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Photo by Ching Hsieh

Hello from TaiPEI!

Nihao 你好!

Dear Springside Chestnut Hill Family,

I’m your cosmic instructor Pei (some friends call me E.T.). I’m so excited for our upcoming adventure together!

I’m writing to you from my home in New Taipei City, as I prepare for our course. I’m a performing artist; a musician who believes music is a bridge that connects me with the world, the cultures and the minds of people.

I was originally born in Taiwan and brought up under the influence of the rich art and culture of my family. My mother has been a prominent editor in Taiwan since my childhood. Through her career in the publishing industry, I have been exposed to arts and literature and so many of my early friends and mentors were outstanding artists, directors, and writers. I was greatly influenced by them and started my pursuit of the beauty of art.

I learned calligraphy and go (weiqi) when I was a child. I graduated with a Bachelor of Communications Design from Shih Chien University, Taipei. I have performed my works in contemporary theaters, modern dance and musical performances. Recently I have been studying the I-Ching (yijing – The Book of Changes), which is one of the most important classics of Chinese culture. It’s a great data bank of the wisdom of the universe. I enjoy learning about the I-Ching so much as a way to understand the roots of my culture and my life.

At the age of nineteen, I travelled to India alone. In West Bengal, I met the Baul- the travelling poets of mysticism.  The Bauls had deeply influenced Bangladesh culture and Tagore. I visited several bauls and learned about the unique art and tradition of West Bangladesh by living with them.

During my studies at Visva-Bharati, Shantinketan, the university founded by Tagore, I studied northern Indian classical music and learned how to play sitar. Tagore founded Visva-Bharati University with the award money he got from the Nobel Prize. He wanted to build up a university that connected India and the world. He combined knowledge, learning and Indian spiritual practice. In Visva-Bharati, teachers are like a Guru (mentor); they not only give their students the inspiration of knowledge, but also guide students mentally and spiritually. Teaching often takes place under a big tree, hence learning is connected with Nature beautifully.

This experience gave me great inspiration as an educator. In the modern Chinese educational system, tests and the learning of knowledge have been emphasized more than the guidance of students’ mental and spiritual needs and their connection with nature; which I believe are actually the most important parts of education.

My  learning experience in Visva-Bharati made me decide that I want to share with others what I learned from my own journey and the treasures hidden in culture, music, and art.

My most esteemed Vietnamese Zen Master, the poet Thich Nhat Hanh believes young people have incredible potential and all the problems around the world can only be solved by education, mindfulness, and mercy.

This is also my belief. I believe the value of education is not only exploring the beauty of world. It is also to share spiritual inspiration; to grow seeds of wisdom in the mind, and wait for the seeds to grow big and strong enough to bring positive influence to the world.

Recently, I have started to explore the traditional music of Yunnan, Mongolia, and Tibet. I also have worked with some Silk Road traditional musicians. The musical instruments I play include the ancient Didgeridoo from Australia, Mbira from Zimbabwe which was used to pray for rain, Sitar which was used for meditation and spiritual practice in India, Handpan, and the Samadhi Bowl which was made by a Japanese master with Titanium.

Through music, I try to keep precious cultural property that has been neglected alive. I also want to show the harmony between human beings and nature in my music with a contemporary style.

For me, the creation of music is a spiritual practice. Through music, our senses develop into awareness. And with awareness, we can find healing and inspiration. This is what I have learnt from the Buddhist doctrine and a core value I would like to share through creativity and education.

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!

Best wishes,


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?