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Writing

Writing (48)

Friday, 01 February 2019 15:49

Before & After Writing

Written by

During a Chinese New Year 1 on 1 class, our student Nicky in Hunan Province, China had this writing assignment:

 

If you could have dinner with any three people (dead or alive), who would they be and what would you ask them?

 

She was creative and wrote this essay below. I particularly like how she added the idiom "let the cat out of the bag," a saying that her teacher taught her. It means "to tell or reveal a secret." (To learn more English idioms, visit our blog post.)

 

 

I think they would be vampire, zombie and skeleton. Because they are not usual things. We all know vampires suck blood. But can they accept all kinds of blood? So this is a question I want to ask him. The second question is : Why are you afraid of the garlic? I think garlic is a nice food. Why vampires have to be afraid of them?

 The first question I want to ask Mr. Zombie is: What do you usually eat? I am interesting in it. And I also want to know why zombies can no bend their knees .They just jump and jump and jump. Aren’t they tired?

 I’ve always been curious about how skeletons eat and drink. This is a question that I will ask the skeleton. The second question is very interesting. Why don’t skeletons fall apart? I think everybody wants to know the answer.

 These are my thoughts. And I know the answers to these questions are secrets. I don’ know I will let the cat out of the bag or not. But I think if I can have dinner with vampire, zombie and skeleton, I will have a good time.

 

*********

 

Nicky did a fine job with her first draft, then her DreyerCoaching.com teacher, Mr. Woodson, read it with her, discussed it, and gave her some suggestions to make it even better. For example, he revised the first sentence to be: a vampire, a zombie, and a skeleton.

 

Here is Nicky's revised essay, with smoother, more polished English:

 

I think they would be a vampire, a zombie and a skeleton because they are unusual things. We all know vampires suck blood, but can they accept all kinds of blood? So this is a question I want to ask him. The second question is: Why are you afraid of garlic? I think garlic is a nice food, so why do vampires have to be afraid of it?

 The first question I want to ask Mr. Zombie is: What do you usually eat? I am interested in that, and I also want to know why zombies cannot bend their knees. They just jump and jump and jump. Aren’t they tired?

 I’ve always been curious about how skeletons eat and drink. This is a question that I will ask the skeleton. My second question is also very interesting. Why don’t skeletons fall apart? I think everybody would like to know the answer.

 These are my thoughts, and I know the answers to these questions are secrets. I don’t know if I will let the cat out of the bag or not, but I think if I can have dinner with a vampire, a zombie, and a skeleton, I will have a good time.

 

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If you read both versions of this essay, you will see how Nicky was able to improve the flow and smoothness of her essay. Do YOU want to improve your English writing? We have classes available! Contact Scott today to find out more, and read this page also. Hope to see YOU online soon!

 

 

Friday, 18 January 2019 16:46

Pourquoi Stories

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"Pourquoi" means "why?" in French. Therefore, a Pourquoi Story is a short fictional story that tries to explain why something is the way it is, especially something in nature. These legends, also called "Origin Stories" or "Creation Myths," are common in folklore.

 

Mrs. Armistead, an excellent teacher of a DreyerCoaching.com Writing Class, has been teaching this to her students, and then asked her students to write their own! They did such a fine job, here they are for you to enjoy. These are middle school students in Hsinchu, Taiwan,   

 

A long time ago, when human civilization began, crows were covered in feathers of snowy whiteness. Their feathers glimmered in daytime and illuminated in nighttime, but they were all greedy for food. Whenever they saw food, they tried to devour it. People got annoyed by the greedy crows that always attempted to steal their food. One day, a group of hunters gathered up and discussed about the issue. “We can bait the crows by cooking food, then burn them with fire,” one man spoke in eagerness. During the night, the group of men placed a pig on the crackling glow of red and waited for the presence of the crows. The captivating aroma of the roasted pork caught the crows and dragged them to the hunters. Just like before, the sly crows sneaked around the hunters and snatched for the food, but instead, the sound of sizzling accompanied with screams reverberated through the vast plain as their feather were charred to complete pitch-black. They flopped their burnt wings and flew away. Ever since, crows are coated with dark feathers.

 

-- Ian Lin

 

*****

The Sun was constantly bored. As others have said, “it’s hard to entertain him and he pushes things away.” So, the Sun decided to prove others wrong. The Sun gathered his strength. POW! There was Neptune. Neptune had the blue colors of the ocean and entertained the Sun for a very long time. However, the Sun realized that they weren’t meant to be together, they were of different colors. The Sun kept Neptune very close, to prevent judgment from others.

 

The Sun decided to find another form of entertainment, maybe a different color this time. The Sun gathered his strength. POW! There was Uranus. Uranus was colored light blue, slightly different from Neptune. The Sun grew ferocious, thinking that the gods have cursed him and can only get blue kids. The Sun aligned his blue kids together and decided to try one last time of finding a non-blue kid.

 

The Sun, infuriated with the lack of cooperation from the spirits of the universe, decided to try one last time to find another form of entertainment. The Sun gathered his strength. POW! There was Saturn. This time, what came to the Sun impressed him dearly. Not only was it larger than both Neptune and Uranus combined, but it’s no longer blue! Additionally, the planet also has rings around it, making it distinct from the other ones. Finally, the Sun was bored and decided to hopefully, get something special again.

 

The Sun called out to the universe, hoping to receive something out of the ordinary. The Sun gathered his strength. POW! There was Jupiter. The Sun was disgusted by the huge mud and sandy ball the appeared before him. This was a deviation, sent from the gods in humiliation. The Sun grew extremely angry.

 

The Sun grew extremely furious, more than all of the anger combined. Then he forged his anger with his hopes. BOW! Something with fire and red came before him. It was Mars. It appeared fire red, which probably came from his anger. The Sun felt that the anger was unneeded and decided to be positive as he was the father of the planets.

 

The Sun, again, gathered his inner strength and concentrated into making something extremely special. BOOM! There came Earth. Earth was made up of two major colors, blue and green. Something special indeed. Despite its differences, the Sun eventually lost his interest in the new planet. He left it aside to play with in the future.

 

The Sun forbade himself from his failures, he just couldn’t accept it. He needed something to entertain him, fast, before he released his anger against the universe. Something just the right size, not too big, not too small. POW! There came Venus, the orange-red planet. “Boo hoo hoo,” The Sun muttered, “This was not what I wanted. Just once more, just one good planet, and I’d be done”

 

The Sun grew calm, called his inner soul to help him with his final mission. Please. Just. Help. Me. For. This. Once. KAPOW! There came Mercury- the one-colored bland planet. “This was exactly what I wanted. Great!” The Sun exclaimed in happiness. Just stop. It’ll be another millennium before I get this lucky again. Just stop.

 

-- Alex Chen 

 

*****

 

Why are fake tears called crocodile tears?  

 

A long time ago, the crocodile was known as the meanest creatures you would ever see. He made baby antelopes cry, and he teased crows for their raspy voices. Along with that, he also liked to eat baby animals, and he was the most hated creature in town. He also liked to prank others, and therefore making everyone avoid him.

When he came crawling out of the swamp, birds flew away, rabbits stayed shivering in their burrows, and snakes slithered away into the tall grass. He was always on the lookout for new victims.

One day, the council of elder animals decided that they were going to trap the crocodile in a makeshift jail at the edge of the swamp, so he would not bother the new family of otters moving in the next morning.

They placed a piece of tasty food in the trap they created and waited for the crocodile to crawl in and take the bait.

The crocodile crawled in as planned, and the elders shut the door on him. The crocodile was furious, thrashing and wailing inside the trap.

“Let me out!” he cried, throwing himself at the sides of the trap.

“I’ll never eat another baby animal-I'll do everyone’s chores for them….”

The council of elders decided to leave him in there until sundown and left for their midday meal.

The otters moved in as planned, and just before sundown the little otters decided to go exploring in their new home.

“Be back before sundown!” yelled the momma otter.

The two little otters found the crocodile, trapped in the cage wailing.

He was crying. “Please let me out,” he cried. “I haven’t done anything wrong and they shut me in here. Help me!

The two little otters decided to take pity on them and they let him out, and once he was out, SNAP!

He gulped down the two little otters at once, and the tears disappeared.

They were fake tears, and the two little otters were gone. The tears were fake, but it was too late for the little otters. Now whenever someone cries fake tears, it’s known as crocodile tears. Another lesson was learned- to never trust crocodiles.

 

--Katie Chen

Friday, 11 January 2019 01:29

Testimonial & Advice

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A testimonial is a kind of writing where you explain something you have bought, done, believed, or somehow experienced. Businesses use them all the time; they love to quote "happy customers" who explain how the product or service is so wonderful. Check our website at DreyerCoaching.com and you will see some testimonials, in both English and Chinese, from satisfied parents and students. A sub-category of a testimonial is a "religious witness," where a believer explains what God has done in his or her life.

