Kate of the Week: Kate Vesper, who likes dinosaurs and sundresses

There are so many fascinating Kates out there. And every week, Kate-book.com is resolving to introduce you to a new one. This week, I would like you to meet Kate Vesper, of Taiwan, who just turned 25 with only a minimal quarter-life freakout. Without further ado, 13 questions with Kate.

What do you do?

I teach English to kids in Taipei.

How did you get started in your line of work or study?
In my first year post-grad, I had two journalism jobs – one at a business magazine and one at an entertainment website. Both were enjoyable and staved off the existential distress at having selected English as my seemingly employment-proof major. Unfortunately, neither position could guarantee much security long-term. Being a 22-year-old resident of a country in the midst of economic crisis, I figured there was no time like the present to satisfy my urge to globe-trot. I’m now beginning my third year in Taiwan.

I hadn’t visited Asia before making the move, but was in contact with a few people who had taught in China and South Korea. They had really positive experiences to share, so I thought I’d give it a try. Teaching abroad started out as a ‘I’ll just do it for one year’ thing, but the temporary adventure has turned into a really fulfilling and sustainable life.

What’s something you wish people knew or understood better about what you do?

To those who are slightly wary of children: how surprisingly un-scary working with kids is. There’s a lot more to it than sticky jam hands threatening your every article of clothing or a nonstop headache-inducing cacophony of ‘myyyy toy!’.

One thing kids don’t get enough credit for is their intelligence. They are crazy smart. Their brains are seriously absorbent little sponges for knowledge. There’s a lot of societal pressure to be studious here. Taiwanese children start school at a very early age – they can be as young as 2 when they begin a full-day schedule! In addition to learning English, ages 3+ often also take Chinese, music, dance, art, and supplemental French and Japanese classes. The kids are dropped off around 8 in the morning and often don’t go home until 7 p.m. All this long before most American children have even been introduced to the concept of spending time away from their parents.

Another really awesome thing about teaching kids is witnessing the everyday outpouring of love. I began my Taiwan experience with a brand-new group of children who had never before been subjected to the classroom environment. One little boy couldn’t stop bawling over this sudden and insurmountable lifestyle change. His little classmate (on her first day!) automatically brought him a tissue, dried his tears, and held his hand all day, showing him the ropes like she was a seasoned pro. Seeing stuff like that pretty much makes it impossible for your heart not to melt into a puddle of goo.

In an ideal world, where making a living weren’t an issue, what would you be doing?

Bungee jumping. Taking dance lessons. Learning how to kickbox, draw, speak 12 different languages, become a master chef, water ski, and play saxophone. Visiting every country and going into space.

What’s a band, television show, book, or movie that you hope Kate-book readers will go watch, listen to, or read RIGHT NOW?

The British miniseries ‘Black Mirror’ is incredible. It’s about various ways modern technological advances could potentially alter and corrupt society. Each episode is set in an alternate reality, based on different sets of circumstances and characters. There are only 3 stories so far, but a second season is on the way.

What’s your favorite stop to make on a road trip?

Anywhere under an open expanse of starry night sky. Everything looks so incredible when you’re away from city lights.

Who is your celebrity doppelganger?

I once uploaded a picture to one of those face recognition sites. The closest percentile match came up Danny Glover. I must admit, the resemblance is uncanny.

What’s the first concert you ever went to?

A medieval madrigal group at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

If you were forced to get a tattoo right at this moment, what would you get?

Something incredibly small. On my scalp, under the hair. In white ink. Maybe a tiny shark fin.

What’s your favorite thing about your name?

The versification possibilities! I always dominated at that summer camp game where you go around the circle making name rhymes. There are a lot of awesome Kates, so it’s cool to be in such good company. I’m pretty fond of my last name too, largely due to a Vespa scooter obsession.

Your least favorite thing about your name?

I’m probably echoing a lot of other Kates here, but when people call me Katie! Good name, but it’s not mine.

Who is your favorite famous Kate?

Katharine Hepburn. She was one tough cookie.

Tell me about a Kate out there who you wish were a household name. Katherine, Katies, Kathleens, etc, of course count, too.

Katie Morag from Mairi Hedderwick’s series of picture books. I loved reading about her as a kid – she always had such crazy escapades.

Know a Kate, Caty, Katherine, or Catelynn who needs to be Kate of the Week? Awesome! Send me a tip at kate.torgovnick@gmail.com. I will be in touch with them soon.


4 thoughts on “Kate of the Week: Kate Vesper, who likes dinosaurs and sundresses

  1. Dori says:

    Awesome interview, cool pix, amazing Kate! I’ll think of her next time I look up at a starry night and imagine her flying off into space on a magic Vespa!

  2. Veda says:

    And here I thought only a few people realized what an awesome Kate ours is. So good to know she is getting the recognition she deserves. We’re proud of you Kate!

  3. Jeanne says:

    Kudos to Kate with an adventurous spirit and a big big heart!!

  4. Boxy says:

    You go, girl! As a fellow English major with a penchant for the night sky, I fully identify. I also love kids, an occupational hazard of teaching for so many years. You’re amazing!

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