Fearless Formosa: Paddling Taiwan’s Coastline

The first Davidson classroom that Laura Zulliger '10 set foot in was the French Broad River.

It was during the Davidson Outdoors Summer Odyssey program for incoming first-year students. Already an avid paddler, Zulliger became an instant fan.

"I was also a huge Dean Rusk International Studies Program fangirl," said the English major and Chinese minor, who studied in Beijing and taught there after college.

Now, she's paddling internationally: Fearless Formosa, her sea-kayaking expedition with paddling partner Kelly Henry, is underway, 250 miles along the coast of Taiwan.

"We'll spend our days paddling, our nights camping on remote beaches," Zulliger said as she was preparing the trip in early spring. "We'll surf our boats, explore lush seaside gorges, and, of course, eat in as many night markets as possible all while seeking the best bubble tea in the most remote corners of the island."

In a pre-trip blog, she took a look, both poetic and practical, at her pedagogical paddling roots:

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started 
And know the place for the first time." 
- T.S. Eliot

Ed Daugherty and Mike Goode, who head Davidson Outdoors (DO), are both seasoned paddlers and ACA-certified instructor trainers. Through ACA courses with DO, Zelliger said she learned not just a framework for becoming a better instructor, but a framework for assessing her own progress as a paddler and an instructor.

"Davidson Outdoors made a huge mark on my life," she said. "I learned how to effectively co-lead with different personality types, accurately assess risks, teach to different learnings styles, navigate shuttling logistics, communicate effectively, teach for retention, embrace discovery learning and lead with confidence."

Get the latest updates on Zulliger's journey on Twitter @FearlessFormosa or on Facebook.

John Syme


  • May 26, 2017