TEACHER’S DAY TAIWAN and other memories

Curiosity Campaigns are Good for Education and the World

By Kevin Stoda, international educator on TEACHERS DAY in Taiwan

NOTE:  Taiwan and China celebrate a day for teachers in September each year.  In Taiwan it always falls on the 28th of September.  In the USA, it is in May.  World Teachers Day is on October 5 each year.  In our elementary school here on Beigan Island, Taiwan, students celebrated TEACHERS DAY by first playing (recorders)and singing a song for the teachers. they pounded and massaged teachers shoulders, backs, and necks as part of a thank-you ceremony.  They also gave teachers thank-you cards before going outside and playing a school-wide dodge ball match at the end of the school day.

Recently, the Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS) has begun running an educational campaign on the theme of “Curiosity”. (See the NOTES section below for an example of their most recent letters.)  This particular UCS educational campaign is focused on changing the Worst-Congress-in-the-World’s (especially referring to the USA Senate’s) head-in-the-sand attitude towards the global disasters we are facing due to man-made related climate change.  Curiosity (and encouraging students’ and teachers’ curiosity) should be a primary goal of education anywhere in the world.

As a lifelong teacher, I have always tried to encourage curiosity in-the-name-of teaching the world’s youth to experience the joy of a positive attitude towards life-long learning .  This insatiable curiosity, which I have had for over 4 decades, has led to my having already worked in ten different countries and with students from well over a hundred different lands during the past 25 years.  Moreover, I have personally been empowered by the driving-forces-of-curiosity to travel in and journal (write) in over a hundred different lands.

Two teachers and my own father originally propelled me on this journey of life-long learning driven-by-daily-doses of curiosity. 


When I was about nine years-old, my father, Ronald John Stoda, first showed us children his slides from his round-the-world-trip.  (Those slides had been taken circa 1957.) My father’s slides from Egypt, France, Iran, India, and other surfaces of the globe had first made me fascinated with all the corners of the globe.

I should add that my dad was also a voracious reader.  He read over 7000 books in his life-time on a wide variety of topics–and was reading up till the very month he passed away. He encouraged me early on to read adventure stories and later to read the classics of literature, like Les Miserables. In short, Dad set good examples for us through his curiosity for travel and his drive for reading & acquiring information.

NOTE: My father had barely survived a 4-weeks of college back in the mid-1950s, but he was always curious. Mom explained once that dad was practically starving at the time he had dropped out of college in late-September way-back-when. [He had attended on a whim, receiving at the last minute a ten dollar scholarship from someone in his home town to attend college.  Alas, ten dollars a month was not enough to live on at the time. Dad was ineligible for military service, so he didn’t ever have GI Bill money to go to college.] Due to the lack of money he had had set aside for education–and after starving a few weeks–, Dad had simply quietly returned home after 4 weeks of college. 

Soon, Dad found employment in a local lawnmower factory.  Dad, then, simply saved his money from his job for the next three years and then bought his round-the-world plane ticket (back in 1957, i.e. in an era when the U.S. dollar-was-like-gold when spent outside of North America.)


Next, my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Duvall, was particularly influential in continuing to grow my curiosity for the world of travel and for learning.  Mrs. Duvall encouraged us (students) to rake through the school libraries on a vast variety of social studies and do reports. Aside from American history, she taught us English language &literature related topics. Most importantly, she also taught us African studies.  Mrs. Duvall and her husband had both traveled together three times to Africa (north, south, and central).

Therefore, Mrs. Duvall was not only teaching us—she was living out a lifelong curiosity for learning and travel–Right before my eyes!  Moreover, although Mrs. D. and Mr. D. had graying hair, they were very young at heart.  I recall Mr. D picking up Mrs. D. on his Harley one day after school.  Cool!!!! I’m sure that having Mrs. D. as a teacher enabled me to envision a future that was not U.S.-centric at a relatively impressionable time in my life.  At the same time, she had taught us American and African history at the same time, enabling us to contrast different worlds and experience for ourselves.  In short, at a very early age we students were being invited to compare history and culture—raising our sense of curiosity and leading us to ask “Why do we do it this way?” or “Why do they do it that way?” or “Why not do it some other way?”


