Kudos to Taiwan
This summer, a student whom I taught in Victoria, Canada, and whom I consider to be a son to me, sent me a ticket to visit his home in Taipei. I had always heard that Taipei was nothing but concrete, and I was not expecting much — just a wonderful visit. What a shock.
Taiwan is the best-kept tourist secret there is. The wondrous beauty astounded me. The mountains and greenery were a great surprise. The mixture of old and new architecture was exciting and interesting. The palm trees, wonderful heat and well-tended gardens were delightful. I was so fortunate to have three “old” students give up their entire days to take me everywhere from the forests outside Taichung to the northern tip of the island. My visits to historical sites and temples were awe-inspiring and have given me a great interest in the history of the region. The relaxed time spent at a variety of restaurants gave me a different outlook on life in Taipei.
Taiwan and Vancouver Island, where I live, are almost exactly the same size, and we both have mountainous regions that take away from the useable land. The big difference is that Vancouver Island has 750,000 people and Taiwan has 23 million (almost equal to Canada’s total population of about 34 million). One would think that this fact would make Taiwan claustrophobic and chaotic. How wrong.
I have never experienced such patient, kind and peaceful people. Initially, the traffic frightened me, but I began to see that there was a shared understanding between drivers as to how it all worked and, in fact, I started to see that the driving patterns were like an ancient dance. No one swore, blared their horns or made rude finger signals as they do in my country. I began to understand why I always loved my Taiwanese students so much. Environmentally, Taipei is decades ahead of us, and the pride people have in working together to keep their city spotlessly clean and safe is truly remarkable. I am proud of my country for different reasons, but there is so much Canada could learn from your culture.
I would move to Taipei in a minute, but I am not a wealthy woman and no longer young, so this is not really possible.
I do want to let you all know that you have reason to be proud and to stand tall. You are an inspiration to me, and I will be back as soon as I can save enough money for another trip! Xie xie, Xie xie.
Taiwanese as an identity
It is reported that almost a quarter of a million Taiwanese residing in the US identified themselves as Taiwanese in the US Census last year, nearly double the figure from a decade ago, with the greatest number of Taiwanese identifying themselves so in California, New York and Texas. [“US census shows Taiwanese figures almost doubled,” Aug. 27, page 1]. Both politically and substantively significant, the statistic does not only suggest the concerted self-identify of Taiwanese expatriates, it also signals that there is a growing Taiwanese community whose health needs must be met.
The growing number of self-identifying Taiwanese in the US is politically important, as the increased numbers represent a bigger picture in the US political landscape that is increasingly too salient to ignore. The concerted voice of Taiwanese Americans could result in a stronger influence in political and financial decisions, at home and abroad. It also warrants notice that, although some Taiwanese Americans identify themselves as such because they are ideologically sympathetic to the Taiwanese independence movement back home, many more did so because they identify with Taiwan’s common values that are close to those of their adopted country — the US — in terms of political beliefs, press freedom and the multi-cultural diversity that Taiwanese society has to offer.