A First Time for Everything

Two weekends ago, I got to visit Taiwan for the first time. Our short four day stay there was a whirlwind experience, but also very fun. Looking back, I’m surprised how much we fit in. Our days were spent visiting popular landmarks such as Taipei 101, Danshui, and Maokong. During evenings we got free time to visit the night markets, eat delicious food, and sing KTV. But while all of these activities were fun, I think what I’ll remember most from this trip are the few talks we got to have with the Taiwanese students our age.

Before this trip, my knowledge of Taiwan was next to none. I had heard about the delicious food its night markets had to offer and knew that there was political unrest between Taiwan and the mainland. Beyond this, I never had much of a chance or reason to give it anymore thought. But going to Taiwan and talking with the Taiwanese students gave me a much different way to think about Taiwan. It was fascinating to hear about their identity struggles and views of the future. What surprised me most was that many of the students seemed not to care as much about independence as they did about keeping the status quo and keeping their democratic freedoms.

Hearing the students talk about their lives and their struggle for a Taiwanese identity helped me to look at my own identity and myself. It gave me a chance to see others of Chinese descent who are trying to put together what it means to have the roots of a Chinese culture while also navigating a separate new home culture. I’ve definitely learned that there is no one specific way to “be” Chinese and that people must go through their own struggle to understand identity. I am glad to have had this chance  to see a different perspective and excited to learn more during my time here.