‘Gratitude Tree’ to honor 1,500 foreigners

Staff Writer, with CNA

Wed, May 18, 2011 - Page 2

Huashan 1914 Creative Park will get a new art installation in December —a 6m tree made of stainless steel honoring foreigners who have had a significant impact on Taiwan.

The Council for Cultural Affairs (CCA) said yesterday it would erect the giant, silver tree in Taipei in recognition of the contributions made by foreigners and as part of the nation’s celebration of its 100th founding anniversary.

Council for Cultural Affairs Minister Emile Sheng (盛治仁) said the council would compile a list of 1,500 foreign nationals who have dedicated their lives to Taiwan, and their names will be displayed around the “Gratitude Tree,” a work of art by professor Liu Po-tsun (劉柏村).

The giant tree will be installed on Dec. 10, when the world marks Human Rights Day.

“Aside from the one-day celebrations held across the world, we hope we can do something to reflect on our past and to express our gratitude to the foreign friends who have helped us a lot,” Sheng said.

The Gratitude Tree is part of a wider “Love in Taiwan” campaign undertaken by the Foundation of Taiwan Organizations for Philanthropic Education, which won a grant from the council.

The foundation has listed the criteria for inclusion in the Gratitude Tree, i.e. foreign nationals who have devoted at least 20 years of their life to Taiwan, or those who have made great contributions in Taiwan. They must also have made their impact in one of four fields — medicine and public health, social welfare, education and culture, and democracy and human rights.

The foundation will also launch a Web site, TV programs and publish books featuring 100 influential foreign friends chosen from the 1,500 expatriates featured on the Gratitude Tree.

Gian Carlo Michelini, an Italian Catholic priest is one of the nominees. Born in 1935 in Italy, Michelini came to Taiwan at the age of 29 and has since dedicated himself to promoting Taiwan’s art on the international stage.

He founded the Lan Yang Dance Troupe in Yilan in 1966. The troupe has toured more than 30 countries, staging more than 1,000 performances over the past four decades.

Michelini said at the press conference that 47 years was certainly not a short amount of time, but like many of his friends, he was very fond of Taiwan and would like to continue to stay and be a friend of the country.