 

Some testimonials only explain the positive sides of an experience, but some go one step further and try to persuade, or convince, the reader to do, buy, or believe something. That is called persuasion, or advice-giving.

 

A student in my advanced writing class, who attends the International Bilingual School in the Hsinchu Science Park (IBSH) wrote this testimonial/persuasion piece aimed at a grade 7-10 audience:

 

*****

 

While the bombardment of homework in school may seem endless, the truth is that it is just the beginning — the worst is yet to come. As a current junior at IBSH, I can testify that school does NOT get easier; teachers become more ruthless with homework, students become more competitive with grades, and parents become more annoyed with sub-par performances. In short, pressures mount like snow in a blizzard, you get inundated.

 

In response to these future struggles that you are sure to experience to a certain extent, here are a few suggestions.

 

Firstly, find the passion that motivates you to succeed. Sure, it may be a prestigious university that is your ultimate goal, but finding your niche in school is where one can truly blossom in cutthroat environments. For me, I followed my intuition and eventually found my second home within the realm of debating; it has taken me places I could have never imagined. Secondly, as cliche as it sounds, you NEED to recognize the importance of your school performance and strive to improve. Too many times I’ve met people who turned a blind eye to their deteriorating grades and peers who’ve already given up on their biggest and wildest dreams as a result. Grades matter as colleges and universities alike will take them into consideration when making their admission decisions, which will impact your future.

 

Enough of these rather disheartening pieces of advice. If you have found your passion and currently have decent marks in school, look towards other forms of entertainment, and learn to have fun! You’ll lose lots of it in the future.

 

--Aaron in Hsinchu, Taiwan 

 

*****

 

“Start early, don’t wait until the last minute.”

 

Literally every teacher tells you this and as I got older, I valued this reminder more.

 

Now, I think I am credible enough to give this piece of advice to my underclassmen at school.

 

As the cliche goes, life only gets harder. Sadly, this is true. I remember back in the day, when I was just a freshman, testing the waters of high school. With no APs to worry about or any standardized tests, I worked hard to get everything done ahead of time since my coursework was not that rigorous.

 

No, who am I kidding.

 

Admittedly, I slacked and the results were not pretty. Over the next few years, I luckily managed to pick myself up a bit but there was only so much I could do to save my atrocious freshman grades. The importance in frontloading is well… important. In elections, candidates try to put themselves out there as early as possible and political parties hold primaries earlier so their selected candidate could have more time to establish him or herself before facing off on the national stage. I know this is true because I paid attention and worked hard in my AP Government class.

 

Jokes aside, whether it is a project, essay, or even an application, it is important to start things early. In freshman year, one should work to bring up their grades and confidence (very important!) in order to arm themselves for the rest of high school. Sophomores are just getting there. The adjustment from 9th to 10th grade is hard since AP tests and standardized test preparation classes come into play, lessening time for extracurriculars and study. Junior year gets tougher as one needs to not only improve or at least maintain their grades, there are SATs or ACTs to be taken and more APs to study for. Oh yeah, start looking for colleges.

 

The summer before senior year is crucial. Try to write as many college application supplements as possible as time to do this only decreases when the school year starts. I saw many of my peers struggling to finish their applications and schoolwork while balancing plenty of AP or honors classes. I managed to finish 9 schools for Early Action and started to get acceptances (and rejections) in December, taking off the pressure of getting into college. Since I was done applying for colleges by the end of November, I was able to work on my grades and improve my stock for my Regular Decision schools.

 

Whether it is an assignment or your college resume, remember to frontload as that will take a lot of weight off your shoulders in the future. There is no worse feeling than consecutive all-nighters, only getting 4 hours of sleep before school. It’s hell and please don’t do it.

 

 

-- Justin in Hsinchu, Taiwan

 

***** 

 

Around Christmas 2018, my son David posted this testimonial/persuasion piece. It is lengthy, and he had mulled and revised it in his mind for more than a month. Despite its length, it has been read much, as seen by the large number of likes and comments it scored on both facebook and instagram.

 

***** 

 

I have called myself a Christian all my life yet I was often arrogant, selfish, carnal, materialistic, impatient, and dissatisfied. I have cared too much about my image and what others think of me and not enough about what God thinks of me. I’ve never been content with what I’ve had. Despite these inner conflicts and issues that generated deep turbulence within me, I hid it well on the outside, only showing people the side of me I wanted them to see. Over the past few years, I’ve allowed myself to place entirely too much trust in my accomplishments and my relationships with others for my happiness. They always brought me some sense of satisfaction, but the effects were always temporary. (No I’m not bashing human relationships; on the contrary, I believe the right ones are absolutely essential to have in life!!)

 

However, in my own life, some of them produced the ugly characteristics I mentioned above. Lately, God has shown me what happens when I put all my trust in the wrong things. This semester, through what I would describe as a series of unfortunate events, He has thrown my world upside down and shaken everything I was confident in, showing me how utterly fragile and miserable life can be when you put the entire value of your existence on things that have no permanence. This was my first semester at UVA and I felt completely out of place. Everyone around me seemed so perfect at everything and I thought perhaps the Office of Admissions had made a mistake on me. I got off to an extremely shaky start in school; I actually failed my first 2 tests! That butchered my confidence. I kept on hoping things would improve and they did but then last month, something else unrelated to school happened and it hurt me deep. Then I made the mistake of trying to mend that broken situation, which, as many of you know, usually makes things worse. Mentally incapacitated, I wanted nothing more than to drop out of school (oops)...but that wouldn’t have produced anything beneficial in my life and instead, would have only sufficed as mere instant gratification. So I stayed and tried to focus on my studies although my mind was on other things, and what seemed to be my greatest nightmare has actually turned into the greatest life lesson I’ve ever been taught.

 

I could go on and on about everything I’ve learned, but I won’t bore you with all that and will keep this post as concise as possible. But I digress... So life was looking pretty bleak from my point of view. I was completely stunned at how quickly life tanked for me as soon as I came up to Charlottesville, and I came to the end of myself for the first time ever. I realized that if I was going to make it to the end of the semester, I needed God, because I could no longer handle things myself. He took me in at my very worst form. I was empty inside, sad, and broken, but I think that’s the point. God doesn’t need us to achieve anything in order to come to Him; we don’t need to have it all together. For people like me, I think it requires a catastrophe that completely breaks the spirit, because prideful people don’t think they need anyone else until things are beyond their control. Up until these last few months, life had been easy and I was comfortable, so I had no reason to change. God had to break me in order to make me; wound me in order to heal me, and He did just that. By shattering my world and this fallible paradox I had created, God opened my eyes and allowed me to see who I truly was for the first time. This was not pretty at all; I realized that I was a misguided, stubborn, insincere, foolish, and worst of all self absorbed young man who had been living for himself his whole life. Arrogance created in me this entitlement mentality, where the whole world owed me something and I deserved only the good that life or people had to offer. Arrogance is the reason I was so blindsided by life’s sudden ferocity. I now realize that arrogance is the worst possible character trait you can have, because it either blinds you to your own flaws or develops a complacency in you to not desire to fix them. I had the latter mindset; I was aware that I had issues, but I fixated myself on my “good traits” and ignored the bad ones, deceiving myself into thinking I was a good person. I was a brownie with a little bit of poop in it, which actually made me a disgusting brownie that nobody wants to have on their little glass dessert plate and accompany their vanilla bean ice cream after a delicious meal. Upon this realization came an understanding that there was absolutely no way that I could fix myself through my own willpower. I’ve tried before and failed, of course. So this time, all I did was press into God, pray, ask many people for prayers (thank you all), read His Word (a lot!!!), get advice from wise people, and possess a true heart of repentance. God has done all the rest in my life. He has and still is clearing out the junk; all I had to do was admit that I was insufficient, stop living for myself, and go to Him for all my answers. Still, that’s not to say this was an easy process; the result is beginning to, and will be great, but the process hurt. God forcibly removed some poisonous people out of my life whose toxicity I was blind to and who I allowed to stay in my life longer than they deserved because I was comfortable and stupid. This hurt the worst, as I was really attached to them, but I see now that it was a huge blessing for me.

