7. (a new) beginning

It’s the last day of MSCE!! But it’s not really the end; it is a new beginning in many ways. However, this is indeed my last blog-post for MSCE, so I will plainly lay out my observations and reflections.

Today, we had a stacked TA lineup for the Morning Manna sessions: Anne, Joyce, and Rebecca. Their stories were parallel to the rest of the day: rich, eventful, and deeply emotional.

During the presentations, Dr. Jimmy encouraged these aspiring physicians and nurses to consider international volunteering in places that are mostly poverty-stricken and that lack healthcare equity. Elton and Julianna presented on Asian American Stereotypes as well as the main differences between the Taiwanese students and Asian American students.

Today, the mealtimes were very interesting. For lunch, we the TA’s sat with groups other than our own and conversed with them. For dinner, our group had “Chinese Hour,” which meant that no one could speak English for an hour, and the Americans felt the mental blockage of trying to translate every thought into another language before speaking!! We empathized with the students in this way. Some students thought that this was the best moment of the camp.

Between lunch and dinner, we competed in an INTENSE escape room game designed by the students. It was very creative and challenging! There were so many fun games and challenges to conquer. To me, this game was the the essence of this whole week—the students poured in so much hard work for the enjoyment and learning of everyone in the camp.

The farewell party was very touching, and we nominated the MSCE Commanders for next year (a renewal of sorts). We really created so many great memories throughout the week. We love you all!!!

May this conclusion be a testament to the Lord’s goodness and overwhelming love, through which He gives us every good thing. May it also serve as a call to action for us to forge our own personal friendships outside the structured confines of MSCE. It’s time to celebrate and face this new beginning together!

6. cruising

By today, we were very used to the schedule and were just cruising along.

In the morning Bible study, we talked about Jesus’ healing, which was suitable at this medically related camp. Following, the Morning Manna featured Charlotte and Julianna. Since we were more familiar with each other through the camp days, the Taiwanese students were willing to ask many question, whereas they had refused previously.

Today, we delved into many deeper, more technical topics in our lectures and presentations. Joyce and Luke presented on Type I and Type II, respectively, while James presented on ALDH2 deficiency in some 50% of the Taiwanese population, which causes “Asian flush” when they drink alcohol. (We also learned that those with asian flush are more susceptible to cancer from drinking alcohol). Beau (that’s me!) presented on Artificial Intelligence, while a visiting professor taught all about oral hygiene and our health.

After this, Charlotte and Rebecca led a language activity: Madlib skits! The skit scrips were Madlibs, and the groups that performed made them extraordinarily hilarious!

The Taiwanese workshop presenters were very smooth and prepared. Just cruising. Their topics were relevant and interesting, including Self-Researched/Guided Tours, Studying Abroad, and International Volunteering, etc.

Then we went to the Baisha Bay Beach!!!

Some of the beach activities included wading, playing ultimate frisbee, chilling, and dumping fellow students and TA into the ocean.

We came back to eat dinner, before our evening activities.

Competing through eating contests, post-it note blow/shake offs (shown above), bottle/can knockdowns with a ball-in-a-sock (shown above), and a myriad of other mini-challenges, the student organizers crowned one of the group as the campion for the night, and they were given priority to choose the midnight snack first.

Tomorrow is the last day! We’ll miss everyone, but we’re excited for every moment!

5. cooking

Good morning, everybody! On this day, we had a variation from the normal routine.

Students and faculty all got to have an extra hour of sleep today as we did not have Bible study in the morning. Instead, we all met up for breakfast in the Student Cafeteria at 8:30 am to announce the day’s activity: a cooking contest! 

Each team was given their recipe and shopping list to follow for the day while we munched on our breakfast sandwiches and sipped cups of tea. The recipes were as followed: 

  • Team 1: Banana coated with chocolate 巧克力香蕉 and brown sugar bubble tea 黑糖珍珠紅茶 
  • Team 2: Fried pork 炸豬排 and fried shrimp with pineapple 鳳梨蝦球
  • Team 3: Baked egg with basil 九層塔烘蛋 and traditional shrimp omelet 古早味蝦仁煎
  • Team 4: Dried tofu with green onion 蔥燒豆腐 and fried cabbage with tomato 番茄炒高麗
  • Team 5: Steamed white rice and barbecue sauce fried rice with pork 沙茶豬肉蛋炒飯
  • Team 6: Tofu fried with soy sauce and basil 三杯百頁豆腐 and spicy chicken 辣味雞胸

Each team headed to Sanzhi Market afterwards to purchase their supplies, then were given free time until lunch time. After lunch, the teams began to prepare their dishes. 

