The abandonment of one’s comfort zone is often met with hesitation, a fact which is inevitable when traveling or studying abroad. Transitioning from a familiar environment to one of new regularities also holds a thrill which is difficult to match, as the sampling of another culture holds enrichment like no other. An equilibrium of tradition and modernity is found within the borders of Taiwan, as it holds palpable historical and religious heritage that are intrinsically unique; this is contrasted to the intricacies of things like the public transportation system, or any number of other technological indicators of an advancing society, which can be appreciated by many.
I have been to Taiwan, in total, five times in my life. In the past, my exploration was for the sake of teaching others, a distinct difference from the trip I am currently on. From the perspective of the student, I am able to grow not only in my sense of academia, but also in my capacities of empathy, love, and appreciation for diversity. The juxtaposition of seeing Taiwan through the lens of a pupil, though for a short time, has allowed me to develop in a deeper sense of understanding for the land I have so dearly come to love, therefore shaping me into a person who is more apt for success.
I’m coming to realize that each individual is endowed with multiple identities and multiple roles which they are obliged fulfill in life. This multifaceted persona can be seen in labels like “sister,” or, “friend,” or even, “gym instructor.” Each of these descriptions is accompanied with a series of relational expectations which one upholds not only for the sake of personal achievement, but also for the success of society as a whole. In executing the promise that the given word holds, a person is able to contribute in a positive way to other people, as well as their own individualism.
While I have accepted many roles in life, the role of a study abroad student has equipped me with the humility and the tenacity that one must embrace in order to learn a new language, as well as a new objectivity. The Tradition and Modernity in Taiwan program has given me the tools to more properly relate to my future English Language Learning students, as my hopes of becoming an educator have also been spurred in this process.
In sacrificing the comfortable mundanities that were in my hometown for the sake of my education, I have gained more than I could have imagined, and more than I could have asked for. Taiwan seemingly holds snippets of the person who I dream of becoming in its old temples and impressively contemporary buildings like Taipei 101. In searching the crevasse of this island for adventure, I have also been on an equally important quest of self, an exploration which occurred in a way that is both organic and beautiful.
By: Morgan Williams
Program: Tradition and Modernity in Taiwan
Term: Summer 2018