Finally, my 6th-grade Social Studies teacher was Mrs. G.ilani. It should be noted that Mrs. G. was born in Brazil but was of German parentage. Therefore, she was the first multi-racial person I got to know intimately as a student.  Mrs. G. taught us Latin American studies and since she had grown up in South America, the experience and research were very authentic.

Mrs. Gilani encouraged me as a presenter and appropriately criticized my writing. Moreover, she taught us to do research on longer projects. For example, Mrs. G. had us right and present reports on various countries in Latin America.  She had us write several embassies, the United Nations, and tourist organizations while we were collecting information on our research projects.  This enabled me at a relatively early age to begin feeling comfortable writing American government authorities and American congressmen (and even presidents) over the next decade, i.e. before email made such hand written letters passé. By the time I would attend university, I was already traveling from Kansas to Washington, D.C. to lobby congress on education and on American’s ill-devised policies in Latin America (i.e. in the early 1980s).

In fact, I should note here that my first educational research experience abroad was undertaken in Honduras and Nicaragua in the summer of 1983—at a time when I first considered making international development a life long career of mine.

So, in conclusion, on this National Teachers Day (here in Taiwan), I want to thank my father and these 2 special teachers of mine for making me CURIOUS about our world.



          Dear Kevin,

Climatologist Cameron Wake knows it. So does ecologist David Inouye. In fact, 98 percent of all scientists agree that global warming is a human-caused problem with potentially devastating consequences.
So how is it that so many people are still in the dark? Well, in short, they’ve been misinformed, and sometimes deliberately, by people who would rather protect their own short-term interests than our grandchildren and our environment.
That’s why it’s more important now than ever before that the voices of scientists are heard. Can you make a donation now to help us spread the truth about global warming?
Curiosity is what first inspired scientists like David and Cameron to explore the world around them, and it’s that curiosity that is the key to solving some of our most pressing environmental, health, and security problems.
Yet, by sowing doubt about the reliability of science, global warming deniers seek to kill the very curiosity that could save us and our environment. And we can’t let that happen. Support the Union of Concerned Scientists in our efforts to bring sound science to the public and spread the curiosity and the truth about global warming. Become a member of UCS by making a donation today.
Whether studying bees and wildflowers in the Rocky Mountains or glacial cores in the Himalayans, it’s clear that the world is warming like never before. But by working together to champion truth, curiosity, and science, we can protect our world and all of its precious curiosities.


Kevin Knobloch


The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world.
Union of Concerned Scientists, 2 Brattle Square Cambridge, MA 02138-3780
Phone: 800-666-8276 | Fax: 617-864-9405 | ucsaction@ucsusa.org | www.ucsusa.org



About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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7 Responses to TEACHER’S DAY TAIWAN and other memories

  1. Kevin Stoda says:

    The important thing is not to stop questioning… Never lose a holy curiosity.
    Albert Einstein


    Curiosity is an important trait of a genius. I don’t think you can find an intellectual giant who is not a curious person. Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, they are all curious characters. Richard Feynman was especially known for his adventures which came from his curiosity.

    But why is curiosity so important? Here are four reasons:

    1. It makes your mind active instead of passive
    Curious people always ask questions and search for answers in their minds. Their minds are always active. Since the mind is like a muscle which becomes stronger through continual exercise, the mental exercise caused by curiosity makes your mind stronger and stronger.
    2. It makes your mind observant of new ideas
    When you are curious about something, your mind expects and anticipates new ideas related to it. When the ideas come they will soon be recognized. Without curiosity, the ideas may pass right in front of you and yet you miss them because your mind is not prepared to recognize them. Just think, how many great ideas may have lost due to lack of curiosity?
    3. It opens up new worlds and possibilities
    By being curious you will be able to see new worlds and possibilities which are normally not visible. They are hidden behind the surface of normal life, and it takes a curious mind to look beneath the surface and discover these new worlds and possibilities.
    4. It brings excitement into your life
    The life of curious people is far from boring. It’s neither dull nor routine. There are always new things that attract their attention, there are always new ‘toys’ to play with. Instead of being bored, curious people have an adventurous life.

  2. Kevin Stoda says:


    Curious George is the protagonist of a series of popular children’s books by the same name, written by Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey. The books feature a curious monkey named George, who is brought from his home in Africa by “The Man with The Yellow Hat” to live with him in a big city.