At 5 pm, we finally finished and laid out all of our creations on the table. Each team played a game of rock, paper, scissors to see who could eat first. What a feast! Thank God for the food and the fellowship. 

When dinner was over, we cleaned up the cafeteria and then headed over to the Gym for a special Praise Night. There were worship songs and performances from both the Taiwanese students and the American team, as well as testimonial sharing from TA’s Hannah and Beau. 

It was truly a joyous and touching night to be able to worship and sing together. A few recaps and bits of information were shared regarding the last few days of camp, and we were treated with surprise milk tea and passion fruit tea drinks after. 

Hopefully everybody was able to take a nice break today with this shift into a day of more freely structured schedule. As the camp is nearing to its close, we hope that everybody is having a good time and making lasting connections. Have a good night! 

~Contributed by Fellow TA Rebecca Wu

4. adventuring

We started off the day by watching a short skit performed by our TAs, as they introduced the lesson of the day. The students read the parable of the prodigal son, learning about our father God’s relentless pursuit of our sinful hearts. We came to the conclusion that God’s love is so steadfast that it almost seems irrational, igniting some insightful and meaningful discussion within our groups.

After the Bible study, we enjoyed our delicious breakfast: steamed buns with soymilk. As we ate, we listened to Elton’s and Camille’s testimonies; it was so encouraging and inspiring to learn how God has been moving in each of their lives!

We then transitioned into the TA presentations, where we went over some interesting topics. Esther and Charlotte presented about dating in America, introducing the Taiwanese students to the dating culture in the States– I was personally surprised that many of the students had not heard about prom before because they do not have a similar event in Taiwan schools! Lucia also presented about an engaging topic: college life in America. It was really interesting to learn about the differences between college life in America with that in Taiwan, and I hope that the Taiwanese students were able to gain some insight into how we live our everyday lives as American college students!

After the presentations, we ate our lunch and headed off on a 1.5 hour drive to Jiufen. It was quite a trek up the mountain of stairs to reach the old streets of Jiufen, but the view was so worth it. In addition to having a beautiful view of the city, the streets of Jiufen are lined with shops and restaurants selling various foods and souvenirs. Each group went their separate ways, but I’m sure all of them were able to enjoy the amazing things that Jiufen has to offer. Our group was able to buy some souvenirs and a lot of food—taro drinks, peanut ice cream rolls, boba tea, noodles, and more! Ooh and the Taiwanese students took us to a shop that is known for their taro balls, and I definitely see why it’s so famous!! 

After a few hours in Jiufen, we took a bus to go to Keelung Night Market. Various shops and Taiwanese food stands lined the bustling streets of the night market—there was so much food that it was difficult to choose what to eat!! Our group got fried chicken, corn, lemon aiyu, sashimi from the nearby fish market, and more—yum! With our stomachs full and legs tired from walking in the heat, we excitingly hopped onto the bus to go back to MacKay, completely satisfied with today’s fun events. We’re looking forward to what tomorrow will bring ☺

~Contributed by Fellow TA Monica Wen

3. acquainting

After trying to figure out the schedule and campus yesterday, we got to know the students better through today’s various activities!

Even in the early morning, the students responded well to deep questions on morality and ethical values. Perhaps equally thought-provoking was a sciency video on how sin (brown water in a cup) muddies humanity (clear liquid in a cup), but that Christ (also clear liquid in a cup) purifies humanity when poured into it. A teaser for the gospel…

Through Morning Manna, we were acquainted to Monica’s and Lucia’s life stories, in which we could see God’s transformation and guidance.

Then were informative lectures on charitable giving in the US and the abortion debate. During the highly-participative group discussion, we found that the students all really valued charity work, and some even spoke of their hopes to join Doctors Without Borders in the future! Somehow, it was very fulfilling to hear about their international altruistic aspirations while on a similar trip myself. This was true connection.

Together, Esther and Monica led a fun language activity in which each of the six student groups acted out an assigned English idiom. We enjoyed quite a few good laughs together, all while learning the figurative meanings of the idioms; this was indeed “killing two birds with one stone!”

