This morning I went with my coworker to a new building wing dedication and the 90th anniversary celebration of the local elementary school.We were served popcorn and water immediately upon sitting down by the attentive and courteous students.
The local notary and his wife, whom we often visit in their home, and who have a burden to preserve traditional Taiwanese high cultural heritage, easily spent a month of their personal time making masks one by one by hand for the children to wear and dance in. They did a great job!
Prior to the kids dancing, the notary public and his fellow adult dancers donned their costumes and danced in front of and through the new building. Is this just cultural appreciation, or is there perhaps something more? Below, the principal thanks the notary for all of his diligent work.
Schools are officially neutral “secular” institutions here in Taiwan. However, temples are central to the society in the countryside. Therefore, early into the building dedication, all the dignitaries were invited to step out from the tent and get in a long line in order to lift up incense sticks to the gods. You can see them behind the tent below:
Offerings were also put on the table for the gods/ancestors to enjoy:
Later the next hour, during the 90th birthday celebration, the school principal introduced all the other invited guests who were asked to sit on the platform, including us. Others were introduced according to their organizations and positions as stated on the invitations and sign-up lists. When we were introduced it was simply as “our American friends. ”
I am looking forward to meeting the new principal when he arrives to begin his or her job at the school this summer, and to the summer camp we will do for the students there. A friendly acquaintance of ours who is a dean at the school is helping us to arrange it.