The Taiwan I know -- By Jerry Kasai

I have always questioned my personal identity having a first generation Taiwanese American mother and a third generation Japanese American father.  Growing up in a predominately white neighborhood and going to predominately white schools, I assimilated into my environment and became whitewashed.  Yet, going up I always identified as being ˇ§Japaneseˇ¨ and ignored my other half.  I did not truly understand the full significant when the Democratic Progressive Party won the presidential elections in 2000.  However, the Tsunah tour has broadened my global understanding and help defined my personal identity that I have always questioned.

Before the eleven-day expedition through Taiwan, my family and I arrived two days early.  I said to my brother, Darren, ˇ§I don't want to leave your side.ˇ¨  And honestly, I was scared.  I was afraid of getting lost in a foreign country where my language skills was an equivalent to an infant-child.  But, The fear dissipated after the first day meeting my fellow Tsunahsters.   We ranged from young ˇ§hardcoreˇ¨ grassroots political activists to high school students not knowing what to expect.  Over the course trip, we created a family bond that looked beyond age and ethnic heritage.  This bond had extended beyond our eleven-day tour and made our trip even more magnificent 

Being my first time to Taiwan, I did not know what to expect.  I envisioned Taiwan, much like my assumptions of Japan, as an island crammed with bustling metropolis cities.  To my surprise, my assumptions were wrong.  Even from window in the bus, scenery was utterly beautiful with lush landscapes of a developing nation.  The view of Taroko gorge was breathtaking.  I smile when I think of all the people who bent over backwards trying to capture the ridgeline in the outline of Taiwan at the gorge.  However, here was much more than scenery to Tsunah.

The Tsunah tour is not just a trip it was an experience that I will never forget.  I miss the food, the night markets, and mostly, the people I was able to share my experiences with.  I could have gone without the long bus rides and having to wake up early but it was inevitable.  Being submerged into a culture unknown was defiantly an eye-opening experience. It makes me appreciate the little things like western toilets.  I felt it was an appropriate time to visit the motherland at my age when I could fully appreciate and ˇ§understandˇ¨ the culture.  I learned to recognize the value of my mother's heritage and my heritage.  Before I would tell people I was half Taiwanese, but now I understand what it means to be Taiwanese and never will forget my visit.  In the future, I look forward to return to the Taiwan I know.