From November 5th to November 16th, 2012, my 18 other friends and I went to Taiwan for an immersion programme under the Bicultural Studies Programme; alongside with two teachers, Mdm Jiang Ling and Mr Tan Kian Boon. The objectives of this immersion are to:
- Provide us with the opportunity to have an in-depth understanding of Taiwan’s history, culture, current state of society, education, economics and politics.
- Expose us to the culture of other Chinese society so as to appreciate their lifestyle
- Provide an avenue for meaningful interaction with their peers so as to promote international friendship and understanding.
I have benefitted a lot during this 12-day long trip to Taiwan. One of them would be a deeper understanding towards Taiwan’s culture. For example, as most of the Taiwanese are Buddhists, there are numerous temples, with many beautiful sculptures in it. Before the trip, I would have walked past them without giving them much attention. However, after this Taiwan trip, I now understand the meaning behind some of these sculptures, learning better how to appreciate it. In addition, I learnt some of the rules that we have to abide by when entering a temple. This is extremely important as Singapore, being a multi-racial country has many different religions, Buddhism inclusive. Hence, we should equip ourselves with these basic knowledge.
We also attended different talks by professors regarding the cross-straits relation. In our free time, we also watched the different news channels and newspapers to get a better understanding of Taiwan’s politics as well as how it differs from Singapore.
Not to forget, we also visited the many famous sites in Taiwan, such as the Tamsui River, where San Domingo is. We learnt that even before Taiwan was under Japanese rule, the Spanish and the English had resided in Taiwan as well. They have left their evidence of their culture there, which makes Taiwanese culture even more interesting. As Taiwan was under the Japanese rule for 50 years, we could see Japanese buildings kept till even today.
We visited different famous enterprises, such as Formosa Plastic Group, and Business Weekly. We learnt about the many difficulties that they had faced from the start, which they had all overcome and managed to achieve their glorious results today. Their journeys were rocky, but they held on to their beliefs despite the unfavourable conditions. These stories have inspired me to stand up and face whatever difficulties ahead of me, attaining my goal in the near future.
The highlight of this trip for me would be the 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan. As Singapore is not located near any plate boundaries, it is relatively safe from earthquakes. Though occasionally affected by slight tremors, they are harmless and only felt to a small extent. Hence, when we saw for ourselves the debris and the collapsed buildings in the museum, we were all in shock. Hearing of the power of Mother Nature and witnessing it with our own eyes is indeed very much different. What’s more is that we got a chance to experience how it is to be like caught in an earthquake of magnitude 7.3 in Ritcher Scale. We also learned some measures to reduce the damages that earthquakes can bring about. Although these may not be applicable to us right now, they are still basic knowledge that we should know and they may come in handy in the future. In fact, one of the most important learning point that we have brought back with us was to count our blessings, for Singapore is relatively safe from most natural disasters.
We also visited the Tze Chi Foundation –Eco Friendly Area. We learned how to categorise our waste products, and even get to do it ourselves. I feel that actually, being eco-friendly is not a difficult task. It is only a matter of whether we are willing to play our part to save the environment. It is heartening to see that most Taiwanese are always helping the Earth, voluntarily. I hope that one day; Singaporeans will soon be as eco-friendly as them. My friends and I have even decided to take up the initiative to spread the message around to our families and friends.
Lastly, what’s a trip without some fun? We had some opportunities to shop at the various night markets, such as the famous Shilin and Fengjia night markets. They are all very similar, but yet slightly different at the same time as they reflect different cultures present in different areas. We realised that the Taiwan shop owners are very friendly and welcoming. They would always attend to the needs of their customers, and even offer sincere advice to them. In addition, when we were interacting with the Taiwan’s students, we felt welcomed and very much at home. Their hospitality makes us feel very heart-warming, as if we were at our own country. I think that we Singaporeans have a lot to learn from the Taiwanese!
That sums up our 12 day trip in Taiwan! I would like to thank MOE and the school for giving me a chance to go on this trip, as well as the teachers who are always teaching us something along the trip, and also teachers who designed the workbook which trains us to observe and think deeply. Lastly, I would like to thank my fellow BSP mates who have made my learning journey in Taiwan more meaningful.
这12天的台湾之旅，让我受益匪浅，使我们对台湾社会有了更深一层的了解。比如说，台湾有很多寺庙，人们都知道寺庙里有很多雕刻，但常常都会忽略了 它们。通过台湾说书艺人的讲解，我们才知道原来它们都是有代表意义的。台大徐斯勤教授与台湾中央研究院陈志柔教授的两场演讲，加深了我们对于台海关系的认 知。对《商业周刊》、《中国时报》和中天电视台的参访，激发了我们对台湾媒体的兴趣，我们会利用参访的间隙翻看各种报刊，听不同的电台，了解台湾与新加坡 社会的不同之处。
这趟台湾之旅的还参观了一个特别的地方– 921地震博物馆。 因为新加坡发生地震的几率非常小，所以我们这些新加坡人都无法想象发生大地震时，人们心中的恐慌以及能造成的危害究竟有多严重。而我们在博物馆里，就能亲 身体验到7.3级地震是如何的恐怖，而且能亲眼看到地震能造成一栋三层楼的建筑物瞬间变成与我们一样高的废墟。地震虽然可以很恐怖，但是如果防范措施做 足，那地震的破坏力也会减少。我们学到了一些防范地震的措施，虽然目前看来我们是用不着，但这些常识总有一天一定会起作用的。
我们感触最深的还有参观慈济环保园区。台湾人非常重视环保，家家户户都很仔细地分类垃圾，却并不抱怨。我认为这精神可嘉，新加坡人都应该向台湾人看 齐。其实环保可以很简单，如吃饭时用自己随身带的方便筷，喝水时用自己的水壶等等，就能为地球尽一分力了。回到了新加坡，我们都把环保概念传播给身边的亲 戚朋友，让大家一起为保护地球家园共同努力。
在这趟行程中，我们还充分感受到了台湾人的热情和友善。无论在随处可见的7-11便利店，在夜市，还是诚品书局，我是我们交流的学校，台湾人能帮别 人的地方一定会帮，还会提供自己的意见，帮我们作出最明智的选择。店主对顾客非常真诚，把顾客都当做好朋友。就算顾客最后什么都没有买，他们脸上还是会有 笑容。我想这也是我们得向台湾人学习的一点。
俗语说得好:“百闻不如一见”，亲身体验过才会更刻骨铭心，学得也会更多。我们非常感激教育部以及学校能提供这个机会，让我们能学得那么多。也感谢 随团的江凌主任和陈建文老师的照顾与教诲，以及为我们精心设计作业，训练我们的观察与思考能力。当然，也要感谢陪伴着度过这12天的朋友，大家一起讨论课 题，让我们学到的更多！期待来年的浸濡活动！