Hakka handicrafts prove a hit with foreign spouses

By Tsai Meng-shang and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 - Page 5

Dozens of female foreign spouses from Hsinchu County’s Baoshan Township (寶山) are integrating into Taiwanese society and the local Hakka community through a handicraft training course.

Baoshan Township Warden Fan Yu-yan (范玉燕) launched the training course in early August in an effort to help the area’s more than 450 “new inhabitants” from China and other countries to better fit into the community.

The course gave lessons to 20 foreign spouses on the manufacture of various handmade products, such as Hakka cloth bags and woven purses, with the women putting in about eight hours of work a week.

On Wednesday, the trainees proudly presented their artistic achievements, displaying hand-made bags and hand-painted crystal plates.

“We use the subsidy of NT$160,000 [US$5,460] allocated by the National Immigration Agency [NIA] to fund the handicraft course, which aims to acquaint the many new inhabitants with traditional Hakka culture through the process of making these products,” Fan said.

Praising their achievements, Fan said she had encouraged the first batch of trainees to continue honing their skills so that they could supplement their household incomes by selling their handmade products.

A foreign spouse from Indonesia, identified only as A-lien (阿蓮), said that the course not only taught participants a variety of handicraft techniques, but also afforded them an opportunity to talk to each other about their experiences of living in the township.

“It [the course] has been helpful in assisting us to adjust to life in a new country,” she said.

Pledging to hold further courses, Fan said the township office would step up lobbying efforts for extra funding from the NIA for such classes in the future.