I should start with the caveat that “hot-blooded” in Chinese, rèxuè (熱血) is actually a very positive trait. In Taiwan, being a hot-blooded person means you are enthusiastic and full of passion. So when somebody refers to you as being hot-blooded here in Taiwan, they aren’t calling you a “hot-head” like in my native U.S. Rather, it’s a compliment!
This linguistic difference is just one of the myriad cultural nuances to navigate when teaching abroad. This, in turn, is just one of the many challenges you face while daring to pack up your life to live and work in another country. Two more challenges are finding a community outside of work and staying engaged in your professional life. It was these two birds that I killed with one stone: Spartan Races.
Having always been into fitness I was excited when in 2016 these events made their way to Taiwan. Spartan Races are essentially an obstacle course race completed either competitively or as a team-building event. I enjoy both aspects and soon they became a real passion of mine. Through Spartan Races, I have made good friends and recruited others into the sport. This has helped to make Taiwan my home away from home. After enthusiastically helping with some Spartan promotional activities, Taiwan’s Spartan organizers now refer to me as “the hot-blooded teacher” within the Spartan community.
Keeping my life exciting out of the classroom has made me more driven within my classroom as well. Students can be greatly moved by the things that matter to their teachers, and my students know I’m passionate about Spartan Races because I often use the races to make real-world connections and extend content across our curriculum. And so eventually some of Tsai Hsing’s students signed up for the kids’ version of the race. I made sure to run next to them through the course and encouraged them on each obstacle. They might have gotten involved on their own, but I think at least some were inspired to try the Spartan Races because of my “hot-blood.”
This all reminds me that though a person can keep work life and private life separate, they are interconnected. The adage “work hard to play hard” goes both ways, so one could also say “play harder to work harder.” My advice: be sure to find what makes you “hot-blooded” and pursue it, especially if you teach abroad.
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