My mother-in-law, whom we lovingly call Grammy, lives in Taiwan. While we were there for the holidays, it was the perfect time to take a tour of Taipei American School (TAS). Not only does she teach there, but most of her kids also attended TAS. Since we homeschool, two of my daughters had never been inside a school building. What would it be like?
Our tour was scheduled for 10AM, so we left our apartment at 9:40 to catch the bus. To get to TAS, we continued to the next bus stop past Grammy’s apartment.
There, we climbed off and followed the sidewalk to the school. Reaching the guard station, we realized we were five minutes early. We waited there until our guide, Jenn, met us.
Knowing that my husband works with technology, Jenn took us to the robotics area first. This multi-level lab area is called the Tech Cube.
All TAS students take a term of robotics in middle school, and many return for more advanced classes. Going beyond Lego Mindstorms, students build remote-control vehicles and even battle-bots.
The teachers we met were friendly and passionate, yet they also seemed pretty laid back. Allowing students to explore and create independently and in groups, they watched from across the room but were available when students needed help.
Though I would have been lost trying to put anything together in this creative lab, I was duly impressed. What an excellent opportunity TAS students have to use these state-of-the-art resources!
Leaving the Tech Cube, we took a brief peek at the gym, then headed for the theatre wing. Since some of my sisters-in-law performed in school musicals while attending TAS, we carefully inspected posters from past productions for signs of them. One caught our eye.
Two of my husband’s sisters performed in a production of The Boyfriend back in 1997. Their faces were still smiling down at us from the poster on the wall. (They are fourth from the left and second from the right.)
As lunchtime approached, it was time to meet up with Grammy. Jenn led us to the middle school science area. Would Grammy be there in her “native habitat”?
She was! In her classroom, she excitedly explained an experiment her sixth-graders were working on. Using recycled materials, they were building insulated thermoses and evaluating their effectiveness.
While we were in Grammy’s classroom, our tour guide snapped a family photo for us.
Saying good-bye to Jenn, we headed to the school cafeteria to grab some lunch. Options abounded—pizza, Taiwanese food, a salad bar, soups, and even a baked potato bar. We toted our trays to the science teachers’ lounge, where we enjoyed a relaxing meal with Grammy and her teaching team.
Time passed quickly. As soon as we finished eating, it was nearly time for Grammy’s next class to start. Waving good-bye, we found our way outside, turned for one final peek at the building, then headed home.
I’m thankful for teachers like Grammy, who make a difference in the lives of students on the other side of the world. Despite the impressive staff and facilities at TAS, I appreciate the flexibility of homeschooling. Without it, we could never have taken this extended trip to Taiwan.
Our blog adventure continues as the girls get their first taste of wheel cake.