About Me

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Yilan, Taiwan
I'm an ESL teacher from Colorado. I worked in Taipei in 2000 for over a year, paid off my undergrad loans, traveled, saved $ to travel some more. So when I got pregnant in grad school I thought I could return to Taiwan, be economically self sufficient while my daughter masters Mandarin.We came to Tainan when she was 2. Taiwan is an excellent base to explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety and benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Family Nightmare and Celebrating Love: Rest in Peace Emma

Yesterday was her birthday. It's no surprise she was almost born on Valentine's.

My daughter and I were on the tail end of our amazing Lunar New Year holiday in Bohol when we got the horrific news. I had just woken up and stepped out of our jungle cottage in Anda to get some wifi reception when my Dad was typing me a FM message at the same time. His words were unbelievable. I must be dreaming. I texted back to him, "No! No!" and he replied, "Call me." I ran inside to the bed howling, my daughter next to me, "Tell me! Tell me!" I couldn't tell her.

Quickly, I was talking to my brother crying, "I can't tell her!" (my daughter). I commanded Z to get inside and all I could do was wail, "Andy I'm so sorry" over and over again, and "I love you." His voice started breaking up, choking back his tears. I said goodbye and then returned to my bed howling. I didn't care who heard. Later, the German backpackers came over and asked me if everything was ok. No nothing was ok. The whole world is in chaos.

I had to tell my daughter her cousin Emma, who she grew up with her first 2 1/2 years and are forever bonded (they are 33 days apart) is dead. My ex-sister in law shot her and then shot herself. They both were dead. My brother found them the next morning. He currently is my new hero. All of us are still devastated. I feel like an amputee. This is now the new normal.

Emma and Z

In retrospect it was a saving grace to be on holiday when we found out, but I wished we were home. We didn't have to do anything, or go any where or talk to anyone- and we didn't. We canceled that morning's dive for the next two days and waited til our last day. It was just the shock of it, totally immobilized us. We sat on our jungle porch getting bit by slow mosquitoes or collapsed on the bed stupefied. When we did finally dive, we saw some green turtles which seem even more meaningful, considering it was Emma's totem animal.

I didn't read any of the media articles, not until my uncle showed me some of them when I went home for her memorial. They were all wrong. The put this ugly and untruthful spin that C---'s suicide was due to jealousy from another woman. The story went global. I had friends giving me condolences from around the world, which is insane to me because sadly this story of guns and mental health issues,  happens all too frequently. (It happened a week before, a mile away in the parking lot of a sporting goods store, a mother shot her two sons and herself in the car.)

Although we don't live at home and we've been in Taiwan for 8 years, its still devastating. My daughter Z and Emma are just 33 days apart. I have pictures of  C-- and myself putting our preggo bellies together (mine was significantly bigger). In other words, even in utero, they were destined to be close. I had assumed and was looking forward to them growing up to be remarkable women together, best friends. Even in utero, we were praying for Emma because her mom's behavior, past issues seemed to be there still. I don't want to trash talk C-- by any means; she had a horrible childhood, her and my brother had a short miserable marriage, the world's most insane divorce and an even longer, uglier custody battle most of Emma's life. I empathize with what must of been C--'s unimaginable suffering to do what she did, but now my brother is the one in utter torment. Ironically, she was staying with my bro, who was helping her get back on her feet when it happened. Emma's last week must of been her dream come true, both parents getting along under the same roof, both with plans to move to Hawaii. I still can't believe C--- did it.

The only positive development is how much the community, our home church, and my brother's friends and coworkers came together to support him and my family. Neighbors have been bringing my folks meals (although they both lost noticeable weight), money was raised to pay for me and Z's flights home, money was raised for Emma's funeral expenses. Everyone seems to be going through different stages of the grieving process at different times; sensitivity, empathy, seeking peace is in order. My daughter and another brother are extremely angry, I myself am still in shock and sadness, I think I'm afraid of my anger right now.

