Over the summer, TFK Kid Reporter Taylor Pannell and I were offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Taiwan for the 21st Annual World Children’s Baseball Fair. (Click here to read Taylor’s story about the trip.) WCBF is no ordinary baseball camp. The program has two goals: to promote both a love of baseball and to create friendship among kids from across the globe. It was founded by baseball legend Hank Aaron, along with Japanese home-run king Sadaharu Oh and Dr. Akiko Agishi, a Japanese scholar.
The program was held in Kaohsiung City, on the southwest coast of Taiwan. At first, I felt very nervous about traveling so far away. But my teammates and the other friendly participants made me feel comfortable right away. Besides, we were too busy to get homesick.
In the mornings, we worked on baseball skills with expert coaches. In the afternoons, we participated in a cultural activity. On our first day, for example, we visited a traditional Taiwanese farm. There, we ground rice to make a meal of dumplings. These probably aren’t the dumplings you’re thinking of. This Taiwanese specialty was made from mashed rice, a white, gooey substance that you dip in a peanut powder. Yum! We also visited local museums and were treated to a traditional shadow puppet performance.
The summer weather in Kaohsiung is hot and humid. The heat might have been unbearable during the baseball clinics, but we had so much fun that the weather barely got in our way. The coaches found interesting, innovative ways to teach us skills like making double plays, bunting and pitching. To work on slides, we used a Slip ‘n Slide, which was a lot of fun and cooled us down.
The best part of my trip was meeting kids from around the world. The children who participated came from 19 different countries, including South Africa, Holland, Japan, Mexico and the United States. The atmosphere was diverse and accepting. Most of us spoke different languages, but that didn’t matter. Once, when I was waiting by the elevator at our hostel, one of the kids from the Taiwanese team came up to me and was trying to tell me something. At first I couldn’t understand him. However, after much gesticulating, or gesturing, I realized that he wanted to play catch with me!
Now that I’m back home in the U.S., I have a yearning to go back to Taiwan, and maybe one day I will. Even though their culture is very different from ours, I got along fine. Overall, my trip to Taiwan was an experience I’ll never forget. Xie-xie (that’s “thank you” in Mandarin), TIME For Kids and World Children’s Baseball Fair!