 

In addition, I had to give up some things I enjoyed, break certain thought patterns I had developed over the years (so in essence, a complete reframing of the mind), and admit my faults and shortcomings to God. Going through what I’ve gone through last month is something I have no desire to experience ever again; it was painful and mentally taxing. Also life stops for no one, and as I was working through these personal problems I was still being bombarded with academic responsibilities, which somehow didn’t help take my mind off anything, but instead, exacerbated everything. By a miracle, God has gotten me through the worst of it. It was an absolute grind though, and I often doubted I could even make it to the end of the semester. God has carried me through the toughest days and nights. He has revealed new truths to me. He has and still is bringing immense healing to my heart and mind. His unconditional love for me is clearer than it has ever been. He brought the right people into my life when I needed them the most, and I want to thank those of you who have been there for me and lifted me up in my times of hurt; I am incredibly grateful for each one of you. Also, I want to say I am thankful that these tribulations occurred now while I am still young versus me going through the rest of life blind and naive; never learning the valuable lessons I’ve learned of late. Looking back, I can already see that every “bad thing” that transpired over this past semester, whether related to school or not, was absolutely necessary and crucial to my development as an individual, and I am thankful for all of it. I wouldn’t say I’m totally fine now, but things are finally beginning to fall into the right place. I haven’t felt like myself in a long time, but is that really a bad thing considering who I was? I am not living a lie anymore. However, I know God has not yet completed this process of refinement. I’ll never be perfect and I still have a lot to learn. But every journey must start somewhere, and I’m just excited to have finally found the right path. For the first time, I’ve surrendered every single thing in my life to Him; my heart, my thoughts, my future, my career, my all. It’s easily the scariest thing I’ve ever done, and some may call it weak, yet I know this was the best and most necessary decision I have ever made. I’ve been trying my whole life to control my future and that is an exhausting and futile task. We think we have an idea of how the future will go but this thing called life occasionally has other plans; however, we cannot let the unexpected derail us. The truth is that my happiness has always been circumstantial, and God has recently shown me how perilous that is, as circumstances often change. Putting my happiness and worth in the One who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, is the only way to be okay regardless of what happens around me.

 

If you are still reading, you’re incredible and I would like to wrap this up by saying that there is hope for everyone. That’s the whole point of this post. The point is not to brag on who I am now, because none of what has occurred in me was by my strength or will. In addition, these events that have shaped me were not by my choice, and had they been by my choice, they most likely would not have happened. The point is that I hope this can be an encouragement to anyone out there struggling. Also, learn from me as how not to do life. Don’t be arrogant. Don’t be blind. Don’t be stubborn. Don’t learn things the hard way, like I did, but if you end up doing so, fear not. If God can use the worst circumstances for my good, He can do the same for you. If God can soften the heart and work in someone as obstinate as me, He can work in anybody! God heals. Time heals. It might hurt now, but healing is inevitable if you allow it to happen. What makes you confident? Let it be that you are a unique and precious creation of God. I had my confidence and identity in the wrong things, and as a result, this semester I really struggled with insecurity and who I was. Don’t make that mistake. It’s so easy as humans to compare; we want to compare everything, but doing that will only make you either too proud or too insecure; both bring problems. Drake said: a wise man once said nothing at all. He’s right. My father is also a wise man and he said, “Comfort and growth are on opposite ends of the spectrum.” If you’re uncomfortable now, embrace it because you are growing. Be thankful for the tough times; they are trying to teach you something so pay attention and learn as much as you possibly can from them. Tough times suck but they are incredibly valuable. You learn more about yourself and about other people in hard times than you ever will when life is peachy. Thankfulness in general is a key to getting out of rough patches and is a necessary mentality to have in life always; good times or bad. Realizing that there’s always someone out there who is going through more than you can help put things into perspective. Truth is, you always have something to be thankful for so focus on those things instead of what you don’t have. Don’t collapse when life seems out to get you. True strength is measured when everything is against you. When life is easy, nobody is a quitter. Don’t be bitter; if someone wrongs you, do not allow their actions to hurt you more than they already have. Bitterness will just make you and only you hurt deeper and longer, and even if you have every reason to be upset, it is useless to hang on to what happened. Be honest always; the truth always comes out eventually and the lies you tell now will come back and smack you later. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you and push you to become a better person. That doesn’t necessarily mean the people who compliment you all the time and make you feel all marvelous inside; you’ll come across plenty of those people in life. (Not saying all of those people are bad either, just want to clarify. Some are just beautiful streams of positivity and that’s wonderful.) Instead, it’s the honest ones who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth (because it really do be like that sometimes), whether you want to hear it or not, who should be treasured above anyone else. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). Make sure the people around you are sharpening you; not holding you back. Whether you like it or not, you become like those you hang out with. If that thought doesn’t sit well with you, then find better people. Push yourself! Don’t settle. Don’t heavily depend on other people for your success. People won’t always be there to cheer you on and that’s okay; sometimes you have to do things on your own. Use your past mistakes to help you grow; don’t let them hold you back. Your mistakes don’t define you so don’t let them. However, don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again either, cuz then you’re just stupid, like me. Also, reach out if you’re struggling! People don’t know you are until you say something, and it’s a wonderful thing to seek guidance. After all that has happened I feel much more sensitive to the fact that people deal with their own problems every day and may just be experts at hiding them. You all who are out there living your best life should reach out and be an encouragement and a light to someone, because you might just make their day! Be there for others; the greatest gift you can give someone who is hurting is a listening ear, prayer, and your support. Finally, I leave you all with this, and it is so cliché, but so very true. It’s also easier to say, but harder to do: Just trust God. He knows what He’s doing and He has you in His hands. He had to empty me to fill me, but His plans are far greater than anything my short-sighted little mind can imagine. His timing is perfect, and He can do in anyone’s life the wonderful things He is doing in mine.

 

 

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Do YOU want to improve your writing skills? Contact me today to get started!

 

 

Friday, 04 January 2019 18:49

Chinese New Year Intensive Classes

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Learning a new language takes a lot of time and practice, and students are busy. We understand. Over the years, many students ask for extra English help over the winter or summer holiday, when schools are closed and students have more time.

This Chinese New Year (2019), we welcome the Year of the Pig with special 1 on 1 classes just for you! 

 

 

1 on 1 Classes  

Dates & Times: (flexible) Between January 28 - February 8, 2019, at 8:00-8:50 pm or 9:00-9:50 pm    Screenshot 1

 

Goals: To help the student improve in whatever areas he or she desires to grow: writing, reading, conversation, listening, pronunciation, test preparation, etc. 

 

Teacher: a DreyerCoaching.com Team Teacher 

Maximum number of students: 1 student per class 

Levels that can join: Any 

Investment:

8 Class sessions (best value!)    RMB 3,260    or     NT$ 14,400

 

6 Class sessions                         RMB 2,650     or     NT$ 11,700

 

4 Class sessions                         RMB 1,900     or      NT$ 8,400

 

 

 

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Tuesday, 06 November 2018 22:54

Describe a Person

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In my Advanced Writing Class, we read some sample descriptions of people and I asked the students to pick someone and write their own description.

We are using Writing with Skill, by Susan Wise Bauer, and on page 215 of the ebook she lists some traits one can look for and describe in a person.     

 

Description of a Person Definition:

A description of selected physical and non-physical aspects of a person.  Decide on which aspects will be included. They may include:

Physical appearance

Sound of voice

What others think

Portrayals and portraits

Character qualities

Challenges and difficulties

Accomplishments

Habits

Behavior

Expressions of face and body

Mind/intellectual capabilities

Talents and abilities

Self-disciplines

Religious beliefs

Clothing, dress

Economic status (wealth)

Fame, notoriety, prestige

Family traditions, tendencies

 

Below are two descriptions my students wrote:

 

 

Confidently dressed in red, and always dressed in red, Santa Claus is the epitome of joy in the world. Along with the everlasting smile on his face, Santa's deep, rich voice evokes a sense of wisdom and generates a sense of trust for all.  Unsurprisingly, society is naturally attracted to his unique aura as a result.

His unmistakable white beard extends down to his stomach, creating a sense of wonder and provoking awe among the masses. However, it is his equipment -- gigantic goodie bag that never fails to surprise-- that steals the show. In a world where challenges are prevalent and meeting obstacles is inevitable, having a friend who rewards one for his or her efforts while never discourages is a true blessing for all.

In addition to being deeply rooted in Christianity, which promotes values of equality and reward for the faithful, Santa Claus brings yet another form of utility within the household: discipline. His presence commands children to sleep early, catch up on schoolwork, do the dishes, and much more. The possibility of being on Santa's naughty list terrifies many as their dream toy may disappear along with their wrongdoings.