I'm inordinately proud of my brother for choosing to focus on the love that was Emma and not on the ugliness of her murder. He is using her whole ministry of harmony as a catalyst to be a better man. My brother explained it all in his memorial speech, that it was she who inspired him to volunteer dive at the Denver Aquarium. A beautiful manifestation of his healing was taking some of Emma's distraught classmates snorkeling at the Aquarium. He also said how Emma's favorite animal is a sea turtle and she is like a turtle, and its so true. I've seen her with my daughter and when they had a misunderstanding, Z would want to talk about it, clear the air then and there (I'm the same) but Emma would retreat, be alone, seek quiet with one of the dogs, she seemed afraid of even a smidgen of discord. I had to teach my daughter that people handle conflict differently, you can't force yourself. And because Emma was surrounded so much by conflict, not any of us adults cared to try and get Emma to talk it out. Kids moved on, they were playing again eventually.

What was especially difficult for my daughter is we left our recent summer visit immediately after they had a misunderstanding and us adults were minimizing my kid's need to find resolution. "Its ok, it will be ok when we come back next year." My daughter was so distraught, "I never had a chance to tell her I forgave her!" Honestly, we told her that Emma probably wasn't worried about it at all. None of us could remember when Emma was ever mad, and if she was, it came out passively. All Emma ever wanted was for everyone to get along. She was a wonderful older sister to her baby brother and younger cousins.That girl loved her parents more than herself, she literally died for one.

I was so sad that we would never have any more new adventures, memories with Emma. Then after the memorial, Emma's Mandarin teacher came up and introduced herself. She is from Taiwan, her husband from Yilan. She told me with tears in her eyes how Emma used to say she was going to visit me and Z in Taiwan. That about broke my heart because whenever we begged her to visit (like she could) she would just flash one of her gentle, enigmatic smiles. It was such a love gift to get some new piece of her, even after the grave. I believe she is in a better place but I still shed selfish tears for all the unfulfilled memories we won't have on this earth.

Early morning at the cabin, August 2016

My brother returned to work yesterday and had his own personal love gift. On their sound system they play some internet radio and for the first time ever some random Hawaiian song that was familiar to Andy and Emma came on the speakers. The whole place became hushed, and they turned up the volume cognizant that this was her. I think big loves are like that. They will leave us these trails of love gifts to help us in our distress of missing them. I look forward to the next one, maybe when I visit her ashes that are in Hawaii or Chatfield, CO (she has 2 places because she is double the love). Probably she will drop a few love gifts by surprise; either way, she feels so close, we think about her so much she is everywhere.

Every moment was a privledge
Miraculous blessing to our family
Mistrustful of discord
Mature beyond your years
Always calm and enduring

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Birthday Spa Time in Wulai

I love it when its Friday the 13th, especially when it's my daughter's birthday! The luckiest date of my life! I took off Friday afternoon, pulled the girl out of school and headed to Wulai as my gift to her.

Wulai is actually closer than our trip would seem. Its only 17 km from Jiaoxi (our nearest hot springs), there's an aborignal trail we could hike on.

Unwilling to brave the cold rain, we took a bus To Taipei, the MRT to Xindian and a local 40 min bus to Wulai.

Our room with a view

 We stayed at a decent hotel only 200 m from the bus top and right by the bridge into the small Old Street. The place had a complimentary breakfast, unlimited coffee all day and a cat my daughter couldn't get enough of.
bus to Taipei

Our old Italian traveler friend Bruno was in transit between his Okinawa and Sri Lanka trip and met us there. He spoiled us with some gifts, including a hand mirror with our names engraved and a little artist's case with supplies for her. It was perfect weather for hot springs, freezing! We didn't make it to the crowded public ones across the river, but our hotel's public pools were indoors with open windows  right on the river banks, and were empty.

Two nights was too much time for Wulai and not knowing any locals. We took our time, ate as much Atayal food as possible, took the gondola to the waterfall, had Z do some weaving with an Atayal girl, and did some shopping. I had wanted  Z to do some aboriginal archery, where they make their own bows and arrows, but I had needed to make a more advanced reservation. I also missed  meeting a friend  who was going to show us his favorite restaurant, but by Sunday brunch we were eager to get back. Hopefully next time and also stop at Wenshan Tea Farm on our return to Taipei to buy some world class tea.

On the cable car to the waterfalls

All in all the girl was grateful for her weekend getaway, everyone appreciates a change of scene. yet she was equally grateful to be back in Yilan. I was too, I had to catch up on housework and laundry and prepare for Monday, she had to catch up on some Trollhunters.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

'Twas the Season


Christmas in Taiwan is mainly a Jesus free event, so I have to make an earnest cultivation to keep the Christmas spirit in our own way. So surreal walking around shopping malls, or New Taipei County, with so much money spent on Christmas decorations, and yet no one here really knows the Nativity story. Its easy to be like Charlie Brown. We had decorated our Christmas tree in early November, which no American ever does back home (wait at least for Thanksgiving to end), but here no problem..

