Friday, May 26, 2006

Tarzan in London by Phillip

My name is Tarzan. I came from a jungle in Africa. I came to London with my girlfriend Jane two months ago. For me, living in this big, magnificent city is like starting a brand new life. Back in my old home, I had never worn clothes. I had never watched a movie. And I had never eaten in a restaurant, not to mention having driven a car. Everything over here is so strange to me. However, I am not afraid at all. I am so excited and looking forward to exploring this immense city everyday.

Before I came to London, I had lived in the jungle with apes and other kinds of wildlife. I was raised by an ape and I lived with an ape family. I did not know how to speak, how to write, and not even how to walk on two limbs. I was not even sure whether I was an ape or not. Everything had changed since I met Jane, my love. She was a zoologist and accompanied her father to the jungle to do researches on gorillas. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. We fell in love with each other. She taught me how to speak and write. And most important of all, she made me realize that I am a human being. I learnt that I should live with humans in the civilized world. In the end, I left the jungle with Jane and her father.

My first impression of London was that there were so many buildings and roads. There were no mountains, no rainforest, and no vines at all. Instead, I found lots of cars running on the streets. Every day I learn something new from the city life. And Jane is so enthusiastic to show me the world. I have seen the biggest Ferris wheel: The London Eye. I have visited one of the greatest museums on earth, The British Museum, and a beautiful palace called Buckingham Palace. I have been to the famous church St Paul's Cathedral. There are still a lot of spectacular architectures in London that I have never seen before. I have had a very good time with Jane here. And I really cannot wait to see the whole world.

But on one occasion, Jane took me to the London Zoo. When I saw apes and other animals, I suddenly recalled the memory of the jungle I used to live in -- all the things which I had almost forgotten. At that moment I started to miss the trees and vines . I missed the birdcall and the sounds of the jungle instead of horns of cars and rings of mobile phones. I missed my ape family and all my friends. I remembered I used to slide down tall trees and swing from one to the other. I chased monkeys and tricked big elephants. All the happy times could not possibly be replayed in London. Every time I thought of the jungle, I felt so lonely and homesick. I like the life in the jungle, where every breath you draw is full of the fragrance of nature. There is neither rent nor taxes to pay. Life is so simple.

However, I have finally overcome all these nostalgic feelings. I no longer regret the decision I made. Because I have a strong curiosity about what it is like in places other than the African jungle. I want to explore the whole world. And maybe I will find some people elsewhere living in some unique ways just like mine. Now Jane and I are planning to travel round the globe. We hope we will enjoy ourselves on the tour. And we will certainly drop by my homeland for a while.

A South African Missionary's Life in Taiwan by Julia

My husband and I have lived in Taiwan for over eight years. During the first three years we lived in Pintung, and then we moved to Taitung. On every winter and summer vacation we went to Nanto to help with our mission school's camp. We came to Taiwan totally by chance. Actually, we had no idea where Taiwan was before we were given the opportunity to work here. Everything was so hard at the very beginning. Asian culture is certainly very different from Western culture.

Aside from missionary work, we have been teaching English in our own house. Because Taiwan is a non-English speaking country, a lot of people come to us looking forward to the opportunity of practicing their English. Most of our students are high school students; there are also little kids and adults. Meeting so many people is very interesting. I have not only taught them English, but have also learnt a lot from them -- of such things as the Chinese language and various aspects of Taiwan culture.

I mention above that life was hard when we first came, because this was our first time coming to Asia, and we hardly spoke any Chinese. Moreover, every Asian just looked the same to us; sometimes we could hardly tell who's who. Due to the immense culture difference, many interesting things happened. For example, when I was on the plane flying to Taiwan, almost every Taiwanese passenger chose red bean ice cream for their dessert. That was amazing to me, because we had never tried sweet beans in South Africa. Of course I picked chocolate flavor that time. Later I learnt that sweet beans are quite common in Asia. They also have a kind of cake filled with sweet red beans, which has become my favorite. Taiwanese soups are quite different from those I had ever tasted in Africa. Until know, I still feel that their soups taste like water. Anyway, our talk can go on and on when we focus on food alone.

On the world map Taiwan is a tiny island, and indeed it is small and crowded. In comparison, South Africa is totally different. Back there I have a big yard. Besides, we have a big farm. The farm is so huge that you have to drive a kind of special car to work in it. But most Taiwanese houses do not come with a garden. In fact, most people here can hardly own a parking space. The island is small but there are too many people. Therefore, the division of the city and the suburb is not clear. People are everywhere. Yet because of this life in Taiwan can be quite convenient. In fact, convenience stores are found on every corner. You can also easily visit small restaurants and venders in your neighborhood. This is very different from South Africa.

