- Attending Taichung Girls High School classes and seeing the discipline and dedication of those students
- Visiting famous landmarks and attractions
- Seeing Taipei Tower, the third tallest building on earth
- Visiting the Taiwan National Art Museum
- Seeing the national aquarium
- Visiting Sun Moon Lake
- Seeing Taiwanese aboriginal villages
- Snorkeling in a tropical reef
- Visiting Lu Kang historical village
- Seeing the Chung Tai Shan Buddhist monastery
- Visiting Yamay Water Park
- Learning about the history of Taiwan
- Experiencing the warmth, generosity and kindness of the Taiwanese people
The students said what impressed them the most about Taiwan was the respect people showed to one another and the pride they had for their surroundings.
“The people were really nice and they always greeted each other,” Crisp said. “They were respectful. People here are more into themselves.”
Smith noted that the students at the sister school took so much pride and ownership in their school that it had no janitors. The students clean their own school.
“They make it their responsibility because they want their education more (than American students),” Shore said.
Cross agreed. “School ends at 2:40 here, but it doesn’t end until 5 there. Here, some are just waiting for school to be over and it’s disruptive to others.”
Crisp observed of the Taiwanese students, “They wore their school uniforms with pride. They didn’t want to do anything that would disrespect their school or the student body.
“I wish we could show that kind of pride in our country,” she added.
Shore said, “The whole experience has opened my mind to different cultures and so many things.
“The want to learn and to prosper, it’s made me want to work harder.”
At the end of the trip, Smith collected the memory cards from the students’ cameras and downloaded all the photos they took — 4,900 of them — onto 10 flash drives that he presented to each student as a gift from him.
Smith said his favorite part of the trip was watching the students experience bridging cultural divides, and he hopes the students will share their experiences with their peers.
“I remember the first time I forcefully realized that other cultures had an immense amount to teach me about humanity. It was, and continues to be, among the most treasured lessons of my life,” he said.
“Watching our students have this realization and grow as global citizens was incredible,” he added. “I suspect that the focus and direction of several lives were substantially changed because of the experience.”
Smith currently is planning a more traditional 10-day trip to Italy and Greece for DHS students in the spring.