I used my teaching as an opportunity to cultivate some Christmas cheer. In my ESL classes I taught the classic Charlie Brown cartoon and in my Social Studies we learned some geography with Christmas Around the world.

Christmas is associated with the winter solstice, and in Taiwan it is tradition to eat sticky rice dumplings in red bean soup, which my school served at lunch. Yilan City got into the season with  displaying an interesting tree made from recycled plastic water bottles near the car parking across from the train station.

At my daughter's school her principal became a candy throwing Santa on roller blades. How fun! Even my school gave us teachers our own Yule Log cake and coffee. Christmas is certainly becoming more of a modern tradition in Taiwan, even compared with 5 years ago. I just hope Taiwanese don't start getting the same Holiday Blues associated with this winter season back home, maybe its too sunny here for that. 

It just wouldn't be a commercial Christmas without Star Wars, right? We just had to see Rogue One on opening night, I enjoyed it more than she did, I felt like eight years old again. 


We met some coworkers and friends at Balagov's for a Ukrainian Christmas Eve lunch. It's our splurge in an otherwise thrifty Christmas.

Christmas day wasn't very magical for my daughter. Her gifts from grandpa and uncle hadn't arrived, and I didn't get her anything, having saved for our upcoming CNY trip. The morning started out decent with a sunny scooter ride to the nearby rock climbing wall with her classmates.

But her fun was short lived. With all the mats under us, she and I started wrestling as we do, and I might of accidentally given her a Christmas (mini ) concussion. She's getting too big for me to control her falls and thinking the mats were enough, I flipped her over too hard. She was unresponsive (but conscious) for a long, strange, minute, it was scary. Her friends were around snapping photos, so it was a very public, shitty Christmas morning. 

 Better to be safe than sorry, especially with Taiwan's affordable health care system, so she rested in the ER  until the doctor OKed us to go home. More mother guilt through the roof, I ruined Christmas. She still hasn't let me forget about it.

To make it up to her we went to the local swimming hole, a cold springs, for a wee refreshing Christmas dip. Eventually her gift from Grandpa arrived, no thanks to customs. 

As for the New Years weekend, we stayed home, 
Incredibly mellow, sunny, spring like NY weekend. We accidentally spent the last dinner of 2016 at the Australian Bistro for an unplanned steak, as traffic around Luna plaza forced us down that street and we were hungry and there was the rare parking spot right there. I
 relished the serendipitous surprise, as I didn't plan anything special to toast the passing year. 

She crashed at 10pm and I stayed awake watching documentaries on the Cambodian Genocide as fireworks went off, Luna Plaza's at my front windows and the sports park at my back kitchen windows. It was like a war zone. I tried to wake up my kid to watch them, but she was out cold. I did tons of yoga videos all though the weekend having joined a free 2 week membership at Yogaglo, while my daughter flew her Christmas drone around my head. I also caught up on some much needed Mandarin lessons from my daughter. Its divine to have time! 

We watched the Great Wall with Matt Damon in 3D, it was ok, superficial, awesome effects and costumes, but cheesy (Z loved it)- I'd rather watched Rogue One again. Our last night of the holiday weekend, we watched the Mauri film, "Hunt For The Wilderpeople" with Sam Neil and funny man Rhys Darby. Z couldn't stop talking about it,even up into bedtime, she wrote about it in her diary.

 She and I are still chewing on personal intentions for 2017. I think we are leaving it to Chinese New Year, when we have more downtime to just be, and not do. For now its crunch time for both us, the end of the semester exams and grades.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dictator Worship: Ignorance is Not Bliss

The mindless cosplay photos of a private school in Hsinchu has sparked outrage from the international community, foreign educators in Taiwan and local government. If you haven't already heard, this beloved history teacher allowed his class to dress up as Nazi soldiers, with full on regalia and even a cardboard tank. This kind of freedom of speech isn't even allowed in Germany. Of course Israel immediately expressed it's outrage, and then Germany soon followed. This embarrassment came right on the heels of a global survey on ignorance where Taiwan came in 3rd.

