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Taiwan Day at Indiana University at Bloomington explores school culture in Taiwan

Taiwan Day at Indiana University at Bloomington explores school culture in Taiwan

The East Asian Studies Center and the Taiwanese Student Association of Indiana University at Bloomington organized a Taiwan Day event at the Global and International Studies Building to give the Bloomington community a glimpse into Taiwanese culture through the lens of elementary, middle and high school life in Taiwan.

Wang Fei-Hsien, an assistant professor in the university’s history department, commented that in general, people at the university don’t know much about Taiwan. For this reason, a Taiwan Day was held last year, with a focus on Taiwanese street life. It was very successful so a decision was made to hold a Taiwan Day annually.

This year’s Taiwan Day focused on school life there. As Prof. Wang explained, “The school life experience in Taiwan is very different from the school experience here.” The open house-style event featured displays of various Taiwanese school uniforms, over the shoulder book bags and other items, including the chemistry and physics workbooks that Taiwanese Student Association president Sharon Hsu had used in high school. It gave students at the university an opportunity to relate to some of the similarities and appreciate some of the differences between school life in Taiwan and the U.S.

The displays also highlighted some of the social aspects of school life in Taiwan. The Bloomington students could take part in the kind of student-created games that are featured at school fairs in Taiwan. Sharon Hsu explained that this was designed to help to break down the stereotype of Asian kids as being good at math or super smart at other subjects, completely overlooking the fun side that they also have.

Some high school students in Taiwan participate in dance teams in their spare time, so the members of the Taiwanese Student Association’s executive board performed some typical dances to songs that reflect vibrant, cheerful school life there. They also modeled the uniforms worn by students at two high schools in Taiwan.

The attendees were also invited to watch a short, animated film “On Happiness Road” about a young girl’s first day at elementary school in Taiwan. Some students from Taiwan currently studying at Indiana University commented on the memories that the film elicited, and many people expressed appreciation for having a Taiwan Day to raise awareness about Taiwan and its culture and heritage.

The Taiwan Day was sponsored by the East Asian Studies Center at Indiana University, the Chinese Flagship Center, and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Chicago. Michael Brose, the Director of the East Asian Studies Center, Dr. Chen Yea-Fen, Director of the Chinese Flagship Center, and David Dong, Director of TECO in Chicago were all thanked by the master of ceremonies at the opening ceremony of this year’s Taiwan Day for their support.

Photo:Taiwan Day dancers in high school uniforms.