Prior to the Tsunah Tour of 2002, the last time I had been to Taiwan was approximately 1994. Eight years is quite a long time before returning to visit the beautiful island (Formosa) where all one's family and relatives are. It is very easy to become distanced in one's identity by being in the States or another country for that matter for so long. The Tsunah program does a great job educating and reminding Taiwanese and other Americans of the history and culture of Formosa.
An experience such as Tsunah provides special and significant meaning in terms of cultural understanding that one cannot receive any many other ways. Growing up in the Midwest with the only other family in the US being my parents has allowed me grace to not take an eye-opening experience like Tsunah for granted. Tsunah is an experience that if anyone attends, they will remember and cherish the rest of our lives. Once in Taiwan, you will form tight bonds with strangers at first and hopefully established some long-term friendships with people that you will keep in touch with for the rest of your life even if the trip has long passed. For those of us fortunate enough to have already attended, we are grateful to the Chilin Foundation for providing us with such a rare and unique opportunity. Our hope is that others who have not yet attended the tour will take the initiative to allow themselves to experience this great adventure in Taiwan. One of the greatest things Tsunah gave me was an opportunity to explore a mature perspective of Taiwan that I never had a chance to get before. When one is older, you appreciate the experience to a much fuller-cultural extent.
I have many personal favorite parts of the tour; however, the one that sticks out in my mind was our visit to the Christian missionary hospital in Taitung, Taiwan. Hearing and reading about the testimonies and stories given by those working in the Logefeil Memorial Hospital (LMH) in Taitung was truly an amazing blessing. The stories of the struggles and sacrifice of those that came before and after Dr. Frank Dennis, Dr. Florence On, and other missionary doctors truly touched my heart. Especially the principle of sacrificing years of their life and more prestigious and higher paying positions elsewhere to serve in such a rural part of Taiwan because of their love and care for the people in that area. Taipei is typically the city associated with Taiwan but this experience was a statement that there is life outside of Taipei. Taitung is definitely an area of Taiwan that I would like to go back and visit. Our visit there touched me so deeply, I would even consider volunteering and devoting a portion of my life there because of the goodness and worthiness of their cause. To hear stories of such kind-hearted, unselfish people that have helped Taiwan to come as far as it has truly gives one hope for the country in spite of the hardships it was endured in the past.
To see the difference that missionaries have made in Taiwan in regards to education and medical advances is amazing and another personal favorite of the trip. The unique privilege of touring Taiwan with Joel and Judy Linton only added tremendously to that experience. Speaking with current missionaries in Taiwan and hearing their testimonies gave us a full encompassing spiritual perspective in another country.
Fellowshipping with Sakinu and members of his tribe was also another personal favorite of the tour. It is amazing to think a rare amount of people can say truly say they have stayed up all night with Taiwanese aborigines singing songs and sharing stories.
Tsunah has provided opportunities for all these rare experiences. Where else would you be able to get an opportunity to meet such unique and different people and get to know them on such an intimate level? The Tsunah experience is truly unique and special because it provides that rare opportunity. Our hope is that more participants will sign up for the tour in the future to see we what we have had a chance to experience and take away a part Taiwan's identity and culture with them back to the States. This year's participants only need to remind themselves of the Tsunah experience by reflecting with the numerous pictures online and/or viewing Dave Yu's DVD compilation.
Taiwan has come a long ways, from the days of 2-28 to the lifting of martial law by the KMT; and with the control of the country finally returned to the people through the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), we look forward to seeing the country advance towards a complete and official status of itíŽs own independence. In addition, we would even like and hope to see Taiwan lose the confusing and misleading name of the Republic of China (ROC) eventually.
The Tsunah tour is a great opportunities that will put your life in perspective from bathrooms to dining experiences. I hope one of my next visits to Taiwan will be as a veteran Tsunah participant and perhaps be able to assist with the tour to some degree. The Chilin Foundation has the big task of educating the world around it about the struggle and history of Taiwan and we should do our best to encourage and promote them. Tsunah is something all of us should consider sending our children on to help sustain the ethnic identity and culture of Taiwan. Whether you are Taiwanese American or not, if you want a life changing experience, Tsunah is the way to go.