For me personally, being a Social Studies teacher in a private junior//high school and having a kid in the public system for 5 years, I am not in the least surprised. I am surprised something like this didn't happen sooner. I do have to face the reality it could of happened in any school.

Why I know this to be the sad truth is in the beginning of this semester I had to go off on a teaching tangent for all 8 of my 7th grade Social Studies classes and explain the Holocaust with graphic pictures. Maybe 4 out of 100 kids really knew what happened. The reason why I had to explain, was I was teaching a reading about London's first mayor Sadiq Khan and his mistreatment by a Neo-Nazi opponent. No one knew who Nazis were, to my surprise.

Basically its a gigantic failure of the KMT controlled curriculum, that never really resolved Taiwan's own murky history, coupled with a complete adoration of only studying Chinese history in depth. A recent editorial explained this best in the dictator worship of  Chiang Kai-Shek. I first came aware of the lack, utter vacuum of Taiwanese history books when I was in Tainan. My then private kindergarten was more of a project based school and the unit we teachers were given to teach for that month was Taiwanese history. I had to make my own timeline poster and did swaths of research because there was nothing for kids, other than a really cool comic series that was too difficult for them to read. I had parents thank me because they got so much out of it, as they confessed that they learned absolutely zero of their own history. So much is still unknown from the White Terror days of martial control. In 2012 Ma officially apologized on behalf of the KMT for their persecution of democratic activists. Yet classified documents from that era still cause military police to break into citizens' homes. Many from the KMT believe declassified documents should be destroyed rather than being made public. How's that for reconciliation and healing?

Its easy for me to sound judgmental from my American perspective. For my generation, all of us kids had grandfathers who survived WW2. Both of mine served (Navy and Airforce). I grew up watching movies that glorified Allie soldiers and vilified Nazis. I clearly remember watching PBS with my mom on a Saturday night, I was maybe 7 years old and we watched graphic historical footage of Nazi concentration camps. Those image are seared in my brain forever. So even in the lack of a school's responsibility to educate, parents must be that safety net. How the parents of these kids allowed that is proof of their own lack of a decent education. Likewise, The Diary of Ann Frank (安妮的日記) was required reading when I was a student. My elementary school also had a camp survivor come to our school and describe to us kids about her ordeal. She showed us her tattooed number, and recalled how easy it was for society to slip into evil. We kids venerated her like a saint, as we all knew how fortunate not only to hear from an eye witness, but meet a survivor that was able to go on with her life. At the same time, America has yet to fully acknowledge their own genocide of Native Americans, and continues to misuse Native's images in national sports and names of places. So I acknowledge that I am not coming from a place of moral high ground, but the Jewish Holocaust should be required in every curriculum.

The past 2 days I have been bringing up the Hsinchu incident with my students, just to inform them. Basically they read the Holocaust in about 2 paragraphs, so they might know what happened, but have zero clue of the significance. Their humanity wasn't touched.

Having lived and worked in Germany, I also was able to visit Dachau, and I was also able to see how many local, small camps were absolutely everywhere. If Taiwanese could travel, if these private schools could take a field trip, go there. I'd suggest Taiwan follow Germany's example and teach the Holocaust at a young age, but I had too many young German friends who admitted to be totally desensitized to what happened, and even defensive (that wasn't "me") from having too much history crammed down their throats. I doubt Taiwan would go that far, but it must have a more inclusive world history curriculum.

My foreign coworkers decided that at the very minimum all the grades should watch Schindler's List (辛德勒的名單), and my manager will suggest it at the next meeting. This might not seem like the best answer, or response to their collective ignorance, but its a start. In spite of the local and global outrage, the Hsnichu students started getting defensive, and some jerks in the Taipei MRT  were walking around in Nazi uniforms. I don't see this going away until the culture has a radical shift, a look in the mirror of their own dictator worship.

