1. Description of Our Community
Our school is located in Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan. Though our school is located in Taipei, our community stretches the whole of Taiwan as, although some other traditions and customs might differ between the northern and southern parts of Taiwan, the traditional Taiwanese wedding customs are still the same throughout the island-state.
When people mention the name Taiwan, the first thing that comes to mind is either cheap toys from the 80’s or high-tech gadgets currently. True, Taiwan is a technology giant and one might be forgiven to think that that is all there is to Taiwan – a “technology island”. However, after a traveler arrives in Taiwan, he or she will discover that this island nurtures a wide array of tourism and ecological resources, a diversity of traditional folk customs, a rich culture, modern arts, and fantastic food. In short, they discover that Taiwan is “beyond their expectations.”
Taiwan is the repository of true Chinese culture; its National Palace Museum is listed as one of the five top museums in the world; it has once the world’s tallest certified building in Taipei 101; and it has the highest mountain in Northeast Asia, Yushan or Jade Mountain. We also have some of the friendliest people in the world, 24-hour bookstores and convenience shops, and bustling night markets—all of which imprint indelible memories in the minds of visitors. And also the year-long series of exciting Taiwanese traditional festivals such as the Lantern Festival, the Mazu (Goddess of the Sea) Culture Festival, Ghost Festival, aborigine harvest festivals, and countless others.
2. Summary of Our Project
Many of us know of some customs for the newly-weds to follow at a wedding ceremony. You may have attended a wedding ceremony, but do you actually understand the values and meanings behind all of the traditional customs that may not even be known by the elders? If so, why are such traditional customs still in practice these days? Even in such culturally and geographically diverse place as Taiwan with different dialects in the Southern and Northern part of Taiwan, these customs do not differ greatly.
When our homeroom teacher, was preparing for her wedding, she often shared the knowledge of traditional wedding customs with us. We enjoyed the subject so much that became so intrigued and would like to know more details. Therefore, we decided to probe into the subject.
On November 19, 2011, our team attended our homeroom teacher’s wedding. Our teacher and her husband decided to have the engagement ceremony and wedding ceremony on the same day. Therefore, luckily, we were able to attend both ceremonies from the beginning to the end to transform our knowledge on “getting married” into actual personal experience. We witnessed every perspective of each traditional custom and we felt we were becoming as knowledgeable in this field as these experienced matchmakers.
Wedding is an event that almost everyone would experience or participate in at least once in his or her life. Hopefully, through this International Schools CyberFair project, people who are going to get married will not simply follow matchmakers’ wedding instructions but actually understand that all these traditions they insist to follow are a form of blessing and the complicated ceremony is, in fact, a sweet burden.
3. Our Computer and Internet Access
A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%
B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:more than 6
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6
E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):
We worked on the International CyberFair project in the computer science lab at school most of the time. Some team members have even spent extra hours revising and editing the content of our project by using laptops at home. Each of the team members took charge of a different part of the project. We sometimes worked individually on the assigned work, and sometimes we had group discussions for more inspiration and creativity. Moreover, whenever our team met obstacles, we united to find the solutions. We felt very surprised that our diverse ideas did not cause a lot of conflicts; instead, they produced more ideas and originality. Therefore, our project was getting more and more splendid.
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
1. Film Shot Techniques: It was our first time to shoot a film, and we had no knowledge of the film-shooting skills needed, such as the angle of the lens, sound capture, and many other basic background knowledge before we actually started. However, we had no room for failure. Therefore, we paid great attention to every bit of detail. We even brought three cameras in a case, for both shooting the film and taking photographs.
2. Communication skills: The matchmakers we interviewed were very experienced elders who speak Taiwanese only, which is very different from the Mandarin Chinese we usually use. Therefore, we did our best explain our questions as thoroughly as possible and also did quite a bit brainstorming while trying to figure out what they said. However, it was a very interesting experience, especially since these matchmakers are so hospitable and easy to get along with.
3. Language: English is not our mother tongue, and there are also many special terms related to traditional Taiwanese customs which are not easy to translate; therefore we faced a great difficulty in translating our project content from Chinese to English. Besides getting help from our teachers, we also had to seek for professional help from a translation company for more accurate interpretation.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
Our participation in International Schools CyberFair has helped us learn more about our own culture and also to spread this knowledge to our local community. By engaging in the International Schools CyberFair, we can ensure the future of our culture through the education of our peers.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
Our school is a vocational high school and as such is especially focused on practical subjects. Our activities and research for the International Schools CyberFair project coincided with two subjects and really integrated well to compliment each of them to the fullest extent.
The first subject is our Data Entry and Analysis class. In this subject we learn to use a plethora of different computer-based tools to do data entry and analysis and more, the tools include among others – Microsoft Office programs, Flash, and more. By developing the project into a website, we had the opportunity to spend countless hours in the computer lab working on the computer and improving our computer skills. All in all, we believe that this project really opened our minds to the possibilities of what we can really achieve when we combine what we learn in class with a bit of creativity and diligence.
The second subject that coincided with the project was Project Development class. We had to make a presentation that illustrated the traditional Taiwanese wedding in Chinese. Our research paid off well here as we could merely apply what we had already learned and compile it into a presentation, which we must admit, was a great success.
Apart from the integration with our school coursework, our project also induced us to work together as a team and to develop other needed skills we had not previously mastered, such as in-depth web development and website statistics analysis.
While working on the project, we realized how valuable and practical our coursework was. By having to overcome many an obstacle ourselves, with the light guidance of our mentors of course, we learned to teach ourselves. This, we believe, is probably the most valuable lesson we have learned regarding teaching and learning online.