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Said in Appreciation

Upon first hearing about the Tsunah Culture Tour, I was ecstatic; because it was the tour that eventually persuaded my dad to encourage me to go to Taiwan.  I hadn't been back to Taiwan in almost eleven years, so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect.  I knew a lot had changed, I just didn't know how these changes would affect
me.  I asked my parents a lot of questions about Taiwan, and as much as they tried to educate me on what they know, I could not grasp the importance of what they said.  So I just packed my bags, said my "good-bye"s and I was on my way. I arrived into C.K.S. International Airport, and as I rode into Taipei, it didn't appear as though much had changed.  The pollution over the city, the abundance of mopeds, 7-Eleven on every corner. . . yep, it was all exactly like I remembered.  I was definitely looking forward to seeing the real Taiwan, the beautiful Taiwan that I had heard so much about (outside of Taipei).  But I was also looking forward to meeting and spending ten days with other young Taiwanese Americans.  Having grown up in Florida and having spent my last four
years in college in Tennessee, I didn't exactly have many opportunities to know Taiwanese Americans my age.
There were about forty of us all together on the tour.  The ages of the participants ranged from 16 to 25.  The chemistry of the group was great overall and the broad age range certainly kept things interesting.  Despite the fact that we were high school students mixed with college students and graduate students, each one of us in
different phases of our lives, we all had at least one very important thing in common:  our Taiwanese heritage.  And each member of the group had a lot to contribute from their own individual life experiences. Throughout our ten days together, we visited such places as Taroko Gorge in Hualien, aboriginal villages, and Lungshan Temple
and the 228 Memorial Museum in Taipei.  My mom had always told me how beautiful Taiwan was, but I had a hard time believing her since my only perceptions of it had always been of Taipei, which is just like any large city.  But she was right.  I was absolutely stunned at how gorgeous Taiwan actually is!  My favorite day of the entire tour
consisted of driving along the East coast of the island.  Being blessed with incredible weather contributed largely to the beauty of our surroundings, especially considering that we were there in the dead middle of winter.  We entertained our evenings by venturing to local dance clubs, KTV (individual karaoke rooms), and night markets. 
Everyone seemed to enjoy all of the special Taiwanese delicacies  found in the night markets--from oysters with fried eggs to shaved ice with red bean.

There was a lot to learn about this majestic island and before going to Taiwan, I had encountered many struggles in my attempt to fully comprehend the political, cultural and traditional history which make up the identity of Taiwan.  In recent years I have developed an overwhelming curiosity about the foreign land where my parents and
ancestors had lived, the place that essentially possessed my roots.  My insatiable thirst for knowledge was finally quenched when I found myself completely immersed in Taiwanese culture, history and tradition along with other young Taiwanese Americans who shared a similar curiosity. I may never totally understand the strong sense of familiarity I felt in a place that I had rarely visited, an island which had previously  left very few traces of existence in my memory.  Nevertheless, I am extremely thankful for the opportunity I had to get to know and  understand Taiwan with new friends I could so easily identify with.  And I am very thankful for Mr. and Mrs. Lin of Tsunah, Mrs. Shu Cheng, Rebecca, and of course my parents, without whom none of this would  have happened for me.

It will probably be at least another few years before I make it back to Taiwan.  And aside from my memories of watching "Speed" as our bus barreled along the narrow mountain roads, and becoming accustomed to using squat toilets, eating stinky tofu and getting run over by taxis, I'd have to admit that I am anxiously awaiting my next
visit.  It couldn't come soon enough.

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Last updated: 06/30/1999