Despite this potential fear factor that Santa places among the young of society, Santa maintains his annual tradition of riding his sleigh across the world and delivering presents to all the well-behaved children. This consistency has not only earned him widespread international support, but also much respect as his countenance consistently creates a calming yet inspiring mood in the world of darkness.  -- Aaron, Grade 11 student, Hsinchu, Taiwan

 

 

Scott's feedback: I like how this writer, Aaron, picked Santa as his person to describe. Creative! Good hook: "Confidently dressed in red, and always in red...."  Fine use of a variety of punctuation too, including dashes and a colon, keeps the flow moving.  Aaron employs alliteration: "his countenance consistently creates a calming...." 

 

*********************

 

Brandon Crawford, all-star shortstop for the San Francisco Giants, has been a consistent performer for the three-time World Champions since he debuted. He stands out on the field, dishing out seemingly-impossible defensive plays with his luscious locks flying out behind him. Crawford’s calm and collected demeanor lets players and fans alike feel secure when a ball is hit in his direction. Furthermore, his improving prowess at the plate has been crucial to the Giants’ success. The power that Crawford possesses makes him a luxury, as shortstops that can both hit and field are rare. His smooth swing is always a pleasure to watch.

Outside of his playing, Crawford is also a family-man, seen through his interactions with fans, his teammates, and his family. Often, he can be seen signing autographs for kids, or discussing strategies with his fellow infielders. He also runs a blog with longtime teammate Brandon Belt, showing his humorous yet self-effacing personality. As a caring, fun-loving dad of five, his social media is full of pictures of their family trips or activities as well. Because of his well-roundness and ability to please fans, players, and family on and off the field, he is someone a kid can look up to.  -- Justin, Grade 12 student, Hsinchu, Taiwan

 

 

Scott's feedback: This author, Justin, loves baseball and once lived in California, so it makes sense he described a baseball star. This just goes to show: 1. writers make deliberate choices, 2. writing is an extension of you, and 3. if you write with your authentic voice, no one else can copy you! Justin has GREAT word choice: consistent, debuted, dishing out, demeanor, etc. I also like his three examples of alliteration, shown in bold underlining above.  

Friday, 12 October 2018 15:58

Creepy Story!

Written by

Photo: Jack Gittoes

 

Recently a teacher on the DreyerCoaching.com team sent me this in an email:

"I couldn't resist sending this to you!  Katie said she wrote this in 10-15 minutes!  Amazing!"

Truly, this is AMAZING writing, from Katie, a middle school student in Hsinchu, Taiwan, who has taken a DreyerCoaching.com writing class for many years. Notice the great verbs: exhaled, creaking, shivered, gazed, flopped down. Notice the great adjectives: damp, shadowy, musty, creepy. Great use of thoughtshots too, set off with italics: Why had he chosen this house to live in? Why couldn't he have chosen another house, more brightly lit and modernly furnished?

Very creepy story-- just in time for Halloween. Enjoy!

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He exhaled, his breath making puffs in the frigid air, the wooden floorboards creaking under his feet. Running a hand through his purple hair, he set down his knapsack in the middle of the dusty bed. He shivered, and pulled out a damp windbreaker and put it on. An owl hooted outside, and he quickly turned just in time to see a shadowy figure outlined in the window. He rubbed his eyes, and the figure disappeared, and he sighed, turning back to the bed.

He sat down on the bed, the musty smell of the feather stuffed mattress filling the air. Wrinkling his nose at the stench, he gazed into a corner of the old room. The sky outside was dark, and the moon cast creepy shadows into the room.

He flopped down onto the bed, closing his eyes briefly. Why had he chosen this house to live in? Why couldn't he have chosen another house, more brightly lit and modernly furnished?

The man stretched, and yawned. It had been a long day, but now he was unable to sleep. The whole feeling of the room was extremely off-putting. He felt like he was in a haunted house, complete with bats and four-poster beds.  

He huffed out a breath and pulled out his cell phone, squinting at the brightness. In the corner of the screen in tiny letters, it said “no service”. He scrunched his nose in disgust and tossed it aside, the phone landing on the mattress with a barely audible “whoomp". He closed his eyes, and tried to fall asleep, to no avail. He sighed.

His eyes snapped open and he swung his legs over the side of the bed and got up, slowly opening the door.  It creaked quietly. The man stepped out into the hallway, careful to avoid the questionable puddle of dark liquid that was too dark to see. He shrugged, and continued down the hallway, stopping at an open door. He peeked in, seeing a old painting in the corner of the room, a small lit lantern in a another.

He cocked his head at the painting, wondering where he had seen that painting before. He reached for his phone to search it up, but, he remembered that he had left his phone in the room he was sleeping in, and there was no service. He muttered something under his breath and stepped further into the room. The painting had an oak frame which was in an archaic style, in a simple red and black. The paint was chipped and cracked in multiple places. There were cobwebs hanging from every corner of the frame, and there was a large closet made of maple standing in the room.

He stopped and admired the design of the closet, the way the cuts in the wood made an intricate design. He could have sworn he heard footsteps, and he whirled around, only to see a shadowy figure drift across the doorway.

He stiffened. Was there someone else in this house? He stopped and listened. Nothing. He scratched his head, and plopped down on the floor. He sighed, suddenly tired. He leaned back on his hands, and he felt his hand touch something slimy and wet on the floor.

He picked up one hand and sniffed the liquid, the metallic smell of blood filling his nose. The lantern suddenly went out and a voice boomed throughout the room.

“Hello, it’s been awhile. I’ve been waiting for you.”

 

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Do you want to improve your writing skills? Join an ONLINE writing class that comes right to your home or office! Contact Scott today to find out more!

 

 

Tuesday, 09 October 2018 19:20

University of Virginia: David's Essays

Written by

Our son David recently applied to the University of Virginia (UVA) and below is his Pesonal Statement from the Common Application. He was accepted and is a Biology major. 

 

(word count: 355)

 

Transferring to a four-year university has always been my goal. Beginning when I was five, my parents invested in the [prepaid college] program to pay for a bachelor’s degree for my three older siblings and me. Every parent’s dream is to see their children succeed, and my parents did what they could to help make that happen. Even as a child, I knew I wanted to make an impact in the world. I wanted to do something that set me apart; not something just anybody could do. By the time I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to be in the medical field. Since then, I have narrowed my career down to becoming a dentist or an orthodontist. I have been working towards that goal for three years at Virginia Western Community College, and while my time at Western has been fruitful, it is time for me to move on and get one step closer to achieving my goal. Transferring to a four-year university is the next step. My ambition is to earn a Bachelor of Science degree and upon passing the Dental Admissions Test, to matriculate at VCU’s School of Dentistry. After that, if I decide to specialize in a particular branch of dentistry, I will go on to study that post graduate program. While every step in this journey is important, I believe that the most important step is always the one that we are facing at the moment, and in my case, that would be transferring to attain my bachelor’s degree. These next few years will be pivotal in the direction my life goes, and I want to ensure I make the right choices and meet the right people, as cliché as that sounds. I am blessed to be a world traveler; however, my whole life, I have lived in Roanoke, and this is an opportunity to expand my horizons and enrich my life by seeking new experiences and meeting new people in new places. College is the ideal place for this, and I am eager to meet other bright and ambitious students who are also working toward their goals.

 

He also wrote two other essays, specific for UVA. Stay tuned.

 

Are you an international student studying in the USA, or you want to? Check out this article with helpful ideas about how to be successful in a US university! (PS: The tips are good for American students too!)

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Do you want help with English writing? See how we can help you here. Do you want help applying to a US high school or college? See what universities Scott has helped other students gain acceptance to. Scott helped them; he can help you too!

Contact Scott today to find out more. 

Thursday, 23 August 2018 23:28

Top 10 Most Beautiful Places in China

Written by

A good friend of mine recently returned from a family trip to China, where he visited the famous Li River and Yangshuo. Small world: my wife and I had been in that same spot just a month before! 

 

China has some truly beautiful scenic spots, and this link gives (what is in the author's opinion) the top-ten most beautiful. The author, Cindy Tang, writes well. She has a strong vocabulary and does well to explain the beauty of these spots in words.

 

Do you live in China or have you been there before? If so, which of these places have you visited?  You can read her article here

 

In addition to beautiful sights, China has delicious food too! Check out this list of some of China's top dishes!  

 

And finally, to link food with geography, this is a map showing China's eight major culinary regions. In a land as vast as China, the regional differences in food and taste are vast. You can learn more about the individual food regions and their signature tastes and dishes here

 

 Gfp chinese thanksgiving feast

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    Do you want to improve your English writing? Learn more about our online English classes here and contact me today to find out how we        can help you!

 

Tuesday, 21 August 2018 13:18

Copia

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The word "copia" comes from Latin and can mean abundance or fullness. (Learn more.) A cornucopia, or Horn of Plenty, is a symbol of abundance and blessing, often seen in Thanksgiving decorations. 

