Month: July 2018

Fulbright Mission: MA Student Living in Tainan

     September 7, 2017, marked the day I first began my journey on my Fulbright grant in Taiwan. First and foremost, I wish to give thanks to all the Fulbright Taiwan staff and those who supported me throughout my first year here. The amount of effort and consideration you all put into the program created a safe and sound experience in my new host country. This unique opportunity granted me the opportunity to pursue my master’s degree and the chance to continue my studies in Mandarin Chinese. I cannot express how gratifying it has been living in Taiwan and learning from its residents and about their culture. With that said, I welcome everyone to read my journal and hope to inspire those who also wish to travel and open the world to future participants coming to Taiwan.   My Experience as a Master Student at NCKU      My first year at National Cheng Kung University: Institute of Creative Industries Design has been an enjoyable experience. At first, I was overwhelmed by this unfamiliar environment and the challenges that came with it. I had to absorb a unique educational environment, deal with new professors, and I also had to

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Zhongshan Road

       I arrived on the “beautiful island” with my wife, originally a native of Taiwan, and five children nearly ten months ago. That arrival was not unlike many of our arrivals over the last twenty years. But, although over the years we have also experienced many departures, this departure was unlike any in the past. Unlike other times, the children and I left this time less as foreigners. Rather than returning from a place we were merely visiting, we left a place we had lived. Indeed, during this time, we lived in Shulin District of New Taipei City. More importantly, we lived on Zhongshan Road, and what a road it is. In this essay, I use Zhongshan Road as a focal point to say a little bit about Taiwan’s history, its current society, and what it was like to live in such a place.        To understand that Zhongshan Road translates to Sun Yat-sen Road in English is to understand something essential about the recent history and ongoing question of identity in Taiwan. The name itself is both a relic of a bygone era and a symbol of a continuing journey. The three districts surrounding Shulin—Banqiao,

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Reflections, Refractions, and Reorientations: Conducting Ethnographic Research in Indigenous Taiwan

     I spent my Fulbright year engaged in ethnographic research on Taiwan’s indigenous communities and their practices, and the ways in which these practices are being addressed under Taiwan law. This year has been a year of returns for me. My family lived in southeastern Taiwan when I was young boy. At that time, the area in which we resided had a high concentration of indigenous peoples, and members of the Amis, Puyuma, and Paiwan tribes were some of our closest friends and neighbors. As a result, this year has been an opportunity for me to return to an island nation that has since transitioned from martial law to democracy; to reconnect with indigenous communities that were so much a part of my life as a youth; to revisit old memories and places; and to create new memories and visit new places, and experience all this newness through the eyes of my two young daughters who accompanied me on my Fulbright research project.      Over the past year, I worked closely with the Bunun, Puyuma, and Truku tribes, and with judges and lawyers involved in the Hualien District Court. I spent my time observing legal proceedings involving indigenous

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Unpacking U.S. Aid in Taiwan: Developmental Perspectives

     For development scholars, few postwar success stories are more fascinating than that of the four Asian Tigers in the twentieth century. Due to its political isolation, many authors have attributed Taiwan’s miraculous economic growth to long-term stimulus from U.S. aid packages in the post-WWII period. International relations (IR) scholars have historically neglected development studies, preferring to focus on the state-centric power dynamics of the overall international system rather than developing nations of the global “periphery.” IR theorists often view the global system in terms of national interest, balance of power, material capacity, and institutionalism; these levels of analysis frame cooperation (e.g. development assistance) as either a self-interested means to bolster state security or a selfless effort to affect positive change. Beginning in the postwar period, classic development theories emerged that sought to explain how underdeveloped nations might join the industrialized world, a question that contemporary scholars continue to examine today. This piece examines the mechanisms underlying Taiwanese development from a variety of theoretical perspectives developed in the second half of the twentieth century.      Modernization theory suggests any country can achieve highly developed status as long as it follows in the footsteps of the industrialized North, and

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Fulbright 訪問學者之行:加州灣區文化體驗


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Putting Memory to Work: The Ming Court and the Legacy of the Mongol Empire

