Really quite amazing! 10 years of partnership! YES!
Y’know, partnerships between schools in different countries are famous for lasting a few years and then dying out. Sometimes they’ve just run their course. Sometimes they’ve depended too much on one particular person, so when that person leaves, it’s all over. Or sometimes the money runs out. Or the enthusiasm. Or whatever.
So it’s really quite amazing that the sister-school partnership between St. James, Taichung and Cambridge-Ellis (CES), Boston is still going strong after 10 years. Yes, it’s ten whole years this year! During that time, lots of teachers have been to visit in both directions, and even I’ve had the chance to visit CES twice, most recently in May 2014 (see my report of that visit here). So it was with great excitement that last week we welcomed 3 VIP visitors from CES, including their very lovely principal, Gerlinde, on her first ever visit ~ here to celebrate our 10 years anniversary!
And it all started 10+ years ago with Wan-Ching, a former student of St. James’ Kindergarten who grew up and moved to the USA, and actually worked at CES. CES has a language program which includes Mandarin Chinese, and Wan-Ching suggested CES could connect up with St. James, her alma-mater here in Taichung, Taiwan. She linked up the CES director at the time, Jenifer Demko and the then rector (now Rector Emeritus) of St. James, Rev. Charles C. T. Chen. Thank you Wan-Ching! And so the connection was made, and a partnership came into being, formally signed in March 2007. Charles and Jenifer are both wonderful people of huge vision and determination, with big dreams and ideas, and thrive on trying new things. But even they could not have predicted that we would have had such a successful 10 years together!
And so to celebrate this great milestone, we invited Gerlinde to come and visit ~ and she chose last week to come. YES! She brought Qiaoling, in charge of the CES Mandarin Chinese program and a great friend and support for all our teachers who have visited CES. Qiaoling just loved all the Taiwan food and was invited to so many meals here that even she couldn’t keep up! In fact she arrived in Taiwan a whole 12 hours early, which meant she could fit in extra meals with everyone. She is just so popular! Gerlinde also brought along her very charming and handsome husband, who kept us so well-entertained, always with a story to tell, or a cool pose for photos ~ there was never a dull moment all week! For all 3, it was their very first visit to St. James, in fact their first visit to Taiwan. We LOVED having them here…… aren’t they oh so photogenic?!
And what did we do all week? A tour of the St. James’ campus, meetings, classes, a lecture from Gerlinde ~ and meals with Rev. Charles Chen and MaryJo, our senior warden Samuel and supervisor Luanne, Preschool principal Susan, Language Institute director Yu-Mei, language teacher Jerry and his wife Jean, and St. James’ rector, Rev. Lily Chang (and we met her lovely 90-year-old mother too!), plus so many others. They met tons of people and enjoyed having fun with children of every age. Smiles and fun and laughter and of course, photos. Photos galore. For sure! Everyone at St. James was so happy to welcome them, and they were so gracious and kind and smiled all day at everyone! On Wednesday last week, Luanne also organised us all to go to Puli and Sun Moon Lake for the day, including the famous Puli ice-cream, mushroom farm and wine factory ~ and then TungHai University and Taichung City in the evening. Plus they went on a tour of the brand new theatre in Taichung (for Jerry’s account of that visit, see here). And for the grande finale, there was a farewell party on Thursday night, followed by a very lively visit to the night market ~ just don’t ask about that stinky tofu!
And a group photo at the farewell party of most of the people who’ve ever been to CES and their families, and those hoping to go this coming year….
I had the honour of being with our VIP guests all week, and on Friday brought them to Taipei to meet Bishop Lai and Mrs. Lily Lai….
And then for some sightseeing all around the great city of Taipei over the weekend. CKS Memorial, Taipei 101, JianGuo Flower and Jade Markets, Grand Hotel and National Palace Museum. All checked off the list. Mostly all in the rain too. Ah, but it was fun! Extra fun was that we invited former St. James’ teacher, Tiger and her husband to join us, they actually met in Boston, all due to our link with CES! And 3 of the St. James’ teachers came to Taipei too to join us on Saturday, and for some of them it was clear that they had seen more of Boston than they had of their own capital city lol!
So a big big thank you to Gerlinde and her wonderful VIP group for coming to Taiwan, for their gifts, their enthusiasm, their time and energy, their stories and their fun! It was such a great week. CES is having their own 10th anniversary celebration in a few weeks time, and Rev. Charles Chen and his wife, MaryJo are planning on being there, representing St. James. YES! Thanks to all at St. James for all their planning, their welcome and hospitality, it was all amazing. And thanks be to Almighty God for his many blessings on our partnership with CES over these past 10 years.
And here’s to the next 10 years, YES YES YES!