Defaced Chiang Kai-shek, Green Island

So all I can do is shed light in my own little sphere of influence. I will teach Genocide as a unit next semester in my 7th grade Social Studies classes. I actually tried last year with my 9th graders. I had this long unit on Colonialism and Slavery as an introduction to modern Genocide. But then I taught a long unit on Gender and another unit on Racism and the year was over. I won't make that mistake with my 7th graders. Its an art, balancing substance, quality, making sure they get it (in a 2nd language) and quantity (there are so many themes). Transitional justice and transformation happen in our little everyday interactions. I'm reminded what a privilege and responsibility it is to teach and to have so much creative control of my own curriculum.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Autumn: It Blows Hot and Cold

What a relief, November is nearly finished and winter is nipping at our heels. Its difficult to pinpoint exactly when autumn came and left. I think winter officially came two weeks ago, when we started to wear coats and sweaters, and of course its been raining most of the time since.

I think autumn in Yilan started sometime after all those typhoons hit Taiwan in a cluster in September and October; Meranti hit during the Midterm Autumn Festival and later Megi, with some tropical storms in between. We were blessed in Yilan. The TV news anchor literally said both times how there seemed to be a slice of typhoon cut out over Yilan; Tainan and Taitung were hit harder, there were places nearby in Dongshan and and Sanxing without power for several days, but my daughter and I, except for leaking windows, were fine. We enjoyed the extra days off.

In the beginning of October, we finally were able to explore some of the nearby Fushan Botanical Gardens 福山植物園 (by reservation only.) We saw rare water birds, bats and macaques. A winter return is necessary if only to catch rare rhododendrons in blossom. Can you believe pangolins live there too? But impossible to see them during the day.

For our 10/10 Holiday weekend, I took two more personal days off and took my daughter to Busan for a long weekend. South Korea was still recovering from their own massive typhoon (Chaba) and they were just finishing their beach cleanups when we arrived. It was a thrill to leave hot, sticky Yilan and feel a raw autumn bite in the air, even in the sun. Unlike Seoul, Busan is super chill and the trip was extremely relaxing.

Hakka Farms outside Hsinchu

In the beginning of November, we went to Hsinchu to stay with one of my oldest Taiwanese friends, Monica and her husband Roger and son Mark. Monica and I worked together 16 years ago in Tamsui. It was great to hang with them again, as they are fabulous hosts. We met them in Taipei and they stopped at a beautiful historical gardens of the Lin An Tai House from the late 1700s. Our kids played tag among such venerable beauty as I happily snapped pictures. Roger didn't mind driving us up to the mountains of  山上人家森林農場, as high as we could go, stopping at Hakka farms drying sticky sweet persimmon along the way. Another relaxing weekend enjoying the season.

Then the American election hit me, and probably most expats, like a reality grenade. Rattled, baffled and then after the shock, just more concerned in general. With the days getting shorter, nature seems to be mirroring our own fascination with darkness, sensing this undertone our time is running out. Turning inward, with greater solitude, finding solace in prayer, feeling my own inadequacy, culpable complacency. My bubble burst, my winter came.

I got a surprise last week; 2 free tickets to hear Jane Goodall speak with President Tsai-Yingwen at Taiwan University of Science and Technology. My kid and I made it for the bus station after work and were just 5 minutes late, we felt so blessed. Professor Goodall credited her mother, her dog, she talked about the intelligence of animals, how even bees can learn from watching other bees, the intelligence of octopi. President Tsai-Yingwen talked about her needy cat and apologized for all her security. I had long planned on a weekend trip to Taipei for cultural outings, but never seemed to make it. Hearing Jane Goodall's gentle wisdom was influential on my kid. Her eyes swelled up with indignant tears when Goodall told the young people, "Your future hasn't been borrowed, but stolen!" Not leaving us there, she encouraged everyone as individuals to make the right choices, collectively we can reverse climate change, although the window is small and immediate.

I suppose that's what autumn feels like now, a small window of light fading, time is shorter, latent with importance. Being away these eight Thanksgivings, it all seems such a shallow shadow from over here,   especially in the light of the Oil Pipeline Protests. Still I try to make giving thanks a daily devotion and I'd had loved to sit with my family for dinner, all 4 brothers together.

My kid loves the short days and rainy weather, Yilan is perfect for her. My ideal day is right now, the heavens like dark blue corduroys, thick on the verge of pouring, but it doesn't and its just too brisk for short sleeves (because of the humidity); which is what I wear anyways, so I can run up the four flights of stairs without breaking a sweat.  As I keep pace with the year's coming end, autumn was one walloping exhalation.

