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Photo by Ching Hsieh

New Year’s Eve

Today we woke up around 7:00 to the smell of wonderful breakfast: sandwiches prepared by our host mother. After breakfast we headed to the boy’s house for morning check-in. Since all of us were very tired, Trevor suggested we play Ninja. After an intense, exciting game of Ninja, we met up with Yapit, our guide, who took us to a traditional Atayal village. There, we learned more about their culture and how heir past has influenced their current lifestyle. We learned how respectful the tribes are to one another and how they keep the peace by respecting each other’s territories. Then Yapit led us in a traditional dance circle and all sang a song we learned called Rimuy. At the end of our time in that particular village, we met around the fire pit. For the Atayal people, fire is more than just a heat source, but also a welcoming sign of community and family.

 

After a long, cold morning in the village, we headed back to our homestay houses for some lunch and tea. After a wonderful lunch of fried rice, we rested and completed some simple house chores. Then we headed back to the boy’s home stay house, where Kiley and MG’s host father (Mama Along) led us in making a traditional instrument used by the Atayal people, the mouth harp. We got to design them with our own carvings and names. Mama Along tried to teach us all how to play, but it is very tricky. Hopefully we’ll get the hang of it before arriving back home!

 

After a long day of cultural workshops, we gathered with the whole community outside the local church to ring in the new year. We sang songs in their language, listened to them read passages from the Bible in the Atayal language, and shared our goals and resolutions for 2020. The night ended in excitement as fireworks went off at midnight.