Blog

A new side of Taiwan

By: Tristan Fleming-Froy

A few weeks ago, I was one of a few lucky board members to be invited to the 2018 Global Youth Trends Forum in Taipei. Of course, although we were there for the forum, we took the opportunity to explore Taipei in our off-time. We saw some sights, met great people and enjoyed a whole range of great Taiwanese food. But perhaps the most interesting part of our trip wasn’t in Taipei, but instead on Taiwan’s often overlooked East coast. By leaving the big cities we saw Taiwan’s more natural side and learned about a couple of Taiwan’s many indigenous peoples, who are often forgotten in modern Taiwan.

46065745_289678955002471_5238650432171016192_n

Before the Forum kicked off, all the delegates were taken down to Hualien, a small town on Taiwan’s East coast. The East coast is less explored by foreigners – since most of Taiwan’s population lives in the North and West, few people seem to venture past Taiwan’s huge mountains to the other side. However, it’s well worth the trip. Dark green forests cover the mountains, which fill the skyline before crashing down into the Pacific Ocean. The ocean is a pale blue where it laps at the cliffs, then suddenly darkens where the continental shelf drops away, extending to the horizon.

46512229_2145166169033870_5069689566957404160_n

Taiwan realises there is really beauty in the East – several large sections have been designated as national parks. We visited Taroko National Park, just north of Hualien. Battling through the heavy rain, we walked through a deep, long gorge, and marvelled at the clear turquoise water running through it. The park takes its name from the indigenous Truku people who live in the area; or at least the Japanese translation of Truku. Traditionally, the Truku people wore face tattoos which marked significant moments in their lives and showed their membership as part of their tribe. These tattoos were also important in death, as the Truku believed they would cross a rainbow bridge in the afterlife and needed their face tattoos to be recognised and accepted by their ancestors. However, when the Japanese ruled Taiwan, they banned the practice. Although Japan no longer governs the island, the anti-tattooing policy took a heavy toll. Not only that, but in Taiwan today, many indigenous peoples (especially the young) are torn between maintaining their heritage and blending into modern society. As a result, few Truku bear the traditional face tattoos. Taroko National Park is, therefore, a beautiful showcase of nature, but also a sad reminder of how minority culture is challenged by a changing.

46297029_289679055002461_1990800591047098368_n

The following day we experienced a different indigenous culture, although in a far more uplifting way. We spent much of the day meeting local Amis people, with the man in charge giving us all an informative but very entertaining explanation of the Amis people and their culture and traditions. The Amis are another of Taiwan’s minorities, known for their unique Palakaw fishing style and vibrant traditional clothing and dance. So obviously they wanted us to participate, although some people were better at catching fish than others. Fortunately, plenty of fish were caught for dinner. And what a feast it was! We were treated to a huge spread of Amis recipes, including salt-baked fish, rice and red beans steamed in bamboo and seafood stew cooked using hot rocks. Finally came the dancing, led by a group of older Amis women in vibrant outfits that blended the modern and traditional. The day was fun, but educational; standing in contrast to what we had learned about the Truku, it was an entirely different experience for the Amis to proudly share their living, breathing culture with us.

46110207_289678968335803_4851458743889559552_n

Our trip to Taiwan was enjoyable for many reasons. The Global Youth Trends Forum was a great opportunity to meet new people from all over the world and discuss future issues that affect us all, and Taipei is an interesting city to explore. But Taiwan doesn’t possess a single people or single culture. If you ever have the opportunity to go, I recommend you go beyond the main cities, and try to meet people whose stories, both modern and historical, might otherwise go unheard. You never know what you might find.

46112756_289678838335816_9110277958743883776_n

Blog, Uncategorized

A study break for the tummy and mind

By: Fabian Friberg

Last Tuesday (22/10) East Asia Student Association in Lund (EASA) and Eos Cares banded together to organize a well-needed study break filled with vegan spring rolls to eat. I, being a fan of both organizations as well as Asian food, happily decided to go. What I knew before going in was that I’d be eating vegan Vietnamese spring rolls, but what I didn’t know was that the chef for my rolls would be none other than myself.

IMG_8967

Upon arrival, an EASA member from Vietnam gave us bowls filled with ingredients and demonstrated how to make the rolls to us. Unexpectedly, one of the bowls contained only water and nothing else. She then told us to soak a sheet of “paper” in the water to make it soft, after which we were to wrap it around our vegetables and fried tofu. Thankfully this paper was made of rice and not micronized wood, so it was actually edible. After making our wraps (with me adding way too many ingredients to mine making it more like a bag than a wrap) we dipped them in hoisin sauce and savor them. Turns out ugly wraps can be delicious too!

The spring rolls were good, and so was the company. I had the opportunity to speak to many people from different countries, all interested in languages, basketball, or both. We all were comparing our own masterpieces to see whose were the prettiest (it wasn’t mine) and heartily ate all of them.

IMG_8954

To “wrap up” the evening, EASA had prepared a well thought-through quiz. Having become well acquainted with my table mates, we were ready to take it on head first.

IMG_8949

I was surprised to find out that the format of the quiz would be based on the Swedish TV show “på spåret”. Having such a popular Swedish family show make its way into an Asia-themed quiz night was not what I expected, but it ended up making the quiz more interesting than the typical 10-20 questions type of quiz we’ve all participated in so many times before.

The introductory challenge had us pairing short snippets of Asian songs with their countries of origin. The countries we could choose from were Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Mongolia and Cambodia. This was my time to shine, as I have a great interest in both Asian music and Asian languages. Our team ended up winning the first round with 10/12 songs matched correctly with their country.

It all went downhill from here though.

The next section followed in typical “på spåret” fashion, having us digitally visit 3 different Asian countries and answer questions about them. Our teams gave it our all, but it turns out we have much to learn when it comes to Asian politics and history. I guess I’ll have to drop the k-pop videos and start watching some documentaries instead.

DSC_8657

We ended up coming dead last, despite our initial lead and had to experience the bitter taste of defeat. I must say though, that the quiz was very fun and well put together, with interesting questions highlighting some parts of Asian culture and history I didn’t know of before.

It was a great evening, made possible thanks to Eos cares and  EASA, and I sincerely hope they will cook together something similar in the future for tired hungry people like me to enjoy. I hope someone tells them.

Having set the tone for large-scale integration, Eos Cares is the social programme of the basketball club IK devoted to facilitating efforts to community building. Since its establishment in 2015, Eos Cares has come to organize a wide range of social activities for all kinds of people to join. These include language cafés, cook-along, and learning seminars.