fulbright Taiwan online journal

fulbright Taiwan online journal

Tag: English

The importance of optimism

“I don’t know if you’re brave or if you’re crazy,” said a fellow Fulbrighter to me after our quarantines had ended, “coming to a country where you don’t know anyone and you don’t know the language.” The comment caught me off-guard, but she was right: What on earth had I been thinking? Why did I agree to take on this incredibly daunting challenge, and who was I to think I could overcome it?    I remember laughing before responding: “Maybe it’s a little bit of both.” Weirdly enough, this has become my mantra during my time in Taiwan, though I’ve never been too big a fan of the word “crazy” – instead, let’s call it “blindly optimistic.” Yeah, sure, that’s what I am. See, growing up in a small South Carolina town, I’d always had dreams of “making it,” though I was never quite sure what that meant. Did I want wealth, popularity, incomparable success? I thought so – after all, aren’t these the things that make people happy? Now, I believe that “making it” is actually just realizing you are more than all of the bad experiences you’ve had — and that you’re fully capable of making new memories

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Lessons from my Mini-UN: Teaching History in an International Classroom

While preparing for my teaching grant at Tunghai University, International College Dean, Dr. James Sims, asked me to design a world history course that introduced students to foundational concepts from history and geography. His request was particularly exciting to me because I have a passion for history, but don’t often get to pursue this interest as a Science, Engineering, Technology and Math (STEM) librarian at the Colorado School of Mines (Mines). As course development began, I knew that as a librarian, I also wanted to incorporate the opportunity to practice research and information evaluation skills in class. From these goals came my course, History and Geography for our Interconnected World. Fulbright scholars with Dr. Nadeau and Tunghai University President Me outside the Tunghai University Library Over 13 weeks, 43 students and I worked our way through approximately 800 years of world history. We utilized the SPICE framework to explore the social; political; environmental [interactions], cultural and economic aspects of history. Covering that amount of content in a single, shortened semester can be very difficult for students to follow. It can also be difficult to connect events, people and cultural developments throughout history to their lives in the 21st century. To mitigate these concerns, I

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A Brief Reflection from My Field Research in Taiwan as a Fulbright Scholar

As a Fulbright China Transfer due to the unfortunately regressive administrative decision that suspended Fulbright program for mainland China and Hong Kong in 2020, I was very grateful to be offered an opportunity to change the destination of my field research to an alternative location. I chose Taiwan, a place I had always wanted to visit, and perceived this to be an important step for me to carry out my long-term goal for comparative studies in socially engaged public art from East Asia, starting with Greater China, which includes  mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. In the past,  my primary  research area  was mainland China and I also had the opportunity to conduct brief field research in Hong Kong and Macau. Taiwan was the only part of Greater China that I had never visited. While I had read a number of publications on socially engaged public art and art-led social activism from Taiwan and have collaborated with a number of Taiwanese scholars through conference presentations and publications, I had no first-hand exposure of the physical, spatial, and sociocultural conditions within which Taiwan artists and art collectives have been working. A six-month research time in Taiwan, I thought, would be

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Memory, Connection and Community: My Fulbright Story

The Fulbright program shaped some of my earliest childhood memories. In 1967, my father received a Fulbright to National Tsing Hua University in Hsinchu, Taiwan.  A math professor at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania, he and my mother had never been to another country (except perhaps a trip across Niagara Falls to the Canadian side of the border).  They packed up their five children, ranging in age from 2- to 8-years old and traveled to Taiwan.  As a 4 year-old, I attended a local Mandarin-speaking pre-school and spent much of my time riding my tricycle, playing with my siblings and little friends, as well as exploring the environs of our neighborhood.  Snippets of our year and the many adventures we had reside in my memory, perhaps shaped by the hundreds of slides that my father took during our year abroad, but nevertheless an important source of family stories and identity.  From an early age, I understood the joy and wonder of immersion in another culture. The Rungs, Hsinchu, Taiwan, 1967-1968 Taiwan remained connected to my family.  For many years, a globe sat in our home with my father’s faded pen marks tracing our route to Taiwan and a

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Life in Taiwan as Cultural Ambassadors

Although Fulbright Taiwan is officially named Foundation for Scholarly Exchange, the supported activities are not only about scholarship but also cultural exchange. Doing so, I firmly believe that we scholars can have a deeper understanding of the society, especially when interpreting research findings from a social-historical context that is very different from the U.S. With this mindset, I took my family visiting as many places as we could in Taiwan, such as the Confucius Temple and one of the earliest Baptist churches in Taipei, and interacting with people of diverse backgrounds. For example, we visited “contemporary” farmers, who are also scientists receiving highest academic degrees from the U.S., and stayed in a traditional house in the countryside. (the only thing that I can complain about this visit to rural Taiwan is that roosters woke up at 4 AM!) In a different trip to central Taiwan, when tasting natural honey fragrance (or, fruit-flavor) black tea, I also ran into an award-winning singer performing his soul-touching songs on the deck of droughty Sun Moon Lake. (“…the unique taste is due to insect wound…but the wound makes it particularly tasty…Tea is like people. Wounds can make people weak or can make people stronger.

