Make Yourself at Home in Taiwan


2019 / July

Ivan Chen /tr. by Phil Newell

When Taiwanese who were born and bred here look at themselves, they perhaps have some preconceived notions. But when people from all over the world who have lived and worked here for decades and have become naturalized citizens look at Taiwan, they see a different kind of scenery and have a different understanding of this island.

Our cover story this month introduces several people who have been granted citizen­ship based on their high levels of skill or special contributions. They include Rifat Karlova, who won a Golden Bell Award for best TV travel show host; Dr. Peter Kenrick, who has been practicing medicine here for over 34 years; world-famous pianist Rolf-­Peter Wille; and artist Ivan Yehorov, who has depicted rural life and customs from across Taiwan. They tell their stories of Taiwan, and through them we can more deeply understand our homeland.

The rich ingenuity of design in Taiwan is demonstrated in many ways. For example, paper sculptor Hung ­Hsinfu has countless patents for innovations in paper art. Board game creators address themes beyond mere entertainment, explaining government policy or working with professional illustrators to depict Taiwanese fruit and endemic species. Some of their games have been selected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as “Special Souvenirs of Taiwan,” and are highly ­collectible.

Another expression of ingenuity is the Thousand Fields Seed Museum in Tainan, which abounds with unusual and amazing seeds. Founder Liang Kunjiang tells many stories of seeds, taking visitors on a magical adventure. These treasures are creations of Nature, and the museum was motivated by the Liang family’s desire to preserve them.

Through free clinics and a large-scale screening program, medical missions from Taiwan have reduced the incidence of rheum­atic heart disease among the people of Kiribati, putting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of “Health and Well-­Being” into practice. We also visit the music group Gema Angklung, which is made up of Indonesian housewives, language teachers, legal translators, and volunteer tour guides who now live in Taiwan. Their music is not only a vehicle for memories of home, but also an important tool for cultural exchange.

Continuing our series about cycling in Taiwan, our reporters travel the winding Provincial Highway 2 to take in the ever-­changing scenery of the North Coast. Besides seeing plants like sea hibiscus, night-scented lily and Japanese dock, they visit “ventifacts”—strangely shaped features eroded by the wind from volcanic rock. With the addition of interviews with local cultural figures, this piece adds a great deal of fun and color to this month’s issue.

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