    Around the world, the adventures of Curious George have been translated in many languages, and George takes on names such as “Curioso come George” in Italy, “Peter Pedal” in Denmark, “Nysgjerrige Nils” in Norway, “Nicke Nyfiken” in Sweden, “Utelias Vili” in Finland, “Hitomane Kozaru” in Japan, “Choni Ha’Sakran” in Israel and “Jorge el Curioso” in Spanish speaking countries. In the United Kingdom, George was originally called “Zozo”, apparently to avoid using the name of the then King George VI for a monkey.[1]

    In each of the books, Curious George is identified in the text as a monkey, though in the illustrations he does not correspond exactly to any non-fictional species of monkey (and has more of the characteristics of an ape, especially a chimpanzee, for example in his lack of a tail).


    The series was written and drawn by the team of Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey. According to Hans A. Rey’s obituary in Sky & Telescope, the couple fled Paris in June 1940, carrying the Curious George manuscript with them. [2][3] At first only H. A. Rey was credited for the work in order to differentiate the Reys’ books from the large number of children’s books written by female authors. Later, Hans Rey was credited for the illustrations and Margret Rey for the writing. The Reys produced many other children’s books, but the Curious George series was the most popular. It has been re-edited continuously in the six decades since the first volume came out. The current United States publisher is Houghton Mifflin of Boston.
    [edit] Books
    The White House 2003 Christmas decoration using Curious George as the theme with the Barbara Bush portrait.

    Margret and H.A. Rey released seven “Curious George” books during H.A. Rey’s lifetime. More recently, more Curious George books have been released by Houghton Mifflin including board books with scenes from the original books, books adapted from the 1980s telefilm series, and new adventures.
    [edit] “Original Adventures”

    Curious George appeared in 1941. This book begins with George living in Africa and tells the story of his capture by the Man with the Yellow Hat, who takes him on a ship to “the big city” where he will live in the zoo. The second book, Curious George Takes a Job (1947), begins with George living in the zoo, from which he escapes and has several adventures before the Man with the Yellow Hat finds him and takes George to live at his house. The remaining stories tell of George’s adventures while living at the house of the Man with the Yellow Hat.

    Sometimes dubbed the “Original Adventures”, these original seven titles are completely by the series creators, Margret & H.A. Rey.

    * Curious George (1941)
    * Curious George Takes a Job (1947)
    * Curious George Rides a Bike (1952)
    * Curious George Gets a Medal (1957)
    * Curious George Flies a Kite (1958)
    * Curious George Learns the Alphabet (1963)
    * Curious George Goes to the Hospital (1966)

    Before appearing in his own series, Curious George appeared as a character in another children’s book written and illustrated by H.A. Rey, Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys (1939).
    [edit] Books adapted from telefilms

    A second series of books, based on the telefilm series, was edited by Margret Rey and Alan J. Shalleck. These appeared between 1984 and 1993. They are mostly out of print, though several have been re-released with new cover art.
    [edit] “New Adventures”

    A third series of books, the Curious George “New Adventures,” began to appear in 1998 and continues to the present. These books are “illustrated in the style of H. A. Rey” by a variety of credited and uncredited artists including Mary O’Keefe Young, Martha Weston, Anna Grossnickle Hines, and Vipah Interactive.
    [edit] The Man with the Yellow Hat
    The Man with the Yellow Hat.

    The only recurring character in the original adventures, other than George himself, is the Man with the Yellow Hat. It was he who brought George from Africa, and it is in his house that George lives. The Man often facilitates George’s adventures by taking him somewhere, and even more often resolves the tension by appearing just in time to get George out of a tight spot. He is always seen wearing a bright yellow suit and a wide-brimmed yellow hat.

    The Man is never mentioned by name in the original adventures, or in any subsequent content over more than six decades. He is always called either “the Man” or fully “the Man with the Yellow Hat”. When people speak to George about the Man, they often refer to him as “your friend.” This tradition was broken in the 2006 film, in which the Man is referred to as “Ted Shackleford”.

    Note: H. A. Rey, published in April 1998, the flip-book, “See the Circus”. In this book, the Man with the Yellow Hat is pictured and is referenced as “Ted”.
    [edit] Other media

  3. Kevin Stoda says:

    Become a Fan

    Kevin Anthony Stoda
    What are your memories?

