Instagram summer @lawrencechen

Lawrence Chen’s trip to Taiwan

Senior Lawrence Chen travelled to Taiwan this summer, but not to revel in the scenic mountain views. He instead journeyed across the world to teach English.

The small island off of mainland China mandates English language courses throughout elementary school in an attempt to encourage multilingualism. In order to learn English, one must have English instructors like Chen. Though there are many educators who have flocked to the nation in order to offer their skills in the English language, Chen’s mission is slightly different than most of the instructors who come to Taiwan.

“It was volunteer [work], and [the Overseas Community Affairs Council] paid for everything,” Chen said. “… It was for not as fortunate kids, who couldn’t get that education [otherwise].”

In contrast to the salaried tutors who typically act as auxiliaries to children of more financially capable families, Chen used his labors to expand the boundaries of education beyond class barriers.

While Chen’s work in Taiwan is undoubtedly benevolent, some of the conditions he endured just to accomplish his everyday tasks brought his good-spirited determination to the foreground.

He arose at seven each morning in order to begin his eight hour work day on time, experiencing temperatures upward of one hundred degrees fahrenheit throughout the day.

“The school had no A/C except in the library, so during the students’ nap time, all the volunteer teachers would run up to the library,” Chen said.

Despite the intense heat, Chen succeeded not only in having an enjoyable time abroad, but also in making bonds with his students that served to really connect him to the location and its inhabitants.

After four weeks of teaching in Taiwan, Chen became close with his students. The kids even gave him a new nickname, “Lu dan,” Taiwanese for stewed egg, which they bestowed upon him because of the phonetic similarities between the Taiwanese term and his first name, Lawrence.

Simple interactions like those, even in the midst of seemingly bigger things, are often the ones that truly give substance and color to grand journeys like this one.