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Chinese Classes Explored Hong Kong and Taiwan

Check out these fun moments!
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Savvy Horne-Lalande (9th) making xiao long bao.

 

Can you smell our cooking? The smell of the Chinese classes cooking xiao long bao (小笼包) in Taipei was so deliciously strong that might have caught a scent. Xiao long bao is a type of Taiwanese dish that can best be translated as a kind of soup dumpling. Of course, we had other experiences that will be lost in translation, like going to the night markets and trying the best boba. And here, I’m going to try to convey how much fun we had in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

 

Fin Phillips (9th), Me, Setara Manasa (8th), Valeria Gonzalez Reed (10th).

So what happens when you bring a bunch of inexperienced cooks around a table and ask them to handle raw meat? It is definitely chaotic, but not as much as when you ask them to roll out and fold egg wrappers. Yet despite the chaos we brought as amateurs, the food still tasted great, and some people got very good at churning out these authentic balls of goodness. Meanwhile, all of us were boba-making professionals; just look at the photo.

 

 

The lantern launch. (Photo by Setara Manasa).

While some people weren’t professionals in the kitchen, they were naturals at using the calligraphy pen. As we released lanterns into the sky, we painted messages in calligraphy, wishing for better grades and for people to like us back. Chinese class really is useful! But the best part of releasing the lanterns was our energetic photographer. All of our  poses couldn’t be possible without him smiling and yelling at us to do the K-pop heart with our fingers.

 

But some people’s gift was shopping in a foreign country. And this is a skill you need if you’re going to go to Taipei; you can’t lump its 7-11s with the rest of the international chain. If you ever walk in the door of a Taiwanese 7-11, you’ll most likely be met with a gorgeous view: a shelf stocked full with Hi-Chew. Then, as you make your way through the store, you’ll find all kinds of inedible treats, like a $5 digital Hello Kitty watch or an aisle full of stationery. If you want ramen, there’s a whole selection of it at the back of the store. Feeling more like fresh chicken? It’s in the refrigerated section along with the shelves of chilled tea and juices. You could live off of a Taipei 7-11 and not feel like you were at a company that stationed its headquarters in Irving, Texas.

 

Nevita McCormick (11th) and Steely Horne-Lalande (11th) making xiao long bao.

But forget the 7-11 for a second. What about the people who went on the trip? Most importantly, the students and families who helped promote the trip’s idea to begin with? Eleventh graders Steely Horne Lalande and Nevita McCormick, and their parents, are the ones to thank for our fun trip. Steely’s mom had fostered the idea, and Steely, being a long-time Chinese language student and vice president of the Chinese culture club, ran with it. She first discussed the idea with Ms. Xu and later joined Nevita in becoming a student proctor for the trip, easing the planning process. And they both have no regrets, wanting to return to the country. Nevita noted, “There was a lot more to see in Hong Kong, especially since it’s so big.” But her favorite moment was in Taipei; “just having got there and being excited to start [the trip],” Nevita liked “the day we first arrived and went to the Geopark.” Here, we got to see surreal natural rock-sculptures of a queen’s head and a fairy slipper, and these shapes formed solely due to weathering and erosion. Meanwhile, Steely “most enjoyed seeing the night markets” because she thought “that [they were] the most culturally authentic piece of what we did.” “I’ve never seen anything like that in the U.S. at least,” she added. Many of those who went on the trip could confirm; some had fun with the traditional practice of haggling while others seized the opportunity to invest in Hello Kitty merchandise. It was quite the experience—one we’ll never forget.

 

So, if you have an idea for an interesting or simply fun school trip, pitch it!

About the Contributor
Rebecca Cole
Rebecca Cole, Managing Editor
Rebecca Cole is an 11th-grade day student who started writing articles for The Bell in freshman year and now also serves as Managing Editor. As a policy nerd, she also loves being a part of Green Goblins, Elevate, and Model UN.