The Taiwan I know now is vastly different from the Taiwan I knew before going on the Tsunah culture tour. I had not been back to the island for an entire decade, and thus almost everything, from the environment to the people, seemed different. Economic advancements improved the standard of living for the average person and made Taipei the busy, flourishing city it is today. However, these are obvious improvements that anyone would be able to identify. The more meaningful differences and changes to the Taiwan I know now stems from the exposure we had on tour to the entire island of Taiwan, including all of its beautiful people, cultures, and natural beauty.
In my previous visits to the island, I spent most of my time in the southern part of the island in Pin Dong and Tang Kang with relatives. Although enjoyable and memorable, these vacations gave me a very narrow perspective of Taiwanese culture as a whole. The Tsunah tour afforded me the opportunity to see the entire island and the myriad of peoples, social classes, and cultures. For example, meeting people from the aboriginal tribes, partaking of their food, and even attempting their song and dance enhanced my understanding of the original people of Formosa.
The Taiwan I know is beautiful. Viewing places like Taroko gorge and walking through natural, green forests exposed the exquisite nature of the island. Without taking the time to see these sites, an outsider might think that all of Taiwan is bustling like Taipei. The bike ride we took on the second day of tour gave us time to take in the beauty of the rice fields and man made parks. Visiting the beaches made me realize that they are comparable to the beaches in California or even Hawaii.
The Taiwan I know now is independent. It always has been, and it always will be. The tour opened my eyes to the political situation of the island and the constant threat from across the strait. The election of a democratic government was the first step toward absolute sovereignty. With time and with a changing democratic mindset, the Taiwanese people will one day be ready to declare independence. And as Americans, we can support representatives that will in turn support and give aid to the island in their just endeavor.
This winter, I learned about Taiwan and its culture, landscape, people, and politics. With this complete perspective, I can take pride in my nationality. I can take pride in my culture, and I can appreciate the opportunity I have to support Taiwan in its path toward independence.