Green Dream, Fushan Botanic Gardens, October

Friday, November 11, 2016

Post Trump Blues in Taiwan

“I am concerned that Taiwan will end up as a bargaining chip, because Trump is a businessman who cares primarily about his interests,” -former National Security Bureau director Tsai Der-sheng (蔡得勝)

I feel like I physically got kicked in the stomach. I melted, an instantaneous and lingering implosion. I am still reeling. Imagine my funniest robot voice, " Can not compute, can not compute." But there was nothing funny about the US election results in Taiwan. Our office all week has been as depressing as a funeral parlor. My three Americans coworkers (Vietnamese American from Seattle, Black American from Brooklyn and me Chicana from Colorado) obviously did not vote for Trump.

Disappointments aside, there is the messy aftermath, not just at home but all over the world (in Europe especially). How is Trump's victory perceived in Taiwan?

First of all, most Taiwanese I talked to were shocked. As the electoral college results were coming in around lunchtime, all eyes were glued to our lunchroom TV news. Co-workers I've never talked to before (there are hundreds, its a big school), were asking me basically, "What is up with this Trump lead?" The first feeling was shock, impending doom, disbelief.

Taiwanese TV and YouTube have been very comprehensive in publishing footage of both Trump's insane comments against women and minorities as well as Hillary's email scandal. Their debates have aired with traditional subtitles. It really doesn't do Trump (or America) any favors showing clips of his reality TV shows or WWF appearances. Someone even took the time to put Chinese subtitles to both the original Fox news O'Reilly Factor  with Jesse Watter clip of going into Chinatown and making fun of Asian stereotypes and the subsequent backlash on Comedy Central.

Make no mistake Taiwanese media aired Trump's crowd applauding when he vowed to withdraw American support to US traditional allies in Asia (or Europe) until they pay some of the financial burden for American military defense from a very real China/N.Korean threat. Obviously Taiwan sees itself as one of these Allies - although he never mentioned Taiwan persay. Apparently Tsai-Ingwen, Taiwan's first female president recently met with a Trump representative in October.

Taiwanese Young People:

My students who pretty much know nothing in terms of world history or politics, instinctively fear Trump and perceive him as dangerous for Taiwan. I had about 3 boys out of a couple of hundred express happiness at Trump's victory. I asked why and he answered,"He's a man and so am I." You are too smart to be a sexist I told him. His peers looked at him different after that. The others were shouting, "Trump is so handsome." (No he's not! I'm so sick of this reverse racism where all western men are handsome just because they're western or surround themselves with beautiful women).

What was most confusing to my 7th and 8th graders was their disbelief at Trump being the new president when Hillary won the popular vote. If this were Taiwan, Hillary would be president. So I had to explain swing states, the electoral college using the NY Times interactive map. They didn't buy it, meaning, the whole process seemed ludicrous and devoid of the kind of democracy America seems to sell abroad.

The next question was how, how could America which they assume is this good, morally upright melting pot, would chose a xenophobic misogynist? So I showed them this informative video (with subtitles) of how much of an excellent salesman Trump is. How in a minute answer to Jimmy Kimmel, his language, the way Trump constructs sentences, his easy, one syllable, 4th grade level language can hook in listeners who aren't discerning.

Then I showed them what a peaceful transition of power looks like in a democracy and I myself was encouraged my Obama's professionalism and class. They were soon depressed and worried (the juxtaposition of Obama and Trump worried them) so for comic relief I showed how The Simpsons predicted a Trump presidency. I joked with them that I need to find a Taiwanese man to marry so my daughter could have dual citizenship and quipped if they had any rich, single uncles let me know after class. They laughed. They began trying to wrack their brains for single teachers on campus so I stopped them by saying none weren't my type. "Is your type Justin Bieber?" I roared. My loud laughter freaks them out for some reason. "No! He is too pretty! He's prettier than me!" Now they chuckled. So I showed them a picture of Khal Drogo. Hushed disbelief. They'll get it someday.

I found solace teaching. We were making identity charts and three students disclosed they were bisexual and they hadn't discussed their orientation with their parents yet. I felt privileged and gratified that they would feel my classroom is a safe enough non-judgmental space to "come out." It made my week that much bearable.

Taiwanese Experts:

Like everyone else, Taiwanese international relations academics are fearing the worst and hoping for the best. The worst scenario being Trump sells out Taiwan to China in one of his famous deals. The Taipei forum organized a panel of experts to discuss the possible implication for Taiwan of a GOP controlled America and they concluded,  Our consensus is that we have no idea what he [Trump] is thinking. Read the entire article here.

