Taipei American School | 800 Chung Shan North Road, Section 6, Taipei, Taiwan | blueandgoldonline.org | VOLUME XXIV, ISS. 03 | December 5, 2017
Fitness Cafe closes for Tech Cube construction By Shereen Lee (‘19) and Coco Lee ( ‘19)
Student favorites from the Fitness Cafe (from left to right): Fitness Cafe’s Mocha Smoothie, Lean Beef Pasta, Berry Banana Smoothie, Chicken and Rice, Chicken and Cheese Wrap, and Apple Tango Smoothie. [KEVIN LEE/THE BLUE & GOLD]
At the end of this semester, Taipei American School will close the Fitness Cafe to make way for a new indoor hallway connecting the Upper School Information Commons to the new Tech Cube building. The hallway will look and function similar to the Skybridge currently connecting the B Block and D Block buildings. However, the Cafe might reopen to continue serving TAS students. “If the school wants us to come back, we will come back,” says Fitness Cafe owner and server Kevin Tung. Upper School principal Dr. Richard Hartzell confirms that TAS will likely welcome back the Fitness Cafe in the near future. “Once the connection to B Block is complete, I expect the Fitness Cafe to re-open on the same patio,” he says. “My guess is January 2019.” Meanwhile, Mr. Tung and others working at the Fitness Cafe will move to other branches of the Fitness Cafe around Taipei, from hotels to gyms. The Fitness Cafe is actually an independent company, working with
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Italian ice cream and gelato business DiiTO Gelato to provide food services for organizations. After the Fitness Cafe closes, the school plans
During that time, it has served Upper School students, faculty, and staff. Many signature meals at the Cafe are part of its “secret menu”: udon
A visualization of the Tech Cube shows the building connected to the rest of B Block. [MR. STEVE PANTA FOR THE BLUE & GOLD]
to continue providing DiiTO Gelato’s services in the Snack Bar. The Cafe has been in operation for ten years, serving as a popular area for those in need of an open space to study.
noodles in place of pasta, cheese wraps, curry, and tomato sauce, among other items. In a Blue & Gold survey of 224 respondents, over 40 percent of the students’ favorite meals were not listed
on the regular menu. Its location right next to USIC makes it a convenient option for students who look to get work done during school hours. A Blue & Gold survey saw 44 students cite its convenience and proximity to the library as its most attractive feature. “As a middle schooler, I wanted to be in the Upper School just so I could use the Fitness Cafe,” says Catherine Lien (‘19). “It’s been a big part of the school, and I’ll miss it. I always go there to de-stress because it has the nicest smoothies and noodles.” According to the survey, other popular features of the cafe include their “friendly staff,” “delicious food,” and its location “in the outdoors.” “I’m disappointed that such a pleasant eatery will be shutting down,” says English teacher Ms. Leslie Abernethy. “There’s no other other place for food in TAS, and it’s nice to try something different once in awhile.” Be sure to visit the Fitness Cafe for a last meal before it closes in December.
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Frolic gets jazzy By Barron Tsai (‘19) This year, the Taipei American School Student Government hopes to take Frolic to new heights. Frolic will be held at the Taipei Marriott Hotel, Neihu Branch, on Dec. 17 from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale for $1800 NT. The biggest change to Frolic this year is the new venue. According to Nicole, “Many upperclassmen no longer want to attend Frolic because it is always at the same place.” Taking into account student feedback, this year’s Frolic will be the first TAS dance held at the Taipei Marriott Hotel, Neihu Branch. Nicole says, “[The new venue has a] gorgeous layout, golden walls, high ceilings, [and] chandeliers. [Furthermore, there will be] delicious food with vegetarian options available.” In another shift away from tradition, StuGov also chose a theme that is less structured than previous themes. This year’s Frolic theme will be “After Hours,” creating a classy, jazzy, smooth, late-night atmosphere complete with dimmed lights. Nicole believes that “After Hours” shifts away from more specific past themes, such as Vegas, The Pier, and the Oscars, to a general theme, while creating a new, more mature feel. Building on the new theme, StuGov will also be looking to diversify the scope of student performances at Frolic this year, hoping to showcase a greater variety of exciting student talents. Nicole says, “It’s not just singing and dancing, we’re also open to magic shows, rapping, skits, [and more]. [Our goal is to encourage] students to showcase their talents in a venue just as impressive as their skills.” StuGov has also increased the amount of student activities compared to previous years. The blackjack tables, photo booths, and superlatives at Frolic last year all received favorable reviews from students. While bringing these popular activities back, StuGov also plans to add special drink mixing tables, raffle tickets, glow sticks, and more table games. In addition, StuGov will make a pair of instant photo booths available this year, a feature that had previously been restricted to Prom. Students will be able to take home instant photo print-outs. “This year, we really wanted to rethink the Frolic experience and hopefully increase student attendance. It’s not just a dinner and a dance. We want students to always have something to do,” Nicole says. Whether students will walk away eager to come next year is yet to be determined, but if nothing else, StuGov hopes that these changes will render Frolic a truly memorable night After Hours.
the blue & gold december 5, 2017
Model United Nations students represent their countries and TAS at three November conferences abroad. By Kelly Phil (‘20)
Clockwise from left: IASAS MUN student Henri Reyes (‘21) works with other delegates at the conference; BERMUN students Shin-Yi Chu (‘19), Iris Huang (‘19), Charlotte Chou (‘19), and Cindy Li (‘20) sightsee in Berlin; MUNOFS student Erica Chiang (‘21) listens to a speech during debate. [MR. DANTE BENSON, MS. HYE RYOUNG RHEE, AND ANDREW XU FOR THE BLUE & GOLD]
IASAS MUN Thailand
MUN at the International Association of Southeast Asian Schools this year was hosted by the International School of Bangkok from Nov. 9-11. With 10 different committees, including the Arab League, Historical Joint Crisis Committee, and the Security Council, the conference introduced political and social issues around the world to be discussed. Janice Yang (‘18), head chair for Security Council, talked specifically about the Security Council topics, saying,
“I became familiarized with topics such as the situation in Venezuela and South Sudan.” In addition to the topics, Janice says that the conference also introduced a different format to the usual debating style. She says, “We also pioneered a new way of making debates more entertaining, where delegates can call in ‘witnesses’ who take on a specific persona related to the topic and provide a firstperson perspective to support a specific stance on the resolution.”
From Nov. 15-18, students attended the Berlin Model United Nations Conference hosted by the John F. Kennedy School Berlin. Andrew Xu (‘20) thought that BERMUN was a great learning experience for him. He says, “I learned at BERMUN to consider all the perspectives of a problem and to aim to address all its aspects, or at least if impossible, not just focus on a solution that will only achieve success for a small part.” He continues that the conference was also a great
opportunity for him to connect with the juniors who went on the trip. He says, “I didn’t know them quite well, but now I do.” BERMUN also puts an emphasis on environmental friendliness. Cindy Li (‘20) says, “I feel like environment is one of their main focuses, since even though this year the conference theme is concerning women’s empowerment, they still are really aware of environmental preservation in each of the topics discussed.”
MUNOFS Singapore From Nov. 3-5, TAS MUN students attended the MUN conference at Overseas Family School in Singapore. Mary Kim (‘18), a chair for the General Assembly, believes that the conference was an eye-opening opportunity for the students who went. “There were kids as young as 10 years old with more experience in MUN than any other students, and there were kids stepping into their MUN career through MUNOFS,” she says.
Since many international schools in Asia attend the same events, Brian Lain (‘21) was able to reunite with delegates from previous conferences. “One of them came up to me and said, ‘Brian, thanks for helping me at TASMUN 2016 with my amendment!’” he says. The moment helped Brian realize the impact of his dedication to to helping less confident students, a practice the TAS training program traditionally emphasizes.
