by Ivan Pineda
on July 10, 2017 on 7/10/17 from cheng kung, fea, Fund for Education Abroad, gaoxiong, Kaohsiung (Gaoxiong), Taichung (Taizhong), tainan, taiwan, tislp, university of south florida, usf, Taiwan
It is known, of course, that the elderly in Tainan, or rather, Southern Taiwan, prefer to speak Taiwanese instead of Mandarin, but their background is so much more interesting than one might think.
So for perspective, just imagine you are born under a pseudo-Japanese culture and rule (and I say pseudo because, of course, Taiwan has always had its own culture), then your country experiences a world war, is defeated (being part of Japan at the time), reaches a very short independence and then is flooded with more than 2 million refugees fleeing Mainland China along with a very right-wing political party that establishes a government/dictatorship that lasts until about 1988. That is what the 老人家 （lao3ren2jia1）we visited this week experienced. Many of them still speak Japanese at least as a second language and interestingly enough carry on that tradition over to the younger generations. Most of them, if not all, speak Taiwanese as their first language and speak Mandarin Chinese with a very strong accent.
That is what the 老人家 （lao3ren2jia1）we visited this week experienced. Many of them still speak Japanese at least as a second language and interestingly enough carry on that tradition over to the younger generations. Most of them, if not all, speak Taiwanese as their first language and speak Mandarin Chinese with a very strong accent.
It was an amazing experience, not only did we get to see some of the historical places in downtown Tainan, but we also got to experience a very unique view of what traditional Tainan people live like. Also, the community we visited liked cowboy dancing very much, it was quite interesting to see Taiwanese elders dancing to a sort of country music better than Americans. I’ve also met a group of people who like to dance Swing, this is a really globalized country if you ask me.
We also went on a boat to see the estuaries that comprise most of Tainan’s shoreline, and at the end of the day, we went to a very nice restaurant to have traditional Tainan food, famous all throughout Taiwan. I can’t lie, but even if pictures of food look like very nice Instagram material (the “gram” how my friends call it), I have yet to find a plate that really appeals to my taste buds, that is except the tropical fruits available all throughout the city. The tropical fruits here aren’t like anything I have tasted in my life, and I know about tropical fruits, I spent my whole childhood moving from country to country in Latin America. Especially the Mango. Now I understand why the Ai4wen2 Mango (爱文芒果）is so famous here. Coincidentally enough for me, Ai4wen2 is my name in Chinese, so I’m lucky enough to get a giggle from everyone I meet when I introduce myself.
In any case, I feel like the 2 weeks I have grown as a person enormously. I have known how to face adversity, speak a foreign language to communicate with locals, navigate street signs and restaurant menus in Traditional Chinese, build relationships, and most important of all, know how to use the skills I have learned in school and my Chinese classes in real world scenarios. This might sound cliche, but I do feel blessed.
Note: I want to upload some images but for some reason WordPress is not letting me, so I will upload them as soon as I find another way.