In writing and speaking, "copia" refers to the communicator drawing from a large "well" of expressions so one can be rich and versatile with words, instead of being terse and tongue-tied.

In an online writing class today, I asked the students to finish this sentence: It has been a/n ________ summer. This is what they wrote:

 

Katie: It has been a hectic summer.

Alex: It has been a humid summer.

Ian: It has been an enjoyable summer.

Me: It has been a fast summer. 

 

Then I asked them to rewrite their sentence in as many ways as they could; it's fine if they change the shade of meaning some, but they have to keep the overall idea the same.

This is what they came up with:

 

Ian:  It has been an enjoyable summer.

It has been an entertaining summer.

It has been an amusing summer.

It has been a delightful vacation.

It has been a pleasurable summer.

It has been a delightable summer.

It has been a congenial summer.

It has been a lovely summer.

It has been a pleasant time.

It has been a wonderful summer.

It has been a sublime summer.

It has been a magnificient break.

 

 

Katie:  It has been a hectic summer.

It has been an exciting summer.

It has been a chaotic summer.

It has been a busy summer.

It has been a crazy summer.

It has been a frantic summer. 

It has been a summer filled with traveling. 

 

Alex:  It has been a humid summer.

It has been a moist summer.

It has been a soggy summer.

It has been a wet summer.

It has been a sweltering summer.

It has been a steamy summer.

It has been a muggy summer.

 

 

Scott:  It has been a fast summer.

The summer has sped by.

It's been an action-packed summer.

It's been a busy summer.

It's been an eventful summer.

Wow! What a full summer!

The summer break has been action-packed.

This summer has been full to the brim.

The time has flown by this summer.

This summer: where did the time go?

I can't believe how quickly this summer has flown by.

I can't believe it's late August: where did the summer go?

I can't believe there are only a few days of summer break left.

I can't believe there are only a few days of summer left.

I can't believe there are only a few days of summer vacation left.

 

See how it works? This is a GREAT way to push writers to think of more and different ways to express the same idea. Again, there may be some slight differences with shades of meaning, but this forces writers (or speakers) to expand their vocabulary and ways of expression. Thesaurus.com is a great tool for helping build one's vocabulary. Another way is to join a DreyerCoaching.com Advanced Vocabulary or Writing Classes

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Here are the three students' brief reports on their summer. They had to write it in class, so they said much in the short time. The topic was broad and gave them lots of latitude to work with, and I liked how all three approached the prompt differently. For example, Ian took the broadest approach: he briefly reported on the party at the bowling alley on his first day out of school, trips to Hualien and Kaohsiung in Taiwan, then he closed with his summer classes. In contrast, Alex and Katie chose to zoom in on one particular aspect of their summer. Alex focused on his family's trip to Europe, then zoomed in on Prague, specifically Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, and the Old Town. Katie focused on her family's trip to the US to take her brother to tour college campuses, yet she zeroed in on the transportation aspect. That is part of the beauty of writing: the writer chooses what to focus on! Take a look! 

************

 

How was your summer break? My summer is sometimes packed with classes and homework, while other times overflow with fun and entertainment. On the last day of school last June, right after we left for the summer, my classmates and I threw a party at a bowling alley. It was unbelievably exciting, so the time quickly sped past. In the blink of an eye,days were flying past. Two weeks ago my family visited relatives in Hualien, and my brothers, my younger cousin, and I had a great time. We taught our four-year-old cousin how to swim and played together at other times. One day we after we got home from east Taiwan, we drove south to Kaoshiung, where I soon found myself lolling on a cozy sofa, watching TV motionlessly. However, those trips were the calm before the storm because as soon as we returned home, I was bombarded with multiple classes and piles of homework each day. I have baking classes every morning, while English and swimming lessons in the afternoon made me so stressed I fall right asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow at night. But despite all the work, this summer is amazing!

 

-- Ian in Hsinchu, Taiwan

 

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My summer of 2018 has been the best in my life so far. Why?prague 2367366 960 720 This summer, I went to three different countries in Europe-- Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic-- turning the scenic views from pictures into a reality. In my opinion, Prague was the most memorable city from the Europe Trip: we visited the Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, and rented an Airbnb in the iconic Old Town. First, we strolled across the Charles Bridge, inspecting the handcrafted sculptures and the amazing view of the Old Town. Luckily, we were there early in the morning, so we enjoyed the Charles Bridge mostly to ourselves. Then, we prowled around Prague Castle; since the castle has been used for centuries, display boards explained the different battle tactics and the cruel methods of how enemy soldiers and spies were tortured down through the years. Despite the incredible experience of seeing Charles Bridge and Prague Castle, the Old Town was the most memorable place in Prague, due to the red-tiled roofs, which one does not see anywhere in Taiwan. Not only has my summer been a blast, but it has also taught me that we live in a truly diverse world.

 

-- Alex in Hsinchu, Taiwan

 

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My summer was filled with travel, both in cars and on airplanes. As we had been touring colleges all across the US all summer, we had to trek from campus to campus. We visited many places in the US, including many states I had never been to, for example Michigan, Texas, Ohio, and Illinois. In addition to driving and flying, we would take the subway around the city, like what we did in Boston. Because we flew so much, I noticed some differences between the airlines in Asia and in the US. For example, those in Asia always serve complimentary meals (unless the flight is only about 30 minutes), and always have an entertainment system, which contrasts to American airlines, where you have to pay to watch. Although I spent countless hours on airplanes and in cars, it was an extremely exciting summer.

 

-- Katie in Hsinchu, Taiwan

 

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Do YOU want to improve your writing skills? Or those of your children? Contact me today to find out how we might be able to help you!  

 

 

Friday, 18 May 2018 01:50

How Aaron got to Israel!

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At DreyerCoaching.com, we are all about "celebrating success." One of our recent success stories was Aaron, a high school student in Hsinchu, Taiwan, who was chosen to attend an exclusive, prestigious summer program in Israel! What I found remarkable, is that the applicants had to write essays-- in English AND Mandarin Chinese! More than 200 young people applied, and only twenty--that's less than 10% for you non-math types out there--were chosen as finalists to go to Taipei for the face to face interviews, in English. Of those twenty, only TEN were chosen to go--and Aaron was one of the ten! It's a big deal! It's such a big deal, it scored Aaron the first spot on our DreyerCoaching.com Hall of Fame. Check it out, and see if we can help you too make YOUR dreams come true!

 

While discussing his entry into this program, Aaron told me his time with DreyerCoaching.com had been very helpful. He said his writing classes helped him with word choice, grammar, structure, and flow. Plus, he said the simple act of going online for his class with me each week had boosted his confidence and ability to carry on a conversation in English. So, his essay skills helped him get one of the 20 finalist spots, and his interview skills and poise landed him a spot among the final 10.  What a wonderful success story!

 

This blog post link tells you, in Aaron's words, about the experience, which he wrote as a homework assignement for his online DreyerCoaching.com writing class.  

However, for this post, I'd like to share with you his essays and some articles about the experience. Enjoy and be inspired! Don't be jealous of others! Be the best YOU that YOU can be!

Aaron's English Essay:

 

Dear application evaluators, my name is Aaron and I would like to apply for this year's event regarding the International Youth Leader Convention in Israel. From the very beginning, I have shown great interest in this program, but due to age restrictions, I was unable to dedicate myself in formulating such applications. However, now that I have reached 15 years of age, the urge to apply for the position has never been higher. In this self-introduction, I'd like to discuss my motivations for applying this through my interests, extracurricular activities, and overall expectations/aspirations as to what I would hope to obtain in the ten days that the event provides.

To begin with, there are numerous activities that I indulge myself in. For instance, badminton. I began my "career" with this sport from fifth grade and has enjoyed it ever since through the few times that I've been the team captain chosen to represent my school. Not only has it kept my body healthy in past years, it has also strengthened the bonds that I have with my friends, for which I'm grateful for. In addition, despite its uncommonness, attending debate competitions has recently become one of the activities that I appreciate. My friends and I recently went to NIFTy, a nationwide debate competition, and surprisingly got second place for our efforts. This sparked my love for debate, which resulted in NSDA being on my to-do list for the future.

As for extracurricular activities, Model United Nations along with Key Club scores the top spot. Starting from being an admin in 8th grade to representing Germany in this year's PASMUN conference, MUN served as a gateway to the world for me. In this rather daunting activity for first-timers, MUN allowed me to work with other delegates for hours to formulate feasible solutions to the various issues at hand. In the seven conferences that I've been to, the plight of human trafficking in the Middle East to the question of Palestine (which is surprisingly relevant to the program) has been the most interesting to me; through rich debate and discussion, I learned that every nation has different views in regards to any issue, and it is my wish that in this year's convention that I get to experience these different views first hand. Key Club has also played a big part in my school life; it has taught me valuable lessons such as responsibility and perseverance. Leading the club in beach cleanups in Nanliao and endeavoring in efforts to beautify my school has shown me that life can present many challenges, but as long as one perseveres, success will follow.