HUMANS OF MODEL UNITED NATIONS By Catherine Lin (‘19) and Shereen Lee (‘19)
“This trip was my first high school conference. In my committee at MUNOFS, we discussed whether we should add ‘but not limited to’ after every ‘such as’ to a resolution, a document that lists solutions to a global issue. The debate also intensified when we debated on whether internet access is necessary to eradicate extreme poverty.” —Derek Chan (‘21)
“A delegate repeatedly preached on the floor to destroy the veto power five countries enjoy in the committee, which means that no solution can pass without their support. Dr. Soublet was present, and she actually laughed. But when she found out we spent two hours debating this idea, her laughter turned sarcastic.” —Jaden Yuen (‘20)
“One thing I like about MUN is that even though the world is a giant mess filled with pain, war, diseases, genocide, sexism, racism, and so forth, MUN tells us that if we work together, maybe someday the struggles we face will be resolved. We’re going to make a difference, we’re going to make the world a better place.” —Shawn Kao (‘20)
the blue & gold december 5, 2017
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
#WriteForRights: changing lives with the written word By Alex Huang (‘18) Every year, hundreds of Taipei American School students join Write for Rights, Amnesty International’s global campaign to write letters to governments to make the case on behalf of the prisoners of conscience and the wrongfully convicted. But after that, most of us are left wondering whether the letter we wrote actually mattered. Or whether it was even sent in the first place. These concerns are understandable — after all, few of us even use physical mail these days. But the reality on the ground is, letters and petitions save lives. And not just in far away countries either— just weeks ago, your letters helped exonerate a death row inmate wrongfully imprisoned right here in Taichung. We all know too well the quirks and peculiarities of living in Taiwan: bubble tea, humid weather, and foul-smelling tofu. But police torture and death
TAS students take part in Write for Rights 2015. [ALEX HUANG FOR THE BLUE & GOLD] row inmates probably did not make your list. In 2002, Cheng Hsing-tse, then only 34 years old, was sentenced to death in Taichung for murder, based on a confession he provided after allegedly being tortured by the police. There was no other credible evidence. Despite continuing to deny his involvement in the murder, Cheng’s conviction was upheld in later appeals, and his limited
options were soon exhausted. In 2012, Amnesty International launched a global letterwriting campaign for Cheng, demanding his conviction be overturned or his death sentence commuted. At the urging of human rights organizations and their supporters, a Taichung prosecutor reopened the case in 2016, applying for an unprecedented retrial
Why you should watch your words By Catherine Lin (‘19) Last month, I disagreed with a friend about someone else’s joke. I pointed out the joke’s transphobic implications, which were indirect, but immediately obvious to me. She argued that people do not always express themselves perfectly, and that there is no point in getting offended over a subtle connection to transphobia that I did not have to insist upon seeing in the first place. She said, “That’s kind of a sad way of looking at things. You’d get triggered by so much stuff.” “Using the word ‘triggered’ itself casually has problematic implications, though,” I said. “It comes from trigger warnings for rape victims.” “I give up,” she said. “It’s too hard for people to talk.” My friend opposes racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression, but she balks at the idea of constantly policing her speech habits for the sake of perfect political correctness. While I understand that doing so can be exasperating, I still think that trying is important. As privileged individuals, we have the responsibility to be careful not to reinforce the oppressive culture from which
we benefit. We might not understand fully why some words are deeply wounding to certain groups because our perspective is limited by our social positions, but mere convenience should not dictate our own choice of words. Rather, we need to consider and interrogate the underlying assumptions and implications behind the words we use.
As individuals, we shape the dominant culture each time we speak or write. Being perfect is so difficult because the legacy of oppression pervades our language. Words reflect culture: to “mother” a child means to take care of one, while to “father” a child means to conceive one, indicating sexist social norms regarding the roles of mothers and fathers. Another example is the word “triggered,” which comes from the term “trigger warnings,” labels that warn viewers of content that may set off post-traumatic stress responses, such as content related to eating disorders, rape, self-harm. Using “triggered”
colloquially or humorously to refer to people who are merely offended or annoyed demeans the legitimate needs of people who benefit from trigger warnings. It also encourages a culture that dismisses the trauma they have experienced. As individuals, we shape the dominant culture each time we speak or write. This logic is not limited to just using individual words. It applies when you abstain from objecting to a racist joke because “it is just a joke.” You send the message that racism is sometimes okay, and validating those who hold racist beliefs. The cultural norms we perpetuate can hurt real people because intolerant physical violence ultimately originates in a mentality that condones the devaluation of marginalized groups. I am and have been an agent of oppression for every single moment of my life. But my words are something that I can easily control to make my immediate surroundings for better. A word or a joke may seem inconsequential and not worth nitpicking over, but everything we say contributes to shifting the boundaries of social acceptability. Everything we say matters.
and releasing Cheng from detainment after more than 5,000 days of incarceration. On Oct. 27, 15 years after his arrest, Cheng was exonerated in a decision overturning the guilty verdict. “Yesterday, I was a person with no tomorrow. Today, I begin my life anew,” he said. The truth is, human rights activism can get messy. Some countries are more responsive
than others, and not every letter is read. But in spite of these obstacles, your efforts make a real, undeniable difference: Amnesty International headquarters estimates that approximately one third of your letters changes lives on the ground. Just over the last four years, letters from TAS have directly changed the lives of more than ten prisoners of conscience around the world.
Your voices put human rights on the agenda and help us bring perpetrators to justice. TAS students are English-speaking teenagers in a suburban enclave of foreigners. It is hard to imagine any of us being tortured and coerced into confessing to crimes we did not commit. But human rights atrocities are not far away, and all it takes to stop them is your pen and two minutes of your time. This year, we are writing to support human rights defenders who are at risk for standing up for others. These brave people are just ordinary people with a heart. An LGBTQ+ activist hacked to death, a housing rights activist thrown out of her own home, and so many more activists who need your voice. Now, it is our turn to stand up for them. I invite you to join us and write a letter. Write like someone’s life depends on it. Because it does.
the blue & gold december 5, 2017
Banners from top colleges hang in the College Counseling office. [KEVIN LEE/THE BLUE & GOLD]
College application fees are reasonable
By Kevin Lee (‘18) Many people who write opinion articles love to criticize. Dissatisfied with the status quo, they denounce everything that can be denounced, and call for change. For once, however, I am not criticizing anything in this piece. Instead, while many students argue that college application fees are exorbitantly expensive, I believe that the fees are justified. According to collegeraptor. com, colleges need to hire admissions specialists to read the many applications they receive each year. In 2016, The University of California, Los Angeles received 119,000 applications, which shows why the University of California charges $70 US
per campus. There is only a limited number of admissions specialists reading these apps. Moreover, the application fee also encourages students to carefully decide the colleges they want to apply to. If there were no application fee, prestigious universities like the Ivy League schools would be overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of applications from hopeful students, creating excessive work for their admissions officers. Similarly, high school college counselors and students themselves would suffer, as parents would force their children to apply to dozens of schools. It is also noteworthy that students now have access to Common App, a system where
the college application process is simplified and centralized. The college application fees are still present, however, through Common App, there is an option of requesting a fee waiver if the application fee poses a financial burden. Therefore, this is beneficial to students from lower-income families. For students from higher-income families, on the other hand, a $90 US fee is not considered a significant amount of money, especially compared to tuition fees. According to William Li (‘18), “College application fees are more affordable compared to tuition you will pay for the college to apply to.” All in all, college application fees are justified considering colleges need to
hire admissions officers to read the applications. The fees also alleviate the workloads for students and college counselors. Finally, having access to a fee waiver can reduce costs for lower-income families.
College application fees are justified considering colleges need to hire admission officers to read the applications.
