Learning about Taiwan

Stephanie Kuo

Having been born and raised in the not so culturally diverse Midwest, I grew up pretty oblivious to my cultural heritage. I had been to Taiwan only once before thirteen years ago, but the trip only conjures up fuzzy memories of my sisters and I clinging to our parents every step in a foreign land. After years of trying to fit in as a minority in the schools I attended in the U.S. I began to realize that the void I was feeling was not a lack of acceptance by my peers, but actually a lack of knowing who I was.

Even after my parents offered to send me and my sisters on this Tsunah trip I was reluctant to miss Christmas and New Years in the states, but quickly realized what an amazing opportunity I'd miss if I didn't go. I left excited with high expectations and would soon find that the trip would far exceed those expectations.

After spending the first few nights at the Tsunah Foundation in Ilan and taking a tour of the Taiwan Democratic Movement Museum, I finally understood the reasoning behind my parents' anger towards China. Every step through that museum enabled me to become more and more enlightened about the long history of China's oppression of the Taiwanese people. Learning about the Kuomintang and the massacre they led on February 28, 1947 as well as the mysterious murder of DPP chairman Lin Yi-hsiung's mother and twin daughters exactly 33 years later left me shocked and furious.

In addition to learning about Taiwan's political history I had the opportunity to tour the entire island. Looking back I'm so amazed with the variety of activities I was able to participate in. The ten days were jam packed with everything from visits with aborigine tribes in the mountains to night market adventures in Taipei. I have taken from this trip a new sense of my cultural heritage, a strong desire to make Taiwan a Democratic independent country, and a pride in being able to correct people by saying "No I'm not Chinese, I'm Taiwanese".