|HOME SCHOOLING / INTERNATIONAL|
Local Homeschool Group Helps American Family Connect
After moving to Taiwan, The Powers family felt isolated as home educators until they connected with a vibrant local homeschool support group.
Students attend a meeting with Taiwan Homeschool Advocates.
The Powers ride a cable to Maokong in one of many field trips with THA.
By Jessica Powers
A year and a half ago my family and I moved from our cozy little home in Northern Virginia to Taipei, Taiwan for my husband’s job. We are a homeschooling family with four kids, ages 11, 5, 3, and 2, so we were anxious to get settled and begin learning about the Taiwanese culture. As soon as we arrived, however, I realized we were the only American homeschoolers in our community, and perhaps even in the whole city. That might not seem very daunting, but we come from the Washington, D.C. area that is abundant with homeschoolers and co-ops.
I used to boast to my non-homeschooling friends that my county in Northern Virginia has so many homeschoolers that we have our own soccer league comprised of four different teams. Just in our county alone! And we were heavily involved in our local co-op, which provided a weekly support group for moms, classes for the kids such as debate, drama, and choir, as well as annual school photos and a yearbook. So needless to say, going from that to being the only homeschooler in my area was definitely one of the hardest parts for me about moving to Taiwan.
At first we tried learning about the culture by taking language classes and going on a few outings hosted by the community center. My sixth-grader was always the only child on these types of trips. That spurred many questions from Taiwanese women as to why my child was not in school. Many of these questions caught me completely off guard at first, because I was so used to being “normal” as a homeschooler in D.C.
After a while, I felt as if we were really missing something. We began to feel isolated and out of touch with the people around us, even though we lived in the culture and among the people.
Thankfully, a few short months later, a new friend informed me of a group called the Taiwan Homeschool Advocates (THA). It is an online homeschooling support group, with monthly outings to places around Taipei and Taiwan. What a marvelous find for me! The biggest impact for me was the fact that the leader, Tim Chen, is Taiwanese and yet speaks English as if it were his first language! Not only are we invited to their monthly events, but every month Tim is pivotal in helping me locate the events, since driving here in Taipei tends to be difficult due to addresses that are written in Chinese. Many times we are both on our cell phones: “Okay where are you now? Turn left.”
I feel so blessed to have connected to Tim and this group. Through THA, our family has been able to participate in many things that otherwise we would never have known about, let alone find on our own.
We have had many eye-opening experiences with this group since we began attending the monthly outings. At Yingge Ceramics Museum my kids made their own pottery, toured the museum, and learned the history of pottery and ceramics in Taiwan. One month we rode a gondola (cable car) to Maokong, over the Taipei Zoo, over a mountain, and to a plant dyeing facility where the kids learned how to tie-dye their own handkerchiefs. We celebrated Christmas American-style at a local ice skating rink outfitted with a snow machine and even a visit from Santa Claus! The most memorable event for us was the trip to JingMei Human Rights Memorial where we had the rare opportunity to tour the former military detention center and hear the incredible life story of a Taiwanese man who was a political prisoner there at one time. Tim graciously interpreted the entire story to us as the gentleman recounted his childhood and experiences during the 40 years of martial law in Taiwan. Our time here in Taiwan will eventually end. Because of the Taiwan Homeschool Advocates group, we have been able to more fully experience the people and culture here. We now have memories we will take with us for the rest of our lives of this beautiful island, Formosa. Jessica Powers is a homeschool mom of four living with her family in Taiwan.
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