5 COLLEGES WITHOUT APPLICATION FEES 1. UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO (CHICAGO, IL) ACCEPTANCE RATE: 8% 2. WELLESLEY COLLEGE (WELLESLEY, MA) ACCEPTANCE RATE: 21% 3. COLBY COLLEGE (WATERVILLE, ME) ACCEPTANCE RATE: 23% 4. GRINNELL COLLEGE (GRINNELL, IA) ACCEPTANCE RATE: 25% 5. TULANE UNIVERSITY (NEW ORLEANS, LA) ACCEPTANCE RATE: 31%
Beneath the surface of college rankings By Barron Tsai (‘19) When faced with the name of an unknown institution of higher education, Taipei American School students often turn to US News’s Best College rankings or other similar ranking systems to form a snap judgement about said institution. Yet, the US News, QS World, and Shanghai/AWRU college ranking systems all have their own flaws and should by no means be a major factor in college decisions. While these arbitrary rankings offer some indication of a school’s prestige, they do not always guarantee a satisfying college experience for the students who enroll there. Consider the ever-popular US News, which has become near-ubiquitous among TAS
students. The methodology U.S. News uses to create its rankings is seriously flawed. In the Best National Universities category, the “undergraduate academic reputation” criterion, which accounts for 22.5 percent of a university’s eventual US News rank, is obviously problematic. US News derives each university’s undergraduate rank using an amalgamation of academic peer review surveys sent to senior staff in higher education institutions, as well as surveys sent to counselors in public high schools within the United States. Basing evaluations on surveys sent to senior staff is troubling because these important men and women may not have the time to gain an in-depth understanding of rival
institutions. In addition, the surveys sent to counselors have a mere seven percent response rate, a very small sample size that is not necessarily representative. Another questionable criterion is that of “student selectivity,” which accounts for 12.5 percent of a university’s eventual US News rank. US News derives its “student selectivity” rating from the following categories: 65 percent from average admissions test scores, 25 percent from the high school class rank of admitted students, and 10 percent from the college’s admission rate. However, colleges use aggressive email recruiting campaigns to increase applications from students with no realistic chance of being accepted, artificially deflating admissions rates.
US News aside, other popular ranking systems like AWRU/Shanghai, and QS Rankings should all be taken with a grain of salt. For example, the AWRU/ Shanghai Rankings give heavy weight to scientific research prowess, counting such factors as number of Nobel Laureates, number of Fields Medal winners, and research output heavily. By contrast, little emphasis is given to teaching ability of professors or humanities prestige, priorities that students may not agree with. The QS World Rankings are also only useful in certain areas. QS’s description of their methodology, while vague, makes it clear that mass surveys are their preferred method of achieving accuracy. The problem with this method is that, once
again, not everyone is highly informed of rival institutions’ curricula or programs. QS’s official website does not even specify who the “70,000” individuals surveyed are. A cautionary tale that illustrates how easy it is to manipulate this system is that of Northeastern University, which rose from No. 169 in the US News rankings to No. 43 over a period of 17 years. The school did this largely by gaming the acceptance rate and admissions test criteria. Applicants from international high schools were no longer required to submit SAT scores, meaning that the college did not have the generally lower SAT scores from international applicants hurting their averages. These efforts resulted in record-breaking
applications to the college, leading to more rejections and thus a lower acceptance rate, giving the appearance of prestige without an improvement in the quality of education. Perhaps the best solution is to take a compilation of these rankings and choose results based on what your own needs. It would perhaps be wise to also consider TIME’s Money Rankings, which measures the value of a degree against the tuition required. If you are going to be happy at a no-name college that offers relatively weak research opportunities but strong undergraduate teaching, or if you feel like college degrees are too expensive, focus less on the prestige of a name-college and more on the worth of the education you are getting.
the blue & gold december 5, 2017
college Admissions pRocess Whether you are a weathered senior or a fresh-faced freshman, the specter of college admissions can be stressful and draining. Here are some of the people and places that might keep you sane as your hunt for a new home wears on.
keeping up with the college counselors By Anya Lai (‘19)
NANCY CHIEN What is a favorite memory that you have of one of your students? A student from Class of 2014 was able to stalk me on Facebook to find out the name of my husband (then fiance) and put his name all over my office on senior prank day. She also made lots of hearts and “I Love You” signs and posted them all over my desk and chair. It was a pretty hilarious prank. What is the weirdest question a student has ever asked you? When I had my first child, some students asked if they could be my son’s godparents. What do you think students achieve most through college counselling? I think college counseling is a time for students to learn about themselves. It is also a time to be more self-reflective and to figure out who they want and what they like or dislike.
What is a favorite memory that you have of one of your students? Annabel Uhlman (‘18) impressing Dr. Sharon Hennessy by giving her a tour of the National Palace Museum.
What is a favorite memory that you have of one of your students? A former student used to cry during every meeting, but only when she was happy! I would ask how her day was, and she would say, “It’s really good!” with tears in her eyes. It took some getting used to for me.
What is the weirdest question a student has ever asked you? Why aren’t you married? What is something students don’t know about you? I don’t like mushrooms. What is a fun fact about you? I have a huge record collection in the U.S.
What is the weirdest question a student has ever asked you? When deciding between two universities to attend, a former student asked me which of the two gave more favor to legacies so that her future children would have the best chance of getting into the same college. I’m not joking. What is a fun fact about you? A fun fact is I am color-blind, so if I wear something woefully mismatched one day to school, I don’t mind at all if you tell me so that I don’t make the mistake again!
JOHN GURSKY What is a favorite memory that you have of one of your students? Watching every one of my students cross the stage at graduation last year. What is the weirdest question a student has ever asked you? If a college campus has a Subway (the fast food restaurant, not public transportation!) What is something students don’t know about you? I am a huge fan of pop-rock singer P!nk and cannot wait for her new album to be released soon! What is a fun fact about you? I love to cook and own every cookbook of my favorite celebrity chef, Ina Garten.
DABINA GIM What is something students don’t know about you? I attended the Intenational School Manila, where I was a four-year Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools delegate for cello. My love for music is definitely not a secret but something that not even my colleagues know about me is that I used to be a lead singer of a band that my friends and I formed, and we wrote our own songs. What do you think students achieve most through college counselling? Students will grow so much throughout the college counseling process if done right. This is because they will have thought deeply about who they are as students and as individuals in order to figure out what kind of environment they want to be in. What is a fun fact about you? I love listening to hip-hop music but I cannot rap for the life of me.
College meme groups: A new cAmpus tour By Shereen Lee (‘19) Last year, when Harvard University rescinded 10 student admissions offers for their creation of offensive memes in a closed Facebook group, high school students worldwide found out about it from official press outlets. Ashley Lin (‘18), however, heard about the event through another source: a Harvard meme group of her own. As a part of the Facebook group Harvard Memes for Elite 1% Tweens, she was able to access the reactions of Harvard students in real-time. Harvard Memes is one of many “open-access” college Facebook groups that accept requests for membership from students outside the specific college. While the jokes and memes posted there are required to center around the university itself, other students are welcome to join in and get a look into campus culture.
High school students like Ashley have capitalized on these opportunities to get a more unfiltered look into what life at college is really like. “The subjects the memes are about reveals a lot about the issues students care about and what the culture is like,” Ashley says. “Each school also has a different sense of humor too.” Some university students agree that meme groups can help students understand the colleges that they are applying to. George Washington University junior Claude Su (‘15) thinks that meme groups can help elucidate some aspects of college culture at his campus. “Since GW is a unique school in that it lacks traditional school spirit, the things in our meme group represent what school spirit and community actually mean for us as a college,” he says.
