Christmas party for immigrants draws international crowd

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mon, Dec 25, 2006 - Page 2

Immigrants to Taiwan from Indonesia, the Philippines and other countries gathered at the bandstand in front of the Taipei City Government building to celebrate Christmas together.

The party was sponsored by the Taipei City Government and the Bread of Life Christian Church in Taipei.

Deputy Commissioner Jason Yeh (葉傑生) of the city's Department of Civil Affairs gave a welcome address to those in attendance.

"Taiwan is an open, democratic society and we welcome different groups," he said.

According to Yeh, there are roughly 28,000 residents in Taipei who have arrived from other countries.

"Those immigrants have made their roots in Taiwan, bringing more variety and interest to this country's cuisine," he said.

After the opening speeches, the event featured performances and prize drawings. Participants could also try enjoyed Indonesian satays, Southeast Asian curries and Taiwanese stir-fried rice noodles.

Most of those participating at the event were from the Bread of Life Christian Church community or their guests, Christian and non-Christian alike.

Pastor Ip Ling-nam of the Bread of Life Church offered a short prayer for the gathering.

Shaik Sabera, a Muslim from South India, did not feel like the religious content detracted from the party.

"My friends who belong to the church invited me," said Sabara, who has lived in Taiwan for a year. "The party feels really good."

"The New Life Church has 200 Indonesian members and about 100 Filipino members," Ip said. "We provide a sense of community and services in their own language."

Ip emphasized that all immigrants were welcome at the party.