-- By Michael Kenneth Chen
Having gone through many mundane camps which consists of learning the Taiwanese culture has been a common event in my life. One type of camp can vary from a 3 night weekend camp with mini-workshops of Taiwanese history. While some of the longer camps consist of a 4 week long excursion in Taiwan with language lessons. They all equally have their specific focus and reasons for teaching the youth. However, it wasn't until this winter which I attended the Tsunah Foundation Culture Camp, a 10 day camp of a totally different nature. The Tsunah Camp is ideally situated in Taiwan where one can have first-hand experience and become immersed in the Taiwan culture.
A 10 day camp is a deceivingly long time, but in reality it is relatively short period of time with enjoyable companionships. Being situated in a camp with roughly 35 other peers with the same background creates a blithe environment. Everyone at first has an ideology that their heritage is different from each other. However this figment of imagination is quickly dissolved once everyone creates a bond together. One of the most enjoyable parts of the trip is not only learning the Taiwan culture, but realistically it is the meeting of people with similar background. But, by understanding your peers better, you will only become more aware of yourself and your heritage. There is no better way to understand your own heritage except by viewing it through another person's background which is of similar history.
This camp unlike any other camps was run by and coordinated by experienced and knowledgeable leaders who have passion for Taiwan's heritage. The intriguing aspect of this camp compare to others is the fact that this camp discusses about the untold truth of Taiwan's history. It is a camp designed to teach and educate the next generation of what the Taiwanese people went through and what they should be proud of. No other camp has offered the experience of actually feeling and knowing how the people of Taiwan have suffered. By traveling around Taiwan and actually witnessing the locations where major Taiwanese events took place it will dramatically creates a different impression of Taiwanˇ¦s history. It all becomes surreal because it feels like as if one is experiencing everything first had. Because of this it then brings everything to a different level of understanding and creates a new kind of love for their home country. All of these are experienced through the precise combination of being immersed in Taiwan, taught and led by passionate leaders, encompassed by fellow peers, and walking through the lives of the former Taiwanese people.
If one can even slightly grasp the idea of what it feels to be Taiwanese then they will already have a better understanding of the culture and history. They will become aware of the reasons why Taiwan always has a predicament with being cross referenced as being Chinese or having a Japanese background.
I'm sure you're wondering if this is another article written about ˇ§how you should attend this Taiwan Culture Camp for two weeksˇ¨. I imagine that when most people read these types of articles they believe it's written as propaganda to encourage people to come on these ˇ§Taiwan Culture Toursˇ¨. However I strongly believe in this camp because even after attending so many different camps I was still able to learn so much more of the truth of Taiwan and its history. This camp enabled me to learn it in a different point of view, and it gave me a stronger impression by actually witnessing where these events occurred. But I also want to say that not only did I gain a better understanding of Taiwan, I also gained many new and wonderful Taiwanese friends. This above anything else makes this trip more than worthwhile. The amount of bonding and friendships created on this trip can last a lifetime. If there is any better place to gain friends, it is through a mutual learning experience of which everyone can relate with one and another. Never before have had I felt a stronger bond with strangers in a culture camp. For these types of friendships create the strongest bonds in life.
Culture camps are designed to create an environment for the next generation youths to learn, understand and discuss their heritage and roots. The Tsunah Foundation has done all this and moreˇK It creates a new generation of fellow Taiwanese to regain their culture and pride. It also creates a new generation of Taiwanese friends.