August 22, 2020 is a day that won’t go down in infamy, not for me at least, because I never experienced it. I took off from O’Hare Friday night around midnight, flew for 15 hours, and landed at 4:00am Sunday in Taipei. (It is unclear if this day still counts against my age or if I am forever one day younger.)
What a long process this has been. I signed a contract to teach at an elementary school in Taichung, Taiwan at the beginning of January. Since then — well, no one needs a reminder of how the last eight months have gone, but let’s just say it was filled with anxiety, uncertainty, and more downs than ups. But to spare you all the details, and because I want to look forward and not backward, I’ll just say that I’m here. The flight was smooth and the entry process was very efficient and painless. It helped that there were only about 50 people on the 500+ seat plane, including some very safety-oriented passengers.
So now what? Well, now I sit in this tiny room for 14 days. Taiwan has done arguably the best in the world at handling the virus. They took it seriously early, they shut things down, they closed their borders, they wore masks, they made people quarantine, and they fined people who didn’t follow the rules. They also have a culture that prioritizes public health and human lives over the economy and getting haircuts. (Imagine that!) Seven COVID-related deaths in a country of 23 million people is nearly unfathomable. They have had zero cases for the last several months! So yeah, if I were them, I would make me quarantine in a hotel room too.
While the prospect of trying to keep from going crazy in this 200 square foot room is somewhat daunting, I know that it’s very temporary, and it will be very worth it. I’m glad to be here. Teaching abroad has been on my mind ever since I got back from Uganda 10 years ago, and I feel very lucky to finally have this opportunity again. I’m grateful that I made it through all the uncertainty. I’m thankful that they let me in. I’m proud that I stuck with it. I’m excited to be back in the classroom for the first time in what seems like forever, and I’m relieved that I don’t have to deal with the… chaos(?) that is US education this fall. (Sorry, teacher friends.)
To close the first Evan on Earth post, I would just like to say thank you for coming and reading. I don’t necessarily feel like I deserve my own website or that I’m doing anything particularly special. I’m not even necessarily sure I want to put myself out there in this way this time. When I was 23 and teaching in Africa I thought I was doing something really cool and wanted to show it off. At 33, I kind of just feel like I’m an average person doing a common job in a regular city that just happens to be on the other side of the world except with the added thrill that I can’t read any of the signs. But it seems like every person I talked to over the last couple of months said something to the effect of, “Oh that’s so cool, I want to follow along, you’ll have to keep us posted.” So here I am, keeping you posted. We’ll see how this goes. Feel free to pass this on and share with whoever you think might be interested in reading the emotional ramblings of some guy who is trying to make the most out of life. If you have any particular questions or thoughts, please comment, email me, or message me on What’sApp. (Goodbye, old phone number.)
Lastly, here’s a picture that I accidentally took of myself while trying to take a video of my room and the view. I just feel like there must be some particularly good lighting in here or something idea because I have no idea how my hair looks this good after a 15 hour flight. I’m not usually this self-indulgent and I promise I won’t make a habit of it, but sometimes you just gotta love yourself, ya know? Peace and love to you all!