1 In June 1990, with the aid of some creative credit card use, I go to Taiwan on a bogus "exchange program" through my university. (My future wife, Kirsten, and I are the first and last participants.) The "exchange" is with some English-language institute in Taipei, and the idea is that my university sends them recent grads to teach for a few months, and they send students to the university's ESL program for a few months. Of course, the real idea is that the Chung Shan English Language Institute can put "Affiliated with Ivy League University" on its brochures. I fell into this because I worked in the International Programs Office, and, being a senior with no ambition or clue what to do and six months before my student loans were coming due, I decided that spending six months in Taiwan would be a pretty cool adventure. The only downside (apart from the fact that Taiwan in the summer is a bowl of heat, humidity, and pollution that puts even my native Cincinnati to shame) is that I have to work at the institute teaching English. Well, maybe "teaching" is sort of a misnomer. Most of what I do is work in the children's English classes, which they attend on Wednesdays and Saturdays, when they only have a half day of regular school. There is a Chinese teacher here to run the class and really teach them stuff, and an American teacher to run language games. It's like a very specialized, makeup-free version of clowning. I'm good at it, but it gets old pretty quickly. I also work the occasional evening teaching teenagers and adults. Here I am the only teacher in the room, and though the syllabus has every class planned out and it's mostly going through lame exercises in the book, it is a version of teaching. Sometimes I veer from the syllabus and actually talk to the students. I find that I enjoy the teenagers the most. I don't know why this is-I think I am just one of these rare and probably defective people who really enjoy the company of teenagers. It is July, and I have an early-evening class of all teenagers. Years later I will still remember some of them-Julie, Jim, Kellie, and Angle, who pronounces it "Angel" (of course, they have Chinese names, but I never know them, which is kind of weird-it's like your French or Spanish teacher only knowing you as Pierre or Vicente or whatever name you adopted in high school language classes). I've been teaching this group for about a month, and they are finally comfortable enough to start speaking, and the lame exercise in the book evolves into something that very nearly approximates a conversation. Most of the students are speaking, their English is flowing pretty well, and they're asking questions about the grammar point and then using my answers-everything is just working really well. I am shocked when class ends because it feels like it just started. I meet up with Kirsten, who was teaching across the hall, and prepare myself to leave the air-conditioning and step into the lead apron of swampy heat that is Taipei in the summertime. When the heat hits me, it's like a punch in the stomach. I've been here a month and I'm still not used to it. I immediately start sweating from every pore in my body, but I feel something else too. Something strange. Something I have never felt at the end of a day of work before. I am happy and full of energy. I feel great-I'm buzzing tremendously and talking a mile a minute as I practically run down the street searching for some kind of cold beverage to save me from imminent dehydration. "I can't believe this!" I say to Kirsten, who is looking at me "with stranger eyes," as one of our Chinese buddies would say. "I feel great! You're not supposed to feel great after work! You feel like shit, you go to happy hour to try and get happy, you don't get happy just from work!&qHalpin, Brendan is the author of 'Losing My Faculties A Teacher's Story', published 2004 under ISBN 9780812969511 and ISBN 0812969510.