My husband and I like outdoor activities very much. Taitung, a most beautiful place, is ideal for us. On the weekends, we like going to Shayuan beach to swim or just walk along the beach. Sometimes we take a short trip to Green Island for snorkeling; the underwater world there is really amazing. Due to our missionary work, we have a lot of opportunities visiting different places on the island. I feel lucky about this. Although I miss my children very much, in short terms I do not have any plan to go back to South Africa. For I love my job in Taiwan, and I like interacting with an utterly different people. And I have gotten used to the life here. I am quite content with my present life. I wish to enhance my Chinese and learn more about Taiwan. I believe my sojourn here is one of the most memorable times in my life.

Taiwan Is My Second Home by Dean

From my unfamiliarity with Taiwan to my proficiency in local affairs, I have come to regard Taiwan as my second home. A decade ago, my company, British Airways, appointed me an important position on this beautiful island. Hence I left Manchester, where I had lived for almost 25 years, and flew here. When I first arrived, I noticed that every Taiwanese I met was very kind, even though we had difficulty communicating with each other. My wonderful adventure thus began.

I am now a directing manager of British Airways' Taipei Office at Chiang-kai Shek International Airport. I still remember the first day when I met all my new Taiwanese colleagues. To my surprise, they sang the "Nice to Meet You" song to welcome me. Eased of fear and alienation, I found them quite friendly and easy-going. We have been working together harmoniously and efficiently, and I often spend my leisure time with them. They have taught me Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese. With their kind instructions, I have learnt to communicate with locals at ease. I feel lucky and content that my colleagues and I are like siblings who really care for one another.

I truly enjoy my life on the island. I had never watched a baseball game when I was in the U.K., let alone being a baseball fan. However, now I am totally addicted to baseball. The change started a few years ago when my colleagues invited me to join them watching their "national ball" game. During the game, all fans cheered their own favorite team, shooting "Go! Go! Go! Hit a homerun!" Later I became a big baseball devotee of Macoto Cobras, one of the most popular teams in Chinese Professional Baseball League. In addition to watching baseball games, I love shopping, and sampling traditional Taiwanese snacks at the night markets. I am also fond of traveling around this island, because I can derive inspirations and broaden my horizon by making friends with different people. Frankly, sometimes I feel happier living in Taiwan than in the U.K.

During my stay here, a chance encounter marked a significant turning point in my life. I have met my Miss Right and created a family! What's interesting is that I first met her in a baseball, she being a baseball fan as well. We got married three years ago; now we have a son and a daughter already. Laughter always fills our house. Luckily, my mother-in-law and father-in-law are both nice people, treating me like I am their own son in spite of my nationality and race. Besides, they often introduce me to the various local cultures and help me better understand Taiwan. Being half a Taiwanese now, I certainly hope that Taiwan will progress continually to become a more habitable place, especially in respect of traffic and environment protection. Considering my parents who live the in U.K., I am not quite sure whether I will have to take my family back to Manchester in the future. Nevertheless, one thing is for sure: Taiwan will always remain the loveliest home in my mind.

Guest Worker by Annabel

My name is Yuning. I have been in Taiwan for two years since I left my home country Indonesia. I work here as a nurse and take care of sick or old people. I consider my job an important one. Besides, every dollar I earn helps my family in Indonesia. Making a living in Taiwan is much easier than in my hometown; that is why I came. But I miss my eight-year-old boy and my husband a lot. I always look forward to seeing my family as soon as possible. And the most wonderful news is that I will go back to Indonesia this summer, which is a great comfort for me.

My first challenge in Taiwan was the language barrier. Since I have to follow my employers' oral instructions, I must study Chinese in order to understand their orders. However, Chinese is so difficult for me that I can hardly learn it very well. Despite my poor Chinese, I am lucky enough to be staying with the Chang family. Their children can speak a little English and they will give me a hand if necessary. My work is to nurse the sick grandfather, who is unable to walk, for twelve hours a day. I wake up early in the morning to prepare breakfast for him; I take him out for some fresh air in the afternoon and clean his body with towels at night. I've been repeating these chores for so many times that they start to bore me, and therefore I always wait anxiously for the holidays. On weekends, I often write to my family and sometimes I send them money. Unfortunately, during the first year, most money I earned was taken away by the recruiting agent. I couldn't save much for myself.