There are multiple causes that motivated me to apply for this position and also a few aspirations that I have for the program. One being the student exchange program that I attended last year: I went to Fremont High, a distinguished high school in Cupertino, California for ten days to participate and experience the excitement that American high schools bring while also demonstrating the art of calligraphy that I have learned in recent years. However, with this event, I wish to do more than to just enjoy the environment. I'd also like to share the many feats that Taiwan has achieved in regards to environmental protection while also socializing with Israelis in hopes of gaining a deeper understanding of life in the country.  

To wrap up, I sincerely hope that I would be chosen for this event in order to contribute my efforts to shine light on Taiwan as a progressive and innovative nation. Thank you.

 

Aaron's Chinese Essay:

我是(name),目前就讀於國立新竹實驗高級中學雙語部九年級。去年,初聞選拔的活動就非常渴望能有機會參與,然而,卻礙於年齡的限定,無法符合甄選條件。因此決定在今年提出申請,並希望有幸能獲得評審的青睞。

    (一)多元文化的接觸 國際視野的開拓

    我目前就讀於雙語學校,學校除了強調中英語文的能力並重,師資的文化背景多元,也使得我有更多的機會,接觸不同的文化。英文辯論和模擬聯合國是我最喜歡的活動。月初,我和同學們一起組隊參加全國性英文辯論比賽,縱然課業繁重,但我們仍舊不放棄找時間加緊練習與搜尋資料,最終獲得高中組第二名的佳績。此外,我的學校每年都舉辦新竹模擬聯合國的會議活動,我從觀察員開始學習各校代表們如何轉換身份,從各國大使的角度出發,針對議題討論。累積經驗後,我也在今年首度參加由新竹亞太美國學校舉辦的模擬聯合國會議,擔任德國代表,討論中東人口販運和巴勒斯坦外交問題的困境。沒想到,辯論比賽的演說技巧竟幫助我的表現,事半功倍。我也更加瞭解德國的文化,和其他學校的同學在此議題上發言及記錄。因此,我希望可以獲得代表台灣的機會,針對國際環境議題和以色列的學生相互切磋與討論,讓更多的人意識到臺灣環境的危機與轉機。

(二)樂於助人的奉獻 社區服務的回饋

    我在學校參加以服務社區為主的社團,希望藉由親身的實踐,盡一己之力,回饋學校與社區。我曾經和社團的夥伴一同前往新竹南寮淨灘,也曾經油漆粉刷美化學校的圍牆,透過不同的活動,我從中體認到自己之於家鄉土地的責任感和完成一件不可能任務的毅力,生活可以有許多挑戰,只要堅持,成功將隨之而來。幫助別人與回饋是學業分數無法衡量的快樂,但卻能讓人心滿意足與發現生活的美好。

(三)中華文化的涵養 健全的身心

    我很喜歡中華文化,學校的體育課提供了扯鈴、踢毽子等課程;中文選修課則是書法課。去年獲選學校美國交換學生計畫,前往加州交流與學習,我便利用此機會在課堂中展示了我學習書法的成果,讓許多師生都驚艷不已。雖然,去年並未表現扯鈴與踢毽子,但我十分有自信,能再次吸引眾人的目光,當個業餘的臺灣觀光大使。「健全的身心寓於健康的身體」,我從小學五年級開始打羽毛球,培養運動的習慣,感謝眾人的厚愛與支持,我一直是擔任隊長的職務,在團體中領導與學習團隊合作的精神。

我希望藉由在學校課內外的經驗,代表台灣的青年在以色列國際環境青年領袖會議有所貢獻。勇敢面對挑戰,並樂觀進取與謙卑學習的心態,盡力做到最好。

 

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TRULY AMAZING: Here is Aaron's post-trip evaluation. He did fine as it is--until you keep reading and realize he did the whole thing in Chinese too! This young man is fully bilingual to basically a native speaker level in both English AND Mandarin. Wow!

 

教育部青年發展署

赴以色列台灣代表團

8.21.2017

 

International Convention for Environmental Leadership in Israel: Post Event Report

 

FOREWORD   

In the seven days and nights that we were in Israel to attend the International Convention for Environmental Leadership as the delegation of Taiwan, friendships were made and memories were kept. I, Aaron Chen, embarked on this journey along with my nine other delegation members and two teachers. Through hours of hard work in preparation for the conference, I am proud to say that our overall performance during the convention was applaudable. From the never-ending laughs to the sleepless nights, I'm sure that everyone had fun and would not hesitate to call each other friends in the days to come.

In addition to all the academics, participants of the entire congress also visited renowned cities such as Jerusalem and Nazareth. The following five photos will not only demonstrate the things we saw, but also the entire experience that made this trip unique.

 

NOTABLE PICTURES

  1. Carmel Market in Tel-Aviv (8.12.2017)

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/QptdWRgMA_KVwr8Ckvq--65CllDkQvzQXIkoYw8kjdUjgvIEwolQUoD0r3Vq5MoKaoAH-sYyeeZK8DSKbjegwmfKfmlERQNdu6V0EXico40bz6HDErGbQHkgSeJ-t6icX42Br-QN

    In less than 24 hours after we've landed in Tel-Aviv, a number of our respective host families took us to the Carmel Market, one of the most renowned tourist attractions in the area. Under the blazing yet pleasant sun, the seven of us quickly congregated, enthusiastically discussing the major differences that can be discerned upon the first few glances. What we all noticed was the unique dress code that some of the people had: there were people with small round Jewish hats on their heads and certain individuals clad in complete Jewish outfits with a black suit and a Jewish top hat. This definitely surprised us, but what topped that off was the fact that we met the Austrian delegation who've also landed just a few hours ago; they would later become one of our closest friends in the environmental leadership program. After greeting each other and asking a few opening questions, we parted from one another and officially began our travels.

Through the crowded entrance and into the bustling market, there were three elements of Israeli life that stood out to me: food, art, and patriotism. First of all, food. From the perfectly stacked spices to the all-you-can-grab sweet shops, the "souk" was interesting to say the least. As customers lined up to scoop up their desired goods with a small shovel, I was fascinated by how diverse and vibrant all the food was. There were bicolored croissants and spiked pear-like fruits, both of which lit up my eyes upon examination. Secondly, the art. Tiny ornaments and elaborate painting lined the walls of the market. Upon squeezing our way through the walkway, we saw artists utilize their craftsmanship abilities to create glass sculptures and proprietors shout their punchlines to attract customers to their funny shirts. One of the shirts said "My Mom is My Google," which cracked me up almost instantly. Finally, the patriotism. Even though traces of this element were present all throughout my sojourn, it was the clearest in the premise of the market. People were waving flags proudly, selling Jewish phone cases, bargaining for Jewish key chains, and as mentioned before, wearing small Jewish hats. Following some thought, I concluded that it was necessary for Israelis to be to some degree, overly patriotic. This was because of the multiple threats that the country faces from all sides; it prompted them to bond tightly, hold on to their core beliefs, and never let go.

For that, I have gained tremendous respect for Israelis. The picture taken upon is dedicated to them, the ones who've kept the Jewish faith alive and would continue doing so in the days to come.

 

 

  1. HaKfar HaYarok (8/13 – 8/18)

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/3AiAazqaCuLzOoDXK4WgeZp6S6K2HPzrO20JvhW9bl9X7lir7Rl3872is-P3l5TEXNvBkVUmctA6Iap-gQKt0Pz81t9QI1vyJaqYiFK06ktvmcRWZsHuwxlCLp3oQD9cXYeDgrOf

 

    As the sun rose from the horizon and the roosters croaked in the distance, Maya, my host, woke me up and took me to HaKfar HaYarok, the school in which the event took place. Upon entering the village with my suitcase and overly stuffed backpack, I realized why the English translation for HaKfar HaYarok was "Green Village": it was due to the lush green trees, the strong camaraderie, and the cheerful animals that roamed about freely. For me, not only did this discovery pleasantly surprised me, the two elements showed the major contrasts between Israeli schools and Taiwanese institutions; they enabled me to gain a whole new perspective on education as a whole.

