It’s tradition in Taiwan for companies to have a year-end party to celebrate the past year and to look forward to the next one. (Very similar to our own Christmas Office Parties in Canada, and with no less drinking.) This year I was invited to the one for Rotary Taiwan, a medical equipment company I have been teaching at on Saturday mornings. Having never been to one of these parties, I was more than enthusiastic to go, although the knowledge that I’d be the only one speaking English there (my students at the company are very low level) was a tiny bit inimidating. So, last Saturday night with Connie in tow we were picked up by the Assistant Manager and taken to the downtown Holiday Inn for the party.
The gentleman you see in the picture there is the Company President, he’s giving his big thank you speech to the employees for their work this year. Behind him you can see the hostess for the event, a 40-something year old woman dressed as an 80’s Japanese teenage pop-singer (and she did indeed sing!) who the company hired to MC the event.
It was a lively and fun party, and everyone there was in good spirits, so I guess the company did well this year. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only foreigner there, there was also a representative from Cannon Japan there (their business partner) who gave a speech in what I’m told was almost unintelligable Japanese accented Mandarin to the enthusiastic crowd. Also the Vice President’s son (also an executive at the company) had obviously studied overseas from the perfectly accented English he spoke as we chatted a bit. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this party, but I was sure happy with what I got!
It’s customary at Taiwanese year-end/new year company parties to have contests and draws for prizes for the company employees as a way of thanking them for their hard work. The really big prizes were drawn for (Rob wasn’t in the draw since I’m just an honorary employee) and then we played Bingo for small prizes (which I was included in). As you can see, I was one of the winners at the first round of Bingo! (It was a box of potato chips.) Later in the evening (once they’d gotten everyone liquored up) they played a game where randomly chosen people had a balloon on their lap and their partner had to sit down and break it for a prize. They also had a game where the men carried women on their back and jousted, but I was too busy eating to pay much attention to that one. Taiwanese love their party games!
This very kind gentleman is Nike (his chosen English name), the Assistant Manager at Rotary and also my neighbour who gives me a ride to the company each Saturday morning. He has been extremely kind to me, not only inviting us to this party (and letting Connie come when it was a staff-only party), but also inviting Connie and I to take a sightseeing trip with himself and his wife. Due to outside factors, the trip had to be delayed until after Lunar New Year, but I was very touched by his offers of help. He’s a very straight-shooter and does everything in life with a lot of gusto, I admire him a lot.
Rob and Connie enjoy a quiet moment between the seven or so courses of food. Every 10 minutes or so, for 2 hours, they would bring another large plate of food for the table to share, which was just enough for each of us to have a sampling. At first we though we might need to eat out afterwards, but by the end of the party we were both quite full!
Ours was one of perhaps six or seven party rooms on the second floor which are primarily rented out to wedding parties. The staff were very professional, and everything was done so smoothly you barely noticed them flitting around. There were about 9 tables at the party, each filled with mostly engineers and salesmen from across Taiwan. Connie and I ended up sitting with a group of people mostly from TaiZhong (in the middle of Taiwan) who were very nice, but didn’t talk much. I didn’t even know that they understood English until later in the evening when enough wine had been flowing to make them relax enough to talk to me. Of course, by that point Rob had been drinking toasts to everyone, and was quite toasty himself too!
Here’s the cool looking glass elevators which adorn the inside of the Holiday Inn atrium.
I snapped this on our way out from the balcony; there is a lot of good food down there! Almost all the major hotels here have buffets like this, and they’re really expensive in most cases.
After our lovely evening, Connie and I walked home in the rain to try to work off the large meal we’d just had. It was a fun time, and I thank our host Rotary for inviting us, although we weren’t really part of the company, and there was a language barrier (for me anyways) they did their best to make us feel welcome! I look forward to teaching them again in the New Year!
At the beginning of December I was asked to teach a writing class at the ShiLin branch of KoJen on Friday Nights from 7-9. The class consisted primarily of teenagers with a few lovely “big sisters” coming to the class as well in order to improve their writing skills. This class was a lot of fun, and I have enjoyed teaching them very much. Each of them was a creative person with their own unique styles, and it was fun to read what they wrote each week because it always made me smile. From left to right they are John, David, Elaine, Jenny, Sally (in red), Ivy and Vivian. Missing from the picture is David Huang, Paggie, and Benson. I wish each and every one of them good luck in the future, and hope they keep writing and practicing!