I was surprised—maybe a bit impressed—by how festive Taitung got during the October through December holiday season. I did Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas activities with my kids, which was pretty tiring given how close the holidays all are! Similar to the states, immediately after Halloween, everything in the stationery stores turned red, green, and gold for Christmas.
Both schools had a sort of end of year holiday performance. At Fong Yuan, they went all out. There were ten large tables full of food, brought in by both the school and the kids’ families, which was delicious. Afterwards was over two hours of student performances, which ranged from dances and skits to ukulele and saxophone concerts. My second graders even sang three English songs! They were absolutely adorable.
Another huge activity the schools put on in the fall is their annual sports day, which is almost equivalent to the US field day, except much more extravagant. Besides sports races and competitions, they also had rehearsed dances, songs, and each class even had a specific theme that they dressed up for. I unfortunately missed Fong Yuan’s sports day because we were all out of town for a Thanksgiving dinner in Taipei, but I did get to participate in Fong Li’s, and it was incredible. The kids practiced for weeks leading up to it, and the energy and excitement on the actual day was absolutely infectious. I even got to participate in the teacher/staff relay race and won a bag of laundry detergent. Practical prizes!
Unfortunately for both students and teachers, the (western) holiday season doesn’t bring the relief of the end of a semester; the semester doesn’t end for Taiwanese schools until the end of January, where we get around a month off for the Lunar New Year. More on that in the next sections.