     Empires create legacies that successors use in diverse ways.  My project explores the court of China’s Ming dynasty (1368-1644) on a broad Eurasian stage.  It focuses on a moment when much of Eurasia shared a common reference point, the Mongol empire.  In the thirteenth century, the Mongols created the greatest land empire in history; their courts in China, Persia, and southern Russia were centers of wealth, learning, power, religion, and lavish spectacle. Scholars have rightly stressed the Mongol empire’s lasting impact on later ages, drawing attention to the emergence of an early modern global economy, the rise of Western Europe, and the development of the concept and practice of world history.  I tell the story from a different perspective. Rather than focus on how the Mongol empire shaped those who followed in its wake, I trace how ambitious men throughout Eurasia sought to exploit the memory, institutions, and personnel networks of the fallen empire. In other words, I highlight the historical agency of these rulers and their courts as they selectively appropriated elements of the Mongol legacy to advance their interests.      My work takes advantage of momentum in several fields of early modern history. Scholars have

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Everyday Life on Yongkang Jie

      In 2016-2017, I conducted research for my dissertation on early medieval Chinese literature in Taipei as a Fulbright Fellow. Upon arriving in Taipei in early September, my husband and I set to work trying to find a home for the year. Over the summer, I had spent hours “researching” life in Taipei (reading food blogs), but our main concern upon arrival was finding a place accessible to our respective research institutions, National Taiwan University and Academia Sinica. After a few disheartening weeks sifting through online apartment listings, we found a place near Yongkang Jie, a street in Da’an District. Before moving there, I had only been to Yongkang Jie once, for a quick dinner. It was a just a few days after arriving in the city, and on the rainy evening the bright, narrow alleys were somewhat disorienting.  I remember thinking, “What a neat area! I’m glad I got to see it once…”        At the time, I didn’t have a strong sense of the history of the neighborhood, whose distinctive character has been shaped over the years by community activism, government bureaucracy, and commerce. Once the preserve of Japanese officials, Yongkang Jie and the adjacent

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Alexandra Hezik: Efficacy of Citrus as a Potential Fungicide, Insecticide, and Fertilizer

Fossil fuel plays a huge role in commercial agriculture, but many scientists are looking for alternatives to fossil fuel soil amendments. Alexandra Hezik examined the effectiveness using pomelo as an alternative solution. This project sheds light on the efforts to find renewable resources instead of relying on fossil fuel based products. Alexandra Hezik graduated from Western Kentucky University with a bachelor of science and sustainable agriculture. She is a Fulbright fellow in 2017-2018 and conducts her research at National Taiwan University.

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Active aging through the socio-ecological model

     I was very honored to receive the opportunity to conduct my research project in UC Berkeley, US in the academic year of 2015-2016. My project was supported by both the Fulbright-Formosa Plastics Group Senior Scholar Scholarship and The Top University Strategic Alliance in the Republic of China (Taiwan). What follows is a brief summary of the research and my personal reflections. Research Populations of older adults are increasing dramatically worldwide, especially in Taiwan. Aging populations have major social and economic consequences. Such consequences can be mediated by active aging. Reducing sedentary lifestyles and increasing social participation represent identifiable preventative strategies. However, developing initiatives to increase physical activity among seniors remains a pressing challenge in public health.      Park and recreation professionals are as important contributors since built- environments, especially recreational sites and parks, are the preferred venues for most seniors for increasing physical activity, and these places are more effective than other programs in terms of sustainability and reaching populations. Framed from a socio-ecological model, this research project investigates various factors, including informational, socio-cultural, natural, intrapersonal, perceptional, behavioral, circumstantial, and governmental environments to examine the effect of park-based physical activity on seniors’ health in conjunction with a

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Altered functional connectivity of semantic processing in youths with autism

     Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have aberrant neural activity during semantic judgments. I aimed to examine age-dependent neural correlates of semantic processing in boys with ASD as compared to those in typically developing boys (TD). I used functional MRI to investigate 37 boys with ASD (mean age = 13.3 years, standard deviation = 2.4) and 35 age-, sex-, intelligence quotient (IQ)- and handedness-matched TD boys (mean age = 13.3 years, standard deviation = 2.7) from age 8 to 18 years. Participants had to indicate whether pairs of Chinese characters presented visually were related in meaning. Group (ASD, TD) x Age (Old, Young) ANOVA was used to examine the difference of age-related changes. Direct comparisons between the adolescent group and the child group were performed. Functional connectivity was also used to estimate the directional influence among brain regions for participants. The behavioral results showed that the ASD group had lower accuracy in the related condition relative to the TD group. The neuroimaging results showed greater activation in the cuneus and less activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) in boys with ASD than TD boys. Children with ASD produced greater activation in the cuneus than TD children.

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