Tag: English

Reflections On Finding Community and Confidence in Graduate School

When I started my master’s degree program in Asia Pacific Studies at National Chengchi University (NCCU) in fall 2017, I considered myself well-read on the topics I wanted to research; I had done my undergraduate capstone projects on Taiwanese democracy and cross-Taiwan Strait relations, and I had practical knowledge of the cultures and societies of the Asia Pacific. However, I spent the majority of my first year in graduate school struggling to find a topic to tackle for my Master’s thesis. Did I have anything important to say about the state of China–Taiwan relations? Would my future career hinge upon the project I decided to pursue? Would the topic I choose paint me into a corner of academic expertise? Did I even know how to start writing a thesis? These were the worries of a grad student hurtling toward an uncertain future after graduation.  By the time summer vacation started halfway through my master’s program, I found that the experiences I had through Fulbright Taiwan sparked my interest in the role of students in international exchanges. In the States, I had work experience mentoring international students, and I discovered that my research background in China-Taiwan relations could form the background

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Hyphenation: Maneuvering Hybrid Cultural Identities

 “中白鷺的腳腳和嘴巴是黃的. 大白鷺有黑色腳腳, 黃色的嘴巴.” Intermediate egrets’ feet and mouths are yellow. Large egrets have black feet, yellow mouths. 白熊 patiently explained the differences between the large and intermediate egret to me for the umpteenth time. 白熊, which translates directly to polar bear, earned this nickname due to his height and paleness. To this day, I am still not sure what his actual name is. He hurriedly pointed out the window as the van drove past an egret wading in rice paddies. “你看.中白鷺.”  Look. Intermediate egret.  “ 那小白鷺呢?” I asked, “我已經忘了.”  How about small egrets?… I already forgot. “黑嘴巴,黑腳.”  Black mouth, black feet.  I tried to commit this information to memory, but after a minute I turned my head and gave him a blank stare.  “算了, 我每一次看到一隻鷺就問你吧.” Whatever, I’ll just ask you every time we see an egret. He chortled in response. “喂, 你別像這樣啦! 你努力一點吧."The van lurched to a stop, throwing me and 白熊 against our safety belts. We eyed each other before looking outside. “喔,我們快到了.” Hey don’t be like that! Put some effort into it… Oh, we’re almost there. The van slowly turned and pulled up the dirt path to the dairy farm we were getting blood samples from, rocking side

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The Journey To Kucapungane

When I submitted my research proposal during the Fulbright application process, I understood that the architectural sites of the Taiwanese indigenous Rukai and Tao people would be challenging to access. True enough, to reach the Tao site on Lanyu Island, I had to board a small airplane with limited seats. There was also the option to take what was described to me as a turbulent, sea sickness inducing ferry. I opted for the small airplane. But the Rukai site is a six to eight-hour hike up Beidawu Mountain (北大武山) in a mountainous region in Pingtung County, making the trip to Lanyu Island seem simple in comparison.  I am not a recreational hiker, and on Monday, April 25, I came to understand the magnitude of the journey to Kucapungane, one of Taiwan’s major Rukai settlements. Beidawu mountain is located in Southeast Taiwan and stands at an elevation of 3092 m (10,144 ft). A subgroup of the Rukai community settled in this area in the early 1600’s and through a remarkable integration of architecture within nature built housing into the cascading tiers layered in the mountain. Since Rukai members decided to relocate the settlement in 1974 to have greater access to modern

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China’s Military Political Commissar System under PLA Modernization/ Professionalization

Introduction  This paper will attempt to answer the following research question, “will China’s military modernization and professionalization change the institution of political commissars in the People’s Liberation Army?” The incoming development of technology, the revolution in military affairs, and the changing composition of PLA personnel will all contribute in accelerating the transition away from a symbiotic party-army relationship to increasing institutional autonomy. The concept of professionalization supports Huntington’s theory of civil-military theory of objective civilian control. Such support, in turn, has major consequences for the political commissar system. Second, the need for a non-commissioned officer (NCO) support system places political commissars in the prime position to begin shifting their roles and responsibilities away from ideological purposes.The goal is to utilize this research to better understand how China has changed their military organization and to conceive a more complete representation of China’s PLA. What are Political Commissars? Since the early 20th century, the PLA leadership structure has incorporated political officers at every level of their chain of command. Unlike the U.S. military which attempts to separate political actors from their tactical and military decisions (except at the highest level of leadership), the PLA is a Party-army: its strategies, regulations, and traditions

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Promoting Cooperation as an Outsider: Taiwan’s Engagement with the World