    HaKfar HaYarok had plenty to offer, from endless sceneries of pure green to the never-before-seen harmony between the students, the school was more of a happy playground. This was even more evident in the program; the heated discussions during MUN and the participative audience lectures elucidates my understanding that schools are meant for both learning and enjoyment, not dead memorization. In addition to the teaching methods, the environment also played a crucial role in the difference of attitudes that the students had. Peacocks and rabbits and cats and cows dotted the campus, gracefully going about their respective daily routines of brushing their feathers or attacking others for territory. Of course, with every cute animal comes a caring soul willing to allocate time and energy to ensure the animal's survival; this natural obligation of animal protection that the students had bonded them together, which had a positive effect on the overall atmosphere during the span of four days that we marked our stay. Finally, what I would say differed the most from Taiwanese traditional schools was the spirit: the attitudes that people had towards the beginning of each day. In Taiwan, students are greeted with mock tests, weekly tests, and monotonous lectures while Israeli students begin each day with interactive lectures and outdoor activities that focus on having fun, not timed runs or class rankings seemingly engraved on the bulletin board. Overall, these dissimilarities helped me realize what I can help my classmates understand, and prompted me to live the few short days I had in Israel to the absolute fullest.

 

3.Shabbat Meal (8/12)       

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/VDlMtGf1CQQY9LH8ZV3NHQzu6bNvgKbYEAbVjBg9gZYlVcktZno5VLYSKOw45_aJebCoOACdiWJYGbPFDzrTIzANy8yVMfe8_6z5QZi_7exZDYjqyuXLE1XQwdaKVq1CyrryH_i3

          It was a sunny Friday morning; all the shops on the streets were open and ready for a big payday. Maya and I began the day by in the neighborhood mall to look around to check if it sold the cosmetics that my mom wanted to have desperately. What struck me as interesting was the difference in how people greeted each other: on normal days it was "shalom," but that turned into "Shabbat shalom" on Friday. I asked the locals about this phenomenon, knowing it had to be some kind of occasion. One bearded muscular man responded with telling me that Friday was the day in which God rested, which is why the people should also rest, stay with the family, and prepare themselves for the busy days to come. Anyways, I didn't find the cosmetics, but I wasn't devastated. We then left the mall and went to grandma's house for the Shabbat meal.

   To be honest, I never expected a grandma's house to be all that elaborate, never mind a wall of wine and a giant flat screen TV. But in the moment that I stepped foot into the apartment, I saw everything that I thought was far-fetched. The room was capacious, the interior felt welcoming, the kids were enjoying rock paper scissors, and above but, everyone spoke near perfect English. After greeting one another with "Shabbat shalom," we sat on the dinner table and watched the grandpa press against the wall and opened a closet-door like door, revealing the countless bottles of wine, including beer, scotch, whiskey, etc. He cheerfully poured a bottle that he explained to be one for Shabbat meals into the adults' glasses and gave us some sprite just so we won't dehydrate. Then began the meal.

   The meal was both flavorsome and eye-opening beyond belief. From the hummus to the cold fried vegetable to the delectable steak, the occasion was like no other. Inside the one-of-a-kind atmosphere between the family members, I actually felt that I was included in the conversations. This was when a revelation came to me: family is like no other; it bond people together much tighter than religion. It is the core of all human beings. And for that, I truly enjoyed the experience.

 

  1. Gala Night (8/16)

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/Xhw-4o2hl-9zhxNmpYaQPLEvCBPZFiHIpB97UpWJHDlQaAMa9k5Tkc1HaUVBsQ5EmM2u1AojXwNSYGqrLueElR6Hc0aqHXl_QLiZ_bLMaHSMzqj01efGQ5VEZMpaVwsozJgVdOUT

    Into the third and final day of the conference, my team members and I attended the Gala night, an event in which all the delegations are required to perform something that is symbolic of their hometown, along with the delegations from five other countries. Into the venue, there weren't too many surprises for anyone except for the Israelis and guests. This was because before the event, we ran through the entire performance once and the finale twice. Either way, we were still pumped to see all the different cultures that are to come during the span of the event. Firstly, the house entertained the school orchestra, which by the way did a phenomenal job, then we had the former chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) speak as well as other influential figures provide us with their inspirational words. In all honesty, we weren't the best audiences among the crowd because during that time, we were all scrambling to finish up our preparation for the play that we decided to perform. Luckily, the order of performing delegations was in alphabetical order, which meant we were the last one to perform. This gave us ample amounts of time for us to finish up while we enthusiastically watched the other delegations perform their seasonal dances, sing Ode to Joy, and enable us to have a great time. After our Taiwanese-standard acceptable performance which the previous acts ensued, all the delegations were instructed to approach the stage and sing "Imagine," which was the finale, by John Lennon, a songwriter, and singer who co-founded the Beatles. Because we were all well-rehearsed, the performance went on in harmony. With an Israeli student with a beautiful voice leading our somewhat disorganized bunch and the instructor trying his hardest to keep us in line, the finale was a great success. People laughed, people smiled, people hugged, and people cried. It was one of those moments where you don't want to let go, it was also one of those moments where you would cherish forever.

 

  1. Jerusalem (8/17)

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/TJv_Jfwx3Z2iykO-5cipOH72kAJwgZTTmg5QRbifsJy0oCMPM9333gzozv-zx5hb3a9FMTgZZnQiQei2bYrZih3B8ttAcZPZMcIqQUqm1dncdolzukM0fj8j3GlV8HnOTslmVqCO

       Out of the few short-lived days in the trip, I would say the second to last day was by far the best. For the entire duration of that day, we visited Jerusalem, the city that many influential works such as the Bible and Torah mentioned many times. After a grueling 90-minute drive to the site, we began by visiting the market. While the attraction didn't seem like it was meant for tourists due to the lack of ornaments and collectibles, it provided us with the unfiltered and uncensored Israeli way of life. In addition to the three main elements that I mentioned above, another unique aspect about the place was the people. The similarities were striking; we saw customers bargaining ferociously with proprietors, kids holding food bags while parents laugh, and managers shouting at the top of their lungs to attract heads. Despite few downsides to this souk, I was able to pick up some magnets and small decorations for my friends back here in Taiwan while also trying my first shawarma, a delectable Israeli chicken sandwich topped with a salad and some fries.

Soon after our visit to the market, we continued on to one of the most sacred sites of many religions: the Old City of Jerusalem. Even though I acknowledged the holiness and importance of the premise, I didn't expect to be so surprised by the compound. Everywhere I looked, I feel like I've seen it before. Then it hit me: the pictures on my history textbooks were taken right here! This immediately boosted my energy and encouraged me to listen intently to our tour guide and make mental notes on the information that she gave.

I had a blast in the Old City. But that joy turned into deep thought when we reached the Western Wall, a site where mainly Jews go to confess their sins and formulate wishes for themselves. With tight security and military personnel guarding the area, it quickly changed our mood from a cheerful one to one of caution. As we entered, we discerned many Jewish individuals clad in either complete black suits or fitted with a round Jewish cap. Without hesitation, we decided to follow them to the Western Wall itself where many are reciting the Torah and placing little notes into the cracks between the walls.

I myself wrote a little note that said, "Don't fear what's about to come. Embrace life,"  

I thought of my work as pretty inspirational, but I completely took it back when I saw four of my delegation members come out with tears dripping from their eyes. It was only hours later that I realized it was not the atmosphere that pulled their heart strings, it was they themselves who reflected upon their lives and thought of all the good and the bad. For that, I gained massive respect for everyone in my representative team; I will be proud of them forever.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • For self improvement
    • Be more vocal in the chat room with my delegation members
      • Way of improvement: improve my confidence through ways such as but not limited to leading clubs events or taking on roles of responsibility within the classroom
    • Be more proactive instead of reactive when it comes to the conference
      • Way of improvement: taking initiative in the classroom by volunteering to participate in community service activities.
    • Be more conversational when awkward silences arrive during conversations
      • Way of improvement: Engage in conversations with people more often to obtain more social knowledge and opinions on prominent issues today.
  • For the event as a whole
    • Better plane schedules
      • Everyone had to rush to the plane; I had to sprint just to catch the plane. To be honest, I feel like we'd all be fine if we paid a bit more money to stay one more night. We missed the Dead Sea.
    • Better wifi sharing device
      • Only 3-4 people could connect to it at the same time, the speed of the device was slow too.

