We arrived at Dongshan High School at 6:45am and started preparing for the activity to be taken place at 7:30am. It was a similar event as the previous day, but the students are of a bigger age, and most of them would at least have some memories of the earthquake in 1999. This time, it took place at a hall, a bigger venue, with better sound system.
The vice mayor came too, albeit for a little while, as we shook hands and he wished us all the best. Support from people with power, no matter how big or small, matters a lot.
Just like the previous day, a representative from a media company came to report on this whole event. Nobody knows what is going to be reported (depending on how the reporter had interpreted), or whether it would be broad casted or not, but this is just a bonus for us.
The children drew for about 1 1/2 hours and most of them managed to complete their drawings within the given time frame. The drawings varied greatly from simple well-wishing messages drawn in creative ways, to manga characters, to houses and birds, to meticulous sketching and colour. One interesting observation I made about the drawings: Manga characters, the shape of Japan as a country, and that of Taiwan were the most common features among all the drawings. I was in fact quite impressed that many of them made the effort to think about what to draw and bringing sketches of their drafts prior to this activity. We took photos with almost all of them in random groups (imagine if we had to take with 100 students one by one!!).
After submitting their drawings, the real havoc began. Students started crowding around us, demanding for our signatures. I would understand if they wanted Peter’s, since he is rather famous, or at least he has something special that separates him from the rest of us. But I am a mere college student. What can my signature do, apart from wasting paper? Nevertheless, the students stuck pieces of paper into my face and hands, asking me to write something or sign for them. I have never done something like that before, and so I took their paper and signed one by one. And since we all spoke in Chinese, I thought it would be more relevant to sign in Chinese. Seriously, I have never written my Chinese name more than 20 times consecutively before in my life.
As time was running out and the students had to resume their classes, the teacher-in-charge told them to leave immediately for their classes, but amazingly to no avail. I don’t know what made them so persistent to get my worthless signature, but I had no rights to reject them either, so I kept continuing. The teacher-in-charge then thought of an idea and asked them to leave their paper on the table. Peter and I would sign them, and their teacher would distribute to them afterwards.
About three students requested for us to sign on their T-shirts. I can understand sacrificing a piece of paper for a signature, but it is definitely not worth paying for a new T-shirt if she ends up not being able to wear the old one vandalized by my name on it.
Pieces of paper for us to sign. Taiwanese kids are too passionate and enthusiastic. In fact so much so that I almost had a culture shock.
After leaving Dongshan High School, we had lunch with the respective principals and teachers, together with Bush’s parents. We had a good meal, before heading to the 921 Taiwan Earthquake Museum. This museum is a definite must-go. They kept the collapsed buildings that survived, as real as it could be, leaving the first floors of the buildings crashed by the upper floors. I felt a pang of pain as I walked past all the “exhibitions”. I can just imagine someone, who had experienced 921 earthquake, looking at the “preserved debris”, with his mind flooded with memories of those times.
These two entries basically summed up our short stay in Taiwan (excluding the night market adventures). After receiving so much help from Taiwan, and inspired by the earthquake museum, hopefully we can bring this whole project to a success. The next step has been laid out, though not confirmed. Let’s do it together!