AST Open House

Too exciting…AST held an open house for the first time in ten years and opened its doors to the public.  It was held in conjunction with the school carnival – food booths from different countries and games run by the middle and high school students.



As you can imagine, the kitchen was busy. But the students cleaned up after themselves and I was left with nothing to do.




The carnival and open house was a huge success.  Tons of visitors and lots of interest in the school.  Some of the students put together a video to introduce the school.  It’s worth a look. AST Video



Starting the School Year

Today was the first day of the new school year.  All students were welcomed in the new gym.  One of my favorite things about this school is that the students lead all assemblies. By the time they graduate they are all very comfortable speaking to large groups from a stage.

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Then we squashed all the classes into the rest of the day.  That meant that I only had 20 minutes to introduce the 5th graders to the cooking class.

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I did manage to squeeze a quick recipe in for the high school class.  Andrew seemed happy with the result.

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Lion’s Head Mountain

(another guest post from Casey)

I spent much of the drive up to Lion’s Head Mountain with my head hanging out of the window like a puppy dog. There is a large temple on the mountain and also beautiful, lush, jungle.


My dad and I, the half of the expedition without canes, clambered up the tricky, uneven stairs to the top of the temple.


I kept admonishing the view to ‘stop it’ since everywhere I looked was over the top, ridiculously picturesque: mountains rising up into the haze, colorful dragons on top of orange tiled roofs, flute music wafting through the air, tropical flowers, etc.


When I was a small child one of my favorite places ever was a plant conservatory in Vancouver. The air smelled delicious, the humidity would cause strangers to remark on my curly hair (relieving me of the responsibility of insisting that my hair was, in fact, curly in the face of well meaning, “what lovely wavy hair you have” comments), and since the whole place was a relatively small bio-dome, I could wander around by myself in what felt like my own personal jungle. I adored it, and secretly hoped each time we had a vacation that we would go back and visit it again.

With that in mind: the drive up to Lion’s Head Mountain and the surrounding area are a giant, real version of my perfect childhood place. There are even butterflies! My dad, the great naturalist that he is, pointed to a butterfly and said, “I call that one a ‘white butterfly!’” (Please feel free to make fun of him for this.)

There are vendors spaced around the temple selling food, trinkets, walking canes, and musical instruments. I got a little distracted by the musical instruments. I was entranced by the flute music and asked to try one out. The straight flutes were tricky to get a sound out of, so the man selling them handed me a smaller one that played more like a recorder. He tried to teach me to play a scale and started singing solfege syllables to me. Since I speak solfege we had a common language! I wasn’t allowed to leave until I could play “happy birthday” without messing up.


Standing on the top of a mountain, surrounded by tropical mist, smelling burning paper, struggling to play an unfamiliar instrument while being patiently taught by a man I share a total of eight common words with.



Lightheaded and out of breath we continued on trying to figure out if we could snake around the back to get back to my mom and grandma. We were unsuccessful and instead found another flute seller.


ETREMELY light headed (I am not a wind instrumentalist) we made our way down the mountain and found the rest of the family.


Highway Sights

The ubiquitous little blue truck.

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Oh so cute heart-shaped tailpipe.

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Bus decorations, also cute.  Lots of cute here.

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The best 7-Eleven we’ve seen.  Plenty of space to relax and eat snacks.

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Cabbage grown in Taiwan.  While there are many passenger trains, there seem to be no freight trains here. I think because the distances are so short compared to the US.  The local goods are transported by relatively small trucks instead.

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Gas and food this way.  Note the bowl, spoon, and chopsticks instead of plate, knife, and fork.  Other than that culture difference, Taiwan highway signs follow American highway sign standards.  Very helpful for us.

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