Morning Sun
  • SMALL WORLD: State of Uncertainty

  • The status of Taiwan is difficult to explain.In a way, the country is not a country and the nation is not a nation.In 1949, Chiang Kai-shek and the then-government of China fled communist rule and attempted to claim sovereignty over mainland China.The communists took control of China proper...
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  • The status of Taiwan is difficult to explain.
    In a way, the country is not a country and the nation is not a nation.
    In 1949, Chiang Kai-shek and the then-government of China fled communist rule and attempted to claim sovereignty over mainland China.
    The communists took control of China proper and claims control over Taiwan. In fact, to this day the communist government considers the Taiwan government illegitmate.
    The United States does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and officials have stated that the U.S. neither supports Taiwanese independence Taiwan natives like Rachel Chen said that the modern view of Taiwan depends on who you ask.
    “The younger generation, we feel Taiwan is independent,” Chen said. “We have our own government, our own president, our own passport, our own currency. Everything is different. The older generation thinks about the old times, that there is no need to separate ourselves. They don’t feel any conflict. It’s split 50-50.”
    Chen is one of 55 students at Pittsburg State from Taiwan. There are roughly 40 countries represented at Pittsburg State.
    Chen came to America on an exchange program from Fujen Catholic University for a year in 2005. She said she was interested in coming back to work on her graduate degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). She is set to graduate in May.
    “I wanted to do my graduate degree, and PSU is a good place,” Chen said. “So I told my family that I want to come here. It’s a really nice community, I think. When I first came, I had a nice host family. We bonded together and hung out together. People here are more nice and willing to talk to you. I really felt like part of the community, not just an international student.”
    One of the biggest differences and worries for Rachel is the difference in health care systems between Taiwan and America.
    “My teacher said they had to pay $200 for dental repair,” she said. “In Taiwan, you pay $17 a month and that covers everything. Then every time you go in, you only pay $5 as a check-in fee. That’s good compared to here. I don’t really want to get sick here. I want to keep as healthy as possible.”
    One major difference Rachel has noticed in the education systems is the focus on foreign languages. She said that other countries focus on foreign languages, whereas it is not a particular goal in America.
    “In every other country, people learn English,” she said. “It’s important to take English, they tell us. Here, people will say I took Spanish, but they won’t say I learned Spanish. Not many people can speak more than two languages here. A lot of statistics show if you learn another language, it helps you to delay Alzheimer’s.”
    Page 2 of 2 - While many international students dream of their own country’s native cuisine, Chen said she has become accustomed to the American way of eating.
    “I think the style is different,” she said. “You eat fast food a lot. Hot dogs and hamburgers. That’s not a horrible thing, because I’m used to it. It’s easy and convenient. I can take it to class or work. In Taiwan, you use a lot of ingredients and you have to cook it and you have to fry some of it. Compare that to the American food, and the other is more complicated.”
    Chen works in the International Student Office, spending a great deal of time working with new students to PSU.
    “As an international student, I like to meet the international students and help them out,” she said. “They come in so frustrated, so confused, so lost. Once I see their happy face, I can see some good was accomplished. People in the office are really open-minded. They treat you like family members. We are one big, happy family.”
    The 55 students from Taiwan are the fourth-largest delegation of international students at Pittsburg State. Chen said that can come in handy.
    “Study abroad is hard because you’re far away from the family,” Rachel said. “There are so many Taiwanese students that we get together and we talk at length in our own language. For Chinese New Year, we celebrate together.”
    Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.

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