Will Harbison

 Taiwan

Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
School: Bishop Kenny
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Riverside, Jacksonville, Florida
Host District: 3482
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Taipei Joyful East


My Bio


你好! My name is Will Harbison and I am 17 years old. I am currently in High School at Bishop Kenny High School, and I will be spending my senior year of high school in Taiwan! I have been living in Jacksonville all my life with my parents, and my older brother, Richard. I also have a cat, Francine, and a dog, Lucy. I have had the privilege of traveling a lot in my life, but I have never been to Asia, so this will be a completely new experience for me. Outside of school, I am currently working on the final steps to become an Eagle Scout, with Troop 2. I also enjoy playing sports, some of the sports I have participated in are: Cross country, Track, Lacrosse, Wrestling, and Crew (rowing). I am also taking Spanish at my school, and I previously was learning latin. In my free time, I also enjoy hanging out with friends, swimming, and cooking. I am excited to experience a different culture because it is something that is a once in a lifetime opportunity, I may never get to do something quite like this again, so I hope to make this experience memorable!

My welcome to Taiwan

My welcome to Taiwan

Sun Moon Lake

Sun Moon Lake

Salmon's head dinner

Salmon's head dinner

Keelung Beach

Keelung Beach

Saxophone jam session with some businessmen

Saxophone jam session with some businessmen

School-wide Kung Fu

School-wide Kung Fu

American's in Taipei having Thanksgiving together

American's in Taipei having Thanksgiving together

New Year's Dinner

New Year's Dinner

Rotary In Taizhong

Rotary In Taizhong

XingTian Temple

XingTian Temple

Meat Market

Meat Market

Journals: Will-Taiwan Blog 2017-18

  • Will, Outbound to Taiwan

    Has it been 6 months already? I’m losing track of time here. I don’t even know where to begin, probably should begin with saying sorry to RYE Florida for forgetting to update my blog for 5 months.

    There has been so much that has happened in my time here that I definitely don’t have the room in this bio to say everything. In my time in Taiwan, I have seen things and met people, the likes of which I would never have imagined before. I am currently more than half way through my stay with my second host family, which has given me many opportunities to learn more about the culture of Taiwan.

    Probably one of my biggest challenges when I arrived in Taiwan was the food. I don’t know if I just have a weaker stomach than most but for a while some of the foods here legitimately terrified me. Bird’s spit soup, chicken hearts, chicken head, duck tongue, and a plethora of bizarre looking fruits and vegetables haunted my dreams. Now though, I seem to have gotten used to it, eating duck blood without flinching, that is one area where I know I have improved since coming to Taiwan.

    Another area where I have improved is my Chinese. While I still have a long way to go with the language, I am able to converse with my family and classmates, albeit with a little bit of help from Google. My Chinese has been especially improving over the winter break, which just ended. Winter break in Taiwan stretches from the middle of January to the middle of February, and encompasses all the festivities for Chinese New Year. Over the break I spent a lot more time with my host family, and talking with them of course always improves my abilities.

    Chinese New Year was a blast. Going with my family to buy ingredients for dinner at a market for New Years Eve dinner, an amusement park in Taizhong, trying to communicate with Taiwanese (very different from Chinese), and many more things. I think one of the things I will remember most vividly though is the ceremony at midnight in XingTian temple, watching the front door of the temple open (a very big deal), crowded in with hundreds of people to this small temple. Back to back, and the air is completely silent, in the middle of Taipei. The next day saw me going with my family to a huge temple in my host dad’s home town, with even more people, and watching a procession between temples, which was crazy.

    School has started back up again, so I’m back on the grind, but it’s good to see my classmates again. While I am starting to go back to how things were before the new year, things are still changing every day. I just learned earlier today that I will be participating in a traditional lion dance next month, and I have four practices to learn how to do that, so that should be interesting.

    Click HERE to read more Will and all his blogs

  • Will, Outbound to Taiwan

    I have officially been in Taiwan for over 2 months now, and so far it has been everything I hoped for, and more. Every day I do something different, learn something new, eat something strange, and meet someone new. I am living in Taipei, the big city, and am very glad, because there is so much in and around the city to see. Learning the language is very difficult, as I expected, but it is going faster than I ever expected. I am not only learning lots of vocabulary, but am learning tons of characters as well.

    Starting from the beginning, I had a very difficult time getting to Taiwan. I won't go into to much detail, but I ended up having to stay the night at the airport in San Francisco on my first night of traveling, because I wasn't going to get a flight to Taiwan until the next day. I did finally get to Taiwan though, and met all 3 of my host families in the airport, as well as my host club counselor, and some other people. I spent my first 2 weeks here getting acclimated, learning the MRT, getting used to the food, working off Jet lag, etc.

    I started school a couple weeks in, and it has been quite an experience. While my host family speaks pretty good English, my classmates definitely do not speak as much. That made it difficult, but it has helped to improve my Chinese a lot.

    Of course the food here is one of the biggest changes. There are lots of exotic Taiwanese foods that you hear about, but it takes some getting used to to have that kind of stuff every day. Jellyfish tentacles, pig intestines, stinky tofu, iron eggs, fried milk, chicken feet, pigs blood cake, just to name a few. Although just the names of some of these dishes would make me cringe before coming here, they don't even really phase me now.

    Then there are the rotary events. I have done so many rotary events here I think I have lost count. Every weekend they might go to sun moon lake, or a music festival, or a beach to pick up trash. I always go to whatever they have, and its always worth the time. Even if things don't go to well, its better than sitting in my room.

    So far I have been having the time of my life, though it has not been without work. In addition to my school, I have Chinese classes with the other exchange students at the Chinese Cultural University, on every Tuesday and Thursday for the first half of the day. I also have cultural classes at a different high school for the second half of the day every Monday and Wednesday.

    Chinese has been very difficult, and the writing characters is still a huge challenge for me, but every day I make more progress with speaking and listening. The more time passes, the more words I understand out of each sentence I hear. As I am still only 2 months in, this gives me great hope for how much I may know by the end of the year.

    So far I have been here for 2 months, but it feels like so much less time, and yet it feels like I've been here forever. My leaving America feels like a distant memory, and yet I am stunned that I am already 1/5 of the way through my exchange. I am loving every moment of it though, and want to thank Rotary for making this all possible.

    Click HERE to read more more about Will and all his blogs

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