As I got ready for my trip to Taiwan, I was excited yet apprehensive. I was not looking forward to the twenty hour flight I was about to embark on from Boston to Taipei, I could only hope for good movies. I looked at the roster they had sent to us ahead of time and was relieved that my brother's friends were going with me so I knew I was not going to be the only older one there. My brother had gone on the Tsunah tour two years ago and had a great time and encouraged me to go also. Now I had finally found the time to go.
I arrived at the Chilin foundation in Taipei to find that many participants had already arrived. I introduced myself to some of the participants and we started talking about what schools we went to and if this was our first trip to Taiwan. I had previously only been to Taiwan once, and that was almost nine years ago in 1994. My first visit to Taiwan was a whirlwind of meeting relatives for the first time and trying to remember how to pronounce their names or call them the right name. This time I was on my own and touring the island with many other Taiwanese-American ˇ§kidsˇ¨, as we are so often called.
After all the participants had arrived, we met Lin I-hsiung. He and his wife are the founders of this foundation and started this youth cultural tour. He introduced himself and told us about his family history and his reasons for starting this cultural tour. On February 28, 1980 his mother and twin daughters were murdered. This tragedy and the uncertain future of Taiwan propelled the Lin Family into establishing the Taiwan Tsunah Foundation on March 31, 1991 to expand one's views through cultural and educational experiences.
After his inspiring speech, we began our 10 day tour of Taiwan that morning lead by our captains Dr. Chris Fan and Mrs. Sue Fan. We visited various parts of Taiwan such as I-lan, Hua-lien, Taitung, Pingtung, Taichong, Hsinchu, and Taipei. As we visited each part of Taiwan, we learned more about the social and political history of Taiwan. In addition, we saw the beautiful scenary of Taiwan through bike rides and hikes.
During the trip I found that the youngest participant was 17 and the oldest 27. We joked about different generations of music and how some of us lived through the 80s while others were born in the 80s. In the end, the age difference didn't matter at all. I found that we were all there for the same reason, to learn more about Taiwan. Many of us had grown up in the same Taiwanese household where we learned Taiwanese over Mandarin and where our parents would speak in Mandarin when they didn't want us to know what they were talking about. We could relate to each other as Taiwanese-Americans who wanted to learn more about our Taiwanese heritage. In the end, we not only learned more about Taiwan and how our parents grew up, but we also learned more about ourselves. Now I have an educated explanation for why I call myself Taiwanese and now, more than ever, I am proud to be Taiwanese.