WEST ORANGE, NJ — Juniors and seniors in the West Orange High School Chinese program had the opportunity to travel to Taiwan through the International Partnership of Education Research and Communication during spring break.
The 17-hour direct flight from JFK to Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport arrived on April 9 and students made their first trip to National Geo Park in Yehliu, followed by a traditional lantern lighting ceremony. Students were able to decorate their lanterns with images and expressions of good wishes, light them, and send them soaring into the sky.
In the following days, the group traveled southward from Taipei to five other major cities of Taiwan: Nantou, Chiayi, Kaohsiung, Changhua, Taichung, and then back to Taipei.
Along the way, they hiked Ali Mountain, cruised the beautiful Sun-Moon Lake, visited National Taiwan University, the Great Buddha, the National Palace Museum, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Museum, and other local attractions.
Everywhere the group visited, they ate authentic foods and learned that Taiwan’s storied history provided the backdrop to provide regional food from across mainland China.
In addition to sightseeing, the trip was also educational. The highlight of the trip was the one-day exchange with Yang Ming High School in Taoyuan City. When the bus pulled into the parking lot, the students and chaperones received a heartfelt, warm, and moving welcome with signs, applause, and cheers that touched the entire group.
The one-day exchange was packed with meaningful activities. After a welcome presentation and gift exchange, the group received tours from their partner students, learning about the school motto and their daily lives. After lunch, students and staff participated in outdoor games and activities, and attended a calligraphy class, learning the art and history behind it. The students made dumplings and drank bubble tea for their evening meal.
West Orange High School Chinese teacher Yajing Li and World Language Supervisor Felix Plata served as chaperones for the trip.
“Students returned with a deep understanding of how Asian people’s lives are very different, yet so similar to their own,” said Li. “On a larger scale, this trip reinforced the mission of the World Language Department: to develop globally competent and culturally responsive global citizens.”