Others are more wary of their effectiveness. “I suppose that they are accurate, to some extent,” says Justin Rhee (‘16), now a junior at the University of Pennsylvania. “That said, it’s important to note that most of the memes are written, posted, and reposted by the same 5 percent of people.” Overall, though, Ashley primarily uses these meme groups as another way to enjoy social media, rather than a serious replacement for the conventional college touring process. “I found most of the memes in the meme groups funny, and some funnier than others, but it didn’t really change my preferences,” says Ashley. “I think their most important aspect is that they provide me with humor I can relate to and give me some joy when I’m down.”
what high school students say in college meme groups Comment, Harvard Memes for 1% Tweens:
Ashley Cross joining this group is my application into the school let me know when I get in thanks April 23 at 9:42 a.m.
Comment, Penn Unofficial Official Squirrel-Catching Club:
Nicole Seredenko who is this blond lady on the UPenn meme page, and why does everyone hate her? March 24 at 1:53 a.m.
Post, UC Berkeley Memes for Edgy Tweens:
Aman Jha I got rejected. Does this mean I can’t be in the group anymore? March 31 at 2:22 a.m.
WHERE TO WATCH THE FIREWORKS Xinyi District’s New Year’s Eve celebrations are hard to beat: Taipei 101 boasts one of the best New Year’s celebrations around the world, with over the top fireworks and live music. But beware: the crowd will be huge. With all the traffic, you could be stuck on the streets for longer than you expect. Here are alternative locations to ring in the new year. BY CHARLOTTE LEE ('20)
OVER WINTER BREAK HOLIDAY SEASON IS FAST APPROACHING. HERE ARE SOME ACTIVITIES THAT WILL HELP YOU ENJOY YOUR TIME AWAY FROM SCHOOL.
TIGER MOUNTAIN While Elephant Mountain is a tourist favorite, Tiger Mountain is more of a hidden gem. This hike is about 15-20 minutes and is accessible through the Yongchun MRT station. It is perfect for photos and will most likely be much less crowded.
SONGSHAN CULTURAL PARK
SONGSHAN CULTURAL PARK
This area has plenty of classy restaurants and open space, and is said to be a great place to watch the fireworks. If you arrive early, you can get tables and seats too.
RAINBOW RIVERSIDE PARK Rainbow Riverside Park, which boasts an amazing view of the annual fireworks along the Keelung River, is both relatively close to 101 and less crowded. Many viewers will opt to watch from the nearby Da’an Park instead, leaving you with a larger chance of snagging a good seat.
RAINBOW RIVERSIDE PARK
[SHEREEN LEE/THE BLUE & GOLD]
MUST-VISIT RESTAURANTS ORANGE SHABU
16 Renai Rd., Alley 20, Lane 300, Da’an District, Taipei 106
29-2 Renai Rd., Section 4, Alley 20, Lane 300, Da’an District, Taipei 106
Sugar Pea’s rising popularity has attracted many students in the past few weeks. Birthday parties, dates, and other special occasions have been hosted there. However, it also fits into the winter aesthetic. Charlene Tsai (‘19) says, “The whole aesthetic, the glass house, and the fact that it’s all white makes it feels very wintery.” Not only is Sugar Pea perfect for taking winter-themed Instagram photos, its cozy setting complements the healthy food and heartwarming food that the restaurant serves, such as the chipotle chicken bowl with quinoa.
Another gem in Da’an District, Orange Shabu is a luxury shabu restaurant serving Japanese hotpot and fresh seafood. One of the specialties of Orange Shabu is the pot of porridge that the staff cooks for you with the leftover soup from the hot pot. The broth, infused with seafood, meat, and vegetables, gives the porridge all the flavors needed for a hearty bowl to end the meal. The restaurant also serves stir-fried noodles mixed with special homemade sauce that is not actually on the menu. Make sure to order Orange Shabu’s almond tofu for dessert.
[PHOTO COURTESY OF ORANGE SHABU]
6 Jinhua Rd., Alley 1, Lane 164, Daan District., Taipei 106
92 Daan Rd., Section 1, Da’an District, Taipei City, 106
If you are looking for a more formal Christmas dinner, O’Steak Taipei is the perfect choice. This French bistro offers customers Taipei’s most authentic French Christmas experience: there will be Christmas specials for lunch and dinner and a gift exchange activity that brings out the Christmas spirit. Furthermore, every Christmas, O’Steak Taipei features a wine bottle Christmas tree and has decorations all around the restaurant, showing their creativity and involvement with the Christmas holiday.
Located next to a fashion boutique, Onefifteen’s innovative architecture fits right in with its chic surroundings. The store front’s high ceilings, glass windows, and wooden furniture give it a wintery feel. Charlene says, “Onefifteen has decent food, but its ambience is really what makes it worth the price.” Onefifteen also features a selection of salads, sandwiches, desserts, and drinks such as the Earl Grey latte and apricot pie—all perfect food for the winter.
[PHOTO COURTESY OF YI PING]
[PHOTO COURTESY OF O’STEAK TAIPEI]
[PHOTO COURTESY OF SUGAR PEA CAFE]
BY ANYA LAI ('19)
As winter approaches, students start trading in shorts for pants, and sandals for boots. T-shirts and tank tops are no longer the only viable options, and the ability to layer different pieces allows for more creativity and expression. Wondering how to switch up your wardrobe? Here are some fall and winter outfits by Upper School students that might inspire you.
BY CHRISTINE LIN ('19), ALEXANDER LIN ('19), AND JASMIN YU ('19)
SKIING IN NISEKO, JAPAN RIBBED KNIT SWEATER, FOREVER 21, $420 NT
BY CHARLOTTE LEE ('20) Every year when December rolls around, many excited travelers flock to Hokkaido, Japan for a few weeks of the renowned Niseko winter experience. Known for scrumptious Japanese fusion cuisine and kneedeep powder snow ideal for skiing, Niseko is one of the most popular holiday destinations among TAS students and the international school community. In fact, some families who travel to this town of ski resorts consider their holiday trip a decade-long tradition, including the Dongs, Los, and Whitefords. Visitors commonly bump into old friends while getting off of a ski lift, or meet up with
family friends for dinner. Niseko Ski Resort is officially Japan’s number one Ski resort. It accommodates little toddlers sliding down baby hills, but also has terrain parks, forests, and backcountry skiing for adrenaline junkie veterans. Alex Dong’s (‘18) family has skiing in their blood. His mother trained on a small team in a mid Atlantic circuit and his grandfather was an Olympic speed skater. Alex himself is a snowboarder, and loves to explore forests and powder runs. “I like areas that are untouched,” he says. Tiffany Lo (‘20) has been going to Niseko for several years now, and is also a proud foodie. “The ice cream is creamy AF!” she says. Alex adds, “Even though it’s cold I could probably eat five ice creams and it would be fine. There’s
all-you-can-eat buffet and Japanese crab. And after I ski, I always eat katsu curry.” Hirafu Ski Village, one of the most popular resorts, is scattered with Japanese teppanyaki restaurants, some of which can be booked months in advance. But for Jesse Whiteford (‘20), Niseko is more than skiing and good food. She says, “it’s special for my family because we get together with old family friends that live in other other countries.” Her favorite memories consist of getting midnight snacks at Seikomart, Niseko’s 7-11, and building “dank” snow forts. “You can’t experience it anywhere else!” Jesse says.
FLEECE-LINED DENIM JACKET, TOMMY HILFIGER, $6890 NT
LOGO TEE, GOSHA RUBCHINSKIY, $1800 NT
SKINNY JEANS, CHEAP MONDAY, $1500 NT ASYMMETRICAL HEM SKIRT, STYLENADA, $1250 NT
SUEDE KNEEHIGH BOOTS, THE FAIR LADY, $2700 NT
What is your favorite piece in your wardrobe? I like all my skorts because they look like skirts, except that I don’t have to worry about flashing anyone.
AIR MAX 97 ULTRA, NIKE, $5000
How did you get into fashion? In around 8th grade, I got a pair of really nice shoes that made me want to dress it up.
