“Besides your hometown, it is not easy to stay in another place for two years. However, If you are able to stay in one place for more than ten years, it means that you have truly fallen in love with that place!” Matt says softly with a smile on his face. He has been living in Taitung for more than eleven years. At first, he just wanted to learn surfing and therefore came to Taitung. However, he did not expect that he would get married and have children. It was then that he became an authentic Taitung local.
Matt shares that his hometown is located in the East London area, near the seaside on the south coast of South Africa. Except for the weather, the geographical conditions are very similar to Taitung. “Taitung feels like home. The environment and the people here are great. To be honest, I knew that I wanted to live here within the first month I was in Taitung,” he adds.He says that when he first came, Chinese was completely impossible for him to learn. However, after interacting with the warm and friendly locals around him, he was not afraid to practice Chinese here.
“Although Taitung is a tourist-oriented place, local people do not always want to sell things when they see foreigners. They simply want to help. It surprises and moves them!” Matt says joyfully as he recalls his first impression of Taitung. At present, he teaches English at an elementary school in Taitung City. Matt and his friends Dave and Queeni have even created and recorded English nursery rhymes (Appendix I) in order to allow children to become more interested in English. Simple and easy sentences with animations have not only become his best textbook in the classroom, but he has also selflessly uploaded them to a video-sharing platform so that children or adults in other regions can enjoy and learn together. “In the beginning, these videos were just unintentional ideas. Later, I became more and more interested in them. In fact, we didn’t know how far this idea will go, but we will try our best to produce more and better English videos for everyone!”
Matt feels blessed to be able to teach in Taitung. In addition to spending time with young and lively children, Taitung’s mountains and the sea are also precious resources for him. “Although many South Africans live by the sea, they are so busy making money that they don’t enjoy a leisurely lifestyle. Taitung is a city that is suitable for a slow pace of life. There are many beautiful things to admire,” Matt says. He especially likes Taitung Forest Park, the unique Tiehua Village, the magnificent mountains and the sea view at Sanxiantai. He also particularly enjoys the small and exquisite art museum where he often takes his children to hang out. “Schools in Taitung are open to the public after school. This is not possible in South Africa!” Matt emphasizes, and adding that Taitung is like a paradise. It is difficult to find another place that can give residents a full and priceless sense of security, and he thinks the government has done a great job.
Since he came to Taitung, Matt has been able to realize his dream of learning to surf, as well as teaching, marriage, and children. All these have made his life more exciting. Although he didn’t know he would take root here deeply at first, Matt is grateful every day. “I feel that I am blessed to live in such a beautiful place and have an impeccable life!”
Appendix I: English nursery rhyme channel: Rock a doodle doo