a few parting years. How lovely the memories! 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Seachien Village, Yunlin / 雲林溪墘村小旅行


I spare some moments to sneak out of He-an Elementary School and take a 30-minute trip in Seachien Village in Yunlin while my students are preparing for the winter camp. 


   I am surrounded by either farm fiends or grasslands. But because of the different patterns, they create various visual effects in my eye.


   I muster up the courage after having observing the farmer working in the field for a whole day to ask him what his crops are. It turns out that he's picking peanuts by hand. 


   There aren't many people to be seen on the roads. I quite enjoy the leisurely pace of the place. 


   I am amazed by the wide variety of flora along the way. 


   I am so lucky to be accompanied by the lovely birds on my journey. 

He-an Elementary School, Yunlin / 雲林縣和安國小


It doesn't count as romantic for me to stay overnight in a school. Yet, on my second visit to He-an Elementary School for service learning with my students, I got to see many images I had failed to last time, such as the wonderful view that greeted me first thing in the morning. 


   The boys playing in the mist in the early morning form such a poetic rural image.  


   The Flaming Trumpet flowers bloom with vibes anytime. 


   The quirky clock that always stays at 12:45 gives me the impression that I am actually transported into a lovely fairy tale. 


   The playground equipment next to the cafeteria is the fav of all kids, big and small. 


   Every morning when I walk to the playground after waking up, I have the urge to shout: Good morning He-an! 

Beigang, Yunlin / 雲林北港


This was my second year in Yunlin, third time walking up and down the high street of Beigang. I had only thirty minutes then. Though I didn't aim to take photos of any specific objects, I consistently recorded images of local people going about their lives. There is a simple and natural aura about them, which is how I think of Yunliners. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Agriculture Expo 2013, Yunlin / 雲林農博


Thanks to my work, I had the wonderful opportunity to go to the Agriculture Expo in Yunlin, which was what I most looked forward to on the whole trip.


   Whenever I show interest in agriculture, my friends and relatives will ask naively if I'd like to be a farmer. The truth is, I can't even keep a pot of plants alive. I know better than to live on farming. However, seeing the featured farmers in the expo, I couldn't help thinking that it's a rather cool profession. 


   In the "Presidential Hall of Farmers," I was introduced to many successful farmers in Yunlin. Their crops are now beautifully packaged and widely promoted with the help of the cultural and creative industry. Contrary to the past, nowadays farming is no longer out of fashion. Yet, behind all that glamour, I know being a farmer is by no means easy. 


   Another pavilion in the expo advocates the consumption of local in-season crops. After all, the further food travels, the more pollution it causes to the earth. 


   Yunlin is rich in a wide variety of prime agricultural products. Corns and peanuts are both major crops. 


   Meanwhile, Yunlin ranks top in Taiwan when it comes to the number of livestocks. I ended up spending much time in the Happy Farm. Though my focus is plants, I just couldn't take my eyes off the lovely animals in the farm! 


   However, instead of concentrating on the features of the expo, I focused on the trees on the roadsides. Upon arriving in Yunlin, I noticed numerous rows of Chinaberry trees. The name of the tree in mandarin sounds the same as the word "poor" in Taiwanese. This coincides with the stereotype that Yunlin is one of the poorest counties on the island. 


   Obsessed with trees, my favorite pavilion is the Carbon-gathering Woods. Here, visitors get to know the advantages and importance of growing trees.


Visitors are also invited to grow trees. My seed will become a tall Common Garcinia tree in a few decades. 


After the expo, these trees will keep growing, and maybe I'll be greeted by an amazing forest when I come next time!