HEALTHY HOLIDAY RECIPES
As holiday season approaches, many households will start turning toward the kitchen for holiday gatherings and family dinners. The aftermath of these events usually includes copious amounts of guilt, when you and your family have eaten too much to stay standing. Fear no more: there are many recipes out there that will keep you healthy well into the winter months. Here are some classic, all-natural foods with modifications that make your meals more nutritious.
TEXT AND PHOTOS BY SHEREEN LEE ('19)
ALMOND-CRUSTED BROWNIE BARS
PEPPERMINT CHOCOLATE EGGNOG
125 grams unsalted butter 125 grams dark chocolate, chopped 3 eggs, lightly whisked 335 grams white sugar 115 grams almond flour 30 grams cocoa powder 5 grams vanilla extract 100 grams crushed almonds 5 grams salt
2 egg yolks 2 egg whites 5 grams stevia powder 2 millimeters maple syrup 200 millimeters almond milk 5 grams nutmeg 5 grams cinnamon 5 millimeters vanilla extract 10 grams cocoa powder
1. In a saucepan, combine almond milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and nutmeg.
5. Slowly whisk in the milk and continue to mix until the mixture is combined and smooth.
2. Bring the mixture to boil over medium heat.
6. Beat egg whites with 2 grams of stevia until fluffy.
3. Once boiling, remove from heat and allow the mixture to steep.
4. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks and stevia until combined.
7. When serving, fold in the egg whites and garnish with cinnamon or nutmeg. If desired, rim your glass with crushed peppermint.
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. 2. Add enough water to a medium saucepan so that it is five to 10 centimeters deep. Heat water until simmering. 3. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder, salt in a medium bowl. Rest the bowl over the water, and mix until the batter is thick and shiny.
3. Add the almond flour and stir until fully incorporated. Use an electric mixer, if you have one. 4. Spread the mixture evenly into a pan. 5. Coat with a thin layer of crushed almonds. 6. Bake 22-24 until fully
the blue & gold december 5, 2017
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION From Oct. 20 to Oct. 22, over 20 students worked together to participate in the 48-Hour Film Challenge, a competition where teams of filmmakers rush to create a five-minute film from scratch in only two days. The Blue & Gold documented the highs and lows of their experiment, from brainstorms to the final rush before submission. Ultimately, their film, the only high school submission, won an award for Best Cinematography and was nominated for Best Use of Assigned Character. By Shereen Lee (‘19) and Catherine Lin (‘19)
Morris Yang (‘18) DIRECTOR
Mr. [Brett] Barrus changed the prompt,” says Mr. Tobie Openshaw. “You’re doing a martial arts film now.” 40 minutes prior, they had received a text message from film teacher Mr. Barrus, containing the assigned genre, as well as one character, prop, and line of dialogue they needed to incorporate into their film, for the 48-Hour Film Challenge’s contest requirements. Dialogue: “You’re joking, right?” Character: a bartender named either Ming or Jiao. Prop: wristwatch. Genre: mystery. Morris, Michael, Jasmine, and Freja Wild (‘19) had been toying with storylines, each new idea collapsing under the sheer amount of backstory needed to create a cohesive narrative. When Mr. Openshaw makes his announcement, the students react with disbelief. “Mr. Barrus is trolling us,” Alex blurts. Mr. Openshaw offers his phone and dials Mr. Barrus. Anthony takes it. “Are you trolling?” he demands. “Okay, uh, thank you very much,” he says after a pause, seeming to catch himself. The room is abuzz with concerns about the logistics of choreographing fight scenes and ‘80s karate movie references. “Let’s put on some more appropriate music,” Claudia says, pausing the pop song they had been blaring. Alex complies. As strains of “Kung Fu Panda” fade in from the speakers, everyone bursts into laughter.
Jasmine Liou (‘20) ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
Alexander Lin (‘19) DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
to be unnatural?” he says. In between takes, swarms of people again overtake the pathway. Shoppers are throwing real trash into the fake trash bin. “Stop that!” says Anthony. “This trash took a long time to make.” He hovers over the orange container protectively, propping a large black umbrella against the can as a makeshift lid. 15 minutes later, they have about three seconds of film. They grimace at some tiny flaws—“we’re still going way too
Michael Nili (‘20) HEAD SCRIPTWRITER
t 6:00 p.m., the production crew relocates to the C Block dance studio to film a training montage. Experienced jiu-jitsu artist Joy Taw (‘20) had been cast as the trainer, and Matthew Chuang (‘21) as the fumbling newbie preparing to defeat his intimidating opponent, Rigel Anestos (‘18). “And cut!” says Morris. This time, the culprit is a fallen microphone. They start over. Take 14, scene four, shot five.
Jeffrey Hsu (‘19) LOCATION SOUND RECORDIST
the location sound recordist to finish setting up the audio equipment, and everyone else waits to be needed. The whole team waits in complete stillness for the microphone to pick up 10 seconds of ambient noise. The editors, though, are busy sorting finished footage. Anyone on set can be enlisted to run SD cards full of finished footage up to B Block, where Claudia and Anthony sit in the dim editing room at two computer screens. Every few hours, Anthony
Claudia Sheng (‘18) EDITOR
stress relief,” he says. On a brief snack break, Claudia and Anthony scroll through photographs the production crew has texted them. “They look dead down there,” says Claudia. The 48hour deadline nears.
y Sunday morning, many of the team members have been awake for 30 hours straight, shooting fight scenes in the basement of the school at 4:00 a.m. Anthony
his grunts for use in the fight scenes. “Less airy, more firm,” says Shawn, unsatisfied. “But when you punch, you don’t go ‘uh’, you go ‘sss’,” says Rigel. “That’s what people think it is, but that’s not how it really is.” In the middle of the floor, set designer Tingkuan Hsieh (‘20) lies asleep on an inflatable mat under the glare of the fluorescent lights. Props and costumes are piled around him, and walkie talkies and empty soda cans litter various desks. Occasionally, someone passes food around the room. “God is real and he lives in Chili’s,” says Claudia, reaching for a box of French fries. She had nearly vomited twice earlier that morning after staying up all night fueled by nothing but soft drinks and pizza; she now recovers slightly with the arrival of new takeout food. At 3:00 p.m., Shawn takes a selfie with the whole group. “My mom needs a photo of me alive,” he explains. Anthony says, “But you’re not alive. None of us are alive.” “I’m surprised that we’re still functioning,” Shawn says. They reach the 14th version of the film, and all of them are anxious after an Adobe Premiere crash. “It’s like computers know when your deadline is approaching and start acting up,” says Mr. Barrus.
he Food Fair is full of shoppers at noon the next morning, when the film crew first steps cautiously in between crowded food stalls. Gathering in a corner, they plan the trajectory for their chase scene. Their goal is to capture a brief shot, but it takes 20 minutes for them to set up. The scene is a logistical nightmare. As Mr. Barrus tries to shepherd shoppers to the sidelines before the first take, he frowns. “Without extras, isn’t this going
Anthony Hsu (‘20) EDITOR
Top: Students huddle around a camera late at night with Mr. Jaami Franklin. Bottom left: Matthew Chuang (‘21), Rigel Anestos (‘18), and Alexander Lin (‘19) film a scene at the International Food Fair. Bottom right: The production crew sets up a scene. [SHEREEN LEE AND RACHEL CHIANG/THE BLUE & GOLD]
fast!”—but the crowd is getting restless. Crew members on their lunch break struggle to hold back people on the sidelines. Finally, Mr. Openshaw lifts his arms to allow them passage.
