28 May 2007

My Teacher the Ostrich

My present teacher of Chinese is a fine woman, she’s smiling all the time and she likes to go off track during the class. But there is still something that annoys me with her… I have already mentioned the “tofu generation” phenomenon in one of my previous posts, that is to say the fact that Taiwanese youngsters don’t feel any concern about politics, neither about the environment they’re living in, and are mostly obsessed with a successful career which would give them an enviable position in the society and the salary that goes with it.

One of my previous teachers of Chinese once told me that foreign students were more active, more independent than Taiwanese students who encounter big problems of adaptation when they enter the university. I think this time of adaptation is normal and most of my friends studying at the university seem perfectly happy and autonomous, as a majority of them live away from their family. In fact when I attended some second year classes as an auditor, what struck me more was the way students are taught. It was a class of social work in Taida (the National Taiwan University) and the teacher seemed to me incredibly motherly for a college teacher: she would first ask the students if they had read the papers (I don’t remember any of my teachers asking me that, they would just assume I had read it and if not… too bad for me!), if it was not too hard, if they were tired… I may be wrong but it appears to me that her teaching method was leaning towards treating the students like children. My experience in Taida was not that bad and, in fact, it can be quite nice to have a professor who does not simply enter the classroom to give her speech and then leave but encourages interaction with the students. But the other side of the coin is that sometimes it can be really boring and annoying, most of all when you wonder if the teacher is not thinking you're an idiot!

Like I said before, my actual teacher of Chinese likes to digress, her favorite subjects being her son when he was 4 years old – he is now 20 – and food or
physiognomy. She believes for example that when your index is longer than your ring-finger, then you have an artistic nature, that if you have a mono-eyebrow, then you might be an obtuse person. When my classmate said these are superstitions, my teacher just very firmly replied that these come from a precise observation of nature and people… For having already heard these sayings I just accept them as part of the local folklore but it worsened when she started explaining us once that there are four seasons of three months each because the Earth is tilted etc… It is interesting indeed… for an 8 year old kid!
Well, as we seemed to have definitively put aside the short story of
Bai Xian-yong that we were reading, we started talking about the situation of Tibet which lead us to Taiwan . As our teacher just remained silent all the time, we asked her about her opinion which was: “you know, it is so complicated that we’d better leave it to future generations.” No comment.

Once, my teacher described herself as being an ostrich for joking: a door had just violently slammed in the hallway and her first reflex had been hiding her face in her hands. My teacher is also extremely conservative: she only eats Chinese food, and thinks that taking a shower in the morning after waking up can endanger one’s life. In a time when Taiwan is promoting its cultural diversity, I’d rather ride a tiger than an ostrich…

18 May 2007

En avant pour Kaoshiung!

Cela fait bien longtemps que je n’ai rien posté sur ce blog… Ca n’est sûrement pas une excuse mais j’ai été occupée dernièrement par la préparation de la conférence organisée par l’Institut Ricci à Kaoshiung, grande ville au Sud de Taiwan (voir article de Wikipedia).
Comment ? Vous n’êtes pas au courant ? Bon je fais un petit rappel pour ceux qui ne cliquent toujours pas sur les liens que je propose – les liens, c’est pas pour les chiens !

Au début du mois de Mai, eRenlai et le magazine Renlai ont décerné à 10 personnes les « Taiwan Life Sustainability Awards ». Ces prix récompensent l’action de ces 10 contributeurs à une « vie durable » à Taiwan et ils seront remis lors d’une cérémonie prévue en ouverture de la Conférence Internationale sur le Développement Durable et la Diversité Culturelle (25-26 Mai à Kaoshiung, Taiwan). D’ailleurs, le Focus du site propose 10 animations flash pour les présenter.

Ahh, est-ce plus clair maintenant ?

L’idée de la conférence est de traiter ce sujet à travers le prisme d’un dialogue Taiwan-Europe ; parmi les invités sont notamment attendus Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam, sénatrice, Michel Camdessus, l’ancien directeur du FMI et Jean-Claude Poimboeuf, le directeur de l’Institut Français à Taipei. Du côté taiwanais, vont intervenir Wu Jinfa吳錦發, vice-ministre chargé des Affaires Culturelles et Chen Youxiu陳郁秀, secrétaire général de l’Association Nationale Taiwanaise pour la Culture ainsi que Pinglu平路 (littéralement « Route Plate »), une écrivain taiwanaise. En bonus: la présence de Enele S Sopoaga, ambassadeur de Tuvalu (un micro-pays du Pacifique).

