There is a scene near the end of my favorite movie, Surf’s Up, in which the main character has been pushed out of bounds into rocky waters during a surf competition. His mentor comes to save him; he is perched atop a tall boulder and tells him to count to five, stop fighting the current and let go. As he counts down 5… 4… 3… he closes his eyes and braces himself for what’s to come. 2… 1. In that moment he literally begins to go with the flow; he is delivered to his mentor by the water that surrounds him and he’s conquered his inability to let his surroundings consume him. In that moment he is completely vulnerable and, yet, paradoxically powerful.
For the first week that I was here in Taiwan, that is exactly how I felt. I was scared, excited, flailing and instinctually fighting a current within myself. I was in new and unfamiliar territory and worried that I wouldn’t be able to conquer my self-doubt. I was learning a million new things every day, trying to retain as much instruction as I possibly could, worrying that when the campers got here all of the great new skills I had learned would not translate to our interactions. Could I teach archery to young children whose first language was not English? Will they want to do arts and crafts with me? Will they trust me to catch them on a zipline? Starting a new job is scary—starting a new job in a completely new place has the potential to be horrifying. Luckily, I have some of the greatest team members possible and we all are learning and growing and becoming a great group of leaders together.
I am only two weeks into my stay here in Taiwan and I have already had experiences that are surreal and unforgettable. At the end of staff training week we all shuttled to Taipei and did a city-wide scavenger hunt—our teams had to interact with people in the city, see sights we otherwise would never see, and get out of our comfort zone. It was the most magical way to introduce us to the wonders of Taipei.
Since this is at least partially a travel blog, I should point out that I had no context of what Taipei would be when I arrived here. I do not speak Mandarin or Cantonese, I had no friends here before arriving, and I don’t have a bunch of money to blow on my days off. Despite all of that, Taipei is a great place to visit! I spend about $15 USD on a hostel every weekend, spend less than $10 a day on food and the public transportation system is fool proof and can get you anywhere in the city (and signs are in English as well as Chinese). All of the people I have encountered—merchants, bus/taxi drivers, random elderly women in the MRT station—have been so kind, helpful and excellent at communicating using more than words alone. The language barrier is definitely always present, but it is not crippling; quite the contrary, it has led me to being a better communicator.
I am doing great. I am busy from 6:30am until 11:00pm, but I still am finding time to write and read and hear new music and spend time with my team and relax. I would love to receive anything in the mail, so if you would like my address just let me know!! I’m trying to update my other social media as often as possible and check my email and messages whenever I can. I love hearing from all of you.