Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mǐ (rice!)

The end is in sight! Only three more nights until departure day. I have been looking forward to it for so long, until it hit me today. If I go home, that means I have to leave all these awesome people behind! So not fair! Today, Dr. Tom Gavin, the retired professor from Cornell University, as well as his wife, who have been traveling with us the whole time (I can't even remember if I have mentioned them or not! I feel terrible if I haven't. They've been a big part of the trip.), said their goodbye's today, because they are leaving a day before us. Dr. Tom has taught several of the lectures along the way, and gave us all some comic relief throughout the trip with his stereotypical American sense of humor. Don't worry Dad, I got my fill of "dad jokes" this past month. The Asian students have been in love with him the whole time. Many got teary-eyed when he gave his goodbye lecture, which was mainly just showing pictures he managed to capture of us sleeping with mouths wide open on the bus... me being a culprit, just one time. That made me realize how hard Saturday night is going to be, when we have our closing ceremony together. I just won't think about it until then.

On a different note, I believe our experiment went rather well, if you are looking for accuracy and not actually learning anything.... While at the Experimental Forest, my group and I measured trees- many, many trees, and gathered the data we needed to see how much CO2 they have taken in the last five years. We did all the calculations correctly, even under the intense scrutiny of the researcher at the forest who was rather protective of his work. The problem? Location, location, location (which I think is going to be the title of our presentation). We barely had any time to make enough samples; we needed to take over 70 sample areas rather than just... three. So besides our approximately 500% error, we had a great project! I did learn alot, but I liked hanging out with my groupmates probably much more.

On the way back to Taipei, we stopped at the earthquake museum, which was located next to an old junior high school that was nearly demolished in the 1999 earthquake. Again, they left it exactly as it was the day it happened, just as the temple was. It was pretty incredible. Many of the Taiwanese on the trip remember it and where they were when it happened; luckily it was in the middle of the night so no children were in school. School building in that time were very poorily constructed and were the main structures affected by the earthquake. I also didn't realize that there are an average of 4 earthquakes a day in Taiwan! I am grateful that I haven't witnessed anything tragic... but a little shake wouldn't be too much to ask for, right?

We visited the National Agricultural Institute, which was about as interesting as it sounds. But today was the real ag experience. Can't get enough of eating rice? Then make it yourself! Which is what I did- rice harvesting- fully equipped with sickle and cliché Asian acorn hat. The best part was planting later on, with no shoes and knee-deep, feet-sucking mud and water. All I have to say is rice farmers probably have really nice skin for taking a mud bath everyday.

I can't believe that I may only have one more post to write after this one! I hope that I can really take advantage of the next two days while I'm here. Too crazy!

Marking a tree for our project

My favorite group mates with an old fashion camera! Vivian is on the left, Ivy in front, and Carolina on the right. They're all too cute.

Remains of a bathroom of the junior high school

NTU rice paddy

I look like I was meant for this.

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