The following day Ted headed towards the south of Taiwan, to a town by a famous lake called the Sun-Moon Lake. He was going to visit another school there where they had recently introduced a new English teaching programme. It seemed that the word spread around the island quickly, and many schools wanted to benefit from Ted’s skills and knowledge now that he was in Taiwan.
The train journey was a delight itself. The landscape was splendid with the mountainous view, colourful flowers and trees. The further south they went, the warmer and more humid the climate became. The sun seemed stronger and the air was definitely even more humid.
A young lady, one of the new local English teachers, was at the train station waiting forTed.
‘Hello Ted’, she greeted him with a smile and a handshake. ‘My name is Pei-Wen. I will take you to our school and show you our new teaching materials. Hopefully you can tell us how we can use them well in the classrooms. What time is your train due back this evening?’
‘It is at eight so we have time’, Ted said and caught a glimpse of the Sun-Moon Lake as they drove by it towards the school in Pei-Wen’s car.
‘Are you one of the main English teachers at the school?‘ Ted asked Pei-Wen after a short silence. Pei-Wen seemed very focussed on driving, staring intently at the road. Ted was afraid to speak as he thought that Pei-Wen may lose her focus if they spoke too much and that they would end up flying into the lake.
‘I am in charge of all teaching materials and teacher training’, Pei-Wen explained and gave Ted a quick smile before staring at the road again. ‘This is why I would like to talk to you about how we can best use all of these materials.’
‘Okay, great’, Ted agreed. ‘I am sure that we can do that today. The lake is magnificent, by the way.’
Pei-Wen laughed. ‘Yes, it is indeed. One of the main attractions in Taiwan. A lot of tourists come to this spot, in particular those from mainland China.’
Pei-Wen seemed so concentrated on driving that they spent the rest of the drive in silence, listening to the wind that hit the windscreen of the car.
The school had an energetic and child-friendly feel to it. Ted felt inclined to talk with pupils and teachers and enjoyed chatting with them about the sort of activities that they did at the school out of class time. They seemed to have a lot of sports and art going on. The children wanted to touch Ted’s curly hair and the teachers gave him endless cups of tea to keep him going.
When the children and teachers were back in class, Pei-Wen showed him the library and resource room. When they started going through all the materials, Pei-Wen wanted to take a break every few minutes. She seemed to breath heavily and found it hard to stand for long periods of time.
‘Are you alright?’ Ted asked her as she sat down for the seventh time in half an hour.
Pei-Wen laughed a somewhat forced laugher. ‘Yes, I am absolutely fine. It is just that I have put on weight and my body feels heavier than I am used to. I have to stop eating so much.’ She laughed a hearty laughter.
They carried on with their work and, in the end of the afternoon, Pei-Wen was happy that they had managed to go through all the resources. Ted said that he was pleased with the quality of books and materials that they had and that the school seemed like a lovely place to be in.
‘Thank you very much’, Pei-Wen shook his hand again. ‘We are so happy to have you visit us and give us advice. It is a privilege, really, for the kids to meet someone like you and for the teachers to be able to talk with you. Now, I am afraid that I have an appointment that I need to rush to, but Madam Wen will give you a lift to the station.’
Madam Wen was a bubbly elderly teacher who told Ted that she was going to retire the following year. She was planning on knitting and doing art work then, as now she had no time for such activities.
‘Poor Pei-Wen’, Madam Wen sighed. ‘Pregnant and not married yet…’
Ted lifted his face to look at Madam Wen’s frowned face. ‘Is she pregnant?’
Madam Web looked back at Ted in surprise. ‘Didn’t you notice? Yes, she is six months pregnant. She is due to get married next month. Let’s just hope that this will happen. The man is from France. You never know if they actually want to marry…. The baby was unplanned.’
‘But why did she tell me then that she was getting fat and not that she was pregnant?‘ Ted asked in surprise.
‘She is embarrassed’, Madam Wen said an an assured voice. ‘Of course she is embarrassed. Who wouldn’t be when you are pregnant before you get married? Everyone will see you as an unethical person.‘