In partnership with Reach the World (RTW), the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is publishing a series of articles written by Fulbright English Teaching Assistants participating in Reach the World’s Traveler correspondents program, which through its interactive website, enriches the curriculum of elementary and secondary classrooms (primarily located in New York City but also nationwide) by connecting them to the experiences of volunteer Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) and other world travelers who are currently studying and living abroad.
大 家好! (大-Dà,家-jiā,好-hǎo- Hello everyone!) My name is Boco and I’m currently a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Taidong City, in Taiwan. Taiwan is a small island in the Pacific Ocean, north of the Philippines, and south of Japan. The temperature in Taiwan is very hot, so it takes a while to get used to. Especially if, like me, you are used to the cold temperatures of New England.
Where in New England am I from? I live in Cape Cod, Massachusetts with my family. Prior to living in Cape Cod, I lived in the Philippines until I was eleven years old. Moving to the United States from another country was hard, but what was even harder was trying to fit in to my new surroundings. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people who did not speak the same language. Everyone was different, and I felt lonely and scared. Eventually, I was able to adapt to my surroundings, but it took some time.
As a result of my experience immigrating to the United States, I pursued similar majors in college. I graduated from University of Massachusetts Amherst with a triple degree in Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology, with a minor in Chinese and certificates in International Relations and Criminal Justice. Ever since I moved to the United States, I realized how small and connected our world is.
I felt that I was yanked away from a small town that was like a fish bowl, and placed into a huge aquarium with a colorful variety of different fish. This interest led me to study how people connect with others, and how we think. Similarly, I became interested in world politics.
So, what led me to Taiwan? It was my love of culture and language. I speak three languages fluently (Waray-Waray, Tagalog, and English). I’ve studied Spanish for six years, and I took up Mandarin for three years in college. To me, Mandarin is an extremely fascinating and beautiful language. It is hard to master due to different tone usages, but I believe the true beauty lies in the writing of Mandarin. Characters are the equivalent of “words” in English. One character would stand for a meaning such as 好(hǎo) which normally means “good” or “ok.” I love drawing, so it was no surprise that I loved writing characters. To me, each one symbolizes a hidden meaning, and it was fun to memorize. Before graduating from college, I realized that I wanted to study Mandarin more. My friend told me about Fulbright; a program offering an English Teaching Assistantship in Taiwan. I didn’t think twice about applying, and months later I received the great news that I was selected.
Since I lived by the ocean all my life, Taidong City is the perfect place for me. This small city is located right beside the ocean, and surrounded by mountains. Every day, I’m able to see the stunning scenery of the Pacific Ocean. Taidong is my new home, and I’m happy to share it with you!