Tue, Feb 11, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Use book fair to highlight Taiwan

By Li Chen-ching 李振清

Kudos to the Taipei Times for its timely dissemination of rare highlights and valuable information regarding this year’s Taipei International Book Exhibition through a series of penetrating news reports. This professional journalistic practice has kept readers informed of the ongoing high-profile international event from educational and cultural perspectives, linking Taiwan to the world in a substantial way.

Many of the of the Taipei Times reports included briefings on publications from 68 countries, noting vintage postcard collections from 60 to 90 years old and lectures by renowned writers, as well as the exhibition’s focus on four Asian countries — Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand.

To correlate with this new approach in relation to the annual book expo, Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) said at a pre-opening event on Tuesday last week: “We often know more about the US and Europe, which are [geographically] farther away from us, than we know about other nations in Asia.”

To manifest Lung’s vision and mission, an innovative approach should be considered for future exhibitions: Promote and showcase books about Taiwan that are written and published internationally.

In this year’s book expo, there is one such book, written by US academic David Pendery: Something Super: One American Lives, Learns and Teaches in Taiwan. More similar books should be promoted to fulfill the functions and mission of the international book expo.

There have been many books written about Taiwan by passionate foreigners in the past decades, focusing on religion, society, education, politics, food, environment, customs and culture. And yet, there is not one that illustrates this precious, progressive country from diverse perspectives with in-depth understanding, true emotion, genuine care, far-reaching expectation and constructive suggestion as well as Something Super does. Pendery, who is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and earned a bachelor’s degree in San Francisco.

Leaving his hometown to explore new discoveries and career paths in Taiwan was a daunting task for the writer. However, all of the challenges were resolved by and large through his intellectual capacity, well-rounded education and solid training in the US, as well as a strong attachment to a new land where he finally settled down, with the goals of further learning and teaching accomplished.

The resourceful contents of this book shed new light not only on foreigners trying to work in Taiwan, but also on college teachers and students endeavoring to enhance their respective career and academic successes.

In this analytical personal memoir, Pendery depicts his unique experiences in Taiwan over 12 years. His description of strategically adjusting to a new environment with drastic cultural differences is of great significance to all foreigners. Learning Chinese seemed an insurmountable challenge to him, but he overcame the challenge with strong motivation and innovative strategies that have been applied to his creative and productive teaching of English in a local college.

Diverse job opportunities and teaching possibilities at the college level are Pendery’s focus. His completion of a doctorate at National Chengchi University, together with his subsequent landing of a permanent teaching position at National Taipei College of Business with his innovative pedagogical approaches can serve as a model for serious foreigners in Taiwan.

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