Pour plus de détails, vous pouvez visiter cette page (en chinois).

Pour ma part, je suis assez « extatique » (comme dirait mon pote Darren) de m’y rendre car j’y vais pour filmer les participants, les interviewer etc… En plus, je vais prendre le Taiwan High Speed Rail -le TGV taiwanais- pour la première fois ! (Je sais qu’il n’y a pas tant de quoi s’exciter, j’ai déjà pris le TGV des dizaines de fois en France…disons que j’ai été gagnée par l’enthousiasme ambiant).

En attendant de nouvelles aventures, portez-vous bien !

11 May 2007


I am sure you have already heard about Bob, our English editor but most of all the most prolific contributor of the website.
Bob is handicapped, he has been struck twice by bad luck: a polio and a tragic car accident. It is very interesting to hear him talk about his own experience and what lead him to set up the
Operation Deshandicap.

Beyond the hospital, there are also needs, the rehabilitation is a very important step to make one accept and live with one’s handicap, one’s difference. As Bob says in his interview, as a Jesuit priest, he didn’t really need to think about his rehabilitation and he had all along the support of the Company of Jesus. The “Operation Deshandicap” was then set up in order to enable others to get the same chances of rehabilitation.

Bob also stresses out in his article
Handicaps and Rehabilitation the differences between a “handicap” and an “impairment” : “The truth is that in every society there are great numbers of “handicapped” people, not necessarily those afflicted with “physical or mental disabilities”, but also all those who are the victims of “financial, educational, environmental or cultural impairments” which prevent them from entering into the mainstreams of society and separate them from admission to the ranks of those entitled to enjoy the full benefits of belonging to “proper” society. “

Yo Quiero Bailar!

Some of you may know that I like to dance salsa, though I am not a good dancer, I still find it very entertaining. We dance, we move, we walk, we run on our two legs, without even thinking, but what would it be like to have only one leg?

A friend sent me that amazing video of Colombian salsa dancers. The song says “yo quiero bailar” which means “I want to dance” as it could mean “I want to live!”

Watch the Almasalsera video.

8 May 2007

“Old and Rich Countries Seek Immigrants”

“Old and Rich Countries Seek Immigrants”

This is the title of an article from the French newspaper Le Monde (
Pays riche et vieux cherche immigrés dated April 28). This article stresses out the fact that rich and aging countries needs immigration if they want to reverse the decay of their population. The article mainly relies on a report released by the UN in April. For example, if France wants to have the same amount of inhabitants in 2050 as today, the country has to receive “1.5 million immigrants between 2025 and 2050”; if France wants to keep the same amount of people at the age of work, it has to accept 136000 more foreigners per year than it does now. These numbers are still not much higher than the ones of the actual situation. But, if the French government wants to keep the same ratio of “potential support (that is to say the number of people at the age of work in relation to the people over 65) as in 1995 (i.e. a ratio of 4.4), then, the country will have to accept 20 to 40 times more immigrants than in the last decade.

When a French journalist emphasizes the population decline of France and other developed countries, the English Telegraph’s article entitled
UN predicts huge migration to rich countries seems more worried about the future increase of population and the future “invasion” of immigrants: “ – Can the UK cope with nine million more people? At least 2.2 million migrants will arrive in the rich world every year from now until 2050, the United Nations said yesterday. Britain's population will rise from 60 million to approaching 69 million by 2050 - almost entirely because of immigration. […] There will be billions more people in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Of these, tens of millions will migrate to Europe and America, while the indigenous populations of most countries in the rich world will either stagnate or decline.”
The fear of the barbarian invasion has to be moderated when one knows that between 1990 and 2000, the rate of migrants to the developed countries was 2.5 million, i.e. higher than the one predicted from now until 2050 (2.2 million according to the Telegraph and 2.3 million according to Le Monde).

To complete this information, you can also read the report about
International Migrations Today which compares the political, legal and cultural situation in the US, the UK, Chile, Australia and other countries.
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