For most team members, the vast majority of the time filming is spent waiting. The director waits for the actors to rehearse their hand gestures, the cinematographer waits for
stops to slam a bludgeon-shaped pink balloon, which he had acquired at the Food Fair, on every available surface. Each blow brings the balloon nearer to complete deflation. “It’s for
is in control of one computer screen, surrounded by Alex, Claudia, and Mr. Barrus. Shawn Kao (‘20), the sound designer, stands just outside with actor Rigel Anestos (‘18), recording
he number of both conscious and present students continues to dwindle, leaving only Anthony, Claudia, Alex, and Shawn with less than an hour left on the clock. They put together the final credits and the title slide, settle for perfunctory sound design, and manage a frenzy of color grading. When the film is finally finished, there is little fanfare. The remaining students depart, a weekend’s worth of homework on their minds. By the time Mr. Openshaw arrives at the competition center and turns in the team’s submission, most of them are curled up in taxis on the way home, asleep.
the blue & gold december 5, 2017
BEHIND THE SCENES
Taipei American School’s legions of behind-the-scenes staff play an integral role in making it the world-class educational institution that it is today. Here, we present a few of these diligent workers.
Tech Cube construction workers: Mr. Jiang and Mr. Sun By Julian Lee (‘18) At 1:00 p.m. on a rainy Monday afternoon, Ms. Angel Lin, a Tech Cube project administrator, guides me on the short walk around the block to the site where Taipei American School’s new robotics and science building is slowly taking shape. As we walk, she explains that with their sealedoff worksite, Tech Cube workers have no contact with TAS students or faculty whatsoever. The entrance to the construction site is surprisingly inconspicuous, tucked away behind a few makeshift metal screens in a grove of trees behind school. As I enter the site headquarters, a temporary yet sturdy white cabin, I am introduced to two project workers, looking at ease in their light blue uniforms: Mr. Sun Hongjun, and Mr. Jiang Chang-yu. Though neither has ever met a TAS student apart from myself, both speak with admiration about the wellroundedness encouraged by the American school system. From the headquarters, we have a perfect bird’s eye view of TAS’s immaculately mowed Lower Field and bright blue track. As he looks out the window, Mr. Jiang, the older of the two, says, “You can mix studying, playing, and athletics all together here.
Mr. Jiang (left) and Mr. Sun pose in their construction gear at the Tech Cube worksite. [JULIAN LEE/THE BLUE & GOLD] I think it’s really important to have these types of experiences— being part of a team, leadership.” Mr. Sun smiles as he recalls the contrasting harshness of his Taiwanese local schools. “Our
school was much stricter than yours,” he says. “My teacher used to have a bucket full of things they’d hit us with. Wooden bats, bamboo canes—once one broke, they’d just grab the next one.”
Regarding the daily slog of building the Tech Cube, scheduled for completion in December 2018, Mr. Jiang explains that “Our work is highly dangerous...we often
get up really high, so we can’t mess around—we have to be totally concentrated.” Mr. Sun adds that one main downside of construction work is the irregularity of their holidays.
While TAS students and teachers spend their weekends relaxing with family, the construction workers remain at school, toiling away in their hard hats. Mr. Sun says, “We schedule our own holidays here and there. But a lot of the time, my day off falls on a weekday, and there’s nobody free to hang out with me or keep me company.” While the younger Mr. Sun spends his free time unwinding, surfing the Internet or watching movies, Mr. Jiang’s passion is roasting coffee. “I love coffee,” he says. “I drink four to five cups of black coffee per day. I don’t like outside coffee, though—Starbucks, Mr. Brown. I buy my own beans, and roast them myself.” He pauses thoughtfully, and addresses three other colleagues also sitting at the table: “Actually, I could bring some of my coffee over here sometime, and we could all drink it together.” Good-natured laughter ensues, but the man sitting next to Mr. Jiang interrupts, “I’ve had the coffee he roasts before. It’s actually really good!” Hoping for profound words of wisdom to close the interview, I ask them whether they have any message for TAS students. There is a long silence. Then Mr. Sun says, “Well, sometimes they kick soccer balls in here. Just tell them that we’ll pick it up for them and
Legacy Commons custodian: Ms. Yeh By Charlotte Lee (‘20) In the two years that Ms. Yeh Xue-zhu has worked as a custodian at Taipei American School, she spent time collecting rubber bands. Specifically, rubber bands that students threw away with their 便當 (bian dang) lunchboxes. One by one, she tied the rubber bands that she collected together and formed a huge chain, until it was big enough to be strapped around the school trashcans. “This way, the plastic bags won’t fly away,” she says. TAS is lucky to have a creative and hardworking staff member like Ms. Yeh, who has been a part of the school custodial staff for almost two years. Every Monday to Saturday, she gets on a bus near Shipai MRT station and reaches school at 7:00 a.m. She then spends the day cleaning the Legacy Commons and works until 6:00 p.m. Because her 48-year-old son
lives in Cambodia, she is often home alone, though he calls home often to check up on her. He always asks, “Is work tiring?” and she answers, “No, not really,” reassuring him that she is taking good care of herself. Although she seldom has the opportunity to see her son and her grandchildren, working at a school keeps her busy. “The kids at school are very cute,” she says, “When I’m together with them I feel like I’m with my own grandkids, and I’m very happy.” As a grandmother, she now reminisces about her own youth. When she was in middle school, Ms. Yeh was not a particularly studious child. She was always in the middle of her class, ranked 16th or 17th place out of just over 30 students. After graduating from middle school, that was it—she and her sister stayed at home while her two brothers continued high school. She says, “In that generation, it was boys who went to school.
Boys would enter society, and girls stayed home to cook and clean.” When I asked her if she believed this was unfair, she says, “No. We didn’t think that way.” Yet, Ms. Yeh says that she wishes she had learned more as a child. She explains that she has an English name, but was never taught to pronounce it. She says, “Maybe if I learned more, I could understand the world better. Maybe I would be able to say my English name.” Though she does not speak English, Ms. Yeh communicates easily with other members of the community. She jokingly refers to Upper School Dean of Students Dr. Daniel Long as “高高帥帥,” or “tall and handsome,” and was quite impressed that he speaks Mandarin fluently in spite of looking like a foreigner. Dr. Long, the Honor Committee, and the Student Government have worked with Ms. Yeh to reduce cafeteria
trash. “With their help, there has been a big change,” she says, smiling fondly and chuckling to herself. In particular, she recalls talking to a male student who helped her keep records of the cafeteria trash. She says, “He probably went to study in America, but if I see him one day, I want to thank him.” Throughout the interview, Ms. Yeh told me a plethora of stories: conversations with her best friend, how she made an innovative rubber band hoop for school trash cans, and karaoke on Sundays. She even described an encounter with a fish in her childhood that she had thought had supernatural powers. Out of curiosity, I asked her to remember a time in her life that she felt the happiest. I waited expectantly for her to tell me a story from her youth, with details as vivid as the ones she had used earlier. She only said, “現在我也滿開心的 [I am quite happy right now].”