    Taiwan and China celebrate a day for teachers in September each year. In Taiwan it always falls on the 28th of September. In the USA, it is in May. World Teachers Day is on October 5 each year. In our elementary school here on Beigan Island, Taiwan, students celebrated TEACHERS DAY by first playing (recorders)and singing a song for the teachers. they pounded and massaged teachers shoulders, backs, and necks as part of a thank-you ceremony. They also gave teachers thank-you cards before going outside and playing a school-wide dodge ball match at the end of the school day.


  4. eslkevin says:

    I made comments on your articles but am not sure that they went through.
    I said that you were having a Music Appreciation Class.
    One thing that I enjoy as a mother, grandmother and friend of the young and old is opening the world to them. I like others, who like yourself open it to others.


  5. Kevin Stoda says:

    Lisa Beamer on Good Morning America – If you remember, she’s the wife of Todd Beamer who said ‘Let’s Roll!’ and helped take down the plane over Pennnsylvania that was heading for Washington DC back on 9/11.

    She said it’s the little things that she misses most about Todd, such as hearing the garage door open as he came home, and her children running to meet him. She’s now the Mom of a beautiful little girl, Mary.
    Lisa recalled this story:
    “I had a very special teacher in high school many years ago whose husband died suddenly of a heart attack. About a week after his death, she shared some of her insight with a classroom of students. As the late afternoon sunlight came streaming in through the classroom windows and the class was nearly over, she moved a few things aside on the edge of her desk and sat down there.
    With a gentle look of reflection on her face, she paused and said, ‘ Class is over, I would like to share with all of you, a thought that is unrelated to class, but which I feel is very important. Each of us is put here on earth to learn, share, love, appreciate and give of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end. It can be taken away at any moment.
    Perhaps this is the powers way of telling us that we must make the most out of every single day. Her eyes, beginning to water, she went on, ‘So I would like you all to make me a promise. From now on, on your way to school, or on your way home, find something beautiful to notice.
    It doesn’t have to be something you see, it could be a scent, perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of someone’s house, or it could be the sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or the way the morning light catches one autumn leaf as it falls gently to the ground. Please look for these things, and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some, these things are the “stuff” of life. The little things we are put here on earth to enjoy. The things we often take for granted.
    The class was completely quiet. We all picked up our books and filed out of the room silently. That afternoon, I noticed more things on my way home from school than I had that whole semester. Every once in a while, I think of that teacher and remember what an impression she made on all of us, and I try to appreciate all of those things that sometimes we all overlook.
    Take notice of something special you see on your lunch hour today. Go barefoot. Or walk on the beach at sunset. Stop off on the way home tonight to get a double dip ice cream cone. For as we get older, it is not the things we did that we often regret, but the things we didn’t do.

  6. Pingback: Another International or World Teachers Day Tale « Eslkevin's Blog

  7. eslkevin says:


    Strengthening Science at the DOI
    After receiving more than 10,000 comments from UCS supporters—Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a strong scientific integrity policy.

    Department of Interior Responds to Our Comments

    Dear Kevin,

    Last month, we asked UCS supporters like you to submit comments regarding the Department of the Interior’s (DOI’s) draft scientific integrity policy. The policy would have done little to prevent the kind of manipulation and distortion of science that has skewed decisions on everything from underwater oil drilling to endangered species.
    Last Wednesday—after receiving more than ten thousand comments from UCS supporters—Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a radically different scientific integrity policy that addresses most of the issues we raised. Read our reaction here.
    I heard personally from staff at the DOI that they relied heavily upon our input in shaping the new policy, and it’s clear that this public pressure convinced them to do the right thing. Together, we made sure the DOI heard loud and clear that the public supports strong actions to protect government science.
    On the heels of this victory, we need to ensure strong scientific integrity standards like these are in place throughout the federal government.
    In September, UCS released the results of a survey of government scientists who work on food safety—hundreds reported political interference in their work over the past year. These results clearly illustrate the need for better protection for whistleblowers, the right for scientists to speak publicly about their work, and other critical reforms to defend science from political interference.
    In March 2009, President Obama asked the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to create a detailed plan to protect the integrity of science throughout the federal government. In September, the president’s science advisor told us a plan would come by the end of 2010, and we intend to hold the White House to this promise. In the meantime, you can track the administration’s progress here.


    Michael Halpern
    National Field Organizer
    UCS Scientific Integrity Program

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