Month: October 2018

An Excuse to Get Started: Reflections on My Taiwan Fulbright Fellowship Experience

     I once listened to an interview with a famous artist, who when asked if she cared whether people knew something about the original influences in her work, replied: “Well, it’s nice if they know, but it doesn’t really matter. Those things were just an excuse for me to get started.”      As an artist, I feel a strong resonance with this statement. I am always looking for an excuse to get started, whether it is conscious or not. I think it’s common to want to ground yourself in something – anything – so that you feel a sense of purpose or direction with your work. Do I need my audience to know and understand this grounding? Not necessarily in its entirety. I aim for my work to impart nonverbal ideas, and for me these ideas stem from a collective knowledge of objects and spaces. To present work that does this, however, generally requires a substantive amount of research, much of which I do not expect an audience to need in order to appreciate my work. If someone decides to dig deeper, they will find themselves rewarded with a greater understanding of my thinking, a richer experience with

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Valerie Holton: Collaborative Curiosity: Designing Community-Engaged Research

Dr. Valerie Holton taught a course on community-engaged research (CEnR) at National Taiwan University during her Fulbright year. Together, she and her students learned how to collaborate and generated new knowledge on building a healthier community. Outside of the classroom, Valerie was able to interact with local people in Taiwan through various community activities. There she experienced dynamic cultural exchanges and saw the potential of future collaboration. Dr. Holton is the executive editor of CUMU’s Metropolitan Universities journal (MUJ), a quarterly, peer-reviewed outlet for scholarship on cutting-edge issues in higher education. Valerie was a Senior Fulbright Scholar in the Department of Social Work at National Taiwan University in 2018. She is currently an assistant professor in the School of Nursing and Institute of Community Health Care at National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan.

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中國哲學、東方宗教與生態永續- 當代宗教生態學的新課題


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Evaluating America: Reflections on Perspective in the International Community

     Long before I was selected for a Fulbright Scholarship to Taiwan, I spent most of my life on a different island across the Pacific Ocean. I was born and raised in Hawaii, a multicultural community known for its diversity. Despite my Chinese and Japanese heritage, I never considered myself “Asian-American.” I was just American.      In communities like Hawaii, American people embrace and celebrate each other’s cultures. We demonstrate our commitment to American values, such as freedom and equality. We believe in the “American Dream,” the idea that anyone who is willing to work hard may achieve some level of success. We may not always agree on what is “right,” but we respect each other enough to maturely discuss, negotiate, and overcome those differences. One could say this is an idealized image of America, a naïve one that does not clearly capture the struggle, violence, and hatred that still exists in America today. But I believe that the sense of love, pride, and belief in these fundamental values will always overcome those hardships.      My undergraduate education at the US Air Force Academy highlighted and reinforced this image. I found myself surrounded by people who, despite

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Brown in Taiwan: Episode 1

Like most educators who come from inner-city upbringings, Ms. Murdock is deeply passionate about creating safe spaces for developing critical thinking and learner identity, as well as facilitating equitable pedagogy in the classroom. Throughout this video, you will get a glance at Dominique’s research focus, her reflections on adapting to Taiwan, and some candid insight on the ups and downs of living and working on the other side of her world. She describes Taiwan as “a surreal collision of adoration, imagination, realization, and the occasional frustration,” yet her growing passion for this country is more than evident in her words and story.    

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Just the Beginning: Reflections on my First Year of Grad School in Taiwan

Familiar city, new lens      I landed at Taoyuan International Airport in late August 2017. Fresh out of university, I had arrived in Taipei to pursue a master’s degree at National Chengchi University (NCCU), funded by the Fulbright grant. I had done my alma mater proud by completing two undergraduate theses, being chosen for the Fulbright award, and graduating summa cum laude just that past May. I fully expected to come to Taiwan, complete my master’s degree, and then go to Washington to find work in the foreign affairs field.      But for the first few days in Taiwan, I was thrown off by jet lag, the summer heat, and generally setting up my new life as an expat. Despite this being my third time coming to Taiwan, this time felt markedly different. It finally sunk in that I was moving here, and that I was here with an expressed purpose to earn a master’s degree in Asia Pacific Studies. Over the course of my first year in grad school, I’ve learned to keep an open mind to the opportunities coming my way and cherish the time I’ve spent as a student in one of my favorite places

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Controlling China’s “Little Brother”: China’s National Security Interests and the North Korea Nuclear Threat

Introduction Since the 1980s, North Korea’s nuclear program has been a persistent source of international concern.1 These concerns gained renewed importance during the 2017-2018 North Korea nuclear crisis. Through missile tests, provocative threats, and acts of aggression, it appeared that North Korea’s antagonizing behavior had spiraled out of control. Previous bilateral and multilateral negotiation efforts had failed to achieve any lasting success. In the meantime, North Korea’s nuclear program only continued to grow stronger. North Korea’s most recent nuclear test on September 3, 2017, was the most powerful to date. Estimates claim the device yielded 120 kilotons, potentially ten times larger than the previous test almost a year prior.[2] North Korean officials claimed that the test of a miniaturized hydrogen bomb which could be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was a “perfect success.”[3] While it is impossible to verify North Korea’s claim, the test was enough to arouse the fears of the international community. In response, the United Nations called an emergency meeting, culminating in an additional wave of international sanctions against North Korea. Though the US-sponsored resolution won the support of all fifteen members of the UN Security Council, it was far weaker than the US had

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Storytelling, Trash-chasing & Break-dancing: An Inside Look at an Iranian-American Girl’s Journey through Taiwan

September 4, 2017. Taipei.      12 hours over the Pacific, and I felt invincible. “This is it,” I told myself, pushing three pieces of black luggage (one small, one medium, and one super large) over cracked concrete slabs to Greenworld Hostel, the first of 15 different locations I would come in time to call home. “This—this is what I’ve been waiting for.” Months of preparation led me right here—this tiny spot outside a 7-Eleven—to begin a nine-month adventure as a Fulbright researcher and National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow.       A tan camera bag and beat-up black satchel crisscrossed my shoulders, balancing the two things my life (and my work) depended on. I paused for a moment, straightening my back to look at the bright city lights and wipe the sweat off my forehead. I imagined what the people walking past me saw—a young woman with a ridiculously wide smile, two large sweaters wrapped around her waist, an awestruck expression glued to her face. “Wow,” I whispered softly. This was where I wanted to be.      One month prior, I was standing shoeless on a matted surface, staring at a computer screen and answering emails. The standard

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A Year of Weaving in Taiwan

     It is astonishing to me how quickly these nine months have gone by in Taiwan. This semester in the remote hills of Tainan, where I am a Visiting Artist at Tainan National University of the Arts, my spring has been more introspective, and I am recoiling inwards to access how to best create a work of art in response to my research of indigenous Atayal weaving in the fall, when I was hosted by the Ethnology department at National Chengchi University in Taipei. I have been fearful of being unable to adequately respect and promote the revered weaving process that I have learned. Not being Atayal, I have been afraid of appropriating their patterns to tell a story that was not mine to tell.      I had reservations about researching Atayal culture, since “the term ‘research’ is inextricably linked to imperialism and colonialism. The word itself, ‘research,’ is probably one of the dirtiest words in the indigenous world’s vocabulary,” as Maori anthropologist, Linda Tuhiwai Smith writes in Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. I have witnessed this skepticism in the Atayal community that I was working with, and I recognize the validity of their concerns. I knew

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