CTBC International Academy has grown over the summer! We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Junior High students into our thriving program. We pride ourselves with the tailor-made educational experience we offer and in order to maintain this, we have hired three new foreign teachers to our faculty. This week, we would like to formally introduce, Nathan Robertson!
Q: Tell us about the events that led up to you living and working in Taiwan.
A: Living in Taiwan was an accident. I mean, I chose to come here but staying wasn’t what I planned. I met a friend in college from Taiwan and she convinced me to look at teaching here after my M.A. program. I applied to a lot of schools in the U.S.A. as well as a couple schools in Taiwan. When the dust settled, I ended up here in Taiwan working for a large national buxiban. Still, the plan was to teach here, travel around Asia, and find a job teaching at a university in the U.S.A. or a Ph.D. program. A year into my time here, I met and started dating Jade. Within another year, I was engaged. After a discussion about where we would live, we decided on Taiwan for many reasons: good economy, beautiful country, and closer to her family in the Philippines. That’s how I ended up staying in Taiwan; I got married.
Q: What are some experiences you’ve had in Taiwan that make it unique from your home country?
A: Well, I have been in Taiwan for seven years now. I’ve had plenty of experiences both good and bad. One experience that stands out though was when I did my pre-nuptial photos in Yanmind Shan National Park. Where I am from in Minnesota, there are absolutely no mountains. I mena, it is as flat as a pan there. So, being up in the mountains was a new and fresh perspective for me. However, driving in the mountains was not nearly as nice. Ha. I am a little scared of high places, so looking down cliffs like that really made me nauseous. Maybe mountains don’t make Taiwan unique, but they are the first real mountains that I ever experienced and that will always be a memory I carry of Taiwan wherever my life takes me.
Q: If you could teach any subject, what would you teach and why?
A: Well, I studied English literature and language at university, so teaching English is very much what I wanted to do. Writing, especially, is something I adore. But if I had to teach anything else, maybe literature or philosophy? When I did my undergraduate studies, I had two majors: English Literature and Philosophy. Teaching literary analysis is something that I would love as well as a basic philosophy course.
Q: What advice would you give to students who, despite having reasonably high reading skills, can’t be motivated to read classic literature?
A: That’s a really interesting question. I’ll admit that I didn’t read the canon of English literature (That’s another term for classic literature) for a long time either. When I was young, I only read fantasy fiction and sci-fi. I thought things like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer were boring. Things that my teachers forced me to read and my mom told me were good. Heh. As I got older though, I found out what I was missing when I read things like Lord of the Flies, Letters From Earth, and The Hobbit. When I started at university and had to read stuff by William Shakespeare, Robert Frost, and Toni Morrison, I found the classics to be more than old books written by dead white men. They were complex and powerful. Now, there were definitely still things in the canon that I hated. Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur still makes me cry because it is so boring. But there are far more things that are wonderful and fun if you are willing to give them a chance. So, let’s find something that interests you and start from there, shall we?
Q: What advice would you give to a new teacher who has just come to Taiwan from abroad to teach?
A: Oh, that’s easy. Get ready to adapt on the fly. At some levels, kids will be kids everywhere in the world, sure. But kids at your school are different from other kids in Taiwan and Taiwanese kids are different from kids in Japan, or China, or the U.S.A. Additionally, you will be learning to live in a very different country. So, stress is going to be part of your life for a while. So, find a place that serves your favorite food and don’t be afraid to go there often. For me, it was tacos. My first year here, after I found a Mexican restaurant in Taipei, I ate tacos every weekend. It allowed me to relax and stay sane as I adapted to a new school, how the kids were different, and adapted to Taiwan as well. If not food, then a hobby. Find something that de-stresses you.
Many thanks to Nathan for taking the time to answer these questions. Come schedule an appointment to meet with all of our amazing staff and have a tour of the campus, we would love to meet you!