Houjia Junior High School: Tainan

Houjia Junior High School: Tainan

On my recent vis­it to Tai­wan, I had the hon­our of vis­it­ing Hou­jia Junior High School in Tainan as a guest of my friend Yi-Hsiang, a high school Eng­lish teacher. I had a won­der­ful time meet­ing Yi-Hsiang’s stu­dents to dis­cuss Empire of the Waves, fan­ta­sy lit­er­a­ture, cre­ative writ­ing and — of course — Aus­tralia. For most stu­dents, the first thing that came to mind when they thought of Aus­tralia was Find­ing Nemo and the Great Bar­ri­er Reef. Anoth­er reminder of our respon­si­bil­i­ty to care for Aus­trali­a’s waters and aquat­ic life. The world is watching.

The stu­dents loved talk­ing about sea mon­sters and pirates and were excit­ed to learn about the fan­ta­sy world of my nov­el and to sug­gest new ideas of their own. Tai­wan, of course, has its own sto­ried his­to­ry with pirates and its own cher­ished myths and leg­ends of the deep. There is a shrine to the great naval hero Zheng Cheng­gong (Koxin­ga) in Tainan and his life is com­mem­o­rat­ed through­out the city. 

The stu­dents were eager to prac­tice their Eng­lish and keen to talk about their own writ­ing projects. There were many book lovers in that class­room and more than a few future lit­er­ary stars. At the end of the event the stu­dents pre­sent­ed me with a Hou­jia Junior High School jer­sey and a beau­ti­ful card full of messages.

Tainan is one of the loveli­est places in Tai­wan, rich in cul­tur­al and culi­nary trea­sures … and a great place to dis­cuss Empire of the Waves. I look for­ward to vis­it­ing again, espe­cial­ly to see my new friends at Hou­jia Junior High School. 

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