|Celia with describers in training at Nat'l Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts|
On the culture front, I lived in Taiwan in 1989-90, so this was a homecoming of sorts as I have not been back in 27 years. I have to say that much has changed during that time, but also much has remained the same. The small street that bordered the university I taught at has become the largest night market in Taiwan! Gone was the smiling Buddha noodle shop and in its place was a neon, amplified seller of socks, electronic gadgets, handbags, you name it. Taichung has built many tall buildings and shopping centers, and the scooters have exponentially increased, still with entire families riding on one. But the bicycles are now in racks for the tourists (if you dare!) and cars vie with the scooters for road space.
|Jennifer, the workshop translator, heads off into the night on a scooter with two of her children aboard.|
Taoist Temples are still in every neighborhood, and they still bustle with people day and night. But there are rules now about burning incense because of the problems with air pollution, so there are only a few sticks in the burner at one time. The temples used to be dense with smoke so I am sure this must have been a hard rule for the Taiwanese to accept. Also, the food has changed. We ate simply in 1989 (I was a graduate student at the time), but we ate well. Most food was Taiwanese. KFC opened its first shop in Taipei in 1990, and it was a big deal. Now, it is easy to get just about any food you want, but I still went for a simple Taiwanese meal. And I think because I was eating breakfast at what would have been evening time if I were home in Austin, I ate several kinds of noodles, pickled bamboo, green salad, red peppers, steamed buns, radish sprouts, and peanuts every morning.
|Entrepreneurial wheelchair user selling gift items in an outdoor market|
But what has remained the same is the people. They are kind and generous and eager to learn. As a Lǎoshī (teacher), I was treated with respect by everyone, and people couldn’t thank me enough for sharing my expertise and knowledge with them. The year I lived there was one of the best years of my life, and that has not changed. Feeling appreciated and supported when you are 8,000 miles from home is significant. And for that I thank Emily, Jeannette, Catherine, Joy, Jennifer, Evelyn, Emily II, Allan, Marvin, and all the trainees. You made my heart full.