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My Fulbright Program in Taiwan

I arrived in Taipei on January 31, 2021 to begin my Fulbright program in Taiwan. After three weeks of quarantine in two hotels in Taipei, I arrived at Tunghai University on February 22, 2021. My stay in the university was officially over by June 30, 2021 and I returned to the United States on July 2, 2021. In total, I have spent more than five months in Taiwan. Giving lectures is the major part of my Fulbright program in Taiwan. After arriving at Tunghai University, I met with the Dean, Dr. Wen-den Chen, of the College of Social Sciences and Professor Peiyuan Cai. With their arrangement, I had the opportunity to meet the chairs of the departments of sociology, social work, political science, and economics. Later on, I also met with the director of the Graduate Institute of Education/Center of Teacher Education and the chair of the Department of Public Management and Policy. These meetings allowed me to introduce my research and teaching topics to the department chairs and also learn the needs and interests of these departments. According to each department’s interests and needs, I have delivered six lectures to both graduate and undergraduate students as well as the

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Reflections on the Process of “Becoming” in Taiwan

I distinctly remember my first reaction to the notification that I had received the  Fulbright Scholarship: I screamed, I called my loved ones, and then I worried if I had earned the right to be here. I think any student applying for nationally competitive scholarships must undergo the process of self-doubt, imposter syndrome, fear of failure, and what can feel like the endless chase for success even after reaching another milestone. While enjoying the first accomplishment temporarily, a constant fear exists in the back of the mind of whether the achievements made are a product of luck, skill, or a mix of both, and whether they can be replicated or ever topped in the future. However, in Taiwan and the people I have met here, I have found self-confidence in myself and an appreciation for ambiguity that I would have never thought myself capable of before.   I cannot put into words the fullness of experiences and memories I have made in Taiwan so far. Of course, I could mention the easy and fun topics everyone enjoys: the bustling night markets of delicious food, the continuous search for the best boba shop, and the adventure of scuba diving or snorkeling with

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The Interminable Bento

Noon came, and with it the sound of plastic rustling outside my door. I waited for the footsteps to grow faint as they padded down the hallway, followed by the ding of the elevator, then silence. I stuck my head out just beyond the threshold of the doorframe—and no further. We’d all heard the story, by then, of the woman who was fined $3,500 for walking down the hall in her quarantine hotel to retrieve boiling water for instant noodles. At my feet lay the telltale plastic bag, striped pink and white like a candy cane. And inside it, the squat, horizontal box that would be my resilient companion for the next fourteen days.  I arrived in Taiwan on a Fulbright research grant in February 2021, after weathering the pandemic, first from Berkeley and then from Seattle, for the better part of a year. Taiwan had been sheltered from much of the pandemic up to that point due to its early intervention and austere quarantine measures for incoming travelers: two weeks confined to a hotel room. In my case, the room was the size of a galley kitchen. My window at the Green World Hotel in Taipei overlooked the backside

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Research on adoption of Common Core State Standards in the United States: A close look at experience in Pennsylvania

Introduction Common Core State Standards (CCSS) marked significant curriculum reform in the U.S. CCSS set nationwide curriculum standards for the first time in U.S. history. In Taiwan, the 2001 curriculum reform of Grades 1-9 dramatically changed the goals from content-driven to ability-driven. Regrettably, the reform was not quite successful. Instruction in class still focused mainly on knowledge rather than abilities in Taiwan. The 12-Year Basic Education Curriculum (12-YBEC), the follow up curriculum reform, was implemented in the 2019-20 academic year. The goals are changed into core competencies. However, the two promotion strategies of these two reforms are similar. The policymakers did not learn from previous experience. Political systems in Taiwan are centralized; while in the U.S., the system is decentralized. Local governments are mandated to adopt curriculum reform from Taiwan’s Ministry of Education. In contrast, state governments have the authority to make the final decision on whether to adopt the federal curriculum standards in the U.S. Nevertheless, the federal government still quite successfully attracted the adoption of states by grants. At its peak, 45 states and the District of Columbia had adopted CCSS.  Common Core outlined what students need to know and be able to do. 12-YBEC focuses on core

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Two Days in the “Rainy City”

My classmates and I took an unorthodox route to Keelung. Instead of riding a bus, we took the old coal mine railway that passed by the Ching-Tung Coal Mine Museum. Once we arrived at the train station, the dark clouds overhead let loose torrential rain that demonstrated why locals call Keelung the “rainy city.” This detour was arranged by our program director so that we could have an opportunity to learn about local history before heading to National Taiwan Ocean University (NTOU) for a joint workshop on ocean development and revitalization. I was excited to represent my school, National Chengchi University (NCCU), by presenting my research on European maritime power in the Pacific during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, my interest in Keelung began during a Taiwanese history class I took this semester. Since the early twentieth century, Keelung was a site of intensive development by Japanese colonial authorities, who sought to improve Taiwan’s northernmost port due to its proximity to Japan. The intense colonial attention given to the city included a shifting array of assimilation policies. The Taiwanese response to these policies was the focus of Becoming Taiwanese by Evan Dawley. Dawley’s research uses the “crucible of Keelung”—

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Research & Reflections

fulbright taiwan online journal