Taiwan is a nation without a country. This small island the size of Maryland is endowed with few natural resources, was a colony of Imperial Japan until the end of World War II, and for 38 years after the Chinese Revolution endured the longest period of martial law anywhere in the world. Yet despite these inhibitions, Taiwan’s economy grew by leaps and bounds during the final decades of the 20th century. This rapid development is largely attributable to an opportunistic and enterprising population. During this time, the Taiwanese were quick to move into emerging industries (e.g. production of bicycles, toys, and consumer electronics) and effective at ramping up output to meet new global demand.  Today Taiwan is an advanced economy with a high standard of living and relatively equitable wealth distribution. Its self-ruling government is a stable democracy, and the body politic partakes in open and lively national discourse. The level of political and economic cohesion present in this society is a sufficient condition to establish a sovereign state. Yet it continues to be deprived of this status due to the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) vehement opposition to a fully independent Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan. Beijing remains

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Transforming Mathematics Education in the U.S. through Eastern Pedagogy and Policy

“Every so often someone asks me: ‘What’s your favorite country, other than your own?’ I’ve always had the same answer: Taiwan. ‘Taiwan? Why Taiwan?’ people ask. Very simple: Because Taiwan is a barren rock in a typhoon-laden sea with no natural resources to live off of—it even has to import sand and gravel from China for construction—yet it has the fourth-largest financial reserves in the world. Because rather than digging in the ground and mining whatever comes up, Taiwan has mined its 23 million people, their talent, energy and intelligence—men and women. I always tell my friends in Taiwan: You’re the luckiest people in the world. How did you get so lucky? You have no oil, no iron ore, no forests, no diamonds, no gold, just a few small deposits of coal and natural gas—and because of that you developed the habits and culture of honing your people’s skills, which turns out to be the most valuable and only truly renewable resource in the world today… Sure, it’s great to have oil, gas and diamonds; they can buy jobs. But they’ll weaken your society in the long run unless they’re used to build schools and a culture of lifelong learning.” -Thomas Friedman, The New York Times,

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Researching the Cross-Strait Implications of Taiwan’s Democratization

As a master’s student at National Chengchi University, I took a class on cross-strait relations between China and Taiwan. For my final essay, I became interested in the question, how has Taiwan’s democratization, and China’s lack thereof, affected cross-strait relations? My own experiences of China and Taiwan galvanized my curiosity. Before coming to Taiwan with the Fulbright Program, I spent two years in mainland China teaching English, one year at a middle school in Hunan province, and one year at a university in Henan province. In both settings, nationalism was a daily routine. In middle school, when the national anthem played on loudspeakers twice a day, all students stopped in their tracks and remained still to listen. Only after it ended would they continue their walk to the canteen. At the university, signs extolled the accomplishments of China since the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949, and even urged students to follow the example of Lei Feng, a young People’s Liberation Army hero of the Maoist era known for humility, kindness to fellow comrades, and devotion to the Communist Party. During my two years in China, I traveled widely and visited many history museums. They all seemed to

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A Journey to Explore Knowledge and Obtain Experiences on Springs Protection and Restoration in Florida in 2017

My objective was to gain knowledge and experience from the administrators, researchers, and community leaders in spring protection and restoration in Florida. By staying at Stetson University in Florida from July to September 2017, I visited springs and lagoons, discussed spring protection with community leaders, observed research sites and activities, and read governmental reports related to water quality, flow regulations, and basic management action plan of springs.   Hosting University and Institute Established in 1883, Stetson University is the oldest and most prestigious private university in the state of Florida. The main campus of Stetson is located in Deland, Florida, recently cited by CNN and Parade Magazine as one of ‘’best small towns’’ in America. According to the 2017 U.S. News & World Report, Stetson is ranked in the top 5 regional universities in the South. Currently, based on the 2017 Stetson University Area Guide, there are 77 areas of study, 428 total faculty members, 3,084 undergraduate students, and 1,246 graduate students. The purpose of the Institute of Water and Environmental Resilience (IWER) focuses on water and environmental research to create policy options for the conservation of natural resources in Central Florida. Its mission is to promote interdisciplinary learning and research,

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Stamps

Taiwanese people love their stamps. I was first alerted to this when I read on a blog that each MRT station in Taipei has its own unique rubber stamp. I went to look for them, and once I started, I couldn’t stop. I bought a little booklet with blank pages and began my stamp collection. Visiting each new MRT station was like a treasure hunt now, especially the larger ones with multiple exits. But it didn’t stop there. Once I was paying attention, I realized that nearly every attraction, every place of interest in Taiwan has a stamp. And I began collecting them, filling the pages of my book. Now that I’m at the end of my grant period and looking back over the last 8 months, it’s laughable how close I was to turning down this opportunity. I had been accepted to medical school just a couple of weeks before, so when the Fulbright email came, I was filled with emotional turmoil and angst rather than the expected joy and excitement. Going to Taiwan for a year would disrupt the careful flow I had been building towards medical school, and it would also be the longest period of time

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On Goodwill and Hospitality

Admiring this living room in this guesthouse in Xincheng, minutes from the gate of Taroko Gorge, I am forced to consider what a villager from, say, northeastern Tibet/Western China would do with such space!

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