Ms. Yeh poses in the Legacy Commons that she cleans every day. [KEVIN LEE/THE BLUE & GOLD]
the blue & gold december 5, 2017
A Little America of the forgotten past A Taipei American School alum reflects on conservation efforts for historical sites and how Taiwan has changed since his childhood. By Vanessa Tsao (‘19)
O’Neil’s siblings play in their childhood neighborhood. [PHOTO COURTESY OF RORY O’NEIL]
“Little America” is how alumnus Rory O’Neil (‘74) describes his former home in Shanzaihou, Yangmingshan, where he lived from 196769. These “Little Americas” are clusters of U.S. military housing built in the 50s for military personnel stationed in Taiwan at the height of the Cold War. However, his former community is slowly disappearing. Today, only half of the homes still stand due to deterioration and lack of maintenance by the Bank of Taiwan, which owns and leases the properties. O’Neil recently became invested in efforts to preserve his former home after his daughter visited Shanzaihou in 2013 and brought back photographs. Though he is currently living in the U.S., he helps to preserve Shanzaihou’s unique history by documenting it. He says, “I seem to have found a niche in organizing former residents, with a passion for better
documenting the details of our stay.” O’Neil’s former home remains close to his heart even after so many years. As Taiwan was his first overseas experience, he says, “My initial impressions were a combination of both shock and awe!” O’Neil misses exploring the bamboo maze and the caves nearby, as well as sliding down the rock in the river (Huáng Xī) at the base of Mt. Shamao. Every Saturday, he would receive $10 NT if he finished his chores; he would then walk to the corner store to buy gum, firecracker popper balls and a bottle of super carbonated [Heysong soda]. “For the first time in my life, I was no longer relying on following the trail of older siblings, and was forced to create my own,” he says. O’Neil says that he is grateful for his unique cultural experience, as these “Little America” communities were rich in culture, with diverse
individuals such as vendors on bicycles to Buddhist monks passing through the area. “Little America” was a slice of authentic American life transplanted to Taiwan, but with local Taiwanese culture mingling in the background. Fortunately for him, his home was occupied soon after the U.S. military’s departure, so it still stands today. Other unoccupied homes are less fortunate, despite the efforts of cultural preservation organizations to prevent them from rotting away. O’Neil says, “I am not convinced the Bank of Taiwan is doing enough. They continue to ignore the unoccupied homes that have suffered decades of neglect.” After these homes are leased, the high costs fall solely on the lessee. “I fear these high costs are in favor of businesses, not residents, and might be driving out what few residents remain,” he says. His worry is not unfounded: today, many businesses thrive
in Shanzaihou, making it a hotspot for visitors on weekends. The businesses have adapted the American houses to suit their needs, turning them into idyllic restaurants and cafes while preserving the Americanstyle exterior. O’Neil says that small businesses leasing and renovating these homes represents an “acceptable, workable, and progressive compromise” between complete destruction for highend development and extreme preservation that loses their charm. Still, he questions how many more businesses the area can sustain with the increased traffic and congestion that begins to destroy it. O’Neil concludes that the best sign of a healthy community is the smiles and laughter of children, a result of small businesses establishing themselves in Shanzaihou. He says, “Wherever the line is drawn, it must include children.”
Tea traditions from around the world By Audrey Kong (‘18)
Nowadays, bubble tea shops can not only be virtually found at every corner of Taiwanese streets but all corners of the world as well. However, Taiwan is not the only country with vibrant tea culture. Some other unique teas and tea cultures stem from various countries such as the U.S., Turkey, Pakistan, Thailand, and Argentina.
a tall glass to accentuate the creamy appearance of ombre colors.
El Yerba Mate
For the U.S., tea culture usually means Southern sweet tea made with Lipton tea, sugar, lemon and occasionally, baking soda for smoother texture. Southern sweet tea began as a luxurious item due to how expensive it was to import tea, ice, and sugar. Although the tea was originally made with green tea imported from Japan, World War II shifted consumer preferences and since then, sweet tea has been made from black tea, imported from India. This Southern staple is often consumed with meals, which is why it is sometimes called the “table wine of the South.”
Besides its unique brewing process, cay tea is served in petite, tulip shaped, clear glasses. The reason why glasses are used to consume the tea is so that one can consume the drink while it is hot. The transparency of the glass aims to highlight the hue of the tea. Cay tea is interwoven in
Different types of tea have developed among cultures around the world. [CHARLOTTE LEE & AUDREY KONG/THE BLUE & GOLD] Turkish social culture. The tea, a sign of hospitality, is served when guests visit the house, when customers enter a shop or when bargains are being discussed. Cay tea is usually consumed during breakfast, after lunch or dinner.
What is most unique about Pakistan’s traditional tea,
“Noon Chai” also known as “Kashmiri Tea,” is its specific shade of pink. The origin of its name stems from Indo-Aryan languages where ‘noon’ means salt.” Traditionally, Noon Chai is prepared in a copper samovar, made with pistachios, almonds, salt, milk, and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon or star anise. Sometimes a dash of
baking soda is added into the tea to bring out the pink color.
Although modern Thai tea is often served with tapioca pearls, the traditional Thai Iced Tea, “Cha Yen” was not. Cha Yen can be made from either Ceylon or Assam tea, and spices such as star anise, tamarind, and orange blossom can be
added. Sugar and condensed milk are then added to sweeten the flavour of the tea. In addition to its rare taste, Cha Yen is also well-known for its distinctive appearance. The amber ombre aesthetic is created with the evaporated milk, or sometimes coconut milk, which is poured over the tea and ice as a final touch. Usually Thai tea is served in
The traditional tea in Argentina is called El Yerba Mate. “Yerba” literally means herb, exemplifying that the herb tea leaves, which can only be found in Latin American countries Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil and Chile are what makes this cultural drink so unique. One of the unique aspects of El Yerba Mate is the container which typically is a small pot or dried calabaza gourd. The herb tea leaves are put in this container with a metallic straw known as a “bombilla.” The simplistic nature of both the container and the drink reflects “traditional Argentine cowboy lifestyle,” says Spanish teacher Señora Susana Hartzell. As a result of this simplicity, traditionally, no sweeteners are added with the Yerba Mate, but younger generations now add sugar or honey. Like many of the other teas mentioned, El Yerba Mate holds great cultural significance. “When the community sat in a circle around a fire, they would pass the Yerba Mate around and everyone would share it,” says Señora Hartzell. “The tradition of drinking Yerba Mate is an ancient idea of sharing that has stayed with Argentinian culture.”
the blue & gold december 5, 2017
GÜd food, GÜd value GÜ FOOD | 2 Shidong Rd., Alley 40, Lane 91, Shilin District | 士林區士東路91巷40弄2號 By Vanessa Tsao (‘19) and Christine Lin (‘19) Tucked in the alleys behind Taipei American School, GÜ Food is a charming and affordable cafe situated where Burger & Co. used to be. The Parisian-style wrought-iron tables and chairs lined just outside the cafe is set among walls of green plants, adding a chic touch. Meanwhile, the interior sets a contrast between two color tones: earthy green shades with wooden tables on one side, and a stylish white marble bar table against a black wall on the other side. The owners of the restaurant emphasize three main goals for the cafe: food and ingredient quality, good sanitation, and great taste. The cafe serves both East Asian and Western cuisine, ranging from Japanese rice sets to quesadillas.
Matsuzaka Pork Set
Deep Fried Pork Chop Set
Grilled Mackerel Set
This fusion dish combines Japanese pork with an unusual partner: salsa. The boiled slices of pork are placed next to a moderate serving of fresh homemade salsa. While the pork is succulent, it is also little bland; similarly, the salsa does not integrate as well since they are not mixed thoroughly together when served. Still, adventurous foodies should give this dish a try.
This huge portion of crispy-fried pork chops, a favorite Taiwanese dish, is definitely mouthwatering. The lean ribs have a crunchy golden-yellow crust, and the juiciness of the meat inside explodes in your mouth. I was left gnawing on the bones by the time I was finished. It is rather salty, but the healthy side dishes of vegetables and clear soup balances it out.
GÜ Food’s trademark Japanese-style rice sets include different choices of main course each day. The grilled mackerel we ordered were seasoned lightly with salt and scored into squares, allowing a larger surface area of crispness. The small plates of fried eggs and greens dressed with sesame sauce complement the warmness of the fish. This dish is simple and light—ideal for a small meal.
Chocolate Banana Milkshake
Caramel Chocolate Banana Waffles
The quesadillas are filled with mushrooms, assorted diced vegetables, and delicious melted cheese nearly spilling out, enclosed in a piping hot toasted tortilla. The combination of textures melt smoothly into your mouth. On the side is a generous portion of salsa, guacamole, and sour cream atop an abundant bed of lettuce. All of the ingredients tasted fresh; however they tasted a little plain and the dish looked half-heartedly arranged compared to other dishes.