Aaron

教育部青年發展署

赴以色列台灣代表團

8.21.2017

 

教育部青年發展署

106年赴以色列參加國際環境青年領袖會議

與會報告

 

摘要

106年8 月,十位台灣代表成員及老師出席了在以色列的“國際環境青年領袖會議”,與六個不同國家的青年代表進行了一項有專業探討及文化深度的國際交流,歷經9天的旅程,討論不停,交流不斷,笑聲也從不止歇,我能自豪地說,台灣代表團的整體表現令人讚賞,團員們彼此間不知不覺建立起的深刻友誼,必定也是此行團員間最大的收穫。
            除了所有的正式會議外,大會還安排參觀了耶路撒冷和拿撒勒等著名城市。我將以下列五張照片展示我們這次旅行的獨特之處。

 

重要照片

  1. Carmel Market in Tel-Aviv

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/QptdWRgMA_KVwr8Ckvq--65CllDkQvzQXIkoYw8kjdUjgvIEwolQUoD0r3Vq5MoKaoAH-sYyeeZK8DSKbjegwmfKfmlERQNdu6V0EXico40bz6HDErGbQHkgSeJ-t6icX42Br-QN

    在我們抵達特拉維夫後,我們的寄宿家庭將我們各自接走,友善溫暖的轟爸轟媽給我展示了最真實的以色列日常生活風貌。
通過擁擠的市場,我發現以色列的生活有三個重要的元素:食物,藝術和愛國主義。首先,食物,傳統市場有堆積成山的彩色香料與各式各樣的甜品店,食物非常的多樣性,我最愛雙色的牛角麵包和美味的梨子,兩者特殊的風味都讓我驚豔。其次,藝術,精美的裝飾品和獨特風格的繪畫排列在市場的牆壁上,藝術家們不吝於在市場裡展示他們的工藝技巧,也有幽默的T恤上寫著“我的媽媽是我的Google”,讓我瞬間笑出來。最後,愛國主義,我注意到以色列人因為宗教的因素穿戴著特殊服裝,有些男人頭上有圓形的猶太人小帽子,有些男士穿著完整的猶太服飾包含黑色的西裝和一頂黑色高帽子,人們在市場裡自豪地揮舞著以色列國旗,賣以色列國旗手機殼,穿戴猶太人傳統服飾走在街上。或許,因為這個國家歷經歷史環境的多重威脅,促使以色列人有必要在某種程度上的過度愛國,他們必須緊密聯結,堅持自己的核心信念,永不放棄。為此,我對那些在未來日子繼續保持猶太人信仰的以色列人深表敬意。

 

  1. HaKfar HaYarok

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/3AiAazqaCuLzOoDXK4WgeZp6S6K2HPzrO20JvhW9bl9X7lir7Rl3872is-P3l5TEXNvBkVUmctA6Iap-gQKt0Pz81t9QI1vyJaqYiFK06ktvmcRWZsHuwxlCLp3oQD9cXYeDgrOf

    在寄宿家庭2天後我搬到HaKfar HaYarok 高中學校宿舍,印入眼簾的是翠綠色的校園,溫暖熱情的各國高中生代表與自由漫遊在校園的各式動物,對我來說,這個開放包容式的校園氣氛,讓我獲得全新的教育觀。
浸潤在校園裡,從清翠的綠景到學生之間的和諧氛圍,學校儼然是一座快樂學習的蘊育場。在會議期間熱烈的討論和參與式的講座中再再讓我的震撼,學校是學習和享受的場所,學習不是死記硬背的過程。除了教學方法外,環境對於學生的態度也有至關重要的影響。孔雀和兔子,貓和牛分佈在校園裡,人類與各式動物共處在同一個空間中,大家都要學習分配時間和關心來確保動物的生存,這種保護自然動物的義務,這對我們在逗留期間的整體氛圍產生了積極的影響。最後,我想比較兩國教育精神最大的差異。在台灣,學生生活塞滿了考試和一成不變的課程,在以色列,學生每天都有互動講座和許多戶外活動可選擇,不是趕課或計較班級排名。總的來說,當我體驗以色列這樣教學現場的實況,我希望我能將更好的學習理念帶回台灣,影響我及我同學的未來的學習過程。

 

3.Shabbat Meal

          每個星期五,是猶太人傳統的安息日。在平常的日子朋友互相問候打招呼稱作 “Shalom”,但在星期五安息日就互稱“Shabbat Shalom”。我問當地人關於安息日的由來,一位有大鬍子的男子告訴我,星期五是神休息的日子,人們也應該休息,留在家裡,為繁忙的日子做好準備。

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/VDlMtGf1CQQY9LH8ZV3NHQzu6bNvgKbYEAbVjBg9gZYlVcktZno5VLYSKOw45_aJebCoOACdiWJYGbPFDzrTIzANy8yVMfe8_6z5QZi_7exZDYjqyuXLE1XQwdaKVq1CyrryH_i3

   寄宿家庭帶我去奶奶家跟家人一起過傳統的安息日,我沒料到奶奶家是如此寬敞舒適,有一整面葡萄酒牆和一台巨大的平板電視,15位家人共聚吃飯的感覺很好,有鷹嘴豆到傳統冷蔬菜道美味的牛排,以色列式的地中海料理好吃極了。大家互動熱切且溫馨,而且大人小孩除了希伯來語也都能說一口完美的英語,在這個家庭聚會中,我覺得我自然的溶入家庭的對話裡,也是這大家庭中的一員。這個美好的經驗讓我瞭解到:以色列家庭因宗教傳統將人們捆綁在一起,家庭是所有猶太人的核心。

 

  1. Gala Night

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/Xhw-4o2hl-9zhxNmpYaQPLEvCBPZFiHIpB97UpWJHDlQaAMa9k5Tkc1HaUVBsQ5EmM2u1AojXwNSYGqrLueElR6Hc0aqHXl_QLiZ_bLMaHSMzqj01efGQ5VEZMpaVwsozJgVdOUT

會議最後一天的文化之夜,所有代表團都要進行象徵家鄉的表演。以色列前總參謀長也來致詞,給我們講一些鼓舞人心的話。晚會中,各國家代表團多以舞蹈,唱歌及才藝表演的方式表現,我們則以現場互動的方式引出十二生肖故事的由來,我們的巧思贏得許多的關注及掌聲,獲得了滿堂彩,相信能達到傳達文化意涵的目的並讓各國青年代表留下深刻的印象。最後,所有的代表團一起大合唱約翰·列儂(John Lennon)的“Imagine”,希求沒有戰爭,沒有人因戰爭而亡,人類能在和平的世界裡和睦相處。全場的歌聲在我們心底深處產生共鳴,有人笑了,有人哭了,更多人開始互相擁抱,這是文化之夜的巨大成功。那是一個讓人感動的時刻,也是值得永遠珍惜的時刻。

 

  1. 耶路撒冷

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/TJv_Jfwx3Z2iykO-5cipOH72kAJwgZTTmg5QRbifsJy0oCMPM9333gzozv-zx5hb3a9FMTgZZnQiQei2bYrZih3B8ttAcZPZMcIqQUqm1dncdolzukM0fj8j3GlV8HnOTslmVqCO

在大會的安排下,我們訪問了耶路撒冷,那是聖經和摩西五經的聖地。我們參觀了傳統市場,它為我們展現了真實的以色列歷史與生活。
耶路撒冷的老城區,我的歷史教科書上的照片 一一在我眼前真實展開!這讓我激動及驚嘆,我更專心聆聽導遊的說明,讓他的資訊跟我的先前知識做一個對證。
哭牆,自古以來主要是猶太人去贖罪並為自己祈禱的場所。許多猶太男人戴著圓形的高帽子及正式的黑色西裝來到此地,許多人正在背誦摩西五經,並將願望寫在小紙條塞在牆壁之間的裂縫中,我也寫了一個小紙條期許自己“不要害怕將來,要擁抱生命”,受此莊嚴神聖的氛圍影響,也有非猶太教的成員留下了感動之淚。大家在這個聖地,反省了自身的成長背景,有贖罪有感恩。為此,我代表團隊中的每個人都獲得了重生,我將永遠為我們感到自豪。

 

建議

  • 給自我的期許
  1. 在我的代表團成員的聊天室裡更勇於留言
  • 改善方式:用自願承擔責任的方式提高自信
  1. 在會議上更積極主動而不是被動
  • 改善方式:志願參與社區服務,在課堂上多主動一點。
  1. 在談話中沉默時要更加強對話
  • 改善方式:自我充實,能在對話中提出得更多關於當今社會問題和觀點。
  • 給活動的建議
    1. 更好的飛機時刻表:每個人都擔心趕不上飛機。說實話,如果我們多付一點錢再多待一個晚上,行程會更順暢。我們錯過了死海。
  1. 更好的WiFi共享設備:同時只有3-4人可以連接,設備的速度也

很慢。

 

李慧中老師簽名:__________________________

林燕靖老師簽名:__________________________

 

**************

 

Other links:

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1803944366283156&id=119583624719247

 

https://newtalk.tw/news/view/2017-09-03/96740

 

 

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