After a satisfying lunch, we enjoyed a comprehensive presentation by Dan, Ezra, and Isdras, students from the National Defense Medical Center (NDMC). In a single go, these comrades taught us the long history of the NDMC (from since the Qing Dynasty), how to perform a mass casualty triage, and techniques for stabilizing a patient during trauma diagnosis. Additionally, they led us through the trial version of a 12-stage National Military Exercise group workout session

With the echoes of the military drill still ringing in our heads (“one, two, three, four,…, two, two, three, four,…, three, two, three, four,… “), we engaged in combat—Family Feud, American culture edition, led by Lucia and Camille. Then we had a time of group discussion, where we made suggestions on how to practice civility at MSCE. It seems that each activity helps build our group confidence and helps us learn more about each other.

We also learned about Mongolian Culture through a special presentation by Gua, a Mongolian exchange student. We could have searched up facts about Mongolia ourselves, but her presentation brought it to life.

Our day of acquaintanceship ended on a high note. Some Taiwanese students taught us dance moves in their Dance Workshop session. Tonight, we opened up to each other through dance, “the hidden language of our souls.” Seeing their struggling and then rocking the moves together, I already know that tomorrow will be loaded with great memories and experiences, as we embark on a great field trip together!

2. beginning

We had a day jam-packed with learning and fun at Mackay Medical College!

The day started off with a Bible study, where Elton, Hannah, and Joyce led us through verses and discussions about the validity of the Bible. Students were also introduced to our God, the Creator of the universe who loves us very much. We pray that we will be able to share this love as we continue to interact with these students each day. 

While we ate breakfast, Luke and Esther gave their testimonies in a time called the “Morning Manna.” Their sharing illuminated the ways God has been actively involved in their lives, calling them to Himself and revealing His will to them as they navigated life’s circumstances. It was so encouraging to hear God’s sovereign hand at work in these TA’s lives :) 

After Morning Manna, we spent the rest of the morning in the conference room learning about acupuncture, the benefits of travelling, manners, and clouds from Taiwanese students and faculty. We even got the opportunity to practice acupuncture on ourselves, a very thrilling and scary but team bonding event. 

We filled our brains with new knowledge, so we took a break and filled our stomachs with delicious Taiwanese 便當. With new energy, we returned to the conference room, where it was the American faculty and TA’s turns to present. We learned about civility, social media addiction, and introversion/extroversion, all very important and relevant topics for our daily lives. We then attended various workshops, where Taiwanese students gave short presentations on topics such as insomnia, long-term care, mobile payment, brands, international volunteering, and cartoons. What a truly cross-cultural exchange of knowledge!

We were told to return after dinner wearing running shoes and clothes we can easily move around in. It turns out, we played the “Nametag Ripping Battle” game in the evening, where the students and TAs were split into two teams and tried to steal the color papers (the nametags) stuck on our backs. We definitely bonded while running around the halls of the university and battling the other team. 

As I look around the room, I can see students and TAs, and faculty, bonding with each other. Please pray that we will continue to build meaningful relationships that the Lord will use to plant the seeds of the gospel. Looking forward to many more days of learning and fun! Until then~

~Contributed by Fellow TA Anne Hsia

1. calling

Our Medical Students Cultural Exchange Program shot off to a great start! This daily blog will share the highlights of our weeklong immersion program as we make new friends and follow our calling at Mackay Medical College.

Fittingly, we started out today with Sunday worship at a local church in Tamsui (a bus-ride away from our campus). Even more fittingly, the message was on the calling of God’s people, and our response to him. Our American TA’s are not here by pure chance, but are here by following His guidance.

After the service, we learned about the missionary George Mackay through a tour of relevant historical buildings, including his first clinic and his first academy. He was one called by God in childhood and followed through with it his whole life. It was true dedication. We learned that, in his dental/medical missionary career, he pulled 21,000 rotten teeth!

On the bus-ride back, every TA utilized this time as fellowship and bonding time through conversation. We arrived back on campus just in time to hail in the first bus of Taiwanese participants.

Meeting our the students in our group for the first time was exciting! Over a dinner of Xiao long bao, spicy beef noodles, or traditional Chinese Cuisine (chosen by lottery!), we got to know our group. It seems like we’ll all get along fine speaking only English.

Then immediately upon our return from our icebreaker dinner, we were tasked with a challenge—to design the best sky lantern decoration using only a Chinese red envelope and tools, trinkets, and tassels.

The few hours we’ve had with our students have been great so far, and that makes me look forward to this week even more!! May we continue responding to this rich calling throughout the week.