A dad took his daughter on a trip, just the 2 of them, and wrote down what he learned.

Sometime late last year, I found some spare time in my work schedule.

My daughter was slightly more than 2 years old, and I noticed her awareness of her world had gotten more astute. I always have this desire of imparting my experience and knowledge to her, and the best way in my opinion isn’t telling her, but to show her the world myself.

I realized I had this block of eight days available in front of me, and I promptly bought air tickets for the following day, Christmas Eve.



That's her on the flight. She always prefers the window seat. All photos by Stefen Chow, used with permission.

We didn’t bring mum with us as she needed to work, so it became a great excuse for a mini adventure for father and daughter.

The rules were simple.

  • I wanted it to feel casual, rugged, and roughly planned. I made it a rule to reserve rooms one day in advance, so it kept the itinerary spontaneous and fluid.
  • I wanted to stay away from bigger cities as I wanted to spend isolated time with my daughter and not just go on a usual tourist route.
  • I vowed to keep an open mind and also to allow my little one to dictate how the trip went, too.

In a nutshell, I think it was one of the best trips I had in my life and definitely one to remember with my daughter.

We ended up cycling along the eastern coast of Taiwan, hung out with baby animals on a farm, went onto the boats of fishermen, chased trains, climbed hills, sheltered together from a storm, and had more giggles than tantrums.

Christmas Dinner Special in Hua Lien, Taiwan.

This is what I learned:

— Toddlers have sophisticated methods of communication.

They are way smarter, more emphatic, and more understanding than I initially thought. I found that it was far easier to communicate with my daughter using adult language and rationale. We were together in a strange land, and often that put both of us out of our comfort zones. The sooner we realized we were an equal team and needed to depend on each other for moral support and affirmation, the faster the situation improved.

Little Chow figured out why buskers do the performances they do, and she became eager to give them money each time.

"Wives and mothers, if you want your partner to understand how it feels to be one, convince your husband to take a trip with the child without you."

— Most fears were unfounded.

When I first mentioned this trip to my friends and family, the first questions (and assumptions) I got were "How will she get her afternoon nap?" "The child needs her mother!" "This is not normal routine for her; she can do it when she is much older!" I suppose these are valid reasons, but we also find ourselves living in an increasingly protected world where everything from forks to table edges to flooring has been designed for child safety and marketed to the fears of parents. The problem is that we need to take a little leap of faith for interesting life experiences. (As long as there is adult supervision!)

Little Chow attempts to climb down some stairs while balancing a precious lollipop in her hand at the same time.

— It is better for the world to center around the parents, not around the children.

In Asia, there is a tendency to give everything you have to your child. And in Beijing, where I live, I see a lot of parents making sacrifices for their children, yet I see the children becoming spoiled and pampered at a relatively young age. I couldn’t stand seeing 3- or 5-year-olds slapping their parents and grandparents in public, and I certainly don’t want my child behaving that way. By taking her to different environments and experiencing different facets Taiwan had to offer, she quickly learned to adapt to our kind of world.


Little Chow loves her watermelon. Just like her father.

— It is an incredible experience for the father.

Really. I didn’t experience the nine and a half months of having something in my stomach, and though I always acted as a cheerleader by my wife’s side, I think I felt left out of the overall experience. My daughter naturally sticks to her mum more, and her father is always a second option or a third. On a dedicated trip out there with my little one with minimal distractions, I finally had the opportunity to be a full parent.

There are times she can be a little naughty. Perfectly normal and mostly tolerable. I always remind myself that this is a trip I will never forget.

— It makes you appreciate your life partner a lot more.

I still don’t know how mums do it, but I have deeper appreciation for them now. Wives and mothers, if you want your partner to understand how it feels to be one, convince your husband to take a trip with the child without you. Suddenly we are aware of every single thing that happens — the two signals before she gets into a tantrum or when a quiet "yes" means a "no." It is the little things that men (OK, maybe just me) miss out on with a toddler.

She really loves the ocean. I showed her where we were on a map and realized if you could look straight ahead far enough, you would see the west coast of the United States of America.

— It builds a lasting friendship.

My daughter and I had a very healthy relationship before this, but the trip really made us appreciate each other more. Since the trip, I feel that we are able to draw common memories and experiences, and it has certainly brought us closer together. Mummy agrees, so that’s a good thing.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

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Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

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Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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