This huge glass of chocolate banana milkshake is definitely worth its price; it is the ideal size to share with a friend, though you might end up drinking all of it yourself. Even if you are not a fan of bananas, this milkshake will win you over. The presentation is visually appealing as well, with dark streaks of chocolate elegantly ‘dripping’ down the side of the glass. Dense and creamy this is one of the best milkshakes out there.
The stack of four thick waffles, surrounded by banana slices drizzled with chocolate, was plated beautifully around a generous scoop of chocolate chip ice cream. The sheer amount of food I got for only $220 NT made the dish worth it before even tasting it. These waffles have both quantity and quality. The crunch of the golden-brown crust contrasts perfectly with the soft waffle interior, as well as with the ice cream that melts in your mouth.
“Turtles All The Way Down” By John Green Dutton Books, October 2017
By Shereen Lee (‘19)
After John Green’s 2012 young adult megahit “The Fault in Our Stars,” I fully expected to find another conventional teen novel in Green’s latest book, “Turtles All the Way Down.” The raw, unflinching narrative surrounding main character Aza’s mental illness in “Turtles,” however, transcends the pseudodeep catchphrases I had grown to expect from Green’s fiction. Unfortunately, the book also features a number of unsatisfying elements, from an unrealistic mystery subplot to painfully contrived romances.
Green’s predictable attempts to cling on to well-worn formulas drags “Turtles” all the way down, stifling his unique and painfully honest depiction of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The incongruous plot device of a missing billionaire, whose son miraculously happens to be Aza’s childhood crush, fails to evoke any emotions from me beyond confusion and annoyance. The resulting romantic subplot is cringe worthy and poorly written. Even worse, Green continues to toss philosophical pretension into the book at random via the couple’s conversations, a staple of the Green canon and an insult to some genuinely emotional moments throughout the book. Aza’s relationships with her friends, while slightly more
tolerable, have a tinge of flatness to them. Green seems desperate to flesh out Aza’s best friend, Daisy, in particular, endowing her with quirks and offering cutesy escapade scenes between Daisy and Aza. Like many of the cookie-cutter elements in “Turtles All the Way Down,” occasionally it works, but most of the time it does not, serving only to intensify Daisy’s secondary-character lifelessness. While I admire Green’s effort to shed light on an important mental health issue, ultimately, the white noise surrounding the book’s core made the experience unenjoyable. Still— as is the case with most of his irritatingly addictive novels—I will not hesitate to read the next one that comes out.
the blue & gold december 5, 2017
SEASON TWO BABIES
The Blue & Gold features four freshman varsity athletes with the potential to become legends.
By Coco Lee (‘19)
example, she says the term “split,” where the player who performs the roll ball steps to the side, and the dummy half passes it back to them, was not taught in middle school. However, when her teammates know she is confused, they always explain the terms to make sure Avery knows what is happening. As the season progresses, Avery looks forward to team bondings in “good restaurants.” And, of course, she cannot hide her enthusiasm for “Terrible Tuesdays,” a day dedicated to intense cardio workouts.
alex By Audrey Kong (‘18) Alex Lee (‘21), a singles player, is one of the fresh faces on this year’s varsity tennis team. After playing tennis for 11 years, Alex has become well-accustomed to how the sport is interwoven in his life. “Tennis takes up 40 to 50 percent of my life—the same amount as how much time I spend on academics,” says Alex. “I practice six times a week, 14 hours a week.” Although it is sometimes difficult to balance tennis with his school and social life, Alex’s love for tennis never
Sabrina Chang (‘21) knew that basketball was going to be her sport when, as a sixth grader, she was selected as the youngest starter on the middle school competitive team. Throughout the next few years, she continued to stand out, training with the Upper School basketball teams during winter breaks. Now, as a freshman, Sabrina has reached her goal of becoming a varsity basketball player. She says, with a smile on her face, “I worked really hard and I have been waiting since sixth grade for this moment, so
I feel very good!” On Nov. 2, Sabrina began her Upper School sports career, posting an impressive statline of 19 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, one steal, and two blocks. Beyond her versatile skillset, Athletics Director and head coach Ms. Kim Kawamoto says, “She is a super coachable kid. Sabrina has a great attitude, and I think she has a passion for the game.” For Sabrina, basketball is more than a high school sport, as she aspires to continue playing basketball at the collegiate level as well. Although she is excited for
the season, there is pressure surrounding her role as a freshman starter, and as the center succeeding Hall of Famer Lauryn Van Dooren (‘17). Sabrina says, “A lot of people say that I’m supposed to fill her shoes, and it is an honor to be compared with her, but I want to create my own legacy.” Sabrina has already established herself as a cornerstone of both the girls volleyball and basketball teams. Watch out, because Ms. Kawamoto says, “It’s Sabrina Chang’s era now.”
for now, Alex, who occupies the first singles position on the varsity team, wants to focus on winning a medal at the Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools tournament in February. Mr. Rowe says, “I’ve never seen a freshman play first singles for any IASAS team during my years of coaching…he’s very methodical, almost robotic, like a terminator.” Nonetheless, Alex still looks forward to improving throughout the rest of the season. Besides, his motto is “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.”
sabrina By Daniel Wang (‘18)
wavers. “It’s really competitive and hard, but not many people can be good at this sport. So, the only thing that makes me want to keep practicing is that I want to win,” he says. According to varsity coach Mr. Naden Rowe, all Alex’s hours of practice have created an unusually well-rounded game in the freshman. He says, “It is very difficult to expose a weakness. He’s strong at net and baseline and can mix up shots.” Regarding his plans for the future, Alex aspires to earn a sports scholarship for playing Division I tennis in college. But
Avery Long (‘21) has not been in the Upper School for long, but she has had a love for touch rugby for a very long time. Her passion for the sport began in middle school, when Avery enjoyed how the sport was “like playing tag, but more competitive.” Avery’s favorite aspect of touch rugby is how it is a team sport. “You’re not too [reliant] on your individual performance and there’s not too much pressure on you as an individual,” she says. “You lose or win as a team.” Recognized as one of the
fittest and fastest players on the varsity touch rugby team, Avery has made an immediate impact on the program with her constantly positive attitude. She loves how her team is like a family, and her teammates are like her older sisters. However, she adds, “I feel bad for them because they have to deal with another season of my jokes.” Avery likes being the youngest athlete on the team since she gets to “learn from people that are a lot more experienced than [her].” Having less experience, Avery occasionally struggles with touch rugby terms the team uses. For
PHOTOS BY KEVIN LEE (‘18)
By Charlotte Lee (‘20) When Hironori Kondo (‘21) was in eighth grade, he swam at the Tokyo Junior Olympics and broke Hall of Famer Shawn Lin’s (‘16) 50-meter freestyle varsity record with a time of 24.23 seconds. For this 14-yearold legend in the making, swimming is his life. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t swim,” Hiro says. Even though he is only a freshman, varsity coaches Mr. Shane Lawson and Mr. Stephen Kuhlke believe that Hiro is one of the best swimmers to
have come through TAS—and practice is what sets him apart. “Since Hiro was young, he’s been a student of the sport and is a proven self-starter, which are essentials for success. He readily improves on technical aspects such as underwater efficiency,” Mr. Kuhlke says. In order to achieve incredible times, Hiro trains both on and off season, swimming four to five kilometers per session. For Hiro, no detail is too small. “The difference between winning and losing is a matter of how long your fingers are and how quick you are to touch,” he
says. Before a meet, he checks the water so he can adjust to its consistency when he swims. The water cannot be too heavy or too light. If the pool does not “feel right,” he knows that he will not do well. Hiro says, “My best swims are always at the Junior Olympics because that pool is magical. [It] feels amazing.” Most athletes train just to win IASAS, or to break school records, but Hiro’s goals are longterm. He continues to strive for perfection, and it is unlikely that his swimming career will end after high school; in fact, it has only just begun.