Representative to the US Stanley Kow met with Trump representatives and told local press he isn't worried, and that, "Taiwan is a vital asset to America." Read article here. He would not comment on Trump's comments of pulling out of S. Korea or Japan but replied that Taiwan should seek a closer relationship with Japan.


 You don't need a degree in politics (I do) to know that Beijing was in full celebration mode at Trump's win. Does he realize how powerful he really is? That even winning, has already destabilized the region?  That's why he was elected I suppose to shake the status quo. While American rednecks are cheering, those of us in Asia just had our blood run cold. A very clear article, "China Just Won the Election," explains China's 4 major victories (and 1 fear) after the Trump victory.

As I already stated, Trump's threat to abandon its Asian allies is beyond frightening.  You know when North Korean state newspaper calls Trump a "wise politician"  regarding his statements-something isn't right. North Korea is telling Trump, "Yes pull out of Seoul so we can unify!" Human rights in the region (and home?) are expected to take a beating. Russia, North Korea and China put on hold a UN Security Council measure to sentence N. Korea on crimes against humanity for their concentration camp prisons. Considering how dissent in the US and people of color are being treated Day 1, it's no surprise, this is the way the wind is blowing.

My Daughter:

When she walked into my office, I told her Trump won and she was also shocked. The first thing she uttered was, "Oh no, now everyone will think my Mom voted for Trump!" Then later that evening it was more questions, "How? Why?" "People want 'change' no matter who it hurts."

She was showing me her Trump impersonations in the car on the way home from school today. I think she's a natural talent, she only just started this afternoon at school. Or perhaps he makes himself too easy to mock, such a living caricature. During their lunch break, they watched Taiwanese news and the local media showed a comparison of footage of Trump's son in the background of his father's victory speech, looking bored and uninterested, juxtaposed with Obama's daughters who were listening attentively, genuinely interested. "Did the news tell you anything about their kids, what did they say?" I asked her. She replied, "No, they let the videos speak for themselves." And then the natural course of the conversation was how she thought Obama seemed like a good father.

The Consensus:

Clearly locals prefers Obama/Hillary and it's not because of some grand media controlled conspiracy, but because Obama and his family are honorable and upright as a family unit and Hillary has decades of political experience. Wholesome family integrity and hard work are very much traditional Chinese principles. A female politician who dedicated her life to politics is very much a Taiwanese ideal, more so than the businessman womanizer. Trump is perceived as a wildcard, ambitious, self serving, an uninformed leader of the uneducated, working class voters, and in an Asian society where education and being informed is highly valued, those aren't positive qualities, let alone anyone to be trusted. (No need to even mention his sexual predatory history which pretty much sealed the deal of his being an immoral leader to Taiwanese.)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Taiwan in Korea

View of Haeundae Beach. Walking around Dongbaekseom Island (동백공원) on a rainy day post Film Festival binge watching.
My daughter and I used the 10/10 holiday weekend, plus a few extra days to take a little breather in Busan, S. Korea. The weather post typhoon Champa was fabulous, clear, with refreshing cold autumn winds, sunny skies, except for one rainy day. On that rainy day we decided to check out the 21st International Film Festival, or BIFF.

Unexpectedly, the first film we watched was from Taiwan, called "The Lost Daughter " directed by Chen Yu-Jie, who also directed award winning Dawn (2014). In the film,  a half sister has a diving accident in Kenting and her living half sister is the prime suspect. More than a, "who done it" movie, it implicates everyone as guilty. The film made my daughter upset unfortunately, but provided an opportunity for reflection and conversation as we walked around Dongbaek Island later. The characters were beyond dysfunctional as that would imply some basic familial interaction. These family members were so remote and removed relationaly, I felt the film's primary message was that modern life in Taiwan still requires strong family ties and that we are are all responsible for one another.

The next movie we watched was from Iran, "The Violinist" which was somber but hopeful, based on a true story. Other movies from Taiwan represented in the Busan Film Festival, was the comedy My Egg Boy and the very serious White Ant (白蟻).

How ironic to go all the way to Korea and watch Taiwanese films, but its not like the two theaters in Yilan have English subs. A rainy day well spent.