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Photo by Yi-Ching Hsieh

Hello from Marcus!

Hello everyone, Marcus here!


I will be one of your instructors during your upcoming course in China and Taiwan, and I am greatly looking forward to meeting each of you and to embarking on our journey together! As our time together approaches, let’s all post a brief self-introduction here on the Yak Board. I’ll start with a little bit about myself:


I started studying Mandarin in fifth grade in my hometown of Brookline, Massachusetts, which later led me to China for the first time in 2007 for a high school semester abroad. Since first visiting China, I have been there and back many times, whether for studying Chinese, teaching in rural schools, working for a local Chinese NGO, or visiting friends and my Chinese homestay family from the past (we are truly a family at this point 🙂).

More recently, however, I have resided on the other side of the Strait in Taipei, Taiwan since 2013, during which time I have completed a Master’s degree in Chinese-English translation and interpretation and begun work in the field as a freelance literary translator and interpreter. I am also assistant to a project publishing a series of Taiwanese literary works in English translation headed by National Taiwan Normal University and the National Museum of Taiwan Literature.


On the side, I am also involved in a series of projects with a Taiwanese geologist, pertaining to sustainable agriculture, reforestation, ecological research, and preserving Taiwanese aboriginal culture, which meets my ongoing need to explore the great outdoors and connect with nature and myself. Our course is particularly special to me because I will be able to introduce you to a community dear to my heart in southern Taiwan called “Jialan cun.”

Through our journey together, we hope to provide you with a variety of opportunities to determine what you are passionate about and what kind of a person and leader you would like to be.


I’m looking forward to experiencing China and Taiwan through your eyes, and to drawing upon my own experiences in the places we visit to help make this course the best that it can be for all of us.


As you look to our time together coming up soon, I imagine you may have a lot of questions: What should I pack? Who will I encounter along the way? Where will we go and what will we do?

This Yak board is the place for you to ask pertinent questions and to set your hopes and aspirations for your upcoming journey. Throughout the trip, the Yak Board will be our main platform for communication. We, your instructor team, will be posting ideas for homestay gifts, a sketch itinerary and so on here on the Yak Board, so stay tuned—many of your questions will be answered in our upcoming posts! That said, if you find yourself with any lingering pre-trip questions as our course approaches, please feel free to ask them here. We are here for you!

Looking forward to hearing from everyone!


P.S. Please post a self-introduction with a little bit about yourself at your next convenience! 🙂

  • Who are you?
  • Where did you grow up?
  • Where are you now?
  • Why did you choose to take a gap year?
  • What are your hobbies/interests?
  • What’s something you’re excited/nervous about?
  • What’s a fun/quirky fact about yourself?