The Taiwan I know

Christina Yu

My trip to Taiwan with the Tsunah tour was different in every way possible compared to my previous visits to the island. I had no idea what to except going into the tour. My last visit to Taiwan was about seven years ago, right before entering high school. My previous trips to Taiwan included horrible humid weather, crazy drivers, polluted and overcrowded streets, and the long fourteen hour plane ride. Prior to the tour, the only place I had visited in Taiwan was Taipei, where my family is from. Going into the Tsunah tour, I envisioned Taiwan as being the capital, with lots of billboards, Starbucks and bookstores around every corner, and basically having everything that the U.S. had, except more. Even though I am only half Taiwanese, through my last twenty years of growing up, I grew up in a Taiwanese household. I learned so much about my family's history and background of Taiwan, but understood only bits and pieces. By going on this tour, I hoped that I would get a better insight of why my family was so proud to call Taiwan their "home."

Prior to the tour, my mother and grandmother gave me a brief history of how the Tsunah Foundation came about. I knew going into the trip I would come out with an entirely different perspective of Taiwan. During the first few days that were spent in Ilan, we got to meet Lin-I-Hsiung and his family. We learned about him and his family's history and the story of his mother and twin daughters. I soon understood why my family would gather together each year on 228 to reminisce the events that had happened on that date. After meeting with Lin-I-Hsiung, I was amazed at what this man has accomplished. We also got to visit the Lin's memorial along with the Taiwan Democratic Movement Museum. I was fascinated how much Taiwan had struggled to fight for their independence.
The Taiwan that I once knew compared to the Taiwan I know now is completely different. Taroko Gorge is one of the many places we visited. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking. Besides for visiting Taroko Gorge, we also went river boating, visited Aletheia University, the President's Administration Hall, and the Aborigine tribes. I enjoyed the mountain hikes because it gave me the opportunity to see the beautiful scenery of Taiwan. Each visiting site brought me a step closer to my family's homeland.

The tour provided me the opportunity to meet other Taiwanese American college students and graduates. The age ranged from sixteen to early thirties. Although each of us was in a different stage of our lives, whether we were still in school, looking for a job, or working, we shared one common thing, our Taiwanese heritage. Going into the tour, I met nearly forty new faces that I had never met before. I would have never imagined by spending eleven days with these people would I end up having many long lasting friendships.

The Tsunah tour gave me a whole different perspective of Taiwan. Everyone could relate to one another as Taiwanese Americans who wanted to learn about our Taiwanese heritage. I learned more about Taiwan than I ever thought was possible. I learned not only about our families and how they grew up, but we learned about ourselves and who we are. After the Tsunah trip, Taiwan now has a different meaning to me. I now understand what it means to be Taiwanese. I understand why my family goes to the political events around the Bay Area to stand up for their rights as citizens of Taiwan. I now understand why they are proud to call themselves Taiwanese. Taiwan to me is no longer just an island where my mother grew up. It's an identity of who I am as a person, and I have never felt prouder to tell people I am Taiwanese.