Window shopping is what my Indonesian friends and I often do on the weekends for diversion. We put on beautiful clothes like other people on the street. But however we look, we can hardly win any respect. I know we are the target of discrimination, and I have heard some terrifying stories about maltreatment, sexual harassment, and much worse. I wish these horrible things will never occur to me. Being a guest worker is a lonesome experience, especially for someone in a humble position like mine. However, all the efforts and hardships are worth taking when it comes to sacrificing for my family. I used to be a faithful Muslim, but now I must betray my religion and cook pork for my employers. With the love for my family in Indonesia, however, I can bear all the discriminations and sufferings. I hope the summer will come quickly and I can fly back home like a bird.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Pelican's Welcome (taken at Hsinchu Zoo) Posted by Picasa

Kindergarten kids dancing at the Yuan Xiao Festival (Feb 12, 2006) Posted by Picasa

Friday, February 10, 2006

After the Plane Crash by Icecream

It was the beginning of autumn. The Boeing 747 of Singapore Airlines flight 006 bound for Los Angeles was approaching its take-off speed at Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport, Taiwan. All of a sudden there came a very loud noise. The light abruptly went out when the aircraft began shaking violently. Soon its main body split apart and flames popped up everywhere.

Later the rescue team arrived, trying desperately to save lives amid the fire and smoke under the stormy weather. The wreckage lay miserably on the chaotic runway. The rain falling down was like pathetic tears from the blurred sky. There, hovering in the air, was a tremendous cloud known as "the platform." On the very top of the platform stood Alf and his girlfriend Jean. They were victims of the plane crash. While the plane was shaking crazily, Jean thought all of them on board were going to die. At that moment her hand and Alf's joined tightly together, and finally the fire engulfed them both.

Sixty-six fatalities were confirmed. Alf and Jean gradually saw more and more deceased people rising up to the platform. They stood there, waiting for the appearance of the celestial stair which would lead them to the world of eternal happiness. Each of them was grieving for the disaster. Some were staring at the terrible scene below with gloomy eyes while others missing their families and friends. Alf and Jean could see things much further away. Alf saw his mother weeping and his father sitting with his head buried in the hands. Jean saw her father making phone calls with his lips trembling and her mother wailing after watching the TV broadcast about the accident. Jean also saw her best friend, Rebecca, reading in her room; suddenly her brother came in, telling her something, and she rushed to make a phone call tearfully. No one would have thought that the delightful tour to Los Angeles could, in the blink of an eye, turn into such a tragedy, in which things that had been taken away would never come back again.

On the platform there was only silence. People there did not utter a word; instead, they communicated by feeling each other's mind. Right after the plane crash, they were frightened, saddened, or even aggravated, but little by little they were soothed by the most peaceful atmosphere they had ever felt. The situation was like everyone had suffered a fierce rainstorm in which houses collapsed and trees were uprooted, but after a while all the chaos vanished -- the sky showed its blue again, and the vast ocean rippled. There were no more furious billows, no more sorrows.

That night Alf and Jean, bringing the heavenly peace along, appeared in their respective parents' dreams to comfort them. They carried the same message that the disaster should not keep the living ones at low ebb forever: they must stand up, step forward, and get on with life. Death is unpredictable and sometimes scaring, but out of love, we must live on happily so that the deceased could rest in peace.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Globalisation or Americanisation? by Twu Chih-yu

In the eloquent speech delivered by Professor San Juan, listeners were invited to reflect on a rapid change which has been taking place around the world: globalisation. Among the many issues that were mentioned during the speech, one question in particular aroused my interest: Are we witnessing the trend of globalisation, or rather, 'Americanisation'? Let us take a closer look at our daily life, and we may find the idea of 'globalisation' a bit tricky to people living in Taiwan. In the morning we buy our Latte at Starbucks, listening to the latest hit from Destiny Girls on the radio; we learn (or are asked to teach) American English at school and see teenagers wearing loose, hip-hop style jeans on our way home; in the evening we watch the so-called 'International News', which, oftentimes, comes from CNN.

The Taiwanese, consciously or not, are embracing a society which models itself on that of the United States, and we even keep absorbing information interpreted mainly from the American perspective. The same case, according to the speech, applies to the Philippines as well. Granted, at a time when America stands for THE superpower on earth, the impacts of other cultures are probably insignificant compared with that of the U.S. Are they, however, inferior to American culture? If not, why do we only admire things that are American? The answer is clear: due to both political and economic influences, people on this island have been too used to accepting ideas that favour the United States and, from time to time, we simply associate American culture with superiority. This practice eventually leads to the notion that being more globalised means to 'look more American' -- a weird idea with which I totally disagree.

Globalisation, in my opinion, means to interact with the world, which suggests that besides absorbing the influence of other countries we should also promote our own culture. Globalisation does not mean that we should all look alike, but to preserve our identity even when the actual boundaries might have become highly permeable, and people or resources are allowed to traffic freely among different regions. In sum, globalisation shall carry the idea of cooperation between different peoples, not the assimilation into any single culture.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hsinchu Railroad Station, Taiwan Posted by Picasa

Rainbow seen in Honolulu Posted by Picasa

A lone sea gull at Brighton Pier Posted by Picasa

Who is this hero? Posted by Picasa