Foreign Exchange Program

Hannah Nordby - IFYE Participant - Taiwan/Thailand Part 4


This is Part 4 of Hannah Nordby's IFYE Experience detailing her travels in Taiwan during the month of September.

September 2, 2018

Did you know that coffee starts off as a sweet green berry? It later is harvested after turning red and dried into the coffee bean we are used to seeing. Coffee trees can also live for up to 10 years! Final coffee fact is when tasting coffee the longer the aftertaste the better!

The farm I visited has over 4,000 coffee trees! They have been in the coffee business for almost 20 years, starting after the 1999 earthquake which wrecked havoc across Taiwan-in some ways they are still recovering and some areas will never return to their original state. The reason for starting after the earthquake was because these trees faired the best during the disaster.

While Taiwan is worldly known for it’s high quality tea, the coffee industry is growing, especially among young people!

September 3, 2018

I attended the 2018 National 4-H Club Festival- HEN FUN! in Taiwan!

The festival honors the best of the best 4-H members, volunteers, and the extension workers who make it all possible! The incredible part for me was seeing all the familiar faces at the event. I’m extremely proud and humbled to have unknowingly spent time with many of the individuals honored at this years festival while in Taiwan! It seemed as though ever time I turned around there was someone I knew! Thank you all for making my time in Taiwan so incredibly special and I cannot wait to see what you do with yours lives, I also think it’s safe to say my 4-H family is growing from national to international.

September 4, 2018

Gotta love me some sweet potato! There are actually two varieties of sweet potatoes grown in Taiwan. The first type is grown for the roots, which is what you and I are accustomed to seeing and eating. This variety is what I’m digging up in the picture. In Taiwan 4-H they really try to include hands on activities, where everyone can get their hands dirty, at events!

Then there is the type that is grown for it’s leaves! One dish I can always count on having everywhere I go, for every meal is steamed sweet potato leaves. I’m definitely not complaining because not only are they high in antioxidants along with vitamin C and A, they are also delicious! Back in the day farmers would grow sweet potato leaves to feed their pigs. The leaves are easy and efficient to grow, making them the perfect cheap feed source!

September 5, 2018

Guys I got to see cows. Life complete. I can pack up and come home now. Just kidding...mostly... While I’ve gotten to see a couple dairy farms, this is a first for beef cattle! With limited land availability you just don’t see them roaming around like you do in North Dakota. I stayed in Yilan, Taiwan which I would describe as a very rural, agriculture based community. It was refreshing to see more open spaces!

September 6, 2018

Each host family I stay with has been special and unique in their own way!

In Taichung I stayed with May and her family. They have two of the cutest little white dogs! While there are many stray dogs roaming areas of Taiwan, it is a luxury to own one. The story behind these two white pups is too touching not to share!

It really is a sweet story about Nina- number 3 (the oldest white dog) was born in terrible living conditions and sole purpose was to raise puppies to be sold. Luckily this place was shut down and all the dogs put up for adoption. Enter Janet Chen. Her family had just lost Nina #2 and Janet was looking for a way to cheer her mom up. She saw on the news that these abused dogs needed loving homes and immediately adopted one. Little did she know Nina was pregnant! Little Nicole/Xiao-Nyi (I think I got that right...) made the family of 5 into 6! I know they touched my heart and made me feel at home I think it’s so wonderful that there’s animal adoption agencies around the world that work to give abused animals a safe and loving home!

September 7, 2018

These funky looking mushrooms are called Lin Gee! This family has farmed for around 40 years and have learned to adjust to shifts in market demands. “What do you mean by that Hannah?” Several years ago dried mushrooms from China imported into Taiwan at a very competitive price point, dramatically decreasing mushroom prices. The father decided they needed to specialize in a more expensive and unique mushroom to continue farming.

"Hannah, how do you grow these mud grooms?"

  1. Put sawdust and nutrients into bag.
  2. Steam to sterilize.
  3. Add Lin Gee mushroom culture. Only ONE Lin Gee per bag.
  4. Let grow for 6 months and harvest.

You then dry and sort the mushrooms according to size and uniformity!

Also a fun fact is the daughter has a little baby and JUST LIKE momma Sarah (and I’m sure countless moms out there) she takes her baby for a car ride at night to help her fall asleep! We laughed so hard when we made this connection

September 8, 2018

While in Dali, Taichung I got to participate in more adult focused programming that the farmers association helps organize. I have seen the 4-H activities in action and I enjoyed seeing some of the activities offered for older adults.

The first night was a cooking demonstration learning how to use a all in one cooking appliance. We went from making lemonade to cooking meat and steaming buns!

The next day we made little lemon desert pies! While we waited for them to set I got to share about North Dakota and answer questions. I also had the opportunity to meet Taiwan IFYE’s that had gone to other countries! What was especially neat was learning that they were attending an international IFYE alumni reunion cruise to Alaska! Unfortunately, I couldn’t offer much wardrobe advice but it was nice to meet individuals that stay connected to the program!

I also got to stop and smell the orchids.

September 9, 2018

I got to spend a day with Vivian and her wonderful daughter 子安-Anny!

We spent time at Lanyang museum in Toucheng, Yilan, where I learned a little about farming methods, Taiwan’s environment, history of fishing in Yilan, aboriginal culture and so much more! What is special about this museum is all the attention to detail, from the lighting fixtures to the wall texture, they put into making sure the building truly represented Yilan County. I was especially lucky to have interpreters that made sure to point out these small details that might otherwise be lost to the common tourist!

Vivian also showed me how to make chop sticks from scrap pieces of wood! To all my Ag Education friends- this is a great way to clean up your excess wood pile, while also teaching your students how to use basic hand tools and integrating international understanding into your classroom. Now that’s what I call a win, win.

Read Part 1 of Hannah's Experience

Read Part 2 of Hannah's Experience

Read Part 3 of Hannah's Experience

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